Posts Tagged ‘news’

Golden Week Vacation Period 2016

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Yes, that time of year has rolled around again and we are just about to enter the Golden Week holiday period. So that you aren’t caught out wondering what is happening with the auctions or any bank transfers you have sent, make sure you refer to the schedule below:

April 29th

Auctions: All open as usual.
Banks: Closed for Showa Day.

April 30th

Auctions: Almost all open as usual.
Banks: Closed as it is Saturday.

May 2nd

Auctions: All closed.
Banks: Open as usual.

May 3rd

Auctions: All closed.
Banks: Closed for Constitution Memorial Day.

May 4th

Auctions: Almost all closed.
Banks: Closed for Greenery Day.

May 5th:

Auctions: A few running, but most closed.
Banks: Closed for Childrens’ Day

May 6th:

Auctions: All closed.
Banks: Open as usual.

May 7th:

Auctions: Almost all closed.
Banks: Closed for Saturday.

May 9th and after:

All auctions and banking back to normal.

Please also note that our suppliers, such as transport companies, shipping companies, photographers etc will similarly have low availability or be closed during this period. This may result in some unavoidable delays.

While we will be checking email etc. regularly, we will be taking a break and will not be our usual hyper-responsive selves. Thank you for your understanding!

Toyota is World’s Most Valuable Auto Brand in 2015

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

toyota logo

Every year, Brandz publishes their Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands study. This year, Japanese automaker Toyota remains king of the hill as the undisputed most valuable automotive brand. According to the report, Toyota boasts a brand value of $28.9 billion, which puts them at the 30th most valuable brand overall.

The news honestly doesn’t come as too much of a surprise for Toyota. Just earlier this month, they published their May sales reports, which specifically highlighted the success of their light trucks. The press release stated, “Strong May results boosted the industry to the best sales pace since last summer. Toyota Division light trucks reported a best ever May, helping Toyota to over 200,000 units for the month.”

The sales report goes on to specify that May sales are up 13.4% for light trucks, which is a May record. Narrowing down even further, they say that Tacoma and Tundra pickup sales exceeded 29,000 units, which is a 15.4% increase over the year before. The Highlander managed to do even better, with an enormous 25.2% sales growth compared to the previous year… Probably due to the significant decrease in gas prices.

Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, is also doing exceptionally well this time of year, particularly their new utility vehicles. Lexus’ VP and general manager report that demand for Lexus’ premium utility vehicles has grown to 48% of total sales volume, up from 43% during the same time last year. He attributes the growth to “the momentum provided by […] growing consumer awareness of our newer models, such as the NX crossover and RC coupe.”

Going back to the Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2015 report, it appears that the automotive industry is ruled by three powerhouses. Toyota sits at the top with a $28.9 billion valuation, BMW is number two at $26.3 billion, and Mercedes-Benz pulls up third with an estimated value of $21.7 billion. Then, there is a significant jump down to spot number four which is held by the $13.3 billion Honda. Ford ekes in at fifth with $13.1 billion, Nissan takes sixth with $11.4 billion, then Audi at $10.1 billion (a 41% increase from last year!), VW at $9.2 billion, Land Rover at $4.9 billion and Lexus at $4.3 billion.

Yes, that means that Toyota is the number one automotive brand WITHOUT counting the value of their luxury arm.

Even though the automotive industry’s value grew 3% as a whole from 2014 to 2015, that’s a significant decrease from the 17% value increase that took place from 2013 to 2014. The Brandz study noted that carmakers in 2015 and onward “face a paradoxical dilemma: their product quality is better than ever, but their brands are increasingly difficult to differentiate.” With that in mind, it’s no wonder that Toyota sits on top since they have arguably the most consumer trust… As long as the biggest perceived difference between automakers is reliability, not features, then there’s no doubt Toyota will remain on top.

Nissan Leaf Sets New Annual Sales Record for 2nd Time

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

2014 Nissan Leaf

As kids across the US went door-to-door asking for candy this weekend, Nissan executives were busy celebrating yet another record achievement in October. Two record achievements, in fact; with October’s sales in, the Nissan Leaf EV easily broke a new annual sales record and marked an unprecedented monthly sales goal.

