The Truth About Cars » Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 01 Aug 2014 20:56:37 +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 » Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/sales/ U.S. Auto Sales Results: July 2014 YTD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/u-s-auto-sales-results-july-2014-ytd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/u-s-auto-sales-results-july-2014-ytd/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 19:51:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=878202 Automakers reported the sales of 1.4 million new vehicles in July 2014, representing a 9% increase compared with July of last year. Among  volume brands, the biggest percentage gains were achieved by Jeep, Subaru, GMC, and Ram. Jaguar, Scion, Acura, Volvo, and Volkswagen all reported losses of at least 14%. Cadillac, Honda, and Mini also […]

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Automakers reported the sales of 1.4 million new vehicles in July 2014, representing a 9% increase compared with July of last year. Among  volume brands, the biggest percentage gains were achieved by Jeep, Subaru, GMC, and Ram. Jaguar, Scion, Acura, Volvo, and Volkswagen all reported losses of at least 14%. Cadillac, Honda, and Mini also posted decreased July volume relative to the same period in 2013.

U.S. demand for full-size pickups from Ford, General Motors, and Ram increased 5.3% in July 2014; the overall pickup truck market grew 3.1%. Overall new vehicle sales at Chrysler Group/FCA, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors increased 12%.

Automaker July 2014 July  2013 % Change 2014  YTD 2013  YTD % Change
Acura
 12,480 15,150 -17.6% 90,431 92,131 -1.8%
Audi
 14,616 13,064 11.9% 98,965 87,341 13.3%
BMW
26,409 24,043 9.8% 183,791 164,474 11.7%
Buick
 17,683 16,393 7.9% 131,155 117,239 11.9%
Cadillac
 15,241 15,652 -2.6% 97,357 99,331 -2.0%
Chevrolet
 175,155 162,670 7.7% 1,203,063 1,177,804 2.1%
Chrysler
 23,455 19,978  17.4% 164,523 183,817  -10.5%
Dodge
 43,118 41,986  2.7% 350,042 360,400  -2.9%
Fiat
 3,807 3,783  0.6% 28,779 25,395  13.3%
Ford  203,604  186,161  9.4%  1,424,439  1,437,609  -0.9%
GMC
 48,081 39,356 22.2% 280,452 260,052 7.8%
Honda
 123,428 126,289 -2.3% 784,913 794,886 -1.3%
Hyundai
 67,011  66,005 1.5%  431,445  427,015  1.0%
Infiniti
 8,538  7,762 10.0% 67,879 59,995 13.1%
Jaguar
 1,187  1613  -26.4%  9,504  9,411  1.0%
Jeep
 59,588 42,277  40.9% 392,390 271,682  44.4%
Kia
52,309 49,004  6.7% 349,722 326,355  7.2%
Land Rover
4,643  4,050 14.6%  30,829 27,034 14.0%
Lexus
 27,333 23,031 18.7%  166,022 141,446 17.4%
Lincoln
 7,863 6,919 13.6% 52,385 45,207 15.9%
Maserati
 1132 267 324% 6574 1536 328%
Mazda
 29,238 24,977 17.1% 185,669 169,920 9.3%
Mercedes-Benz
 27,192 23,648  15.0%  178,816  165,598  8.0% 
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
 2,214 1,915  15.6%  13,697  11,398  20.2% 
Total Mercedes-Benz
 29,406  25,563  15.0%  192,513  176,996  8.8%
Mini
 5811 5950 -2.3% 29,963 38,306 -21.8%
Mitsubishi
 6,349 5,230 21.4% 46,021 35,566 29.4%
Nissan
 112,914  101,279 11.5% 758,050 673,755 12.5%
Porsche
 4300 3820  12.6% 27,219 25,129 8.3%
Ram
 37,699 32,078  17.5% 252,056 207,140  21.7%
Scion
 5,127 6,261 -18.1% 35,763 41,261 -13.3%
Smart
 1,351 860 57.1% 5,998 5,319 12.8%
Subaru
 45,714 35,994  27.0% 283,722 240,591 17.9%
Suzuki
 —  —  —-  —  5,946  -100%
Toyota
 183,342  164,102  11.7%  1,179,624  1,119,478  5.4%
Volkswagen
 30,553 35,779 -14.6% 209,697 242,571 -13.6%
Volvo
 4,894 5,909 -17.2%  34,224 38,487 -11.1%
 —
BMW-Mini
 32,220 29,993 7.4% 213,754 202,780 5.4%
Chrysler Group/FCA
 167,667 140,102  19.7% 1,187,790 1,048,434  13.3%
Daimler
30,757 26,423 16.4% 198,511 182,315 8.9%
Ford Motor Company
 211,467 193,080 9.5%  1,476,824  1,482,816  -0.4%
General Motors
 256,160 234,071 9.4% 1,712,028 1,654,417 3.5%
Honda Motor Company
135,908 141,439 -3.9% 875,344 887,017 -1.3%
Hyundai-Kia
 119,320  115,009  3.7%  781,167  753,370  3.7%
Jaguar-Land Rover
5,830  5,663  2.9% 40,333 36,445 10.7%
Nissan Motor Company
 121,452  109,041 11.4% 825,929 733,750 12.6%
Toyota Motor Corporation
215,802  193,394  11.6% 1,381,409  1,302,185  6.1%
Volkswagen Group *
 49,469  52,663  -6.1%  335,881  355,041  -5.4%
Industry Total **
1,435,805
1,315,266
9.2%
9,604,694
9,148,292
5.0%

