Toyota announced today that it has canceled plans to introduce a redesigned Corolla for the 2014 model year, and will instead continue to sell the current model indefinitely.
“We sold 290,000 Corollas in 2012, a 50,000 unit increase over model year 2011,” explained Toyota spokesmodel Moe Lester. “Clearly, the Corolla is still in demand. While we know this decision will disappoint a lot of people, especially Toyota employees and dealers, we have to go where the market takes us.”
Toyota has been showing a thinly disguised prototype of the next-generation Corolla, called the Corolla Furia concept, on this year’s auto show circuit. Automotive journalists, who have described the current Corolla as “dated,” “behind the times,” and “pathetic,” have lauded the Furia concept, calling it “not dated,” “not behind the times,” and “not pathetic.”
“No question, the Corolla Furia would have been a huge improvement over the current Corolla,” Lester told Autoblopnik. “Are we disappointed in our own decision? A bit, yes. Building a compact sedan with the personality of a house plant gets very old very quickly, especially when the rest of the industry has moved on and we’re still stuck in the year 2003. But there is still a large segment of sad, boring people who want a sad, boring car, and at the end of the day, we’re in business to make money.”
According to Lester, Toyota had established marketing deals for the redesigned Corolla with companies like Urban Outfitters, Whole Foods, and Apple Computer.
“Unfortunately, we had to scrap those,” he explains. “But we do have some exciting co-branding opportunities with Jo-Ann Fabric Stores, Bayer Aspirin, and the Kansas Department of Tourism.”
Lester says that Toyota will continue to build the current-generation Corolla “until demand dries up or until every last Toyota employee commits suicide in order to escape the mind-numbing dreariness of our cars, whichever comes last.”
After a series of embarrassing breakdowns and mechanical problems, most recently a well-publicized “mis-fueling” incident in Israel, the White House announced that it is trading in the Cadillac presidential limo for a Hyundai Elantra.
“There’s a lot we like about the current Presidential limousine,” said White House press undersecretary Benjamin Disasterstein. “The control layout is uncluttered and it gets pretty good fuel economy for a twelve-ton armored vehicle. But getting it worked on anywhere outside of DC is a real nightmare, and now that it’s out of warranty, we have to think about these things. With Hyundai’s 10 year/100,000 mile warranty and world-wide dealer network, that won’t be an issue, at least not until well into Hilary’s second term. And if the Republicans are right about the President’s economic policies, the Hyundai Buyer Assurance program will allow us to return the car and walk away from the payments.”
Disasterstien said President Obama was directly involved in the selection of the new vehicle, a 2013 Hyundai Elantra Limited in Azure Blue Pearlcoat with alloy wheels, leather seats, and the optional Limited Technology package, which includes dual-zone climate control and a 7″ touch-screen navigation system.
“We really didn’t need nav,” says Disastersteen, “But that was the only blue Limited they had in stock, and if we custom-ordered the car, we wouldn’t be eligible for the $1,500 Competitive Trade-In cash-back bonus. Besides, the dual-zone climate thing will come in handy. The President and the First Lady are always arguing about the temperature in the car.”
President Obama immediately came under fire for not buying an American-made vehicle, but Dinerstean said that the White House did consider vehicles from the Big Three.
“Our first stop was a Chevy dealership to test-drive a Cruze Eco, but they kept trying to push us into an Equinox with much higher payments. The Focus was nice — the President loved that self-parking feature — but the First Lady didn’t care for the way the transmission shifted. And the President said no to the Dodge Dart, because he had a buddy in college who owned a Fiat X1/9 and it was always in the shop.”
The Secret Service refused to comment on what type of armament and protection will be fitted to the Presidential Elantra. However, an anonymous source inside the White House told Autoblopnik that the car will be driven in stock condition, because “no criminal in his right mind would think a guy driving a Hyundai Elantra is a valuable target.”
Ford today reported that sales of Certified Pre-Owned vehicles grew 29% in 2012 versus 2011, an increase that the company credits to a thorough overhaul of the CPO program.
