The Truth About Cars » Analyst Grades http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Jul 2014 04:01:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Analyst Grades http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/analyst-grades/ Subaru Behind Jeep, Ram As Most Off-Roaded Automaker http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/subaru-behind-jeep-ram-as-most-off-roaded-automaker/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/subaru-behind-jeep-ram-as-most-off-roaded-automaker/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857073 green subaru xv crosstrek hybrid

Jeep may be the first thing to come to mind when the idea of going off-road comes up in conversation, but when taking a trip from Los Angeles to that secret pool/art installation in the middle of the desert, you might find a Subaru waiting nearby.

Autoblog reports the automaker’s vehicles are the third most off-roaded in a 2013 J.D. Power study, where 29.5 percent can be found departing the highway for the trail; only Ram and Jeep bested Subaru at 30.2 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Subaru’s director of corporate communications, Michael McHale, added that owners of his company’s offerings were “190 percent more likely to do outdoor activities than other brands,” meriting those treks off the beaten path.

Regarding individual vehicles, the Outback sees the highest use in the dust and mud at 34.7 percent. Meanwhile, most Jeep Grand Cherokee owners prefer the high street over high peaks, with only 21.1 percent deciding to experience just how “trail-rated” their SUVs are. The Outback is also among Subaru’s top three best-selling vehicles in 2013, sandwiched between the Forester and the XV Crosstek as the automaker celebrated its sixth consecutive year of record sales; 424,683 units were sold in the United States alone that year.

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BMW M235i Bests Corvette, 911 In Consumer Reports Road Testing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-m235i-bests-corvette-911-in-consumer-reports-road-testing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-m235i-bests-corvette-911-in-consumer-reports-road-testing/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=855833 BMW M235i HR 04

BMW’s M235i has earned the highest marks ever bestowed upon the German automaker’s lineup from Consumer Reports, while also besting the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette in road tests whose results were recently released online.

Bloomberg reports the coupe earned a 98 out of 100 in its road test, falling one point short of the all-time leaders, the Tesla Model S and Lexus LS460L. The 911 and Corvette, packing more firepower with less comfort than the M235i, earned 95 and 92 out of 100 in their respective road tests.

Deputy editor Jon Linkov proclaimed the M235i a “dual-purpose car” that anyone “could drive to work every day of the week” without leaving the driver in pain, followed by a weekend at the track taking on the likes of the 911 and Corvette. He added that this particular BMW “has almost a direct lineage” to BMWs of the past that lived up to the marketing of “Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Neither of the trio were recommended by the publication, however, as the BMW and the Corvette were too new for reliability reports, while the 911 has below average reliability according to those surveyed.

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JD Power Initial Quality Study Shows GM, Hyundai, Porsche Leading The Pack http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/jd-power-initial-quality-study-shows-gm-hyundai-porsche-leading-the-pack/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/jd-power-initial-quality-study-shows-gm-hyundai-porsche-leading-the-pack/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=846905 2013 Buick Encore, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

J.D. Power has released their U.S. Initial Quality Study for 2014, where General Motors, Hyundai and Porsche earned top marks despite consumers still struggling with the gizmology taking over their vehicles.

Autoblog reports GM’s Buick, Chevrolet and GMC captured more awards than anyone else in the 2014 IQS, with six vehicles winning in their segments. Meanwhile, Hyundai and Porsche were ranked best overall mass-market and premium brand, respectively, where the former reported 94 issues per 100 vehicles reported in the first 90 days, 74/100 for the latter. Porsche also dominated the IQS, having the best score of all brands surveyed.

On the other end of the scale, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ranked poorly in the study, with Fiat holding dead last at 206 problems per 100 vehicles reported in the survey period. Jeep came second-to-last with 146/100, while Dodge was just below the industry average at 124/100. Only Ram and Chrysler fared the best, matching or just exceeding the average of 116/100.

Part of the results may be due to automakers pushing the envelope on technology and new features to make consumers’ lives easier. J.D. Power Vice President of Global Automotive David Sargent says “almost all automakers are struggling” to introduce these pieces “without introducing additional quality problems.” In turn, some consumers are noting the technologies involved are “hard to understand, difficult to use, or [do] not always work as designed.”