* Volkswagen Group includes sales figures for Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen brands

** Industry total includes Automotive News sales estimates for ultra-low-volume automakers and their 1800-unit (July) Tesla sales estimate.

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Question Of The Day: Who Will Win The Luxury Compact Crossover Sales Race? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/question-of-the-day-who-will-win-the-luxury-compact-crossover-sales-race/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/question-of-the-day-who-will-win-the-luxury-compact-crossover-sales-race/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:28:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875425 With pricing for the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA announced, the fight for the luxury compact crossover sales crown is officially on. It’s going to be the most important battle of the year for the luxury car market. Crossovers are, without a doubt, the hottest sales segment right now, and one of the most profitable […]

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With pricing for the Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA announced, the fight for the luxury compact crossover sales crown is officially on. It’s going to be the most important battle of the year for the luxury car market.

Crossovers are, without a doubt, the hottest sales segment right now, and one of the most profitable segments for OEMs. Take some normal car underpinnings, add a bit of cladding, a higher ride height and a two-box body and all of a sudden, you can charge a hefty premium over what you’d normally have to sell a sedan for. And what better way to lower your CAFE rating than to sell a ton of “light trucks” that get the kind of fuel economy that you’d normally find in a compact or mid-size car? These little trucklets/wagonlets are going to float the ability of the German brands to keep making AMG, M and RS cars by keeping things kosher with the Feds. Remember that when you bemoan the lack of wagons on sale today.

Audi’s Q3 starts at $33,325, versus $29,900 for an A3, though the Q3, unlike the A3, does come standard with AWD .  The Q3 is front-drive, but it does have a 2.0T engine, unlike the A3′s 1.8T mill. A Mercedes-Benz GLA starts at $32,225 for a front-drive model versus $29,900 for a front-drive CLA. The one wildcard is the BMW X1, which is both rear-wheel drive and $30,900, making it the cheapest BMW in the entire model range.

I’m going to put my money on the Q3 taking the crown, just because Audi is very much the brand of the moment. This segment is a fickle, fashion-driven one, and products live and die by how cool they are. The Audi A3 quickly toppled the Mercedes-Benz CLA from the small sedan sales charts, and this won’t be any different.

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Toyota FCV To Get “Mirai” Moniker, Hefty Rebates In Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/toyota-fcv-to-get-mirai-moniker-hefty-rebates-in-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/toyota-fcv-to-get-mirai-moniker-hefty-rebates-in-japan/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:40:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875241 Toyota’s upcoming fuel-cell vehicle will reportedly get the name “Mirai” when it launches in 2015, along with a hefty rebate program in its home market of Japan. Bloomberg reports that the Mirai name has been trademarked in the United States, but the actual name won’t be revealed until closer to its 2015 on sale date. […]

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Toyota’s upcoming fuel-cell vehicle will reportedly get the name “Mirai” when it launches in 2015, along with a hefty rebate program in its home market of Japan.

