If you plan to buy a vehicle in the next four years, rejoice – you are in the midst of a product pipeline bonanza.
Auto makers are expected to launch 193 new models in North America between 2016-2019 – an average of 48 new models a year, says the annual Car Wars study from Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Here's a look at each auto maker's plans for the next four years, based on the Car Wars study and other sources.
Showroom shuffle: On average, FCA will replace 22 per cent of its lineup each year to 2019. FCA puts a strong emphasis on trucks (Ram) and crossovers (35 per cent of the entire lineup). The current showroom at FCA is old, older than the industry average. The renewal is long overdue.
Standout new models: The Fiat 500X and Dodge Charger sedan are the big news for 2016. In 2017, the new models come in important segments – Town & Country minivan, Dodge Dart, Chrysler 100, Jeep Patriot and Dodge Journey. A new Wrangler and Grand Cherokee are due in 2018, the Chrysler Pacifica large crossover is coming, as well as a new Ram and Dodge Horizon sedan and hatchback. For 2019, a new Jeep Grand Wagoneer leads the parade.
The quote: “Our goal … If you look at the kind of growth that we have been putting up the last couple of years, if we can maintain that or even a little less than that, we are going to break into the Top 5 at least. We’re right now the seventh largest auto maker in the world. Whether the industry is up or not, we’re going to grow.” – Chrysler Canada CEO Reid Bigland
The big picture: The Alfa Romeo brand is getting a re-launch but the importance in North America is debatable. Who’s going to buy Alfas? Meantime, CEO Sergio Marchionne seems to be on a quest to find a partner auto maker to help reduce costs and spread new product investments over higher volumes. Reuters reports that FCA has in the last 12 months delayed the redesign or release of at least 12 current or new vehicles in North America alone, despite having laid out a detailed “five-year snapshot” of the company’s product plans in 2014. “Those plans need to be flexible and fluid, with the potential to add some vehicles, pull some forward and extend the life cycle of others,” the company said in a statement to Reuters.
The green report: The big and obvious hole in FCA is in so-called “green vehicles.” FCA has kept largely a secret its plans in an area of increasing importance. This is worrisome. FCA has done almost nothing to publicize whatever electrification program is in place, choosing instead to focus on the shorter-term fuel economy gains of the diesel Ram light duty pickup. FCA does benefit from having access to Fiat’s small displacement engines and diesel technology, but where its rivals seem to be well ahead is in EV and fuel cell technologies.
Showroom shuffle: The 2016 model year will be slow, but new models start arriving in numbers in 2017. On average, 21 per cent of Ford’s volume will be remade each year to 2019. That means Ford will replace 82 per cent of its lineup by then. Look for a particular emphasis on crossovers, where 43 per cent of Ford’s offerings will be. The average age of vehicles in a Ford showroom is younger than the industry overall.
Standout new models: The Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers are big news for 2016, then in 2017 the GT super car arrives, along with three Lincolns (including the Continental and MKM coupe). Ford’s volume models, the Escape, Focus and Fiesta are all reinvented for 2018 and, for 2019, there’s a new Lincoln Aviator and MKZ, along with three crossovers, including a new Explorer.
The quote: “We're poised for a breakthrough year for our company. We expect our results will grow progressively stronger, mainly in the second half, as the new products that we’ve been launching start to really pay off.” – CEO Mark Fields at Ford’s annual meeting in May, according to Bloomberg.
The big picture: Ford has emerged from near-bankruptcy using its well-publicized “One Ford” plan as a guideline. A tight focus on globally shared platforms means the Focus you buy here is much the same as one bought in Europe. Ford has already announced the GT super car will race at Le Mans, and the halo benefits will be immense. The Mustang has already given Ford an image boost. And quality is improving after some stumbles. Fields is now emphasizing the way forward is to turn Ford into a “mobility company” not just a car maker.
The green report: A focus on fuel efficient gas engines (EcoBoost) and lightweight materials (the aluminum F-150) has helped Ford carve out a reputation for making vehicles that maximize fuel efficiency and innovation. Ford has a strong electrification program in place, but recently opened up its patent vault in recognition of how tough it is to get consumers to buy into EVs and plug-in hybrids. That is, the patents as they stand are worthless because consumers won’t pay for the technology.
Showroom shuffle: GM is planning a solid replacement rate of 20 per cent each year to 2016. One of every five GM model will get a major overhaul each year, culminating with the all-new Silverado and Sierra pickups in the last year. GM plans nearly to double its luxury and sporty offerings (read Cadillac) and slice in half its mid-size and large car lineups. GM’s overall showroom age will remain at about the industry average.
Standout new models: The 2016 model year will be massive for Chevrolet. The Camaro, Malibu, Volt, Cruze and Spark will all be made all-new. Cadillac will get its CT6 flagship, Buick its Cascadia convertible. Look for an important small crossover from Caddy in 2017 (XT5), and the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt. A big Caddy CT8 is planned for 2018, along with the return of the Park Avenue at Buick. For 2019 an explosion of Caddy models (four), along with the new pickups and some other surprises.
The quote: “We have a plan well in place to accomplish and to be in front of the change that’s going to occur in this industry over the next five to 10 years … we’ve got a very well-developed plan and we’re all 100 per cent focused on execution. – CEO Mary Barra
The big picture: GM will continue to face fallout from its ignition switch recall issues, but unlike in the last decade, the company has the resources to fund an aggressive product plan despite non-product launch distractions. The Chevrolet and Cadillac brands are getting a load of attention and resources, with GM vowing to make Cadillac an enviable luxury brand and Chevy a global powerhouse. The products GM brings to market over the next four years will tell the story, however, not promises and projections.
The green report: Most consumers and so-called experts largely underestimate the importance of the Volt plug-in hybrid, which will be reinvented for 2016. What GM learned here as an early adopter is filtering through the GM portfolio. The Volt is expected to be an affordable pure battery car. GM’s important business in China is driving its EV focus. And GM has industry-leading expertise in variable displacement engines.
Showroom shuffle: Honda’s lineup will get super youthful over the next four years – and do so much faster than we’ve seen from Honda over the past 15 years. On average, Honda will replace about one-quarter of its lineup every year from 2016-2019. This compares to a 2000-2015 replacement rate of 18 per cent annually. From 2016-2019, Honda will replace 96 per cent of its Honda/Acura lineup.
Standout new models: The 2016 model year includes new versions of the Pilot and Civic as well as the all-new HR-V small crossover and the Acura NSX electrified super car. These models represent 36 per cent of Honda’s sales volume. In 2017, look for a new CR-V, Ridgeline pickup and Odyssey. In 2018, Acura’s RDX, CDX (CR-V based crossover), and ILX arrive, along with a new Accord and Insight. For 2019, Acura’s MDX and RL are reinvented.
The quote: “Honda hitting the sweet spot of its product cadence is not a fluke. It is a function of Honda’s consistent focus on a well-planned-out, 4-5 year product redesign cycle on a simplified two-brand lineup.” – BofA Merrill Lynch
The big picture: Honda’s sales have been treading water for several years. That’s going to change. Honda’s new models land right where more of today’s consumers are shopping – crossovers and SUVs.
The green report: Sources say Honda will focus on spreading its Accord Hybrid technology across more models. And Honda is also focusing on pushing ahead with fuel cell technology. According to Edmonds, Honda will introduce a “dedicated lineup” of electrified vehicles under the Honda brand. At the same time, Honda will expand the use of turbocharging for its small engines and employ more dual-clutch transmissions with seven, eight or nine gears. Honda will also push harder with its super-efficient Earth Dreams engines and continue to employ continuously variable transmissions.
Showroom shuffle: The average replacement rate for Hyundai and Kia is 17 per cent of the showroom per year. That’s below the industry average. And BofA Merrill Lynch says a concentration in small cars goes against the industry tend to crossover. Showroom age creeps above the average for the 2016-2019 period.
Standout new models: Kia has already launched a new Sorento SUV for 2016, with a new Optima sedan coming. At Hyundai, a new Tucson crossover and Elantra compact are coming. For 2017, the Kia Sportage will be welcome, as well as a new Forte and Hyundai’s reinvented Equus luxury car. For 2018, look for a new Kia Rio and Hyundai Santa Fe and, for 2019, Kia’s Cadenza and Soul get remade.
The quote: “You cannot make progress by putting new lines on a car. Only cosmetics. The development of an industry, the progress of next-generation cars, always depends on what’s happening in society, with new technologies … The sum of these, the results, are the new products.” – Kia/Hyundai design chief Peter Schreyer.