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May 2014 New-Car Fuel Economy Average Climbs To 25.6 MPG http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/may-2014-new-car-fuel-economy-average-climbs-to-25-6-mpg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/may-2014-new-car-fuel-economy-average-climbs-to-25-6-mpg/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=838369 EDI_mpg_May-2014

Though the new-car fuel economy average stumbled a bit in April, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute says May’s figure more than made up for it by setting a new monthly record high of 25.6 mpg.

Autoblog Green reports the latest figure is also 3.2 percent higher than the 24.8 mpg average from May 2013. As for the long game, UMTRI found the five-year fuel economy average climbed 20 percent, due in part to both automakers making and customers buying more fuel efficient offerings, as well as alternative fuel vehicles, hybrids, PHEVs and EVs.

In addition, the department released their unadjusted CAFE mpg figures for May 2014, where the fuel economy average is 31.1 mpg. Both figures are based on methodology established by UMTRI in October of 2007.

EDI_CAFE_May-2014

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S&P Delivers Junk Status On Tesla http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/sp-delivers-junk-status-on-tesla-stock/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/sp-delivers-junk-status-on-tesla-stock/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=833497 550x365xtesla-model-s-logo-550x365.jpg.pagespeed.ic.C2rTVvi0LG

Though still riding high all over equity markets, Tesla’s debt offerings took a severe hit in status when Standard & Poor’s bestowed a rating of junk status due to increased possibility of default by the EV automaker.

Automotive News quotes Standard and Poors

[Tesla has a] arrow product focus, concentrated production footprint, small scale relative to its larger automotive peers, limited visibility on the long-term demand for its products and limited track record in handling execution risks that could arise in managing high volume parallel production.

The automaker issued $920 million of 0.25 percent unsecured convertible senior notes due in 2019, another $1.38 billion in 1.25 percent unsecured convertible senior notes with a date in 2021, and a previous issue of such notes due in 2018 totaling $660 million. The notes are being used to fund two Gigafactory projects and further development of the Gen III EV platform meant to underpin the compact vehicle formerly known as the Model E.

In the meantime, the rating company expects the debt to remain stable over the next 12 months in part to improvements on the company’s gross margins. The rating also offers the potential for high returns for investors who know the risks and rewards the status entails.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly termed Tesla’s stock as “junk”, when it should have referred to Tesla’s debt offerings. We regret the error.

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Survey: GM Worst In Its Relationships With Tier 1 Suppliers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/survey-gm-worst-in-its-relationships-with-tier-1-suppliers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/survey-gm-worst-in-its-relationships-with-tier-1-suppliers/#comments Tue, 13 May 2014 11:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=819657 GM Renaissance Center TRON Version

Already dealing with a perception-is-reality problem over its ongoing product recall crisis, General Motors now has a new perception problem: Tier 1 suppliers find the automaker to be the worst automaker in the United States when it comes to their relationships with the company.

Reuters reports in a survey conducted by automotive consultant group Planning Perspectives, the industry’s largest suppliers were asked to rate their relationships with the six automakers responsible for over 85 percent of all light vehicle sales within the United States, grading on key points including trustworthiness, communication and intellectutal property protection. GM scored poorly among Tier 1 companies, resulting in a last-place finish behind Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, who had held dead last from 2008 to last year.

Taking the podium, Toyota and Honda came in first and second respectively, while Nissan knocked Ford out of third. According to Planning Perspectives head John Henke, the Japanese podium sweep could be seen as a sign that supplier relations with the Detroit Three may be waning, especially as the Japan Three are becoming seen in a better light among the Tier 1 suppliers.

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April 2014 Sales Expected To Rise With The Temperature, Fulfilled Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/april-2014-sales-expected-to-rise-with-the-temperature-fulfilled-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/april-2014-sales-expected-to-rise-with-the-temperature-fulfilled-demand/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=809698 Subaru dealership

As the vortices of winter give way to the tornadoes of spring, two automotive weather forecasters predict April 2014 sales to rise 9 percent as consumers head for the showroom floor amid the warming air.

Automotive News reports LMC Automotive and Edmunds.com both have revised their 2014 outlook on April’s climbing sales to somewhere over 16 million vehicles, though the figure is short of the 16.3 million predicted in March. The former also projected 16.6 million units would be manufactured in North America by the end of the year, 3 percent more than what was made in 2013.

As for April, total sales are expected be around 1.4 million, with Edmunds.com expecting General Motors to take 17.7 percent of the U.S. market as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota and Nissan also experience double-digit gains for the month. Meanwhile, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen will see losses in the market.

The causes behind the current sales growth include pent-up demand caused by a harsh winter keeping consumers at home, and the introduction of 63 all-new or redesigned models entering the showroom floor. However, some consumers may have to wait a while for their favorite vehicles to arrive, as railroad shipping has been delayed by weather, geographic shifts in production, and the Bakken oil rush.

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March 2014 US New Car Fuel Economy Average Climbs To 25.4 MPG http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/march-2014-us-new-car-fuel-economy-average-climbs-to-25-4-mpg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/march-2014-us-new-car-fuel-economy-average-climbs-to-25-4-mpg/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 11:30:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=787577 ARCO fuel station

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute says the U.S. new car fuel economy average climbed 0.3 mpg to 25.4 mpg in March.

Automotive News reports the average is the highest recorded since the university began collecting data in October 2007, being 5.3 mpg higher than the first recorded average that month. The institute’s Eco-Driving Index held at 0.80 in January, a 20 percent improvement since the EDI was also established in October 2007.

As for fuel consumption, a separate study found consumption to be 11 percent lower in 2012 than in 2004, reflecting both a decline in driving distance, and an increase in fuel economy. In 2012, the average per vehicle was 529 gallons.

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Toyota Dominates Consumer Reports Used Car Recommendations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/toyota-dominates-consumer-reports-used-car-recommendations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/toyota-dominates-consumer-reports-used-car-recommendations/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 13:07:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=774913 2014 Toyota Camry

Several Toyota models dominated this year’s Consumer Reports list of used car recommendations, with 11 out of 28 overall belonging to the automaker’s Scion, Lexus and namesake brands.

Automotive News reports the 2011-2012 Camry and 2010-2011 Camry Hybrid among the best sedans between $15,000 and $20,000, while the 2006-2007 Lexus RX shares the same pricing space with the non-turbo 2009-2010 Subaru Forester. The 2004-2007 Prius, 2004-2006 Scion xB and the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix twins all took the $10,000 or less small car category, while the 2008-2009 Highlander Hybrid, 2011 Avalon and 2006 Lexus LS took their respective segment spots for vehicles between $20,000 and $25,000.

Overall, all but three of the 28 recommended used cars were made in Japan or South Korea; the 2011-2012 Lincoln MKZ, 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the aforementioned Pontiac Vibe were the only domestics to make the recommendation list.

Consumer Reports also unveiled their “worst of the worst” used car picks, where all but six were made by the Detroit Three, including the Chevrolet Cruze 1.8-liter and Impala, the Chrysler/Dodge trio of minivans, and the orphaned Saturn Outlook and Relay. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and MINI make up the remainder of the 21 picks to avoid.

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Barclays: GM Suffering From Worst Large Pickup Launch In 15 Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/barclays-gm-suffering-from-worst-large-pickup-launch-in-15-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/barclays-gm-suffering-from-worst-large-pickup-launch-in-15-years/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 15:29:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=757225 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior

Though the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado took home North American Truck/Utility of the Year at last month’s Detroit Auto Show, the large pickup and its brother, the GMC Sierra, have suffered from “the least successful large pickup launch over the last 15 years” according to Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson.

Automotive News reports the truck twins “faced a full-court press” from the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500, though winter weather also played a role in lower sales across the board. General Motors executives have come to the defense of their products, proclaiming average transaction prices of $4,000 to $5,000 more than the previous generation pickups and a combined market share hovering around 33 percent over the past few months, though the latter point held between 35 and 40 percent of the market in years past.

With dealers begging for stronger promotion and better incentives for the pickups, Chevrolet will host its Chevy Truck Month promotion. The month-long sale will offer supplier pricing (dealer invoice plus destination charges and a $150 fee) on light- and heavy-duty Silverados, and will be heavily pushed during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament with television advertising beginning March 18.

In addition, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC will all hold Open House events throughout the month of March. The month-long sale will offer supplier pricing on nearly every 2014 vehicle sold under each brand, with the exception of the SS and Corvette Stingray for Chevrolet.

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Sonata Quality Issues Drag Down Hyundai, R&D President Returns http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/sonata-quality-issues-drag-down-hyundai-rd-president-returns/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/sonata-quality-issues-drag-down-hyundai-rd-president-returns/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:54:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=756401 2011 Hyundai Sonata

Just as J.D. Power ranks Hyundai fifth from dead last over quality issues regarding the 2011 Sonata, the automaker’s research and development president, Kwon Moon-sik, returns to the fold three months after quitting over a number of quality issues within the product line.