Recent changes include a 12 month/12,000 mile comprehensive warranty and six years/100,000 miles of powertrain coverage for Ford-branded vehicles, while Lincoln vehicles get six years/100,000 miles of comprehensive coverage. Previously, CPO cars were covered for just three months or 3,000 miles. The CPO program now includes inspection of new technologies such as MyFord Touch and blind-spot monitoring. Despite the added costs of the additional inspection, Ford told Autoblopnik that both profits and dealer traffic are up.
“A robust CPO program keeps more vehicles in the dealer network,” says John Felice, general manager for Ford and Lincoln sales. “It improves residual values, enhances dealer profitability, brings more customers to Ford and Lincoln lots, and ultimately results in lower vehicle costs for consumers.”
Ford says that a strong CPO program is vital to increasing new-car sales as well, as these programs are often the first exposure to the brand for many buyers and could lead to a longer relationship.
“Fifty-five percent of these customers are new to the Ford and Lincoln brands,” explains Todd Fites, national CPO sales manager, for Ford, “and research shows that a new CPO customer is twice as likely to come back and buy a new Ford product in the future.”
Special correspondent Mark Wreckedem contributed to this story.
In a stunning move that stunned a lot of people, Toyota president and CEO Akio Toyoda has resigned from the automotive giant that almost bears his family name.
Toyoda’s resignation comes in the immediate wake of Henrik Fisker’s resignation from the car company that does actually bear his name, a move that Toyoda says inspired his own.
“I didn’t realize that quitting was an option,” said Toyoda, speaking through an interpreter. “Then I heard that Henrik left Fisker, and I thought, fuck this, I’m out of here.”
Akio Toyoda is the great-granson of Sakichi Toyoda, who founded the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works in 1926. The company started producing automobiles in 1937, and had its name changed to Toyota when it came through Ellis Island shortly thereafter. Akio joined the family business in 1984, and took over as CEO after a series of non-family CEOs led to a string of boring cars, ill-tempered floor mats, and buyers who couldn’t tell the brake and accelerator pedals apart.
“When I was offered the presidency, I figured it was just something I had to do,” said Toyoda. “People hear your name and they say ‘Oh, like Toyota the car? Do you work for them? You ought to work for them.’ You try to explain to people that no, what you really want to be is a painter, but they just won’t listen. Finally I took a job with the company, so I could just say ‘Yes I do’ and be rid of these assholes, but then they started asking me which one is spelled wrong. God, do I hate people.”
Toyoda is generally regarded as a successful leader for his handling of the 2009-2010 recalls, which threatened to destroy the good will Toyota had built up with American customers over several decades. However, Toyoda now says his tenure was one of strife and internal struggle.
“Toyota builds some of the most reliable and unobtrusive cars in the world,” he said. “You think I wanted that to be my legacy? Hell no, I didn’t. I advocated for switching exclusively to V8 engines with no catalytic converters and glass-pack mufflers. CAFE standards? I’ll tell you what you can do with your CAFE standards, President Obammunist. Needless to say, I got a lot of pushback. This is what happens when you try to innovate.”
“It’s not like working for Toyota gets you girls or anything,” continued Toyoda after Autoblopnik had turned off its tape recorder, packed up its stuff, mumbled some thank-you-and-goodbye-noises and made it clear that it had to go, or at least we thought we did, but apparently not. “Enzo Ferrari used to get laid all the time. All he had to say was ‘Yes, as a matter of fact, I am that Ferrari.’ Ferdinand Porsche was up to his man-boobs in poon, although I think the fact that he knew Hitler helped him out. But when you tell girls you’re part of the Toyoda family, you can almost hear their thighs slam shut. All they want know is whether you can get their aunt a discount for oil changes on her Camry. Hey, you want to go get a beer? I’ve got a massage scheduled this evening, but other than that, my schedule is wide open.”
Just months after releasing an updated 2013 Civic to replace the critically panned 2012 Civic, Honda has announced that it plans to undo the 2013 changes for the 2014 Civic.
“We honestly felt the 2012 Civic wasn’t our best effort,” said Honda spokesmartin Martin “Chris” Chrismartin. “But we underestimated the herd mentality of Honda buyers. The sales success of the 2012 Civic was a real wake-up call for us. Sometimes you get so focused on the product that you forget your customer base is made up of mindless sheep.”