The big picture: In the most recent J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, Hyundai and Kia widened the quality gap with other auto makers. These two lead the industry in initial quality by the widest margin ever, averaging 90 problems per 100 vehicles versus an industry average of 112. Both brands have over-invested in small cars and this is hurting sales in a market increasingly obsessed with crossovers and SUV. But by getting the quality basics right, the South Korean brands have set the groundwork for further success when more crossovers are ready for buyers.
The green report: Kia has launched its Soul EV, proving the concept, and Hyundai became the first auto maker in Canada to lease a fuel cell vehicle – the Tucson – to the public. Both brands have also invested heavily in fuel-efficient direct-injection engines and other fuel-maximizing technologies. The brands have a comprehensive “green” plan and have shared much of it publicly.
Showroom shuffle: BofA Merrill Lynch is just a little bearish on the European auto makers. Their average replacement rate is at 18 per cent, below the industry average. Aside from Volkswagen, the Europeans focus almost exclusively on premium vehicles and two-thirds of the new models will be cars, not crossovers, SUVs or light trucks. The average showroom age will be 2.8 years, just slightly older than the industry average.
Standout new models: For 2016, look for a new X1 crossover and 7-Series sedan from BMW. Audi has the Q7 and A4, and Mercedes the GLE crossover. The Germans get busy in 2017, with four new models from Audi (Q5, Q6, A5, A8), Merc’s GLC, a new BMW 5 and three VWs (CrossBlue, Tiguan, CC). BMW’s X3 and VW’s Touareg and Jetta are among the important entries for 2018 and, in 2019, we’ll see a new BMW 3-Series, Audi A6 and A8, Porsche 911 and Mercedes GL and CLS.
The quote: “What got us to No. 1 (in Canada) is the very successful introduction of new products. The new C-Class and new CLA gave us a huge bump. B-Class with 4MATIC is huge for us in Canada … Yes we’re expanding into new segments, but we’re also doing things we’ve always done well at the top end, S-Class and S-Class coupe.” – Tim Reuss, president and CEO, Mercedes-Benz Canada
The big picture: German auto makers collectively are a profit-spinning, product-producing juggernaut. They’re moving into new segments quickly and expanding their dealer networks to meet the needs of new buyers. There is a swagger about the Germans that’s impossible to miss thanks to their successes at both the high end (Mercedes S-Class) and at the lower end, where you’ll find Honda Accords priced to compete (Mercedes-Benz CLA).
The green report: The Germans were slow to make the move, but they are now collectively embracing electric vehicles – from the high-end Audi R8 e-tron unveiled at the Geneva auto show to smaller and cheaper city cars like the battery-powered Smart fortwo. In Geneva, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche conceded that Tesla has taught the Germans a lesson: that there is a market for high-end EVs. The Germans command premium pricing, which gives them an advantage when launching pricier EVs. Audi CEO Rupert Stadler told Reuters that “It’s beyond any question that battery cars have become more important to Audi.”
Showroom shuffle: Nissan’s replacement rate will lag over the next four years, averaging about 18 per cent annually. Just 24 per cent of its lineup by volume will be replaced over the next two years. Worse, Nissan is heavily weighted to cars at a time when consumers are craving crossovers and SUVs. Just 15 per cent of the new model mix is in crossovers. However, Nissan’s average showroom age remains below the industry average.
Standout new models: The big news for 2016 is the new Titan pickup, though a new Maxima, and two Infiniti models are also planned (QX50 small crossover and Q60 coupe). The 2017 model year is massive for cars: Micra, Versa, and Z (coupe and convertible), along with the big Armada SUV and two Infinitis, Q70 sedan and QX80 SUV. Six new Nissans are planned for 2018 (Juke, Altima, Leaf among them) and, for 2019, look for two new Infiniti crossovers (QX70 and QX60), a new Pathfinder SUV and Sentra small car.
The quote: “I always said that our potential in Canada and the United States is at least 10 per cent market share. We are investing for that. We have the product line … Canada is growing because Canada is taking this objective seriously.” – CEO Carlos Ghosn
The green report: Nissan has sold hundreds of thousands of the battery-powered Leaf, yet the market for pure EVs remains small and elusive. Ghosn remains committed to battery cars, however, with fuel cells a promising long-term solution. He bemoans the lack of infrastructure for EVs. Hydrogen fuel cell cars are an even bigger problem. “Where are the hydrogen stations?” he asks, noting the high cost of building a hydrogen station network. In the meantime, then, Nissan will focus on other “green” technologies – led by the Leaf and its ilk – before fuel cells become mainstream.
