The Truth About Cars » Sales The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:29:19 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » Sales Opel-Badged Chevrolet Volt Killed In Europe Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:01:35 +0000 ampera-450x317

The Opel Ampera, an Opel-badged Chevrolet Volt, will be killed off in Europe due to slow sales.

The Ampera will be axed after just one generation – with a new Volt being launched in the second half of 2015, an Opel (and presumably Vauxhall) version will not be produced.

Automotive News Europe reports that Ampera sales slid dramatically in 2013. In Germany, the Ferrari F12 supercar has sold nearly twice as many units as the Ampera.

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Cain’s Segments, Canada Recap Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:23:58 +0000 450x299x2014-Honda-Civic-Coupe-12-of-29-550x3661-450x299.jpg.pagespeed.ic.VFPFSGfwNb

Booming utility vehicle sales have boosted Canada’s new vehicle market to unseen highs in the first half of 2014. Despite falling car sales and a slight decline in overall pickup truck volume, Canada’s auto industry is up nearly 3% through the first six months of 2014, an increase of some 25,000 units compared with the first half of 2013.

Canada’s top-selling utility, the Ford Escape, sells at least 50% more often than any of the next-best-selling SUVs or crossovers. The Escape and all its next-best-selling cohorts combined to generate 32.3% of the Canadian market’s first-half volume, an impressive leap from 29.6% just one year earlier. Excluding SUVs and crossovers, Canada’s auto industry would be down 1.2% this year, losing more than 7000 units, rather than up 2.8% as it is with those vehicles included in the equation.

Yet the story in the month of June, specifically, was quite a bit different. Sales of utility vehicles still increased, but by a much smaller margin, rising just 2% after year-to-date sales had jumped 15% through May. And while passenger car sales declined in December, January, February, March, April, and May, June car volume jumped by more than 3%.

Volvo, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Cadillac, Porsche, BMW, Lexus, Honda, and Audi reported the most significant percentage increases in car sales.

All was not sunshine and roses in June, certainly not in the passenger car market; certainly not for General Motors. Chrysler Canada says their overall car volume slid 27%. Lincoln car sales slid 44%. Acura’s cars were down 42%.

At General Motors, where Buick car sales fell 22% and Chevrolet cars were down 13%, total passenger car volume fell 12% and total GM Canada sales were down 15%.

Hyundai and Kia combined to outsell GM for the first time since September of last year, and this during a month in which Hyundai-Kia sales decreased 6%. Pickup truck sales at GM were down 17% in June. Particularly notable declines were reported by the Spark (-76%), Traverse (-48%), Equinox (-40%), Orlando (-39%), Enclave (-37%), LaCrosse (-36%), Suburban (-36%), Trax (-35%), Impala (-32%), and Acadia (-31%).

Is this downturn an omen for what we will soon see from General Motors in its home market, or just a one-month anomaly for a company that’s down only 2% through the first half of the year? June was certainly a bad month for GM in Canada, as sales travelled very far in the exact opposite direction from where the overall industry was headed. Industry-wide new vehicle sales climbed 2%, but if we ignore the losses at GM and exclude the automaker from the calculation, auto sales were up more than 5% last month.

First half notes: The Honda Civic is halfway to ending its 17th consecutive year as Canada’s best-selling car. Chrysler Canada’s minivan production has seen the Dodge Grand Caravan (Canada’s fifth-best-selling vehicle) and Chrysler Town & Country increase their market share in the category. Canada’s full-size pickup truck market has grown slightly as Ram’s pickup range has filled the void left by declining F-Series, Sierra, and Silverado sales. A 7.5% year-over-year increase has helped Mercedes-Benz to a 1060-unit lead over BMW in Canada’s premium brand sales race. Ford is easily Canada’s top-selling auto brand overall. With its five brands, the Chrysler Group (Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram) has outsold the Ford Motor Company by 3522 units so far this year, although Ford led Chrysler in each of the second quarter’s three months.

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Want To Buy A New Car? There Will Be An App For That Fri, 18 Jul 2014 15:55:40 +0000 autonation-ford-304xx2033-1586-0-214

AutoNation, which is America’s largest dealership chain, is embarking on a two-year, $100-million project that will include that creation of an app that will allow shoppers to purchase cars online, in a method similar to traditional e-commerce.

CEO Mike Jackson told the Wall Street Journal

“You can sit at home, watch TV. You can view our entire inventory, select the vehicle you’re interested in, get a price and then you can send us a deposit… That vehicle then becomes the customer’s car without the customer “ever having entered the store.”

Jackson had previously declared his war on third-party lead generation sites like and Edmunds, and announced plans to shore up AutoNation’s web presence. The ability to select a vehicle from inventory was one of his online strategy’s key selling points, as current lead generation sites often do not have that capability.