Here are the specifics:

Nissan ended 2013 with a total of 22,610 Leafs sold, which was a new annual record at the time. They ended last month with year-to-date sales at 24,411, shattering their previous record by nearly 2,000 units with two months of sales left to go. If you do the math, it’s looking like Nissan will end the year with nearly 30,000 Leaf sales, which represents a 36% average increase in sales throughout 2014 compared to last year.

Looking over to the monthly sales, Nissan sold 2,589 Leaf electric vehicles last month. That’s not the most they’ve ever sold (they moved 3,186 units in August 2014), but it does mark another record achievement… The Nissan Leaf is the only EV that’s managed to go 20 months in a row with better sales than the same time last year. Compare that to the Chevy Volt, whose 2014 sales are down nearly 15% compared to 2013.

The next EV sales record on Nissan’s radar is for US lifetime sales. The Chevrolet has sold 70,531 Volts since its launch in 2010 compared to the 66,533 lifetime Leaf sales. But it’s only a matter of time… If the Leaf keeps outpacing the Volt by about 1,000 units per month (which it’s done for the past year), then Nissan should claim the lifetime US sales record by the end of Q1 2015.

2012 Nissan Leaf Auction Find

The Nissan Leaf EV has continued to perform above and beyond the competition because, put simply, it’s a better EV. To commemorate Nissan’s October sales achievements, we’ve picked out a pristine 2012 Nissan Leaf from our Integrity Exports Japanese car auction system.

2012 Nissan Leaf EV

You can see that this model has a well-kept metallic black exterior, and the auction sheet (bottom of post) shows only a few minor dings across the entire body.

2012 Nissan Leaf EV interior

Inside, we have a cozy, modern interior with plush seats and some really nice technology. You can see an advanced information display on the dash, with the digital speedometer sitting separately behind and above the steering wheel. You also have a built-in navigation system with flexible entertainment options, along with keyless entry, A/C, power windows, power steering, and anti-lock brakes.

The 2011/2012 model years both ran on Nissan’s original electric powertrain, which boasted and EPA-rated 117 km (73 mile) driving range. However, drivers reported between 62 miles and 138 miles depending on driving conditions.

All in all, we think this is a great Japanese car auction find. Keep reading below for a full translation of the auction sheet:

2012 Nissan Leaf EV auction sheet

“Interior A, G model, ZAA emissions code, FAT, AAC, service book, original alloy wheels, power steering, power windows, original TV, original navigation system, airbag, reversing rearview camera, LED lights, first registered November 2012, first time in auction, side and curtain airbags, charging cable, no SRS, minor interior grime, exterior paintwork has light scratches, light scratches on left front door, light scratches underneath rear bumper, other marks as per map.”

Introducing Leahead – China’s New EV-Only Toyota Sub-Brand

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Toyota Leahead EV

If you had to guess which Japanese automaker would launch a budget-friendly electric vehicle sub-brand in China next year, who’d you guess?

Probably Nissan, right? That’d be a good guess since Nissan and Tesla sold the most EVs in the US last year, and Tesla has already claimed a good chunk of the Chinese EV market share.

Surprisingly, it’s not Nissan, but Toyota. Even as the world’s largest Japanese automaker is moving away from electric vehicles in the US, it looks like they’re embracing them in foreign markets like China. Next year they’ll launch a new marque called Leahead (or Ling Zhi in Chinese), which is meant to evoke the phrase “Leap Ahead”. The sub-brand will exclusively sell economical, city-friendly electric vehicles like the mysteriously unnamed EV Concept from last year’s Shanghai Motor Show (below).

Although… That’s actually not an accurate description of what’s happening, even though that’s what most other auto blogs are reporting around the web.

The folks over at AutoBlog Green were kind enough to contact Toyota directly about their new Chinese project. After all, a new EV-only sub-brand just doesn’t sound like something we’d see from the characteristically HFCV-oriented automaker. A response from Toyota Motor Sales’ communications manager, Jana Hartline, helped us make sense of the move.

