July Car Sales, Crash Tests, And Dead Green Cars: The Week In Reverse

August 2, 2014

Automakers report July car sales, the IIHS crashes small cars, Honda kills two green cars, and we catch up on this week's car recalls. It's the Week in Reverse, here at The Car Connection.

Car sales made big gains in July, with the Big Six brands leading the way. GM and Ford posted gains of about 10 percent, behind big sales of vehicles like the Camaro and F-150, while Chrysler was up 20 percent, and Nissan, 11 percent, with the Altima sedan still moving quickly off lots.

How does your new car survive in an accident? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says some new small cars don't fare well at all in a new small-overlap test. The test simulates hitting a telephone pole or a car oncoming from the opposite lane. The IIHS found that the MINI Countryman and the Chevy Volt performed well--they're Top Safety Pick+ winners--while the Ford C-Max, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ are Top Safety Picks. The Fiat 500L, Mazda5, Nissan Juke, and Nissan Leaf were rated poor in the new test--and the Mazda 5 turned in one of the worst performances recorded so far.

Rumors began circulating back in February, and now Honda's confirmed: it's killing the Insight hybrid, while it also ends production of the current Fit EV. The Insight's sales stats have been underwhelming. While Toyota sold more than three million Prius vehicles worldwide last year, Honda barely beat a quarter-million. The only Honda model that performed worse than the Insight in 2013 was the CR-Z Hybrid, but oddly, Honda's keeping that one around -- for now, anyway. The Honda FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle and the Ridgeline will also bow out for 2015, but they'll return shortly, in one form or another.

Hyundai has issued the first recall for the new 2015 Sonata sedan just heading to showrooms. The recall stems from a problem with the Sonata's front brake calipers, which could be prone to cracking. The cracks can reduce the effectiveness of the brakes, and make it more likely the Sonata could be in an accident. Dealers will replace the Sonata's brake calipers free of charge.

And finally this week, the Fiat 500L is being recalled for a serious issue with its airbags. Almost 30,000 hatchbacks are being recalled after Chrysler found in testing that the driver knee airbag in the 500L might not deploy in an accident if the driver isn't wearing a seatbelt. To date, the automaker has received no complaints about the issue, and no accidents or injuries have been reported. The recall was issued the same day that the world learned about the Fiat 500L's poor performance on the newest crash tests. It's almost certainly a coincidence, but the timing is notable.


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