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Hyundai Azera May Be Full-Size Segment’s Next Victim Thu, 17 Jul 2014 18:06:11 +0000 2012azera-550x412

It’s hard out here for a full-size car. Sales are declining on a consistent basis, as crossovers and falling demand for V6 and V8 non-premium sedans eats into the once-proud full-size segment. Talk of Ford killing off the Taurus seems to float around, while at least half of all sales in the broader segment seem to go to fleets. Market forces might claim their next victim in the form of the Hyundai Azera.

Autoblog reports that even Hyundai execs are open-ended about the car’s future prospects in America. While the Azera is a hit in its home market of South Korea, sales are declining in the United States, and lagging behind key rivals.

While Hyundai claims that there is a place for the Azera between the Sonata and Genesis, industry analysts we spoke to (on condition of anonymity, due to the proprietary data being shared) shows that among sedan buyers, take rates for V6 engines across the mid-size segment is continuously falling. The near-term trend is said to be the eventual phasing out of the V6, similar to what Hyundai already did with the Sonata. Right now, one of the key selling points for the Azera over the Sonata seems to be the V6 engine, but if that’s no longer a factor, then that further weakens the business case for importing them from South Korea.

If that weren’t enough, the Sonata is dimensionally identical to the Azera, while boasting better fuel economy. And buyers can also be pushed towards the V6 powered Santa Fe, which can meet their space and power needs while also boasting all-wheel drive and the possibility of more cargo and passenger capacity.

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Cain’s Segments, June 2014: Small And Mid-Size Pickup Trucks Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:26:26 +0000 2015-Chevy-Colorado-3-450x275

Small and midsize pickup trucks accounted for 10.6% of the new pickups sold in the United States in June 2014 as their collective volume slid 9.3%.

Overall pickup truck sales slid 5.1%. Sales of the core set of six full-size trucks fell 3.5%.

One year ago, in June 2013, this group of non-full-size trucks generated 11.1% of the pickup truck volume.

During the first half of 2014, sales of these smaller pickup trucks were down 3.9%, a loss of 4806 units, as sales of the Ford F-Series-led full-size group jumped 4.3% and the overall pickup sector grew at a 2% clip.

Excluding the three parts of this small/midsize category – Colorado, Canyon, Equator – that have either disappeared or were in the throes of a long hiatus one year ago results in a 0.4% year-over-year decline over the first half of 2014. The Nissan Frontier’s meaningful gains were offset by the Tacoma’s 7.4% loss and the Honda Ridgeline’s 12% decrease.

How is the Tacoma’s decline explained? For starters, remember that Tacoma sales through the first half of 2013 had risen very nicely with a 21% jump compared to the first half of 2012. Tacoma sales in 2013 reached a six-year high. At the current pace, 2014 Tacoma sales will be higher than they’ve been at any point since 2007, that is, if we ignore last year’s results.

But’s inventory results for the Tundra and Tacoma show twice as many available Tundras as there are Tacomas. We know that the biggest difficulty for small and midsize trucks right now is the pricing proximity with their full-size siblings. The updated Tundra has produced a 12.5% boost in volume so far this year. In fact, the Tundra has joined the Ram in stealing market share, a little bit of market share, from Ford and General Motors in the full-size sector.

There’s your segue. These figures are meant to set a baseline before the new Colorado and Canyon arrive. The smaller pickup trucks that stuck around after the Dakota and Ranger departed and after the Colorado and Canyon temporarily vacated the premises have not truly taken advantage of the gaps in the market.

But will the Colorado and Canyon be able to fill those gaps? Will they be priced competitively, not with the Tacoma and Frontier, but with the Silverado and Sierra? Will the fuel efficiency benefit be so significant that owners will actually notice the difference compared with their neighbour’s full-size pickup?

If the answers to the latter two questions are negative, the answer to the first question will be, as well.

6 mos.
6 mos.
Toyota Tacoma
12,173 14,023 -13.2% 75,149 81,188 -7.4%
Nissan Frontier
5,722 5,413 +5.7% 35,943 29,316 +22.6%
Honda Ridgeline
1,309 1,572 -16.7% 7,906 9,020 -12.4%
Chevrolet Colorado
51 155 -67.1% 73 3,034 -97.6%
GMC Canyon
3 64 -95.3% 5 876 -99.4%
Suzuki Equator
448 -100%
21,227 -9.3% 119,076 123,882 -3.9%
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Corvette Stingray Bests Viper, 911 In Sales Through First-Half Of 2014 Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:00:28 +0000 2014-chevrolet-corvette-stingray-convertible-red-front-end-in-motion-05

The current Corvette is doing well for itself as of late, not only moving off the lot at a greater clip between January and June of this year than last, but also besting the SRT Viper and Porsche 911.