Bloomberg reports that the Mirai name has been trademarked in the United States, but the actual name won’t be revealed until closer to its 2015 on sale date. The word Mirai is said to mean “future” in Japanese.

Just-Auto is reporting that Japan’s government could offer rebates as high as 2 million yen (about $20,000 at current exchange rates), bringing the Toyota FCV’s pricetag down from 7 million yen ($70,000) to about 50,000 yen ($50,000). The government is also piloting an infrastructure project to bring 100 hydrogen fuel stations to the country by March 31, 2015, in an effort to help spur demand.

Plans are afoot to use the first hydrogen cars as taxis and other service vehicles, as a means of creating broader acceptance and reducing petroleum usage.

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Millennials Start With Sharing, End With Individual Ownership http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/millennials-start-with-sharing-end-with-individual-ownership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/millennials-start-with-sharing-end-with-individual-ownership/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=875073 Though companies such as Lyft, Car2Go and Uber aim to help the young and the carless get around town without the need for owning a car — Uber wanting to go as far as to replace car ownership, period — the millennials eventually decide to go all in on individual car ownership. Automotive News reports […]

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Though companies such as Lyft, Car2Go and Uber aim to help the young and the carless get around town without the need for owning a car — Uber wanting to go as far as to replace car ownership, period — the millennials eventually decide to go all in on individual car ownership.

Automotive News reports the transition from using ridesharing and car sharing services to ownership comes when cohorts of the generational group begin families, sometimes moving out of the urban core to do so. The delays in starting a family and purchasing a car are linked to student loan debt and a recovering, highly competitive job market, pushing the age of first-time buyers to the mid-20s at the youngest.

Meanwhile, those who live in cities like Austin, Boston, New York and Seattle are helping to make sharing services a success, with a projected 3.8 million users coming on-board by 2020. In turn, a total of 50 percent either sell a car or postpone buying a car, substituting ownership for sharing, leading to 1.9 million vehicles sold-off or not bought by 2020.

Though sharing may mean fewer vehicles leave the showroom, overall sales are climbing. Over 16 million units are forecast to head out onto the highway by the end of 2014 according to many an analyst. In the long-term, sharing services may also help send their consumer base to the showroom, with those shoppers looking a vehicle based on what they drove as a member of the service.

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Lexus GX Sales Double, Profits Pile Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/lexus-gx-sales-double-profits-pile-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/lexus-gx-sales-double-profits-pile-up/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:53:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874489 The Lexus GX seems to truck along in the American marketplace with little fanfare. Aside from a brief rollover scare, the GX’s most notable achievement appears to be as the ride of choice for family members of Lexus dealer principals and Central Asian warlords. But Ward’s Auto reports that a bit of magic by Lexus product […]

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The Lexus GX seems to truck along in the American marketplace with little fanfare. Aside from a brief rollover scare, the GX’s most notable achievement appears to be as the ride of choice for family members of Lexus dealer principals and Central Asian warlords. But Ward’s Auto reports that a bit of magic by Lexus product planners has helped double sales in just over a year.

According to Ward’s

Adding a lower-priced base grade for the GX’s ’14 refresh, by substituting fake leather for real leather and deleting some content, was key to this year’s sales jump, putting the SUV’s starting price on par with 3-row midsize CUVs.

Keep in mind that this is an SUV that starts at a hair under $50,000 – and only 20 percent of buyers are even opting for the base model. Most customers go for the $53,795 GX Premium, which ostensibly offers real leather and other stuff that one would expect on a pricey SUV.

Brian Smith, VP of Marketing for Lexus, told Ward’s that

“I think there’s a need for towing capability, without having to go all the way to a (fullsize) LX…So we’re doing everything we can to continue to keep Toyota focused on the need for GX.”

Sure, there is a need for towing capacity with these vehicles, but there’s another, unspoken reason why Lexus keeps the GX around: profit. The GX is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, a body-on-frame SUV related to the Toyota 4Runner, and sold in world markets as a family vehicle.