Automotive News and Reuters report Hyundai holds 27th overall on J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study, with 169 problems per 100 vehicles surveyed. Though nothing was specified for the 2011 Sonata or the 2011 Elantra — the other car from 2011 that brought down Hyundai’s rank — the industry overall developed issues with engines and transmissions tied to advanced fuel-efficiency technologies, including turbocharging. The sedan’s issues are magnified due to its groundbreaking design and said technologies, shaking up the otherwise conservative midsize sedan segment on its way to becoming Hyundai’s top-selling vehicle.

Meanwhile, Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-koo has rehired R&D president Kwon Moon-sik to help right the ship as the next generation Sonata prepares to make its debut in South Korea next month, as the automaker said in a statement:

Given his expertise, experience and leadership skills, we reinstated president Kwon to enhance quality and R&D capability from scratch.

Hyundai also said they expect their dependability ratings to improve next year when the 2012 models are evaluated, though it was “very disappointed” the results of this year’s study, and is “examining every component of the score to determine root-cause solutions” for improving their product line and services.

Kwon, along with two other R&D executives, quit three months earlier over quality issues — such as those affecting the 2011 models — that led to massive recalls in the United States, South Korea and other market. He was also one of the top aides to Chung’s son, Chung Eui-sun. His replacement, Kim Hae-jin, will return to heading powertrain development.

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Japanese Brands Dominate Consumer Reports Rankings, Detroit Three Struggling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/japanese-brands-dominate-consumer-reports-rankings-detroit-three-struggling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/japanese-brands-dominate-consumer-reports-rankings-detroit-three-struggling/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:30:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754369 2014 Lexus GS 450h Hybrid Exterior-004

Though quality and performance have improved as of late for products made by the Detroit Three, they still have a ways to go to beat the Japanese brands dominating Consumer Reports‘ current rankings.

Automotive News reports seven of the top 10 brands rated for overall reliability and road-test performance as conducted by the magazine are Japanese, while the two top Detroit brands — Buick and GMC — tied for 12th; Ford and Jeep tied for last place.

The top-rated brand for the second consecutive year was Lexus, scoring 79 out of 100 for their lineup deemed “quiet, plush, and very reliable” by Consumer Reports. Following the luxury brand were Acura, Audi, Subaru and Toyota (tied for fourth place), Mazda, Honda, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW and Volvo (tied for 10th).

As for where the remaining Detroit Three brands landed, Chrysler took up the 14th position while Chevrolet, Cadillac, Dodge and the aforementioned Ford and Jeep rounding out the bottom of the rankings behind Nissan, the lowest ranked Japanese brand in a tie with Volkswagen for 19th.

Ford and Jeep’s dead-last ranking is the result of technology woes for the former’s MyFord Touch infotainment system, and a “crude and outdated” lineup — including a Grand Cherokee suffering from weakened reliability, and a Cherokee that the magazine says “isn’t that competitive” — for the latter. Ford, in particular, is a “sad story” according to CR director of auto testing Jake Fisher:

The Ford Fusion, not only does it look, but it drives like a good European sports car. It really does. The problem is the reliability, and that’s what’s dragging down that brand.

Meanwhile, Fisher notes that if General Motors had “a whole lineup of Impalas,” considered the best large sedan based on road tests conducted by the magazine, the automaker would be at the top of the rankings. Overall, Fisher believes the Detroit Three as a whole are “going the right way” in terms of reliability and performance.

Regarding individual models, the Ram 1500 was rated the Best Pickup over the Silverado/Sierra twins in part due to the lack of reliability information for the latter two, while Hyundai captured the trophy Best Mid-Size SUV for their Santa Fe, Subaru holding off the Honda CR-V with their Forester for Best Small SUV, and Tesla, whose Model S holds the highest overall score ever given by the magazine: 99 out of 100, takes home the Overall trophy.

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Panasonic, Partners Plan To Invest $1 Billion In Tesla Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/panasonic-partners-plan-to-invest-1-billion-in-tesla-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/panasonic-partners-plan-to-invest-1-billion-in-tesla-gigafactory/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754985 Toyota Panasonic TF108

In the wake of Tesla shares hitting an all-time high of $259.20 after Morgan Stanley raised its target price to $320/share, battery maker Panasonic is gathering a few partners to go all in on a $1 billion investment in the automaker’s Gigafactory battery production plant.

The Globe and Mail reports that the plant, set to open in 2017 (just in time for production of the Tesla Model E), will help bolster Panasonic’s supply of lithium-ion batteries already found in the Model S and, soon, the Model X. The Gigafactory would also provide packs to Toyota and various automakers interested in the technology.

Though the proposed factory would lower production costs by placing the entire process under one roof, the main purpose according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk is “to support the volume of the third generation car”:

Meanwhile, investors heeded the advice of Morgan Stanley Tuesday, pushing Tesla share prices to a record peak of $259.20 before falling to $248 at close. The firm raised its target price per share from $153 to $320 based on the potential effects the Gigafactory could have on the United States auto industry in the next 14 years, an assessment Stifel analyst James Albertine believes to be a game-changer in the energy storage market:

While we remain negative on Tesla shares above $200 as an automotive OEM (original equipment manufacturer), the energy storage opportunity requires a broader perspective and could very well justify current, if not higher valuation levels.

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Presidents Day, Warmer Weather Provide Small Jump In February Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/presidents-day-warmer-weather-provide-small-jump-in-february-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/presidents-day-warmer-weather-provide-small-jump-in-february-sales/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754449 Mazda-Dealership

Brief warming spells between polar vortices and Presidents Day sales boosted sales in February, though rising inventories and incentives raise questions about sales momentum heading into the oncoming spring selling season.

Automotive News reports seasonally adjusted annualized rates of 15.4 million units from TrueCar and Cars.com, and 15.3 million from Kelley Blue Book, up from 15.2 million SAAR projected last month after snowstorms and colder temperatures across most of the country kept consumers out of the showroom.

Meanwhile, fleet sales also took a hit this month, contributing to overall SAAR projections of 15.5 million from Barclays Capital, 15.7 million from LMC Automotive, and 15 million-plus from Wells Fargo Securities. Wells Fargo Securities senior analyst Richard Kwas also estimates March’s SAAR could surpass 16 million units, a figure last seen in August and November 2013, while he and J.D. Power senior vice president of the global automotive practice John Humphrey both believe the negative effects bestowed by winter weather systems earlier in February would be mitigated by stronger push in sales — boosted by Presidents Day promotions — at the close of the month.

Part of that push comes at the heels of more incentives. TrueCar listed increases of 3 percent over January, 5 percent from the same point in 2013, and a year-over-year of 20 percent for Honda, Hyundai/Kia, Toyota and Volkswagen. Ford also boosted their year-over-year to 16 percent, while General Motors and FCA’s Chrysler Group saw their incentive spending fall. Transaction prices also rose this month, with LMC predicting a record average of $29,000 per unit, beating the previous record from last February by over $400 per vehicle.

At the start of February, automakers began with an 88-day supply of inventory, the highest since 2009 when automotive sales collapsed at the start of the Great Recession. LMC expects the inventory should thin by spring — projecting a 16.2 million SAAR for 2014 — though warned production levels could drop if the backlog is still an issue come June, forecasting a 2.5 percent decline in North American production to 16.5 million units.

Even more interesting will be the month of March. It could be the first indicator of over-exuberance about the auto market, or it could be the sign of things picking up after a nasty bout of cold weather.

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J.D. Power: Increase In Dependability Problems For 1st Time Since 1998 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/j-d-power-increase-in-dependability-problems-for-1st-time-since-1998/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/j-d-power-increase-in-dependability-problems-for-1st-time-since-1998/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 15:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=740841 JD

In a new study by J.D. Power and Associates, the analyst group has found an increase in the average of dependability problems per 100 cars, the first such increase since 1998.

Autoblog reports that the firm’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study found an average of 133 issues per 100 cars made in 2011 among the 41,000 respondents who participated, up 6 percent from 126 problems per 100 cars found in 2010 models in last year’s study. The majority of the issues stem from the drivetrain, particularly those utilizing four-cylinder and diesel engines; five- and six-cylinder powerplants were less problematic.

As for the brands with the least problems, Lexus takes the prize for the third consecutive year with only 68 issues per 100 units, while Mercedes-Benz (104), Cadillac (107), Acura (109) and Buick (112) rounding out the top five.

Among the automakers, General Motors took home eight dependability awards for their 2011 models, including the Volt, Escalade and Lucerne, while Toyota won seven among their trio of brands, and Honda taking home six awards.