The 2012 Civic was derided by the press for its cheap interior, mediocre handling dynamics, and derivative styling. But it was a hit with consumers, with sales of the 2012 model exceeding the 2011 Civic by well over 40 percent, even in the face of tsunami-related parts shortages, fluctuations in the yen, and a tribe of psychotic dwarfs who would hide in the back seat and then pop up and smack the shit out of potential customers during their test drive.
Months before the 2012 Civic went on sale, Honda embarked on a “crash redesign” of the sedan, including new front and rear fascias, improved interior materials, and a recalibrated suspension. The Civic coupe was left unchanged because, according to Chrismartin, “We sort of forgot about it.”
Initial reviews of the 2012 Civic indicated that Honda had made the right decision, Chrismartin told Autoblopnik, but early sales numbers proved the changes were unnecessary.
“We spent a lot of money per car updating the interior, when we could have just kept feeding our buyers the same old shit we’ve been serving up since the 1980s,” he lamented.
The sales success of the 2012 Honda Civic was an embarrassment for Consumer Reports Magazine, which said the car “scored too low in our tests to be recommended.”
“I believe in that same issue we also said that Kenmore washers were made of radioactive squirrel turds and that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s brain was being controlled by robots from the planet Beyalazak,” said Consumer Reports COO Larry Bunin-Oven. “Clearly, we were having a bad month.”
Asked if Honda had any changes planed for 2015, Chrismartin insisted Honda is “done futzing with the Civic,” and added, “Frankly, we’ve got our hands full with all the stuff we fucked up on the 2013 Accord, and we’re pretty sure everyone is going to hate the Fit-based sport utility that we have coming year after next. Don’t worry, we have plenty to keep us busy.”
A group of automotive journalists had a tearful reunion with their families and long-term press cars after bad weather trapped them at a press event for nearly twenty hours.
“It was terrible, just terrible,” whined Benny Dimschitz, associating edited contributor for DimshchitzOnCars.com. “After our flights were cancelled, we returned to the hotel to find that our 3-room suites were occupied by the European wave, so we were downgraded to deluxe king suites with an ocean view. And the dinner was a nightmare! Have you ever had surf-and-turf at a 5-star hotel restaurant? The filet mignon was slightly overdone and the lobster was a bit chewy. No one should have to endure treatment like this, even if they aren’t paying.”
“In all my years of travelling on the car manufacturers’ dime, I’ve never seen a travesty like this,” moaned Maughrk Yaughn of Autoweak. “They didn’t even have individual Town Cars to take us back to the hotel. They put us together in a group and made us… made us ride on a… I’m sorry, I don’t usually cry… a luxury motorcoach. Oh, how can people be so cruel?”
Other journalists told Autoblopnik about massive shortages at the hotel, which ran out of foie gras shortly before 9:00 pm and could only serve house wine. With no shuttle service to dinner, some journalists resorted to consuming $8 bags of M&Ms and $6 sodas from their hotel room honor bars rather than risk the nearly 50-yard walk to the hotel restaurant. One small group of journalists reportedly decided to visit a nearby bistro, but their plan was scuttled when they learned they would have to pay for their own taxicab.
“Once the weather cleared and the airport re-opened, we figured we were home free,” said Cart and Diver correspondent Barry Windbag. “But when we got to the airport, we learned that there were no first-class upgrades available on our rescheduled flights. I had to fly two hours in extra-legroom coach. It was horrifying. I actually started to write out my will on the back of a barf bag.”
© Autoblopnik – Hat tip to Mark Vaughn
Acura has confirmed that the two NSX concept vehicles shown at the 2012 and 2013 Detroit auto shows are just the beginning of an excruciating number of show car unveilings that we will be forced to sit through before they finally show the production version.