Taking an inexpensive vehicle that has had most of its costs amortized already (and is relatively simple to design, engineer and manufacture) and marketing it as a luxury item is a tried-and-true recipe for enormous gross margins that other players like GM, Ford and Nissan have all been exploiting for years now. It even works on unibody designs too (think Honda Pilot/Acura MDX or even Toyota Camry/Lexus RX). The body-on-frame design used by the GX just happens to be very simple technology that doesn’t cost a whole lot. When it’s sold as a silk purse, it becomes a very, very lucrative sow’s ear.

No wonder Smith speaks of his desire to “keep Toyota focused on the need for GX”. The SUV might as well be a printing press for the Lexus division, not just in America, but also in markets like China and Russia, where Lexus can charge whatever they please. And doubling sales of a product like this sure doesn’t hurt either.

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Mitsubishi Motors: And Then There Were… http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-motors-and-then-there-were/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mitsubishi-motors-and-then-there-were/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:51:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873330     In April, when they released their FY2013 annual results, MMC (Mitsubishi Motors Corp) reported record profits; see Reuters and Automotive News for stories. Don’t get too excited. Mitsubishi Motors’ North American operations are struggling; MMC sells far less than any other Asian car company in North America. The next smallest, Mazda, sold almost […]

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In April, when they released their FY2013 annual results, MMC (Mitsubishi Motors Corp) reported record profits; see Reuters and Automotive News for stories.

Don’t get too excited.

Mitsubishi Motors’ North American operations are struggling; MMC sells far less than any other Asian car company in North America. The next smallest, Mazda, sold almost three and a half times as many vehicles in April 2014. Only six firms sold fewer cars, and of those only Volvo is not a niche luxury marque. (The other five, in decline order of sales, are Jaguar/Land-Rover, Porsche, Tesla, Maserati and Ferrari.)

There are positive signs, with April sales up 46.6% over 2013 and year to date sales up 29%. Only Maserati had a larger increase, but they sold 753 vehicles last year, so that shift represents only a few additional cars. On the other hand, among manufacturers building cars for mainstream customers, Mitsubishi sells the least, so its percentage increase likewise represents only a modest absolute change. Nevertheless Mitsubishi has been improving its North American operation, with net sales up 53% from 2012 to 2013.

Such sales however mean that MMC’s Illinois plant – begun in 1988 as Diamond-Star during the era when Chrysler was a major shareholder – continues to operate in the red. Whether or not Mitsubishi will be able to mount a comeback from the brink of essentially complete failure in North America will depend heavily on the continued expansion of their share and the overall vehicle market. Summer sales are expected to be substantial enough to grow the car market in 2014 over 2013, but that increase won’t be enough to float MMC. Mitsubishi will likely see its sales cannibalized by the other automakers and go the way Suzuki, Isuzu and Daihatsu, Japanese firms that have completely withdrawn from North America. Ultimately it may prove a Saab story.

But their problems aren’t just the US. They’ve pulled out of production in Europe, selling their Nedcar facility. They’ve just restructured debt with their four main creditors – and largest shareholders – who took an average 25% haircut on their preferred shares, to the tune of ¥95 billion (US$950 million). [This is made clear only in their Japanese-language filings.] Perhaps MMC’s shareholders want a tax writeoff and figure their last bailout won’t be recouped. But it also provides MMC with a clean ownership structure that would make a sale easier. Whether anyone would want to buy them is less clear: the company has a stormy history that includes 2 failed sales and an unenviable strategic position. They aren’t unique in this; many other small firms have failed or changed hands in the past half dozen years. But my guess is they’re more likely to provide a Saab story than any of the other Japanese bit players.

Mitsubishi Motors’ origins saddled it with an inefficient structure. During World War II Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) made munitions ranging from warships to the Zero fighter. After 1945 the US Occupation split up the firm into 3 pieces, each of which made different sorts of motor vehicles – three-wheeled cars, scooters, commercial trucks – as they struggled to find things to sell in the grim 1940s and early 1950s. After the Occupation ended MHI’s former pieces merged. The end result was the Mizushima plant in western Japan producing minicars (“kei” cars), Okazaki in central Japan making passenger cars, and Maruko in Tokyo (eastern Japan) making trucks, all within the larger MHI with its industrial machinery, shipbuilding and heavy equipment operations.

