Upon receipt of a multi-billion dollar loan from the Canadian government, General Motors signed a “Vitality Commitment”, essentially a covenant in the loan agreement between GM and Canada’s government, which guaranteed that a certain amount of GM’s North American production would remain in Canada. That number is widely reported as being 16 percent, while page F-69 of GM’s IPO filings outlines that the covenant is valid until GM repays its loan commitments or until December 31, 2016, whichever comes later.
While Oshawa has widely regarded as one of GM’s best plants in terms of producing high-quality vehicles, the future of GM’s Oshawa plant is looking increasingly bleak.
AlixPartners, the consulting firm that led GM’s reorganization efforts, has put the perennial optimism of auto industry analysts on notice, introducing its 2011 Automotive Outlook by arguing
The AlixPartners 2011 Automotive Outlook finds that while automakers and suppliers have seen profits bounce back handsomely – North American original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) posted $12.5 billion in 2010 profit on a net margin of 4.6% and North American suppliers reaped $8.2 billion on a net margin of 4.3% – no one should be tempted into thinking that things are now back to “normal,” or at least the normal defined by the consumer-incentive-induced sales levels of the past. In sync with its past annual auto studies, AlixPartners continues to predict that U.S. auto sales will climb slower, and to a lower peak, than many others are predicting. Specifically, the firm estimates U.S. auto sales will reach just 12.7 million units this year and only 13.6 million in 2012.
This is a tough moment for us: on the one hand, pessimistic economic forecasts don’t make anybody happy… on the other hand, the AlixPartner outlook is a significant validation of TTAC’s longtime bearishness. So rather than either moping or self-congratulating, let’s just take a look at why AlixPartners is so gloomy about the near-term outlook.
Based on stronger than expected early indications, J.D. Power agrees with Edmunds and also predicts a strong January. Based on 11 days of sales, J.D. Power thinks 2011 will be a much better year. Power up-revised its forecast for total light-vehicle sales in 2011 to 13.0 million units (from 12.8 million units). (Read More…)
Sales numbers for the US market in July should drop today, and based on an early analyst survey, the market’s only recovered to a 12m SAAR at best. Estimates aside though, it’s beginning to look more and more like the US market for new cars is approaching a “new normal.” How so? Automotive News [sub]‘s Jesse Snyder figures it’s
Because discipline is breaking out all over– at manufacturers, suppliers and dealerships.
Even Snyder’s headline captures the mood of cautious realism that’s suddenly taken hold of the auto industry: though the market appears to have moved towards 12m annual units in July, Snyder’s analysis is headlined Life at 11 million U.S. sales.
If you’re hoping the US market is in the midst of an upswing, it’s time to start adjusting expectations. Ford’s Mark Fields says the market has “flat-lined” since Q3 of last year, telling BusinessWeek
The consumer is feeling a bit better, but not enough to go out and go back to the old ways of spending. It gives us pause because of the tight labor market and the overall situation in the credit markets
Edmunds has released its forecast for June, and though it shows sales up consistently from May 2009′s miserable numbers, there seems no question but that June’s sales will be lower than May’s. Edmunds sees an 11.2m unit SAAR for June, down from 11.6m last month. We’ll wait to see the actual June numbers before we officially end all hope of a strong recovery, but it’s starting to look more and more like 2009 was closer to “the new normal” than anyone wants to think.
We’re right on the verge of having 12 million in vehicle sales
UAW boss Ron Gettelfinger waxes optimistic in a recent speech at Wayne State University [via The Freep]. “Not so fast,” says Automotive News [sub]‘s delightfully cranky senior editor, John K. Teahen Jr., in a piece appropriately titled 12 million sales this year? Don’t hold your breath.
Ford analyst George Pipas reckons the recession is over; the U.S. economy is on its way to recovery. New car sales will, uh, stay the same. “I think that we won’t fall backward from October. How much November might advance from the October level it is too early to say . . . The fourth quarter will be stronger from an auto sales standpoint than a pre-clunkers level.” Translation: the U.S. new car market is bumping along at the bottom. Lest we forget, Pipas’ “pre-clunkers level” promised land was already significantly down from pre-crash volumes. Anyway, Pipas admits that Ford 2010 sales gains will be “modest” thanks to . . . wait for it . . . the perception gap. “[Unemployment] is a drag on consumer psychology. The recession may be over and the recovery may have begun, but for many, many consumers it may not feel like it’s over even 12 months from now.” The Detroit News reports that Pipas also predicts $4 a gallon gas by next summer, cementing the consumer shift towards smaller vehicles. What’s more, “Consumers in the future will be more careful about living within their means.” And if not, even better.