“Think of it as a sort of striptease,” said Acura spokesteaser Parsley Thyme, “Only the stripper is a poor woman who can’t afford a proper winter coat, so she has to wear a whole lot of layers. We’ve seen her hat and windbreaker come off, but she still has to take off her scarf, her zip-up sweatshirt, her pull-over sweatshirt, the sweater her Aunt Bernie knitted for her for Christmas in 1997, a button-down blouse, a polo shirt, her ex-boyfriend’s Metallica T with the sleeves cut off, a halter top, one more t-shirt, a sports bra and an underwire bra before we finally get to see her gazongas.”
Acura unveiled the first NSX Concept, which lacked an interior, at the 2012 Detroit show. This year’s concept car had a finished interior and opening doors, and Thyme says the next NSX Concept, most likely to be shown at the New York Auto Show this spring, will have an opening hood with a dummy engine, which will be replaced with a real engine in the NSX Concept to be shown at the 2014 Detroit show.
“After that, we’ll show an NSX concept with updated front-end styling, then another one with updated rear-end styling, and maybe a couple with new rooflines and steering wheels. We thought of doing one shaped like a CR-V just to see if people were paying attention, but we decided to just futz with the headlights and the side glass instead.”
Asked about the cost of producing multiple concepts, Thyme said, “Oh, it’s unbelievable. Each concept costs an average of $750,000 to produce, plus another hundred grand to present it at the auto show. We figure this endless line of concepts will probably add $20,000 to the price of each NSX we sell, but how the hell else are we going to maintain the public’s interest in a super-light mid-engine sports coupe with a turbo V6, twin-clutch transmission, and a three-motor hybrid powertrain with the world’s first torque-vectoring electric drive?”
Acura initially planned to bring the NSX to market in 2015, but now says it may delay the launch in order to produce more concept cars.
Chevrolet has revealed pre-sneak preview reveal photos of the new 2014 Corvette ahead of the scheduled sneak preview reveal, media preview, media reveal, public media preview, preview reveal, public preview, and public reveal, some or all of which are scheduled for next week’s North American International Auto Show Reveal in Detroit preview.
Media previewers were shocked to learn that the new Corvette looks nothing like the photos and images that have been circulating on the Web for months.
“It’s true, the new 2014 Corvette looks a lot like the 2013 Malibu,” sneaked Chevrolet spokesman Monte Carlo. “Actually, it is the 2013 Malibu, which has been rebadged as the Corvette.”
Carlo said the change in body style was simply a matter of marketing.
“The terms ’2014 Corvette’ and ‘C7 Corvette’ have received over three hundred billion hits on Google in the last twelve months,” he Googled. “Meanwhile, the term ‘Chevrolet Malibu’ has returned just four, at least 25% of which appear to be spelling errors. By changing the name of the car to Corvette, we’re hoping to raise Chevrolet’s profile in the mid-size sedan market.”
“This is a big change for Chevrolet,” analyzed Paul Eisensteinalysis, analyst for The Detroit Bureaucrat. “By changing the name of the Malibu, Chevrolet will change the car’s name, and that represents a major change for Chevrolet, particularly to the name of the Malibu.”
As for what will happen to the Malibu, Carlo said, “I can’t really comment on future product, but you can expect the Malibu to re-emerge as a two-door fiberglass-bodied V8-powered coupe that will do nothing to change the perception that Americans don’t know jack shit about building sports cars.”
Asked about the alleged spy photos and computer-generated mock-ups that have appeared on sites such as Jablopnik and Autoblag, Carlo said, “Those are just some old photos from the C5 development program. Can you believe they took that shit seriously? It’s like those mid-engine Corvette rumors from twenty years ago — turns out if you say the Corvette will be anything other than a plastic rear-drive coupe with an iron-block V8, it generates a shit-ton of ink. Seriously, man, you guys are too fucking easy. Hey, we’re off the record, right?”
In the wake of its proposed $1.1 billion payout to settle unintended acceleration claims, Toyota today announced that it will eliminate gas pedals and transmissions from all US-market vehicles starting in 2013.
“Toyota has a loyal base of customers who appreciate our cars’ unrivaled economy and reliability,” said unintended Toyota spokesman Moe “Joe” Chen. “Unfortunately, a lot of them are too fucking stupid to understand that stepping on the accelerator while the car is in gear causes it to move, and that neither stepping harder on the accelerator nor hiring a lawyer and suing us will bring about a reversal of this situation. We’ve decided we can best serve our customers by addressing this at a hardware level.”