2013 Toyota EV Concept from Shanghai

Hartline explained, “Toyota just celebrated the 10-year anniversary of GAC Toyota Motor Co., Ltd (GTMC), its joint-venture manufacturing company in China. And it is GTMC, not Toyota directly, that is the company behind Leahead.”

So, it sounds like Toyota’s association with the new Chinese Leahead EV brand wasn’t really their idea, but rather one that they got on-board with without needing too much persuasion.

Why is an eco-EV JV a good idea for Toyota? Let’s look at the facts:

First, the Chinese government is set to offer significant incentives to EV automakers. A couple years ago the China State Council committed to putting 5 million EVs on Chinese roads by 2020, and just earlier this month they committed to making 30% of all new government vehicles electric.

Second, unlike in the US, low-speed electric vehicles are a hot trend in China. Low-speed means lower manufacturing costs. And as we said, Tesla has already sold their EVs in China with huge success.

With these factors in mind, it’s no surprise how many analysts are claiming that China will be the largest market for electric vehicles in the world within 5 years. It makes perfect sense that Toyota would want a JV partnership to take advantage of that trend.

Rumor has it that we’ll see the first Leahead EV at either the Shanghai Motor Show next April or the Guangzhou Auto Show next November. Either way, the first car is expected to be based on the Chinese Toyota Yaris L.

New Nissan Micra Cup Gets You Racing For Under $20K

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

2015 Nissan Micra Cup

Thanks to Nissan, there’ll be a new way for Canadian motorsport enthusiasts to get their first genuine racing experience in 2015. The opportunity comes thanks to the inaugural 2015 Nissan Micra Cup, which will start next May. As you may be able to guess from the circuit’s title, it’ll be a one-make racing series sanctioned by Auto Sport Quebec in which all the drivers pilot tuned up Nissan Micra hatchbacks.

At first glance, this idea may seem a little drab. But think about it… The regular commercial Micra may be an entry-level model, but it’s a sturdy little car and anything can be tuned up for track performance. See for yourself in the video below:

To make a car for the series, Nissan is partnering up with JD Motorsports to augment a batch of Micra 1.6 S hatchbacks (not available in the US) with a variety of performance upgrades. Those upgrades include NISMO’s S-Tune suspension kit, high-performance brake pads, a custom sports exhaust, a built-in safety cage, and custom Fastwheels with Pirelli’s low profile + high performance tires. Under the hood you’ll find the stock engine for the Nissan Micra 1.6 S, which is a 1.6L DOHC four-cylinder with duel fuel injection. The engine will be paired with Nissan’s Twin CVTC system and the Micra’s rugged stock five-speed manual transmission.

Of course, there’ll also be the standard motorsport safety features including a fire extinguisher, driver protection net and a five-point harness, along with front and rear towing hooks.

The best part about this is that Nissan will make all of this available under $20,000. In fact, at just $19,998 for the sport-tuned model, the Nissan Micra Cup is officially the cheapest motorsport entry point in Canada. And it’s fun to drive too! Jean-François Demoulin, a well-known Canadian racer, was invited to head-up the track-tuned Micra’s testing, and he was surprisingly pleased. “I really enjoyed every minute I spent testing the Nissan Micra… For a car which is still almost stock, it’s quite fast and so much fun to drive!”

2015 Nissan Micra Cup 2

Nissan tells us that they aim to have more than 25 Micras competing in each race weekend, and each driver will get a solid two hours of on-track racing time. That’ll come from a preliminary 30-minute trial, a 30-minute qualifier, and then two 30-minute races. Sounds like a ton of fun!

We have to say, this is a really smart marketing move on Nissan’s part to introduce the Nissan Micra Cup in Canada the same year that they’re launching the Nissan Micra NISMO. Every motorsport enthusiast should mark their calendar for next May when the series opens. And if you’re one of our Canadian readers with $20,000 burning a hole in your pocket, you can learn more about the Micra Cup at Nissan Canada’s official site.

