Which continent will reign supreme in 2013?
Model year 2013 started way back in September for many manufacturers, as revamped editions of classic nameplates took the road right as the kids were heading back to school. However, many of the most highly anticipated rides of the New Year are either just hitting the streets this January or are still a few months away.
This is bound to be an extremely transformative year for the automotive industry stateside as some of the first all-new products since the Big Three – General Motors, Chrysler and Ford – faced bankruptcy in 2009 are set to hit the streets. It's been a long road to recovery for some marques as they were forced to re-establish themselves as legitimate enterprises after the embarrassing government restructuring. Slowly but surely, car sales are returning to pre-recession levels and the big brands are promising cars that will be better than any they've produced in years.
Sadly for the American automakers, foreign brands wasted no time trying to steal as much market share from the once-dominant Detroit Triumvirate as possible. While doors were shuttered at dealerships selling domestic brands across the country, marques from Europe and Asia got busy creating cars and trucks that they hoped would erase names like Chevy and Dodge from consumers' memories.
This is why 2013 will be a make-it-or-break-it year for not only the struggling American automakers but the ambitious foreign brands that want to make headway in a still crowded market.
One company which is perhaps set to see the biggest changes going into 2013 is Chevrolet, which is introducing an almost completely new lineup this year. The Silverado, GM's best-selling model, will be revamped with meatier front and back fascia, while the full-size platform it shares with GMC will be tightened. This model is already one of the best all-around made by the General, so by only making minor improvements, GM is guaranteeing they won't lose their number two standing in the market.
The new Malibu and Impala are the bigger risks being taken, as these represent the segment GM has had the most trouble regaining a place in. The jury's still out on the new Malibu, which looks better than it has in years but has received mixed reviews from many major publications citing a weak interior. The Impala, however, looks like it could be a killer, with daredevil looks that easily rival any other car in its class. As long as the car can move, it should be a home run for Chevrolet, taking them out of the rental market and back onto car lots.
Luckily for most European companies, there wasn't much goodwill lost among domestic consumers when the industry took a nosedive at the end of the last decade. But not all European brands were left unscathed.
Ford was forced to shed some of its premier holdings to Asian companies in an effort to remain solvent in the new millenium. This means that Swedish brand Volvo, which had thrived as a luxury mark in the Ford carriage house, had to be sacrificed as Ford held onto its holdings stateside. The same was true for Jaguar, the British automaker, which had lost a lot of street cred under Ford's guidance. Jaguar saw a huge resurgence after being purchased by the Tata Group, an Indian conglomerate, and Volvo looks to bounce back under the control of the Chinese Geely Group.
Expect an all-new F-Type to hit the streets sometime this summer as the convertible looks to take on the Porsche 911 in terms of looks and performance. The 5.0 liter V8 promises to be a total powerhouse, while the body this time around is lighter than any Jag in years. It's the face on this thing that really gets you, however, as Jaguar has once again, and after a long hiatus, become a style icon in the automotive industry.
Saab, unfortunately, the long harangued Swedish stepchild in the GM stable, is hanging on for dear life after being acquired by National Electric Vehicle Company of Sweden in November of 2012. If Saab does ever return to the American Market, it probably won't be any time soon.
The real action to watch is from the new cars set to hit the market from across the Pacific. Not only have cars from Japan and Korea dominated the economy car division over the past two decades, they have started inching towards supremacy in the luxury market as well.
Lexus, for example, has been a major success story for the Toyota brand as it has slayed less competitive American brands like Buick and Lincoln and emerged as an equal to the beloved German luxury makers. The GS Hybrid has combined luxury with fuel economy which is a must if the company wants to maintain its edge in the crowded segment. However, the GS is hardly a traffic-stopper when it comes to looks, and could easily be confused with a late model Honda Accord if you look too quick.
It's in the mid-sized sedan segment that the biggest gambles are being taken, as new entries from Nissan and Honda are looking to maintain the foreign lead over domestic options – a gap which has been closing in recent years. The new Honda Accord isn't a huge departure from its predecessor, although the hybrid option makes it one of the more fuel-efficient models in the segment. However, the Nissan Altima has had the biggest makeover, as the car is bulkier than any of its predecessors and actually has some design cues (chrome, headlights) that look borrowed from late-model Lexuses and Acuras.
It's bound to be an exciting year for many automakers, but where do you think the most successful car of the year will be built? Leave your comments below: