From a low that generally occurred around April, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and the Chrysler Group LLC have markedly hiked incentive spending on full-size pickups. In April, the average TCI for the full-size pickup category – which also includes the almost statistically insignificant Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan and Honda Ridgeline – was $3,261 per vehicle. At the end of September, the average incentive for full-size pickups ballooned by more than 30 percent to $4,281 per vehicle.
Executives from the Detroit automakers insist that this was not simply an inventory-clearing move (because, by industry standards, having three times your monthly sales on the lot is “acceptable”), but manufacturers have been trimming truck production all year and with Days To Turn rising, clearing off the lots makes sense. Especially going into the traditionally slow truck sales months of October and November. Hit the jump for more September incentive and transaction price data…
The main tool for the government’s crusade to get one million plug-in cars on the road by 2015 is the “Qualified Plug-In Electric Vehicle Tax Credit,” a credit that returns between $2,500 and $7,500 to purchasers of a qualifying vehicle. To qualify for the minimum $2,500 credit, a vehicle must have a traction battery with a minimum of four kW/h, and the credit adds an additional $417 in credits for every kW/h above the minimum. Why? Well, you might think that it’s because the DOE has done its research and determined that larger battery packs deliver more social benefits… at least until the 16kW/h limit (the exact size of the Chevy Volt’s battery), where the credit tops out at $7,500. But according to new research by Carnegie Mellon’s Jeremy Michalek, that basic assumption doesn’t appear to be true at all. In fact, his latest paper argues that the government would actually be better off subsidizing smaller, not larger, battery packs.
Cash on the hood is on the rise again, says Edmunds, which keeps track of the Total Costs of Incentives (TCI.) Incentives definitely had been coming down from their January and February highs to reach a low in May (there were cars missing from Japan …), but now, manufacturer largesse is getting greater again. Read More >
GM China always had a comfortable lead over Volkswagen in China – at least on paper. More than half of GM China’s volume comes from small delivery vans, made by a three-way joint venture with SAIC and Wuling, in which GM held 34 percent. This share had been recently raised to 44 percent. The joint venture agreement allows GM to claim 100 percent of the small cars as theirs. “Whatever turns them on” (or Chinese word to that effect) say the other JV partners who happily count the cars again in their annual reports. There is one big problem with that. The “breadvan segment” (so called because the cars looks like loafs on wheels) has been shrinking and is ruining GM’s otherwise good Chinese numbers. Now, GM can’t take it anymore, and is using a familiar tactic: “GM is sacrificing profit margins to maintain market share in China, cutting prices of low-cost minivans by as much as 15 percent to offset slowing sales in the world’s largest vehicle market,” Bloomberg reports. Read More >
Forecasting the success of game-changing technologies is like predicting the weather. Despite a mediocre success rate, it is done every day. Ask me what the weather will be in 2017, and if I want to be absolutely right, I will say: “During the summer months, we expect sun with occasional rain, whereas in the winter months, some snow can be expected.” This prediction would protect my career in any company, but it won’t get me any press.
If I want press, I need to say: “In 2017, fire and brimstone will rain from the skies, which will cause a great conflagration, because all rain will have stopped a year earlier.” These predictions can be made with little risk. Six years down the road, who will remember the nonsense I said today? That thought crosses my mind as I read studies that predict the adoption of electric vehicles. Today, we have two of those. They couldn’t be more apart. We commissioned a third one. Read More >
We didn’t want to mention it when we wrote about GM’s buy a car, get free insurance deal. If we would have said it, it would have been the nasty B-word all over again. The rest of the media showed less compunction. “The worse you drive, the bigger the deal” headlined MSN Money. The deal can be staggering under the right or wrong circumstances, says MSN Money: Read More >
The US market’s Seasonally Adjusted Annual Selling Rate (SAAR) hurdled the 12m mark towards the end of last year, and was cruising above the 13m mark for much of the first half of 2011, but after a rough May, June seems set to become the market’s second month back under the 12m mark.
So, sales are up… but what are the automakers spending in order to get those sales? And what are they getting for their cars? Step inside our incentives and transaction price tracking center for a look at the factors that play affect how sales turn into profits (or don’t). But first, take a look at the graph above showing US-market incentive spending broken out by the regions where automakers are based. As usual, the US-based OEMs put more cash on the hood than their competitors, but more importantly notice how much money is spent on sales each month: nearly $2.5b was spent last month. And despite being a serious chunk of change, Edmunds AutoObserver says that’s the lowest overall level of incentive spending since 2005. So if you’re inclined to ignore incentives when it comes to your monthly sales education, you might want to start paying some attention…
TTAC has always taken pride in its outsider status, and we’ve taken pains to cover the industry from a safe distance in order to continually bring a fresh perspective to developments. As a result, we’re not always on the same page as trends in the industry at large, which tends to be far more given to wild optimism than the average TTAC analysis. But, based on a new study by Booz & Company [PDF], it seems that the “carpocalypse” of recent years has driven the industry to a more TTAC-esque pessimism. According to responses by executives at both OEMs and suppliers, the industry generally feels that the bailout was either a missed opportunity or it didn’t do enough to address fundamental weaknesses… and as a result, executives see challenges ahead.