GM Authority reports 17,744 Corvette Stingrays made it to the highway during the aforementioned sales period, over three times what was sold during the first six months of 2013. Meanwhile, only 354 Vipers managed to do the same — thanks to its high price and the velvet rope surrounding the one or two models available in most showrooms — as well as 5,169 of Stuttgart’s finest during those months. Nissan’s 370Z, priced much lower than the Stingray, also fared poorly against the Kentucky-built thoroughbred, 4,114 sold this year thus far.

Within the Chevy dealership, 2,723 convertibles and coupes left the lot in June, down from 3,328 in May. National Automobile Dealers Association forecasts the Corvette Stingray is on pace to hit 35,000 sold by the end of 2014, aided by the improved 2015 model and the introduction of the Z06.

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Chart Of The Day: Crossovers Are King Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:33:07 +0000 BsrTeYECEAAYuq0


This chart, courtesy of IHS Automotive, shows that for the first time in America, crossovers have edged out sedans as the most popular body style.

While the data only shows new vehicle registrations through May, 2014, don’t expect this trend to reverse any time soon. The crossover’s rise to market dominance is an inexorable fact of our automotive landscape, both in America and around the world.

Now you see why Nissan isn’t so crazy to forgo the new IDx in favor of the Juke. Sure, nobody will ever cross-shop the two cars, but one plays in a space that is constantly growing, while the other competes in a market that has a future that’s slightly worse than the U.S. Postal Service. If you were an auto executive with a few billion to spend on a new car that must turn a profit (so, no fantasy brown wagon projects), the choice would be easy.

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GM Builds Their Last 1500 Series Van Wed, 16 Jul 2014 04:01:57 +0000 6a00d83451b3c669e201a3fd3058b9970b-800wi


GM built their last 1500 series van at the Wentzville, Missouri assembly plant this past week. GM claims that the vans will die to make room for the all new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon trucks at the Wentzville plant, but that’s not the full story.

The real story is a combination of slow sales and an increasingly disadvantageous position in GM’s average fuel economy. The 1500 vans weren’t light enough to sneak under the CAFE cutoff point, but their thirst meant that they were bad for GM’s overall CAFE average.

In its place, we will get the smaller, Nissan-based, unibody City Express.  GM may be cribbing a van from Nissan, but they’re far from alone in killing off their body-on-frame vans. The Ford Econoline also bit the dust earlier this year.

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Volkswagen Confirms New SUV Will Be Built In Chattanooga Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:43:41 +0000 450x299x550x366xVolkswagen-CrossBlue-Concept-550x366.jpg,Mic_.uF-8gWFYml-450x299.jpg.pagespeed.ic.rA7817fp9x

Volkswagen will invest $900-million and add 2,000 jobs as part of a decision to build their long-awaited mid-size crossover in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The plant, which already builds the Passat, has been the site of a number of disputes, pitting the UAW and organized labor against an equally passionate opposition that includes the state level government and other anti-UAW entities.

The new crossover, considered a vital part of VW’s success, will be based on VW’s MQB platform, and be produced in 2016.

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Cain’s Segments, July 2014: Muscle Cars Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:31:12 +0000 TTAC_Muscle-Car-sales-chart-June-2014

It feels like we’ve known a lot about the 2015 Ford Mustang for years. There have been stories on its alleged weight gain, then stories that suggested the gain wasn’t nearly so bad. Its independent rear suspension makes the idea of serving global markets so much more tenable. Its turbocharged four-cylinder should, on paper, offer a new blend of performance and efficiency.

But it’s not here, and it won’t be sitting at the forefront of dealer lots (alongside The Used Car Deal Of The Day! Call Tom @ 555-4321! and its accompanying neon sign) for a few months yet.

It was therefore not surprising to see that Mustang sales in the United States dropped sharply in June 2014, even though sales of the venerable Ford had reported improved sales on a year-over-year basis in January, February, March, and May of this year. Could Ford really maintain a high level of interest in a departing pony car?

In a word, no. And yet, with 7631 sales in the sixth month of 2014, one could argue that Ford did, in fact, maintain a high level of interest in the Mustang, as they always do. Naturally, deals on an outgoing car improve as it ages. Some who perhaps thought they may want to wait for the new car have decided they prefer the current car. But 7600 units for a relatively impractical rear-wheel-drive muscle car, is actually a very high figure, if not for the Mustang itself than for cars which compete in a performance-oriented corner of the market.

Volkswagen announced a terrific GTI sales month: 1927 were sold. Subaru sold 2065 copies of their WRX and STi. Jaguar sold 428 F-Types. Aside from the Countryman and Paceman, Mini sold just 3238 cars in June.

The Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and even the Dodge Challenger aren’t low-volume cars. They attract lifestyle buyers – whoever they are, whatever it is they do – as well as performance car buyers. And they most certainly attract loyalists, the kind of buyers who, while acknowledging that these three cars are direct competitors, wouldn’t actually cross-shop.

After consecutive years with declining sales in 2012 and 2013, Camaro sales are up by 4360 units through the first half of 2014. If this sales pace holds, General Motors could see Camaro volume rise to a 2011-besting level, the highest since the nameplate returned in 2009. In this three-car category, the Camaro’s market share has risen from 36.7% during the first half of 2013 to 39.8% so far this year.

Since the Dodge Challenger nameplate returned in 2008, sales have always risen, doubling between 2009 and 2013, when 51,462 were sold. That streak is in danger in 2014: could the improved 2015 Challenger arrive in time for the year end results to improve from the current pace which would see fewer than 46,000 sold?

Even with its decreased volume and its third-place status in the category, the Challenger highlights the high-volume nature of this trio. FCA has sold more Challengers than Chrysler 300s this year; more Challengers than total Fiats.

The Viper, on the other hand, has clearly struggled in its latest form. June volume slid 63% to just 36 units. As for the Chevrolet Corvette, sales are booming, with 2723 sold in June and 17,744 in the first half, making it more popular than the Audi TT, BMW Z4, Jaguar F-Type, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayman, and Porsche 911 combined.

6 mos.
6 mos.
Chevrolet Camaro
7721 7236 +6.7% 46,672 42,312 +10.3%
Dodge Challenger
4377 5101 -14.2% 26,281 29,982 -12.3%
Ford Mustang
7631 9243 -17.4% 44,231 43,111 +2.6%
21,580 -8.6% 117,184 115,405 +1.5%
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Mazda2 RE May Appear Soon, But Only In Select Markets Fri, 11 Jul 2014 11:00:16 +0000 Mazda-2-Range-Extender1

The oft-rumored Mazda2 RE PHEV, powered by a range-extending rotary engine, may soon become reality, appearing sometime after the next-gen hatch debuts in showrooms between October and the new year. reports the PHEV won’t be making its global debut with the rest of the new Mazda2 family in August, nor will it likely appear in showrooms where government support is lacking, according to Mazda Australia Managing Director Martin Benders:

The only markets in which you can justify bringing something like that out, to get at least a reasonable amount of volume to justify setting it up as a saleable model, are ones where there’s government support for those types of models.

Benders adds that the current crop of Skyactiv engines do a better job of reducing CO2 emissions and boosting fuel economy than the more expensive PHEV technology, with subsidies and sales quotas hindering the case for hybrids in countries where the support isn’t there. However, Benders doesn’t believe government money should be used to promote the technology, preferring the market to decide what lives and what dies.

As for the new-gen Mazda2, which will take its cue from the Kodo design language found in vehicles like the Mazda3 and Mazda6, power will be supplied by a 1.5-liter naturally aspirated gasoline engine and a matching turbo diesel; the latter will likely not make it to the United States when the new compact arrives next year.

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Buy-Here, Pay-Here Dealers Face Stiff Competition From New-Car Dealers’ Cheap Credit Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:00:57 +0000 buy here pay here

Buy-here, pay-here lots, traditionally the place to find a vehicle with little, bad or no credit, are facing some stiff competition as of late from new-car dealers offering cheap financing.

Automotive News reports in a conference call this spring by America’s Car-Mart CEO Hank Henderson, he said new-car dealerships were making finance offers on both low-end new vehicles and high-end used units his group are unable to counter:

Some of the offerings are zero percent down, no payments for 90 days. We’ve even seen no payments for a year — and then those are getting financed at 72 months, sometimes even longer.

Lenders are fueling the demand for cheap credit at new-car dealers, as well, forcing the buy-here, pay-here dealers to turn down business from consumers hoping to find as much with the latter party. That said, the approach said dealers promote — including substantial down payments and shorter terms — claims to be more economically healthy for subprime consumers than the competitive approach that could leave a consumer upside-down in the long run.

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AlixPartners: 2014 May Be The Peak Of U.S. Auto Sales Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:00:59 +0000 Toyota Sales Lot

The good news? Automakers are enjoying a sales boom in the United States the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Great Recession brought the hammer down, with June 2014 sales alone surpassing those in July of 2006. Should the boom continue, 2014 will close as the industry’s best year in a long time, with over 16 million vehicles sold when the calendar ticks over to 2015.

The bad news? This year may be the last year U.S. sales ever climb this high.

