Auto News: Honda’s North American plants set production record

Honda’s Canadian, American, and Mexican plants built 748,217 cars and light trucks in the year’s first five months, a record for the period.

  • Detail of an automatic gear shifter in a new, modern car. Modern car interior with close-up of automatic transmission and cockpit background

Playing catch-up after last year’s natural disasters in Japan stymied vehicle and parts production for months, that country’s three largest automakers are building vehicles in North America at a record pace, with Honda leading the pack.

According to a Bloomberg report, Honda’s Canadian, American, and Mexican plants built 748,217 cars and light trucks in the year’s first five months, a record for the period, and 67 per cent more than a year earlier.

Toyota was second, with a 64 per cent increase in North American production, to 787,777 units, while Nissan production jumped by 23 per cent this year to 562,971.

Production of cars and light trucks in North America by all manufacturers increased 22 per cent through May to 6.57 million vehicles from 5.38 million a year earlier, according to Automotive News.

Lexus looking at more North American production

One of the reasons Japanese automakers are pushing more U.S. and Canadian production is the continuing high valuation of the countries’ currencies. Cars made in North America are simply less expensive to build.

Hence, Toyota is seriously considering building its redesigned 2013 Lexus ES luxury sedan on this continent.

Tim Morrison, Toyota USA vice president-sales and dealer development, told Ward’s Auto that dealers are asking for a North American-built ES.

There’s no word on where or when the ES would be built. Currently, the only Lexus made in North America is the RX crossover, assembled in Toyota’s Cambridge, Ont. facility.

Aston Martin reveals new flagship GT

A few months before its official debut at this September’s Paris Auto Show, Britain’s Aston Martin has released details and images of its new range-topper: the Vanquish.

With the limited edition One-77 sold out, the two- or four-seat, rear-wheel-drive Vanquish will ultimately replace the DBS at the top of the brand’s food chain.

With 55 more horsepower than the DBS, the Vanquish’s 6.0-litre V12 makes 565 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, delivering a claimed 4.1 second 0-100 km/h time and a near-300 km/h top speed.

The Vanquish is set go on sale in the United Kingdom and continental Europe late in 2012, followed by other markets.

Renault looking at creating two all-new luxury brands

As the outlook for Europe’s mainstream new car sales look gloomier every day, France’s Renault is contemplating creating a pair of new luxury brands to attract wealthier buyers from growing foreign markets like Russia and China.

In the future, Renault would have four brands: the Romania-based entry-level Dacia, mainstream Renault, the new Alpine brand of sports-cars, and the new Initiale Paris luxury brand.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said this month, Europe’s new car sales will drop by 7 per cent this year, the fifth straight annual decline.

More Cadillacs rolling out

As speculated for some time now, General Motors’ Cadillac luxury brand is considering a new flagship sedan to sit above the just-released 2013 XTS full-size four-door. But Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America, recently told Automotive News to expect even more Cadillac models.

According to Reuss, a large crossover to fit between the SRX and the Escalade, and smaller crossover than the SRX are being considered.

As well, a two-door version of the new 2013 ATS compact sedan is being looked at. An ATS convertible is “pretty much designed,” but a decision to make it has not been made.

“I would rather do something like (a coupe) before a convertible, just on a scale and brand-building basis,” said Reuss.

Green outsells mean in Chevy showrooms

When it comes to Chevrolet’s pair of “premium” cars, Americans are buying more of the General Motors’ brand’s Volt gasoline-electric hybrid than its iconic Corvette sports car.

An Inside Line article says Chevrolet has sold 7,057 Volts south of the border through May, while only 5,547 copies of the ‘Vette have been moved.

Both cars sit near the top of Chevrolet’s lineup when it comes to pricing. But in the U.S., the Volt has a price advantage over the Corvette.

Before federal and state incentives, the Volt is priced from $39,995, including shipping, while the Corvette coupe starts at $50,575.

  • Auto News: Honda’s North American plants set production record

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