EPA Acknowledges Japanese Automakers for Best Fuel Economy

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

2014 Nissan Leaf

The Environmental Protection Agency has just published the results of their industry-wide fuel efficiency survey for the 2013 model year. After evaluating fuel economy and emissions for every single car across every single automaker’s lineup in the US, they’ve totaled and averaged the numbers to come up with a green ranking of the auto industry.

The average fuel economy rating for the 2013 model year was 24.1 mpg and average CO2 emissions were 369 g/mi. Unsurprisingly, Japanese carmakers lead the way with the top four most efficient brands being Mazda, Honda, Subaru and Nissan, in that order. Here were the specific mpg averages for each automaker in 2013:

  1. Mazda – 28.1 mpg
  2. Honda – 27.4 mpg
  3. Subaru – 26.7 mpg
  4. Nissan – 26.2 mpg

Click here to read the EPA’s full report

The EPA acknowledged Mazda and Nissan especially for their role in recognizing and improving their lineup’s environmental friendliness. They acknowledged Mazda, obviously, for not only having the highest average fuel economy, but also the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any automaker with just 316 g/mi across their lineup. They lauded Nissan for having the largest year-to-year improvement with an average jump of 2.2 mpg and an emissions reduction of 30 g/mi.

We were particularly impressed by Nissan’s achievement. Most other automakers were lucky to improve their lineup by even 0.5 mpg from 2012 to 2013, and some actually became less efficient. Nissan officials say their vast improvement in rankings was due to the new Altima, Pathfinder and Sentra that were introduced for the 2013 model year, in combination with a long-standing dedication to weight reduction and engine efficiency.

At the bottom of the EPA’s list you’ll find Chrysler-Fiat with a lineup-wide average of 20.9 mpg, General Motors with 22.0 mpg and Ford with 22.2 mpg. Believe it or not, Toyota barely made it into the top half of the list with just 25.1 mpg average, a 0.5 mpg decrease over the 2012MY. Keep in mind that Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia weren’t included in the survey due to “a continuing investigation.”

As for the 2014 model year, the EPA won’t publish any official rankings until next year when the 2014 model year is officially over. However, their preliminary numbers show that Mazda will remain king of the hill with an average of 28.8 mpg across their lineup, while Subaru and Honda will have a near-tie for second with 27.5 and 27.6 mpg respectively.

Despite the low fuel economy numbers from the major American automakers, the EPA says that this year’s survey is good news. The average fuel economy continues to rise year after year while average emissions continue to fall.


All-New Mazda2 Claims Japan’s Car of the Year Award

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

2015 Mazda2 Demio

Thanks to the recent Paris Motor Show, we’ve spent the past two weeks talking about all the new Japanese cars we can expect to see over the next couple of years. Today, we’re going to continue in that direction by celebrating the newly announced recipient for the 2014-2015 Japanese Car Of The Year award.

This year’s recipient?

The all-new 2015 Mazda2, otherwise known as the Mazda Demio in the automaker’s home market where the hatchback has already launched.

This is excellent news for rogue Japanese automaker, Mazda. Their newly redesigned supermini hasn’t even hit European or American shores yet, and already it’s winning awards thanks to its simple-but-efficient SkyActiv technology and suave Kodo – Spirit of Motion design language.

Japan’s Car of the Year was decided at the National Museum of Emerging Science & Innovation in Tokyo Bay.

Throughout the day, it was looking like the Mercedes C-class would come out on top, but in the final stretch Mazda’s city car managed to pull ahead with 423 points compared to Mercedes’ 404. Both cars came out above the third place BMW i3, which ended the day with 340 votes, and the top three were all head and shoulders above the rest… The fourth place Subaru Levorg had just 124 votes then polls closed.

Here’s how the judging works:

  1. 60 automotive experts and journalists from around Tokyo Bay are given 25 points to vote with.
  2. Each judge must give their first choice 10 points, and no more than 10 points can be allocated to any choice.
  3. The car with the most points at the end of the day wins!

Fun fact: Some quick math will tell you that 600 is the maximum points a car can receive. The closest any car ever came to getting max points was last year when the VW Golf got 504/600.