US-bound Toyotas built after January 1st, 2013, will have no accelerator pedals or linkages and no connection between the engine and the drive wheels. The cars will also have a giant red button on the steering wheel that says “OH GOD PLEASE STOP RIGHT THE FUCK NOW!” that will cut power to the engine, apply the brakes, and chop off the driver’s feet so as to override any cases of “pedal confusion”.
Additionally, Toyota has issued a massive recall for all models back to the 1959 Toyopet which involves removing the accelerator pedal, permanently securing the transmission into Park or Neutral, replacing the “PRNDL” shifter bezel with one that just says “P”, welding the front brake pads to the discs, removing the wheels and tires, and chaining the car securely to a twenty-ton cement block.
As an added safety precaution, all Toyotas, old and new, will have a large yellow sticker affixed to the windshield that says “WARNING: DRIVING, RIDING IN, LOOKING AT, OR BEING ANYWHERE NEAR A MOTOR VEHICLE MAY CAUSE INJURY, DEATH, AND/OR FINANCIALLY RUINOUS LITIGATION THAT WILL NET YOU JUST ENOUGH FOR LUNCH AT DENNY’S IF YOU’RE LUCKY, WHILE PAYING FOR YOUR ATTORNEY’S NEW BOAT.”
“We are confident that these alterations will put an end to the unintended acceleration issue once and for all,” said Chen. “Additionally, our customers will enjoy the added benefits of lower fuel and maintenance costs, and we won’t have to worry about getting sued every time someone has a brain fart and forgets what the pedals do.”
Toyota has also taken steps to guard against the financial impact of future legal action.
“There may be situations we haven’t foreseen that could lead to litigation,” said Chen. “Parking a Toyota on the edge of a sandy cliff, for example, could cause an unintended acceleration issue that leads to a lawsuit. So just to be on the safe side, our list prices will now include a $25,000 surcharge that goes directly to some random lawyer the buyer has never met.”
Former General Motors “Car Czar” Robert Lutz shocked the automotive world by saying something really shocking.
Mr. Lutz made the really shocking remark at a press luncheon promoting whatever automaker he has lent his name to this month. Eyewitnesses said the 80-year-old auto executive had just finished saying something mildly controversial and was starting to say something rather informative, when he suddenly and without warning said something really shocking. Lutz then continued talking informatively as if nothing really shocking had been said.
“It was almost surreal,” said Stephen Eeeeewing, who was attending the luncheon on behalf of Autofrog.com. “You hear about Lutz saying really shocking things all the time, but you never think it’s going to happen to you. And then, bam, he says something really shocking — I mean, he just out and says it — and you’re standing there thinking ‘Holy dog shit, did that really just happen?’ I’ll be honest, I’ve always wanted to be around when Bob Lutz said something really shocking, but I wasn’t prepared for how really shocked I actually was.”
Even veteran reporters with years of experience covering Lutz were really shocked by his really shocking comment.
“I’ve heard Lutz say a lot of really shocking things,” said Mark Retchin of Automotive Nudes, “but this really shocking thing he said, well, it was really shocking. I was really shocked. I think everyone in the room was, really.”
“This is what makes Lutz such a great auto executive,” said Autoblopnik correspondent Clifton Faghands. “He speaks his mind, and he’s not afraid to really shock people a little bit. No other auto executive could ever say anything really shocking like this and get away with it — not even Henry Ford II, and he could be really shocking.”
The automaker on whose behalf Lutz was speaking said they were really shocked, but that they would not terminate their relationship with Mr. Lutz.
“Lutz is an outspoken guy,” said the CEO of whatever company it was. “We knew going in that he might say something really shocking, in fact that he probably would say something really shocking. To be honest, we were rather really shocked when it happened, but that’s why we hired him. Sometimes you have to be really shocking to get people’s attention.”
Photo: Ed Schipul/Creative Commons ShareAlike — Text © Autoblopnik