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Moody’s Cuts Fiat’s Rating Down Due To Earnings Worries, Outlook http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/moodys-cuts-fiats-rating-down-due-to-earnings-worries-outlook/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/moodys-cuts-fiats-rating-down-due-to-earnings-worries-outlook/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 16:18:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=740041 2014 Fiat 500L Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Citing weak results in 2013 and guidance challenges for 2014, investment ratings agency Moody’s has cut Fiat’s rating from B3a to B1, four notches below investment grade.

Automotive News reports that the rating was decided upon by the agency after placing the automaker under review for a possible downgrade back in the opening days of 2014 just after Fiat struck a deal to take full control of Chrysler for $4.35 billion. In turn, the B1 rating for Fiat means the automaker will have a harder time securing much-needed financing in order to right the ship for their loss-making European operations.

Aside from the aforementioned reasons cited for the downgrade, Moody’s lead analyst for Fiat Falk Frey added that

“We have downgraded Fiat’s ratings following its weaker-than-expected performance in fiscal year 2013 and our view that the company faces significant challenges in terms of achieving its outlook guidance for the current fiscal year.”

 “We are also concerned that Fiat may not be able to offset any further profitability deterioration in its Latin American operation through anticipated improvements in other regions and in its luxury and performance division,” 

Other factors in the downgrade include Fiat’s overreliance on the European market — still weak from the Great Recession — rising price pressures, a lack of major new models coming down the ramp in 2014, and overcapacity in Fiat’s home market.

Although Fiat and Chrysler merged not too long ago, Moody’s will keep the former duo’s ratings separate for the foreseeable future. The agency also said Fiat’s rating’s outlook overall has improved from negative to stable.

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EPA Declares Mazda As Most Fuel Efficient Automaker http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/epa-declares-mazda-as-most-fuel-efficient-automaker/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/epa-declares-mazda-as-most-fuel-efficient-automaker/#comments Wed, 18 Dec 2013 10:30:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=682770 2014 Mazda Mazda6 Exterior

Though Toyota and Nissan may be leading the charge to a hybrid plug-in future, it’s Mazda who, once again, leads the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy list for the 2013 model year with an average of 27.5 mpg.

Not only does Mazda maintain its green crown in fuel economy — in part due to its SKYACTIV diesel and gasoline engines, which the automaker expects 80 percent of their 1.7 million units sold worldwide in 2016 to possess — but also has the lowest fleetwide composite carbon dioxide emissions for the outgoing model year with 324 grams per mile. Honda and Toyota make up the rest of the podium with 27 and 25.2 mpg, respectively, though Toyota’s CO2 emissions are 23 grams per mile higher than Honda’s 329 g/mi rating.

The Germans enter the list at No. 4 with VW netting an average of 26.2 mpg, while the Americans arrive with Ford at the No.8 position, rating just 22.6 mpg. Overall, the industry earned an average of 24 mpg and 370 g/mi. Kia and Hyundai were not included in this year’s EPA rankings.

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Analyst Who Can’t Shoot Straight Sinks Car Stocks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/analyst-who-cant-shoot-straight-sinks-car-stocks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/analyst-who-cant-shoot-straight-sinks-car-stocks/#comments Thu, 21 Jun 2012 17:53:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=449747

TTAC’s advisor in cross-cultural affairs, Frau Schmitto-san, advises me that “itay” means “pain” in Japanese. Nomen est omen: Pessimistic remarks of an analyst named “Itay” sent car stocks down this morning. By mid day, Ford had dropped 19 cents, GM lost 53 cents. All because Citi analyst Itay Michaeli thinks the car market may not be as hot as some think.

Michaeli reduced his forecast for total U.S. sales from 14.3 million to 14.1 million. He now expects only 14.5 million to be sold next year.

After checking the results of TTAC’s Grade The Analysts, it appears that Michaeli is not the sharpest shooter of the bunch. Whenever he bets, he lands near the bottom of the field. His February SAAR guess was off by 900,000 units, in May, he missed by 600,000. He was DNS in the other month.

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Grade The Analysts: The Bankers Have It http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/grade-the-analysts-the-bankers-have-it/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/grade-the-analysts-the-bankers-have-it/#comments Wed, 04 Apr 2012 13:47:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=438139

March was a great month for the auto industry, and an analyst’s Waterloo. The real-time data equipped heavy-weights of Edmunds, TrueCar and Kelley were solidly trounced by bankers with a better feel, better sources, or simply better luck. The podium of March’s “Grade The Analysts” is populated by brokers and bankers, the professional auto oracles have been degraded to also-runs.