Then along came Chrysler, wanting to source small cars in Japan to provide dealers with something to compete against the VW Beetle, which in 1968 sold 600,000 units in the US. (Ford and GM did the same thing, eventually ending up with controlling stakes in Toyo Kogyo – renamed Mazda to echo its brand – and Isuzu.) In 1970 MHI bundled together the three automotive pieces into MMC and set it up as an independent company, with Chrysler to take a 35% stakeholding (which under Japanese corporate law would give them veto rights and hence de facto control). But Chrysler entered one of its periodic crises and couldn’t raise the cash, leaving it with a 15% stake in an unwieldy company. MHI and its bankers remained as the dominant shareholders. While MMC and Chrysler set up Diamond-Star, a joint venture assembly plant in Illinois that opened in 1988, by 1991 Chrysler had sold its share in MMC and various joint ventures.

[An aside: Chrysler purchased its stake in direct contravention to Japanese industrial policy of preventing foreign ownership in the industry – when push came to shove the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI, now MEXT) lacked the clout to make such policies stick, cf. IBM's operations in Japan.]

Then in 2000 DaimlerChrysler bought into MMC, eventually holding 37.5% of the company. But MMC performed poorly, not helped by Daimler’s management, and by 2004 that stake was sold off, with Daimler keeping MMC’s truck division, Fuso, the one piece that made strategic sense for its Asian production base and array of drivetrains.

In the background is a rollercoaster history of a piece with Chrysler. The initial spinoff from MHI coincided with the success of the Galant passenger car in Japan, alongside a good position in the growing “kei” market and in the heavy truck and bus market – which by the way meant that the 3 original production bases remained fiefdoms. MMC then entered the US market, as did the partners in the other Detroit Three alliances. Unlike Isuzu and Mazda, both of which ceased production in the US, MMC has yet to shutter its plant in Illinois, despite low capacity utilization and poor North American sales. Inside Japan sales did well during Japan’s bubble, with MMC introducing new brands, including the luxury Diamante. Again, given the bubble context, that didn’t go well. Next MMC rode the sport utility boom with the Pajero, its Jeep-like product. It was the first firm to do so in Japan, and until rivals entered it earned a lot of money.

Meanwhile it expanded overseas, with assembly plants not just in the US but also NedCar in Europe (from 1991), Chrysler’s old operation in Australia (from 1980), a tie-up with Proton in Malaysia, an engine and later transmission plant and CKD operation in the Philippines, and stand-alone operations with a proper assembly plant in Thailand. Finally, on an ad hoc basis MMC also exported plant and equipment to various firms, including Hyundai and Proton.

Most fared poorly. Its domestic bubble-era brands are gone, as are NedCar (closed in 2012) and Australian (2008) operations. Domestically it turned out a bit over 500,000 vehicles in 2013, but 60% of those were exported. With the yen weak (today at ¥101 per US$) exports are now profitable. Exports are also the focus of their US operations, which currently turn out 70,000 SUVs a year. But exports are an expedient, not a strategy, only grasping at a short-term profit source. Meanwhile, 60% of domestic sales are of minicars. That’s good news, because sales of that segment are rising (up 10% over the last year) but it’s also bad news, because low-priced cars cannot possibly generate the profits needed to keep the company going.

International operations look better, centered in Thailand with joint ventures in China and Russia. In terms of production they are the same order of magnitude as MMC’s domestic operations. But because most of domestic production is exported, the international-to-domestic sales mix is closer to 90:10 than 50:50. What has tided the company over domestically were one-off OEM deals with Nissan, Honda and others. But again, that’s a temporary expedient; there’s no history in the auto industry over the past century, in the US or elsewhere, of sustained interfirm trading. Much more solid are its pickups in Thailand and SUVs in other developing markets such as Russia and China.

Jan-May 2014 change
Domestic Production 273,429 +41%
Domestic Sales 62,954 +14%
Regular Cars 21,376 -19%
Kei Cars 29,708 +104%
Commercial Vehicles 11,870 -16%
Exports 147,190 +12%
Overseas Production 257,781 -5%
Total Production 531,210 +14%
Domestic Sales/Total Production 12%

In Japan, Europe and North American its dealership networks remain weak. For example, in Japan it was late to expand into urban areas, and so had poor locations and poor franchisees. In order to finance its urban presence MMC resorted to supplying cash in turn for equity stakes in dealers. It then dispatched managers from the manufacturing side, who have not proved adept at selling cars – Tesla be warned! In North America and Europe it is hampered by years of poor sales and an uncertain product strategy. (TTAC product reviews of the Mirage and Outlander are less than stellar, while noting the lack of a clear lineup.) Only repeated infusions of equity from the Mitsubishi family of companies kept it afloat, and 25% of those have now been written off.

