New Car Shortage! Real or Imagined?

2014 Honda Accord

Remember when Twinkies went extinct? There was a mass panic, and stores sold out immediately when news broke that the spongy yellow cake was about to be gone forever.

Fast forward to last weekend and I’m at a convenience store somewhere in the middle of Oregon, and there’s a stack of Twinkies at the cash register, with a label on the packaging that said something like, “Best comeback story ever.”

Right. Anyone else think the Twinkie panic was nothing more than a marketing ploy to sell more Twinkies?

I feel something similar might be happening in the auto industry at this very moment.

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2013 Ford Fusion: Not Number One, and Proud of It

2013 Ford Fusion

A great story yesterday at Bloomberg got me thinking about the constant fight in the auto world to be number one.

Every automaker fights to become number one and then, when it gets there, spends ample amounts of marketing money bragging about its greatness. They all do it, whether it’s having the number one selling truck, the top selling sedan, the best fuel economy, the highest safety ratings or, the mother of all number ones, being the top selling automaker in the world.

That last one is a war currently waged by General Motors (the current number one), Toyota (the recently displaced number one) and Volkswagen (which desperately wants to become number one).

Consumers, I would argue, really don’t care about which automaker is number one. They just want a great car. Judging from the story I ready yesterday, Ford might be figuring that out.

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August Auto Sales Show Shifting Supremacy

Hyundai Genesis Coupe

Remember when Toyota and Honda were the darlings of the auto industry? When their reputations were flawless, their vehicles were rock-solid and their sales numbers consistently ranked at the top of monthly lists?

I remember those days, too. They were, like, six months ago.

Today the automotive landscape looks much different. The once laughable American Big 3 have seen huge gains. Toyota and Honda have fallen off their thrones, and Hyundai Group just might be poised to take the top spot.

Is this a brief interruption in the regularly scheduled domination of the Japanese, or have the tables shifted to allow the U.S. and Korean automakers some time at the top?

Time will tell. For now Chrysler (aka the FIAT Group), General Motors and Ford reported increased sales of 23 percent, 16 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Honda sales are down 6 percent, and Toyota’s fell by 8 percent. While Chrysler/FIAT may appear to be a big winner, Hyundai became the king of the first 8 months of 2011 by racking up an additional 29 percent in sales compared to the same time period last year.

Keep reading for a comparison of other automakers and to see which are thriving and which are hurting.

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