Rank Analyst  GM Ford  Chrysler  SAAR SAAR Diff OEM Diff Overall
1 Peter Nesvold (Jefferies) 19.0% 4.1% 35.0% 14.4 0.0% 8.9% 8.9%
2 Emmanuel Rosner (CLSA) 13.0% 7.9% 29.0% 14.5 0.7% 8.9% 9.6%
3 Brian Johnson (Barclays Capital) 7.6% 9.0% 37.0% 14.5 0.7% 11.4% 12.1%
4 Jessica Caldwell (Edmunds.com) 21.0% 4.8% 35.0% 14.9 3.5% 10.2% 13.7%
5 Jesse Toprak (TrueCar.com) 21.0% 1.4% 32.0% 14.5 0.7% 14.6% 15.3%
6 Alec Gutierrez (Kelley Blue Book) 24.0% 6.0% 35.0% 14.6 1.4% 14.0% 15.4%
7 Chris Ceraso (Credit Suisse) 19.0% 7.9% 27.0% 14.4 0.0% 16.9% 16.9%
8 Rod Lache (Deutsche Bank) 21.0% 3.6% 27.0% 14.4 0.0% 17.4% 17.4%
9 Joseph Spak (RBC) 18.0% 6.2% 21.0% 14.4 0.0% 20.2% 20.2%
10 Patrick Archambault (Goldman Sachs) 25.0% 3.9% 29.0% 14.6 1.4% 19.1% 20.5%
11 Itay Michaeli (Citigroup) NA NA NA 14.4 0.0% 300.0% 300.0%
12 Alan Baum (Baum & Associates) NA NA NA 14.4 0.0% 300.0% 300.0%
13 Matthew Stover (Guggenheim) NA NA NA 14.5 0.7% 300.0% 300.7%
14 Adam Jonas (Morgan Stanley) NA NA NA 14.5 0.7% 300.0% 300.7%
15 George Magliano (IHS Automotive) NA NA NA 14.5 0.7% 300.0% 300.7%
16 Jeff Schuster (LMC Automotive) NA NA NA 14.1 2.1% 300.0% 302.1%
Average 19.0% 5.5% 31.0% 14.5
Actual 12.0% 5.0% 34.0% 14.4

Peter Nesvold of Jefferies deservedly is spraying expensive champagne from his top position at the automotive analysts polled by Bloomberg. Nesvold called GM’s 19 percent on the dot, he was within a whisker’s width of Ford and Chrysler, he nailed the SAAR. Emmanuel Rosner in number 2 and Brian Johnson on three were less precise, but their guesses still were good enough to shame the nuclear-tipped crowd.

The real-time heavyweights of Edmunds, TrueCar and Kelley all aimed too high and missed. Too bad for Itay Michael  and Alan Baum. Both called March SAAR exactly, but in this game, one can only win by naming a number for each of the Detroit dudes. Jeff Schuster misses the good old days when he played with the big boys. How does it feel down there?

Better luck in April!

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TTAC Grades The Analysts: Edmunds Receives First A+ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/ttac-grades-the-analysts-edmunds-receives-first-a/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/ttac-grades-the-analysts-edmunds-receives-first-a/#comments Tue, 02 Aug 2011 20:35:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=405273

With full sales numbers reported for July, TTAC is proud to announce its first-ever auto analyst grades [analyst estimates via Bloomberg]. For now we’re simply grading SAAR projections, but we’ve included OEM projections where applicable, for your own comparison. For July, the top-rated analyst was Edmunds.com’s Jessica Caldwell, whose SAAR prediction was an uncanny .5% off the actual number. Congratulations to Jessica and the Edmunds team, as well as our other A-rated analysts, Rod Lache of Deutsche Bank and Peter Nesvold of Jefferies (who squeaked in with an A-). Hit the jump to see how we calculated our grades.


Here’s how the grading works: we calculate the percentage each analyst’s projection was off by and grade on the following scale:

<1% = A+
1%-2% = A
2%-3% = B
3%-4% = C
4%-5% = D
>5% = F

And at least for July, there’s evidence that our grade scale is a good one: the panel of analysts averaged a mid-to-high C, and there were only two Fs and one D. Be sure to check back next month, when we will again grade the panel of analysts in hopes of establishing a running track record.

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