Thus MMC is a firm with a strong presence in Southeast Asia; it’s basically a Thai firm with lots of engineering facilities and a few underutilized factories in Japan. It has modest operations in China, though as typical of late entrants its factories are scattered from Manchuria to Guangzhou. Then there’s a production base in Japan. Its product lineup is good for the developing world, but in 3 of the 4 largest markets – North America, Europe and Japan – its product mix is weak. The company is thus claiming it will ride emerging market dynamism to success. Elsewhere – in developed markets – its proclaimed focus is electric vehicles, to me a dim idea. But where will it be able to generate profits sufficient to sustain its engineering operations and factories in Japan? Exports only work while the yen remains weak. And without a steady stream of new products, all facing the expensive engineering challenges of increasing demands for fuel efficiency, low emissions, safety and connectivity, it can’t survive.

So selling the firm strikes me as their last straw. There’s a problem: for whom would a purchase make sense? Its current alliances with Nissan-Renault make that a possible option, as they can potentially use MMC’s plants (though not its dealers) in the US and Japan). Perhaps a Chinese company can be tempted, as with PSA and Volvo. But as I see it, FiatChrysler is the one global player with a footprint in North America and Europe that lacks a strong presence in China and developing Asia, the regions where MMC is least weak. If so, this would be the third attempt involving some iteration of Chrysler. But remember, three strikes and they’re out. And that will be MMC’s fate, if it can’t sell itself before the yen again strengthens.

To reiterate: I believe they’re more likely to be a Saab story.

 

N.B. This draws upon a post by my student, Anton Reed W&L’14 in May 2014 for Economics 244. The Prof edited it and appended the global story.

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Outstanding Subprime Loan Balances Hit 8-Year Highs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/outstanding-subprime-loan-balances-hit-8-year-highs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/outstanding-subprime-loan-balances-hit-8-year-highs/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:24:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873226 Buried in a feel good story about auto loans comes the news that subprime auto loans are at levels that we haven’t seen in nearly a decade. Citing data from Equifax, Automotive News reports The credit bureau also noted originations and total outstanding balances for subprime auto loans — defined as loans to customers with credit scores […]

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Buried in a feel good story about auto loans comes the news that subprime auto loans are at levels that we haven’t seen in nearly a decade.

Citing data from Equifax, Automotive News reports

The credit bureau also noted originations and total outstanding balances for subprime auto loans — defined as loans to customers with credit scores of 640 or below — also hit recent highs.

Equifax said subprime originations were 2.6 million units year to date through April, representing 32 percent of all auto loan originations. The total outstanding balance of subprime auto loans was $46.2 billion — the highest in eight years, the credit bureau said.

Don’t expect that 32 percent figure to let up any time soon. The glut of credit available for auto financing - driven by securitized auto loans sold as investment grade instruments – is going to keep the auto financing business alive and kicking for the foreseeable future.

But don’t worry, guys. This time, it’s different.

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Nissan Loses Money On Every Leaf Replacement Battery Sold http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kuhlman-nissan-loses-money-per-leaf-replacement-battery-sold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kuhlman-nissan-loses-money-per-leaf-replacement-battery-sold/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873026 In June, Nissan announced that Leaf owners could obtain a replacement battery pack for $5,500 upon trading in the old unit. While a boon to said owners, the automaker is losing blood on the deal every time a pack is sold. Green Car Reports interviewed Nissan vice president of global communications Jeff Kuhlman, who explained […]

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In June, Nissan announced that Leaf owners could obtain a replacement battery pack for $5,500 upon trading in the old unit. While a boon to said owners, the automaker is losing blood on the deal every time a pack is sold.

Green Car Reports interviewed Nissan vice president of global communications Jeff Kuhlman, who explained that the low price for the new pack was the result of his employer subsidizing the price, though he declined to state how much Nissan spends per replacement. Thus, no profit is being made at this time off of the exchange.