Showroom shuffle: Toyota is the world’s biggest auto maker and its product plans make it a car company to watch closely. Toyota will replace, on average, 21 per cent of its showroom over the next four years. Toyota’s showroom age, however, will remain around the industry average and the new models are heavily weighted on cars, big and small, not the hotter segments of light trucks and crossovers.
Standout new models: The world awaits the next-generation Prius for 2016, along with the launch of a new 2016 Tacoma. Scion also gets two new models for 2016, the iM and iA. The Sienna minivan is coming for 2017 and a new Tundra pickup for 2019. The high-volume Camry gets redone for 2018 and then almost everything in the Lexus lineup gets a makeover for 2019 – ES, GS, CT.
The quote: “The time has come for Toyota to build a new business model. I am to keep my sights on 20 to 30 years ahead. – CEO Akio Toyoda to Automotive News
The big picture: In the wake of Toyota’s unintended acceleration crisis and the subsequent $1.2 billion (U.S.) fine in a plea bargain with the U.S. government, Toyota has been humbled and put its focus on being an innovative car company. Toyoda has said the company’s vision for the long-term is to be a world leader in personal mobility. Toyota’s greatest strength is its loyal customers, who value reliable if slightly dull vehicles.
The green report: Toyota has made no secret of its skepticism about battery-powered cars. The technology needed to make electric vehicles viable hasn’t been invented yet, said Mitsuhisa Kato, Toyota's global research and development chief, in a just-auto.com report. “The cruising distance is so short for EVs, and the charging time is so long. At the current level of technology, somebody needs to invent a Nobel Prize-winning type battery.” Toyota’s alternative to pure battery cars is three-fold: better hybrids like the next-generation Prius, more fuel efficient gas-powered cars – better engines and transmissions and lighter materials – and hydrogen fuel cell cars, like the Mirai.
OTHERS (Jaguar, Land Rover, Tesla, Volvo, Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi)
Showroom shuffle: The smaller car companies plan numerous launches, though sales volumes are small relative to the Toyotas and Fords of the world. If anything, the planned launches suggest the “other” car makers will have younger, fresher showrooms than their larger rivals. The specific numbers, however, are not available.
Standout new models: Tesla’s Model X crossover is anxiously anticipated, though Volvo has already launched a new XC90 with a heavy dose of electrification and a other advanced technologies. For 2016, Mazda has a new CX-3 small crossover and CX-5 roadster. Land Rover has just launched the Discovery Sport. Look for a new Jaguar XE and XF this year, and a Volvo S80 sedan later in 2016. For 2017, Jag plans a new crossover (XQ), and there will be a Land Rover LR5, and Volvo XC60. Subaru plans a new Impreza line for 2017. For 2018, Tesla’s long-promised Model 3 is coming, along with a small Jaguar crossover (C-CUV) and even a Subaru Tribeca. For 2019, Volvo’s CX70 will be new, Mazda will remake the CX-5, and Subaru will remake the Forester.
The quote: “I guess in the automotive industry you cannot say you have a focus on just one element. The car is the most complex consumer product. It offers all technologies and you have to focus not only on the product but all the operations behind. We just have to run faster to stand still. And that means we have to accelerate to improve in all areas. We see big changes in every area – from materials to electrification to hybridization so it’s fantastic to live in this time of technical change.” – JLR CEO Ralph Speth
The big picture: The world’s smaller car brands are tasked with carving out profitable, consumer-pleases chunks of the market in the face of richer and highly intense competition from the world’s biggest car makers. Thus, Mazda and Subaru are entering alliances with Toyota, for instance. Volvo’s parent is a deep-pocketed Chinese investor, so it has the resources to compete. Jaguar Land Rover has a strong global brand and also a larger parent in Tata. Look for these smaller players to engage in more alliances and co-operative agreements.
The green report: Mazda and Subaru will benefit from their relationships with Toyota, which has a deep reservoir of “green” know-how. JLR has said it’s working hard on electrifying its lineup. Volvo’s new models are heavily invested in electrification and more is coming. The smaller auto brands, then, have been as vocal than their bigger rivals in grasping the green mantle.
Sources: BofA Merrill Lynch Car Wars and others
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