2015 Mazda2 Demio Interior

For those who don’t remember, this is the second time in three years that one of Mazda’s new SkyActiv cars has won Japan’s prestigious Car of the Year award. In 2012, the Mazda CX-5 won the award over the Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT-86 twins. It was the first-ever car Mazda released with their SkyActiv suite and Kodo design language.

Of course, Mazda knows what they did right to win the award yet again. At the event, Mazda EVP Kiyoshi Fujiwara said, “With the Mazda 2, we have rewritten the rulebook for compact cars. Our new SkyActiv technology, excellent mileage, reasonable pricing and unique design all contributed to our victory today.”

Consider this a reminder to keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming 2015 Mazda2 when it hits North American and European shores early next year.

Mazda6 Diesel Delayed Yet Again, But There’s a Silver Lining

Posted by Stephen On Friday, September 19th, 2014

2014 Mazda6 Diesel Sedan

It’s been almost 2 years since the new Mazda6 was overhauled with its SkyActiv suite and award-winning Kodo design language. However, Mazda had hoped to launch a diesel-powered version of their sedan alongside the conventional Mazda6. There aren’t too many really well-received diesel sedans in the US, and Mazda thinks they can compete with Volkswagen’s Passat TDI Clean Diesel for a piece of the pie.

Unfortunately, the Mazda6’s diesel engine has been inexplicably delayed twice in 2013, then was given an “indefinite” launch date at the beginning of 2014.

After a certain amount of time it becomes hard to believe that Mazda is sincere about a diesel Mazda6 for NA, but a new report from TTAC sheds some light on what’s going on behind the scenes.

Apparently, Mazda has been stuck figuring out a way to offer a diesel engine that meets the strict and varied diesel emissions regulations of all 50 states, including California. The problem is that Mazda is trying to avoid the use of an after-treatment to reduce the engine’s emissions, but so far that’s been impossible to do.

Here’s a more detailed version of what happened:

The original diesel engine that Mazda was ready to launch a few months after the Mazda6’s launch wasn’t clean enough for the EPA. No problem – Mazda just re-tuned the engine in order to meet the emissions standards.

Simple enough, right?

Not quite. The cleaner engine gave up too much “Mazda-appropriate driving performance,” and the engine was deemed too weak to put in the sedan given consumer expectations.

So, after a year and a half of failed attempts, Mazda is back to the drawing board and reconsidering the use of an after-treatment emissions system. We’re not really sure what all the resistance was for anyways, since nearly every other diesel in the US uses a diesel exhaust fluid or some other after-treatment system.

If the Mazda6 diesel is successful, then the Japanese automaker will likely attempt to launch diesel versions of their other SkyActiv models too, such as the Mazda CX-5 or Mazda3… Maybe even the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

In the end, even though this may seem like just one more hold up in a long line of delays, we think this one is different. For starters, Mazda is no longer quoting “indefinite” as the launch date. The new report tells us to expect a SkyActiv-D Mazda6 in approximately one year’s time as a 2016 model year. Incidentally, this may coincide with a mid-cycle refresh that Japanese automaker is planning for the 6, at least if the folks over at Automotive News can be believed.

Infiniti Boss Johan de Nysschen Departs as Sales Grow

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Former Infiniti boss Johan de Nysschen

After just two brief years as the president of Infiniti Motor Co., boss Johan de Nysschen has officially resigned. He personally handed his letter of resignation to Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn approximately one week ago, and will leave by the end of the month.

Stefan Weinmann, Infiniti’s general manager of global communications, told The Wall Street Journal a bit more about what prompted de Nysschen’s departure. He bluntly explains that, “He left to pursue other opportunities. We have started to search for a successor.”

What “other opportunities” could Weinmann be talking about?

Turns out, the former Infiniti president is moving over to General Motors as the head of their premium brand, Cadillac. That’s right; the former Audi boss got poached again. He’d apparently been disgruntled under Ghosn from the start, quoted early in his employment as saying that the Nissan CEO’s goal of 500k premium car sales by 2020 was entirely unrealistic.