However, Nissan isn’t yet hurting on this “customer-first” initiative. According to Kuhlman, no one has taken the automaker up on its Leaf battery replacement program.

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Buick Prepares For Rental Fleet Dominance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/buick-prepares-for-rental-fleet-dominance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/buick-prepares-for-rental-fleet-dominance/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:16:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872850 Automotive News is reporting that the Opel Cascada will make it Stateside in 2016. Aside from giving Buick a fresh new product that isn’t a crossover, the Cascada arrives at an opportune time to capitalize on a small but important niche: the rental market. With the demise of the Chrysler 200 convertible and VW Eos, rental […]

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Automotive News is reporting that the Opel Cascada will make it Stateside in 2016. Aside from giving Buick a fresh new product that isn’t a crossover, the Cascada arrives at an opportune time to capitalize on a small but important niche: the rental market.

With the demise of the Chrysler 200 convertible and VW Eos, rental fleets now have an alternative to the pony car twins for their convertible car class. Believe it or not, not all rental car clients want a Mustang or a Camaro, and the front-drive packaging of the Cascada allows for some packaging efficiencies that aren’t there in a rear drive setup (luggage space, anyone?).

Normally, fleet sales, and daily rental specifically, is treated as a last resort for undesirable product. But in this case, The Cascada is in a position to corner a market that, while declining, is currently wide open – something that GM is familiar with.

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Which Will Be Our First Renault? Mitsubishi Or Ram? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/which-will-be-our-first-renault-mitsubishi-or-ram/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/which-will-be-our-first-renault-mitsubishi-or-ram/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:30:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872338 First it was Mitsubishi that inked a deal with Renault Samsung to bring their wares over here as Mitsubishi branded cars. Now Fiat is getting into the action, by having Renault produce an unspecified commercial vehicle. Renault and Fiat announced a vaguely worded deal to have Renault build a commercial vehicle for Fiat starting in […]

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First it was Mitsubishi that inked a deal with Renault Samsung to bring their wares over here as Mitsubishi branded cars. Now Fiat is getting into the action, by having Renault produce an unspecified commercial vehicle.

Renault and Fiat announced a vaguely worded deal to have Renault build a commercial vehicle for Fiat starting in 2016. There is no indication of what it could be, but now that the Ram ProMaster lineup is firmly Fiat-based, it’s not out of the question. Between that and the Samsung SM5, we’ll have an even better idea of all of the wonderful oddities currently off limits to our unsophisticated automotive palates…

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Ford Expects V6 Engines To Make Up Over 70 Percent Of F-150 Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-expects-v6-engines-to-make-up-over-70-percent-of-f-150-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-expects-v6-engines-to-make-up-over-70-percent-of-f-150-sales/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:30:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872362 Not that long ago, buying a half-ton pickup with anything other than a V8 engine was looked upon as a sign of mental illness or an inadequate reserve of masculinity. The introduction of the Ford Ecoboost V6, as well as Ram’s gasoline and diesel V6s has shifted the tide more towards smaller cylinder counts, but […]

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Not that long ago, buying a half-ton pickup with anything other than a V8 engine was looked upon as a sign of mental illness or an inadequate reserve of masculinity. The introduction of the Ford Ecoboost V6, as well as Ram’s gasoline and diesel V6s has shifted the tide more towards smaller cylinder counts, but Ford is projecting a big shift in take rates for the next-generation F-150.

According to Autoblog, Ford is projecting that roughly 28 percent of F-150s will be equipped with the 5.0 V8, while roughly 56 percent of buyers will opt for either the 2.7L or 3.5L V6 Ecoboost engines. The remainder, about 15 percent, will go to the base 3.5L V6. As to the other 1 percent? Perhaps there’s a CNG powertrain lurking somewhere in the shadows, Ford’s projections aren’t entirely rigorous, or the reporter in question is just bad at math, as reporters tend to be.

Right now, Ecoboost engines account for about 45 percent of F-150 sales, and even though everyone has an opinion on the efficacy of a turbocharged V6 engine in a full-sized pickup, nobody can deny their commercial success. Ford’s V6 push is also being aimed at potential buyers of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size trucks, with Ford’s own PR team already taking shots at the new GM trucks before full curb weights, mpg figures and other specs have been released for either truck.