Autoblog reports a study by AlixPartners suggests sales will peak later this year, then head back down the mountain on the beaten path of rising interest rates — diminishing purchasing power in the process — then veer toward the long trail built upon the Millennials’ alleged preference of Uber and Car2Go over individual ownership.

In the near-term, director Dan Hearsch warns the lines of cheap credit today will dry up over the next two to three years:

The biggest factor would be this credit bubble, and without making an exact projection of when that will happen, that, to use is the window when you’ll see an impact on car sales. The other side of it is cyclical and predictable. … We’re a little more pessimistic because of these other factors.

Further up the path, rising fuel prices will temporarily give hybrids and EVs a boost in sales, but improvements in the ICE and the ongoing issues with EVs — range, higher upfront costs and production of battery packs — will mitigate whatever gains are made unless the technology comes into parity with the ICE.

Finally, AlixPartners expects 80 percent of all vehicles sold in North America by 2017 will be connected vehicles, and advises governments and OEMs to prepare for the day autonomous vehicles take their first outings beyond Google’s research facility, as such vehicles will be key to future sales.

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2016 Cadillac SRX May See Local Production In China Wed, 09 Jul 2014 12:00:29 +0000 01-2013-cadillac-srx-ny

On the strength of rising SUV sales in China, General Motors will likely add production of its next-generation Cadillac SRX in the emerging market in order to better capitalize on said sales.

The Wall Street Journal reports Cadillac as a whole is doing well in China, sales rising 72 percent from January through May 2014 to 33,760 units with the SRX making up the bulk of those sales at 14,496 units, a rise of 23 percent for the crossover in the same five-month period compared to 2013. The current model goes for ¥420,000 ($67,770 USD), and has been on sale in China since 2009.

The new SRX would likely arrive as a 2016 model, with the hope Chinese production would help the automaker avoid tariffs on imported models; the crossover is only assembled in Mexico at the present. GM itself has big plans for its premium brand, including a $1.3 billion plant in Shanghai, and a goal of 300,000 units sold/10 percent share of China’s premium market by 2020.

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Mitsubishi: U.S.-Bound 2016 Outlander PHEV “Will Be Completely Different” Wed, 09 Jul 2014 11:00:36 +0000 03-2014-mitsubishi-outlander-fd

Perhaps as a result of what Mitsubishi had learned thus far since the introduction of the Outlander PHEV in Europe, Japan and Australia — as well as a MY 2016 redesign — the United States-bound PHEV “will be completely different,” according to both Mitsubishi Motors North America Executive Vice President Don Swearingen and U.S. PR boss Alex Fedorak.

Autoblog reports the SUV — now set to arrive in November 2015 — will have an interior with materials that look and feel “less value-oriented,” while its battery monitor can look each cell along with the overall pack. It will also likely take its styling cues from the GC-PHEV and XR-PHEV concepts, both debuting at the 2013 Tokyo Auto Show last November.

Meanwhile, the 2015 Outlander Sport may soon possess a 2.4-liter I4 to go with its 2-liter variant as Fedorak and his employer’s dealer network discuss what needs to be done to make the bigger engine a better sell; early results point to stronger highway overtaking ability.

Finally, although Mitsubishi’s long-term goal is to evolve into “an SUV/crossover-type company,” cars will still have a role in the near-term, especially the Mirage compact. Despite most publications giving the Mirage a good thrashing — though our rising superstar managing editor had a different sort of thrashing in mind — Fedorak claims the compact is outselling both the Mazda2 and Toyota Yaris; the latter is ahead of the Mitsubishi by 265 units through the end of June.

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Kato: EVs Need Nobel Prize-Quality Battery Technology Tue, 08 Jul 2014 12:00:17 +0000 Mitsuhisa Kato + Toyota FCV

Toyota’s global R&D head Mitsuhisa Kato has little regard for the current crop of EVs, proclaiming the technology to make them viable in his eyes has yet to be invented.

Automotive News reports that although his team will still do R&D work on EVs, Kato believes there are few customers seeking a vehicle with short cruising ranges:

The cruising distance is so short for EVs, and the charging time is so long. At the current level of technology, somebody needs to invent a Nobel Prize-winning type battery.

He added that while EVs could be brought to parity with ICE vehicles, doing so using current technology would establish “a vicious circle” over costs and charging times.

Toyota itself is moving away from EVs into hydrogen with the upcoming 2015 FCV; the outgoing RAV4 EV and eQ will be gone from the global lineup by the time the FCV arrives in January of next year.

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Detroit Three Cutting Summer Breaks Amid High Truck, SUV Sales Tue, 08 Jul 2014 11:00:43 +0000 The Chrysler Toledo Assembly Complex used to produce Jeep Cherokee in Toledo

Thanks to high consumer demand for SUVs and light trucks, a number of Detroit Three plants are either shortening their summer breaks or eliminating them altogether.