So, what does this mean for Nissan’s luxury arm?

Right now, not much. Nissan CPO Andy Palmer will take over the reins at Infiniti until a suitable replacement can be found. More importantly, Nissan is still confident about the brand’s future, stating, “We’re convinced that [Infiniti] has a very promising future and Johan’s departure doesn’t change that potential.” An analyst from Macquarie Securities named Janet Lewis also told WSJ that the loss of de Nysschen shouldn’t have any effect on the company’s performance.

At this point, you might be curious about what Johan de Nysschen accomplished during his time at Infiniti. In short, he helped, but he still had more to do.

2014 Infinti Q50

Infiniti’s US sales are still an unsolved problem, as Infiniti continues to lose market share to the likes of Audi and Lexus. However, international sales are growing enough to make up for it, with the biggest sales potential coming from China. The new Infiniti Q50 has been an especially huge hit there, making up 50% of the brand’s total sales since its launch at the beginning of 2014. Just a week ago, before his resignation went public, de Nysschen estimated that they could quadruple their sales in China by the end of 2016.

In the end, there’s nothing to be worried about. Both Carlos Ghosn and Andy Palmer have had a hand in Infiniti’s direction since before de Nysschen ever joined the force, and they’ll continue to do so into the future. And so Infiniti will continue to launch all the new products that have planned for the next couple years. They’ll continue to expand production to new markets like China, and they’ll continue to make profitable joint ventures with luxury titans like Mercedes. The only thing we have to worry about is who will step in next to boost Infiniti’s progress in the right direction.

New 2015MY Lexus IS with Upgraded Specs Revealed

Posted by Stephen On Friday, July 4th, 2014

2015 Lexus IS Sedan

Even though the Lexus IS just entered a new generation at the beginning of 2014, the premium Japanese automaker is already planning a minor refresh for the 2015 model year. Even though the exterior changes are few, as you continue reading you’ll learn that the luxury sedan’s interior has received some truly praiseworthy additions.

2015 Lexus IS Exterior & Mechanical Updates

Let’s get the powertrain changes out of the way first – there aren’t any. It’ll come with the same two engine options as this year, which include a 2.5L V6 with 204hp and a 3.5L V6 with 306hp. Everything else about power delivery from the engine to the wheels remains the same… Each trim can be had with either rear-wheel or all-weather drive, and either way you’ll get the same “finely tuned” electronic power steering from the Lexus GS.

As for the exterior, even though Lexus hasn’t released any images of the 2015MY, they assure us that the only change is the addition of new LED fog lights, presumably somewhere around the front air intakes. Not only will they look great, but they’ll also improve the car’s visibility for both the driver and oncoming traffic.

2015 Lexus IS Interior & Technology Updates

This is where the 2015 Lexus IS will get the majority of its updates. Lexus describes how “the brand’s hallmark luxury and sumptuous appointments remain intact, bolstered by cutting-edge multi-media.”

The cutting-edge technology they’re referring to here is the inclusion of Siri Eyes Free voice command, an improved backup camera with dynamic grid lines and the new Lexus Enform Remote. The Lexus Enform App will allow you to remotely control several of the IS’s different technologies from your iPhone, from the locks to the ignition to the AC and more.

As for the new luxury appointments, Lexus is probably referring to the refined interior trim. Drivers will enjoy new piano black accents and Stratus Gray upholstery for an all-around darker, classier interior design.

Finally, since the AWD Lexus IS has seen significant popularity in colder areas, all AWD IS models will now have the option of a heated steering wheel, and the AWD F Sport package will get heated and ventilated front seats. The F Sport trim also gets new unique 18-inch wheels, special suspension tuning, and several aesthetic tweaks to the interior and exterior trim. Oh, and it gets a new sound generator on the air intake to create a more “sporting” (aka. loud) engine note.

As you can see, Lexus has a plethora of upgrades lineup for their IS sedan even though it’s only been available in its current form for one year. And pricing will remain almost the same… Only $450 has been added to each price tag across the board.