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Panoramic Sunroofs Killed The Volkswagen Eos http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/panoramic-sunroofs-killed-the-volkswagen-eos/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/panoramic-sunroofs-killed-the-volkswagen-eos/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872298 Volkswagen has officially announced that the Eos hardtop-convertible is coming to an end. Not entirely surprising, given that the convertible market has been dwindling some time and shows few signs of life. But one of TTAC‘s industry sources shed some light on an interesting threat to the convertible market. According to our source, the take […]

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Volkswagen has officially announced that the Eos hardtop-convertible is coming to an end. Not entirely surprising, given that the convertible market has been dwindling some time and shows few signs of life. But one of TTAC‘s industry sources shed some light on an interesting threat to the convertible market.

According to our source, the take rate for panoramic sunroofs has a correlation with the decline in the popularity of convertibles. Lacking access to that (very proprietary) data, it’s impossible to corroborate this assertion, but perhaps the B&B, especially those in the industry, have some insight into the matter.

As a two-time convertible owner, I understand that the idea of a convertible is romantic and enticing, but the reality is often the opposite. Hot summer days can lead to sunburns and sweaty scalps, while winters without a lined top (like the Thinsulate-lined roof in the Jaguar F-Type) can be nearly as miserable as being outdoors. If you’re ever stuck in traffic in an open-roofed car, you will fry like an egg on the engine block of Ted Nugent’s truck.

I happen to dislike panoramic sunroofs for the greenhouse effect it can have on a car’s interior, but many people seem to find them to be a fun novelty, and a viable alternative to a real soft top convertible.

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Opel-Badged Chevrolet Volt Killed In Europe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/opel-badged-chevrolet-volt-killed-in-europe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/opel-badged-chevrolet-volt-killed-in-europe/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:01:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870161 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cains-segments-canada-recap-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cains-segments-canada-recap-2/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:23:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870106 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/want-to-buy-a-new-car-there-will-be-an-app-for-that/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/want-to-buy-a-new-car-there-will-be-an-app-for-that/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 15:55:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869402 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 […]

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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 Cars.com 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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/hyundai-azera-may-be-full-size-segments-next-victim/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/hyundai-azera-may-be-full-size-segments-next-victim/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 18:06:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=867738 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cains-segments-june-2014-small-and-mid-size-pickup-trucks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cains-segments-june-2014-small-and-mid-size-pickup-trucks/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:26:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=867282 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 […]

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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 Cars.com’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.

Auto
June
2014
June
2013
%
Change
6 mos.
2014
6 mos.
2013
%
Change
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%
Total
19,258
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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/corvette-stingray-bests-viper-911-in-sales-through-first-half-of-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/corvette-stingray-bests-viper-911-in-sales-through-first-half-of-2014/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=867178 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, […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/chart-of-the-day-crossovers-are-king/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/chart-of-the-day-crossovers-are-king/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:33:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=867074   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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-builds-their-last-1500-series-van/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-builds-their-last-1500-series-van/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 04:01:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866722   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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-confirms-new-suv-will-be-built-in-chattanooga/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-confirms-new-suv-will-be-built-in-chattanooga/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:43:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865897 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cains-segments-july-2014-muscle-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cains-segments-july-2014-muscle-cars/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:31:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865873 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 […]

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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.

Auto
June
2014
June
2013
%
Change
6 mos.
2014
6 mos.
2013
%
Change
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%
Total
19,729
21,580 -8.6% 117,184 115,405 +1.5%

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Mazda2 RE May Appear Soon, But Only In Select Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mazda2-re-may-appear-soon-but-only-in-select-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mazda2-re-may-appear-soon-but-only-in-select-markets/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863249 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. Motoring.com.au 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 […]

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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.

Motoring.com.au 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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/buy-here-pay-here-dealers-face-stiff-competition-from-new-car-dealers-cheap-credit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/buy-here-pay-here-dealers-face-stiff-competition-from-new-car-dealers-cheap-credit/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862945 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/alixpartners-2014-may-be-the-peak-of-u-s-auto-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/alixpartners-2014-may-be-the-peak-of-u-s-auto-sales/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862905 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, […]

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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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