Automotive News reports Ford cut its summer break in half at four of its plants in Chicago, Louisville, Ky. and Kansas City, Mo., all four back online this week to pump out more F-Series Super Dutys, Navigators and Escapes. Its Dearborn, Mich. plant will shut down for the majority of September in preparation for the upcoming aluminum F-150.

Over at Auburn Hills, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is foregoing summer break at both its Jefferson North and Sterling Heights plants, where the Jeep Grand Cherokee boasted its highest-selling May in 2014, 14 years after its previous best. Overall May 2014 sales for the Italo-American automaker charged up 17 percent, followed by a 9 percent increase last month, all on the back of the Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango and Chrysler 200.

Finally, General Motors will keep a third of its factories online this month. Though the beleaguered manufacturer kept its list of open factories close to its chest, the publication found four who had not reported any summer shutdowns in Arlington, Texas; Flint, Mich.; and Bowling Green, Ky.

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QOTD: Subaru BRZ Will Live To Fight Another Generation, Says Fuji Heavy Boss Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:24:57 +0000


“If I were to be told that, I’d pass out…It’s not going to be just one generation.”

-Fuji Heavy Industries President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga

Automotive News is reporting that the head of Fuji Heavy Industries, parent company of Subaru, is denying reports that the Toyobaru twins will last one generation.

But as AN reports, Fuji Heavy boss Yasuyuki Yoshinaga has only said that Toyota and Subaru will work on a successor. If Toyota doesn’t want to proceed with Subaru, then Fuji won’t have enough volume to build a second generation car. I’d say that the matter is far from settled right now.

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FCA Is Hungry For Diesels Mon, 07 Jul 2014 15:22:44 +0000  
2014-Ram-1500-diese-logo-450x337Fiat Chrysler is hungry for more 3.0L VM Motori V6 diesel engines, but capacity constraints are limiting how many engines can be allocated for North America.

VM Motori, a subsidiary of FCA, can build about 100,000 V6 diesel engines, with about half of those destined for North America. The V6 is offered in both the Ram 1500 pickup as well as the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

But a report in Automotive News paints an interesting picture of the demand for the V6 in each vehicle. The take rate for diesel Grand Cherokees has leveled off at about 8 percent, or 15,000 units annually.

By contrast, Ram boss Reid Bigland claims that

“We got well in excess of 10,000 orders in just the first few days that we opened this thing up, and that ordering and demand has really sustained itself,”

According to Bigland, the EcoDiesel Ram 1500s spend an average of 13 days on dealer lots, versus 94 days for gasoline versions. A search of shows just 1,839 EcoDiesel Rams, but 3,907 Grand Cherokees, suggesting that the Ram (which sells in much bigger numbers) has a much tighter supply of their oil-burners.

Even so, Manley and Bigland denied that they are horse trading over diesel allocation for their respective brands.

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2015 Audi A3 Sedan Sales Outpacing Supply, Stealing From Honda, Toyota Mon, 07 Jul 2014 11:00:31 +0000 Audi S3 Limousine

The 2015 Audi A3 Sedan is doing quite well for itself in the United States since its arrival back in April of this year, even if the hipster parties during the sedan’s U.S. unveiling more than likely just amused the automaker’s traditional clientele instead of attracting younger buyers as the party plan intended.

Autoblog reports Audi of America sold 2,452 A3 Sedans in June alone, with just over 25 percent of consumers under the age of 30. That particular group of young Audi drivers are new to the automaker, brand conquests over Honda and Toyota.

As for buying one right now, there may be a line ahead of you: Audi is still stocking its dealer network with the $30,795 sedan, with a wait as long as 30 days for those wanting specific features for their A3. The line may grow longer, however, when the automaker’s A3 E-tron arrives in Q2 2015, with every one of Audi’s U.S. dealerships being granted the opportunity to sell the PHEV.

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OCC Warns Of Auto Lending Risk Thu, 03 Jul 2014 14:48:24 +0000 20140701_auto2

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a government entity that regulates and supervises banks, is sounding the alarm regarding risks related to auto loans.

In its semi-annual report released earlier this week, the OCC warned about the usual factors that TTAC has been discussing for some time: rising loan terms, an increased focus on monthly payments and deteriorating underwriting standards

Across the industry, auto lenders are pursuing growth by lengthening terms, increasing advance rates,
and originating loans to borrowers with lower credit scores. Loan marketing has become increasingly
monthly-payment driven, with loan terms and LTV advance rates easing to make financing more
broadly available. The results have yet to show large-scale deterioration at the portfolio level, but signs
of increasing risk are evident. Average LTV rates for both new and used vehicles are above
100 percent for all major lender categories, reflecting rising car prices and a greater bundling of add-on
products such as extended warranties, credit life insurance, and aftermarket accessories into the

The average loss per vehicle has risen substantially in the past two years, an indication of how longer
terms and higher LTVs can increase exposure. Average charge-off amounts are higher across all lender
types over the last year. These early signs of easing terms and increasing risk are
noteworthy, and the OCC will continue to monitor product terms and risk layering practices to ensure
that banks manage growth and exposure prudently.