Speaking at the New York Auto Show today, GM CEO Dan Akerson defended his inconsistent approach to sales incentives, telling the AP [via The Washington Examiner]
I feel pretty good about that. I think we’re in pretty good shape. I don’t want to be a predictable competitor. I don’t want the other guy to know exactly what I’m doing.
For some context,
GM surprised the industry — and Wall Street — when it raised discounts by $400 per vehicle in January and February. Most automakers didn’t raise them because demand for new vehicles has been rising in line with supply…
GM pulled back on its incentives in March, spending $600 to $800 per vehicle less on the deals. But it was too late for some investors, who shied away from the company’s stock because higher rebates lower car companies’ profits.
But does Akerson’s upside, the element of surprise, outweigh the downsides of his hot-cold incentive strategy?
Ask an industry-watcher to name an automaker that seems to be doing things right, and chances are one of the top choices would be Ford Motor Company. And though Ford is enjoying favorable perceptions in the media, according to the company’s own internal goals, it’s actually underperforming. And in a key metric, no less: retail market share. Bloomerg reports: Read More >
Just two short months after Hyundai CEO John Krafcik warned that a brewing incentive and price war was “a step backward for the industry” and “short-term thinking in a long-term process that hurts manufacturers and consumers,” it seems that any signs of a price war are over. But before you rush to give a certain earthquake/tsunami combo credit for the entire situation, consider for a moment that Ford has now joined Toyota in raising prices while insisting it has nothing to do with supply interruptions. A Ford spokesman tells the Detroit News that
This is the second price increase this year [Ed: Ford bumped prices by $130 in January] but has been in the works for months as the industry faces higher commodity costs
Meanwhile, Ford is also the only Detroit-based manufacturer to bring incentives below nine percent of its average transaction price, as its March incentives were down nearly 10 percent compared to March of 2010. Between Ford and Toyota bringing up prices and Hyundai keeping sales growth strong despite low-low incentives, the pressure is mounting on GM, Chrysler, Nissan and Honda. Will they continue to trade margins for volume, or will they take the opportunity to bump prices as Japanese parts shortages continue to play out?
For March, TrueCar has included a chart diagramming the ratio of incentive spending to average transaction price, giving us a look at two key metrics on a single chart. Short of a complete fleet sales or a retail market share breakout falling into our laps (crazier things have happened), this is one of the more important metrics you’ll want to look at to qualify the raw volume numbers coming out of March. But it’s not the only one…
As the former “car czar,” who led the government’s restructuring of GM and Chrysler, Steve Rattner has a considerable interest in portraying his pet projects as having turned the corner. But in a recent CNBC appearance, Rattner acknowledges that the market is “spooked” by GM’s increased reliance on incentives and the “unexpected” departure of its Chief Financial Officer. Ford, meanwhile, simply gets rapped for not communicating a slightly lower Q4 profit than Wall Street expected. And though Rattner’s not the guy to press the point home, there’s a clear distinction to be made between a much-hyped stock aligning itself with expectations (while making a tidy $6b+ profit) and a company that’s losing key personnel while leaning on incentives to recover the volume lost on brand and dealer cuts. But Rattner’s got bigger worries than short-term financial performances, or incentives or personell changes… he sees another, equally familiar problem that’s fixing to give GM (and, to a lesser extent, Ford) the fits: rising gas prices. Read More >
With automakers keeping the incentive pedal pinned to the floor as they entered the new year, a price war has been brewing in the US market for a while now. Hyundai USA CEO John Krafcik has called the trend “a step backward for the industry,” pointing out that nearly every automaker had struggled to regain pricing power coming out of nearly three years of industry-wide weakness. But with GM and Detroit leading the way with high (if “targeted”) incentives, matched by uncharacteristically high incentives from import-brand rivals like Honda and Toyota, it seemed that nothing could prevent a volume-pumping, but profit-sapping price war in the US. At least until Japan was hammered by earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear accidents. Now, with manufacturers and suppliers still struggling to understand the full impact of production shutdowns and reduced inventories, TrueCar has projected current price trends forward, and finds that supply interruptions could reduce supply to the point where prices actually start coming up again. Check out TrueCar’s spreadsheet on supply and pricing projections in XLS format here, or hit the jump for a few highlights.