The OCC report did not single out subprime loans specifically, but instead focused on the entire auto loan sector. The full report is available here.

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General Motors Digest: July 3, 2014 Thu, 03 Jul 2014 13:00:31 +0000 General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan

In today’s General Motors digest: GM recalls a recall; the automaker gains market share in spite of itself; its bankruptcy judge believes it may have committed fraud; the U.S. Senate gets ready for a second February 2014 recall hearing; and Anthony Foxx vows to keep the heat turned up on GM.

Detroit Free Press reports the automaker’s recall of the 2013 – 2014 Cadillac CTS over an ignition switch issue similar to the one affecting the 2010 – 2014 Chevrolet Camaro, as well as the issue that kicked off GM’s recall parade back in February, only affected 264 coupes and wagons assembled before the redesigned sedan left the factory floor; the sedan was incorrectly listed among the 8.4 million vehicles recalled worldwide Monday.

In spite of said recall parade, Automotive News says GM gained market shared in the first six months of 2014, jumping from 16.9 percent in January to 18.8 percent in June. Further, June 2014 sales climbed 1.2 percent to 1.42 million units — instead of falling 2.6 percent as some analysts had predicted — fueled by new models entering the showroom and more lease deals. In turn, the annualized selling rate rose to 16.98 million, the highest rate seen since July 2006, and one higher than 2013′s 15.9 million in the same period. GM hopes to keep up the pace by offering Cobalt owners and owners of other recalled vehicles a $500 incentive to trade-in for a certified used vehicle, and employee pricing on new models; so far, 21 percent of Cobalt owners have taken the automaker up on its offer between March and May 2014.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber, who presided over the automaker’s bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, may have to haul GM back in on fraud charges if evidence is found, pointing to then-CEO Fritz Henderson’s possible knowledge — and obfuscation — of the ignition switch problem. Should the evidence be there, Judge Gerber could force the automaker to pay billions of dollars to any of the plaintiffs in the 90-plus lawsuits now waiting for his approval to proceed, which could come as soon as September 15.

Over in the Beltway, Reuters says a consumer protection and product safety subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will hold a second hearing on the February 2014 recall July 17, though no announcement has been made as to who will be invited to testify as of this writing.

Finally, The Detroit News reports U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration both vow to “keep putting the screws on [GM's safety efforts] until it gets right.” The agency, who is monitoring the automaker for the next three years as part of the latter’s settlement with the federal government, will look into the newest recalls to determine if GM issued them in a timely manner, though Foxx thinks the automaker is acting in good faith.

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SAAR Hits 17 Million On Strong June Sales Wed, 02 Jul 2014 12:47:36 +0000 2014-Maserati-Ghibli-blue-Main_rdax_646x396

For the first time since 2006, the SAAR topped 17 million, as the first half of 2014 finished on a strong note.

Buick, Audi and Jeep posted double digit gains, while Maserati sales rose 233 percent, on account of having more than two vehicles in its lineup. Volvo, the Chrysler brand, Smart, Acura and Volkswagen brand were the big losers. The average transaction price rose to $32,342, a 1.4 percent increase since this time last year. For a full table, see Automotive News.

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Cain’s Segments, July 2014: Trucks Wed, 02 Jul 2014 12:30:41 +0000 450x287x2011_Ford_F-250_XLT_-_07-10-2010-450x287.jpg.pagespeed.ic.glBn7tFc9o

89% of the pickup trucks sold in the United States in the first half of 2014 were full-size trucks, a segment of the auto market that has risen 4.3% so far this year.

Lost market share among the top pickup sellers in America, Ford and General Motors, has been swallowed up in large part by FCA’s Ram brand and the Toyota Tundra. Already this year, Ram has sold 33,541 more pickups than during the first six months of 2013.

Ford’s F-Series, on the other hand, is down by 1661 units. GM’s twins have combined to rise 1.1%, but their share of the full-size category, not even including the now extinct Chevrolet Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT, has fallen by more than a percentage point.

June 2014 was in large part a stronger example of this trend. F-Series sales dropped 11% to 60,560 units, the first time since February that Ford sold fewer than 63,000 F-Series trucks. We expect lower F-Series sales these days, as a number of customers will wait for a new 2015 F-150 and forego the discounted outgoing model. Ford dealers didn’t just miss out on a large number of F-Series sales in June, however, as utility vehicle volume was down 8%.

Meanwhile, Ram’s 20.4% market share in June was par for the course. Ram owned 20.3% in May, 21.4% in April, 22.9% in March, 20.2% in February, and 20.8% in January, a great deal better than the 18.3% Ram managed during the first half of 2013.

Unlike the Ford Motor Company, most of Ram’s relations performed above last year’s pace in June 2014, as well. Fiat sales jumped 11%, Jeep shot up 28% (thanks to Cherokee), and Dodge moved up 1%. Chrysler Group car sales continue to underperform, yet with 68% of the automaker’s sales coming from Ram pickups, Jeep, and minivans, the overall figures tend to impress.

We’re no longer seeing the kinds of decreasing market share figures from GM’s twins that we were earlier in the year – their February share slid by more than four percentage points – but the half-year numbers hark back to those especially disappointing days. Despite their freshness, GM’s full-size truck market share fell to 34.5% over the last six months from 35.6% during the equivalent period one year earlier. June volume was also down 1.5%. (Taking the fewer available selling days into account, the Silverado and Sierra were up 7.7%.)

At Toyota, the Tundra and better-selling Tacoma were responsible for 11.4% of all Toyota U.S. sales so far this year, including Lexus and Scion. Although the Tacoma consistently leads all small/midsize trucks, the Tundra’s steady improvements came to an abrupt halt in june after eight consecutive year-over-year monthly sales increases.

Clearly pickup trucks aren’t the essential motivating forces at Toyota that they are at Ford, GM, and Chrysler. The Ram P/U range is the Chrysler Group’s top seller in the U.S., accounting for 20% of first-half sales. Including the Avalanche, Escalade EXT, Colorado, and Canyon, pickup trucks have pulled in 22.9% of GM’s U.S. volume in 2014. (Full-size, body-on-frame SUVs generated one in ten GM sales in June.) At Ford MoCo, the F-Series, with no help from a Ranger, attracts 28.8% of the automaker’s sales.

Nissan? Sales are booming, but of the 704,477 new vehicles sold by Nissan and Infiniti over the last six months, only 5.1% have been Frontiers; only 0.9% have been Titans.

6 mos.
6 mos.
Ford F-Series
60,560 68,009 -11.0% 365,825 367,486 -0.5%
Chevrolet Silverado
43,519 43,259 +0.6% 240,679 242,586 -0.8%
Ram P/U
33,149 29,644 +11.8% 203,860 170,319 +19.7%
GMC Sierra
15,406 16,568 -7.0% 93,191 87,633 +6.3%
Toyota Tundra
8977 9759 -8.0% 57,987 51,565 +12.5%
Nissan Titan
976 1300 -24.9% 6416 8852 -27.5%
162,587 168,539 -3.5% 967,958 928,441 4.3%


6 mos.
6 mos.
Ford F-Series
37.2% 40.4% 37.8% 39.6%
Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra
36.2% 35.5% 34.5% 35.6%
Ram P/U
20.4% 17.6% 21.1% 18.3%
Toyota Tundra
5.5% 5.8% 6.0% 5.6%
Nissan Titan
0.6% 0.8% 0.7% 1.0%
Full-Size Share Of
Total Pickup Truck Market
89.4% 87.9% 89.0% 87.1%
Full-Size Pickup Share
Of Total Industry
11.4% 12.0% 11.8% 11.9%
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Cuban New-Car Sales Total 50 During First Half Of 2014 Wed, 02 Jul 2014 12:00:46 +0000 Cuban Yank tank

Last year, the Cuban government finally made it legal for its citizens to freely buy new vehicles for the first time since Fidel Castro sent Fulgencio Batista packing in 1959. The people rejoiced right up until they saw the prices on the showroom floor this January, family sedans marked up 400 percent or above as if they were Ferraris and Bugattis.

Reuters reports that because of the markup, only 50 cars and four motorcycles left the 11 nationalized lots in Cuba during the first six months of 2014, netting a total of $1.28 million USD in new car sales. The high prices also affect foreign businesses and potential investors, all none too thrilled to seek government permission to import their own vehicles without going through the national showroom floor.

In one example cited by the news organization, a Havana Peugeot dealership wanted $91,000 for a 2013 206, and $262,000 for a 506 of similar vintage, which makes the government’s goal of investing 75 percent of all new-car sales into public transportation easier said than done; most state workers make the equivalent of $20 USD per month.

Meanwhile, used car sales are doing much better, with the average price for a used vehicle — including motorcycles — holding at $23,759. Most of the used stock originates from retired rental car fleets.

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