The United States and Japan are working on a trade deal revolving around agriculture and automobiles. As much as you’re probably dying to hear about the farming aspects, we’re going to focus a bit more on the latter. Boiled down, the arrangement is reported to deliver preferential treatment for U.S. farmers hoping to expand into the Japanese market while lessing duties on Japanese auto parts.
President Donald Trump has noted in the past that he’s displeased with any country holding a trade surplus over America’s head and Japan has one. Last year, it amounted to $67.6 billion in goods — most of it relating directly to automobiles. This initially encouraged the president to threaten tariffs on Japanese imports. However, Japan’s close ties to the United States bought it some time and any legitimate danger has been postponed to encourage trade discussions.
The profit-focused appeal of building vehicles in low-cost jurisdictions propelled many automakers to boost manufacturing capacity in America’s southern neighbor — a decision that now haunts them.
After President Donald Trump issued a Thursday statement declaring his administration would levy a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican-made goods starting June 10th, some $17 billion in market value evaporated from top automakers the following day. Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler all saw their share prices tumble. Should Trump follow through on his promise of an escalating tariff (a threat designed to stem illegal migration into the U.S.), the pain felt by both companies and their customers will be extreme.
Naturally, the industry is pushing back the best it can.
As a relative newcomer to the car-building scene, Honda doesn’t quite have the heritage of classics piling up in a dusty warehouse like most other automakers. They do have a legion of rabid fans, however, including one restorer who specializes in very early Honda cars — and found the very first N600 built for the U.S. market.
With the Saab brand now functionally dead, could the next quirky car du jour for individuality-signalling Americans come from France?
All eyes will be on PSA Peugeot Citroen on April 5 as France’s top automaker reveals its new international growth strategy, possibly heralding a return to the long-abandoned U.S. market.
The U.S. and Iran are being looked at as potential export markets, now that PSA’s “Back in the Race” restructuring program has improved the financial fortunes of the once-struggling automaker.
If you woke up not knowing the Chinese hate “new car” smell, consider yourself a well-informed person now.
Successfully selling a new vehicle in China means having to avoid the many cultural and legal traps specific to that growing market, reports Automotive News.
What works somewhere else might be a massive faux pas for Chinese buyers, meaning one wrong minor detail and an automaker can kiss its expensive international expansion goodbye. That’s a big concern for American automakers eyeing China in the hopes of boosting their global sales.
There’s not a more uncomfortable phone call for a car dealership’s finance manager to make then asking a customer to come back to have their finance or lease contract rewritten. This is typically caused by sales managers — the people most despised by finance departments — who spot deliver a vehicle based on their wrong guess about the rate or term a lender would approve the deal. Needless to say, the vast majority of these rewrites result in a higher monthly payment for the customer.
A couple of years ago, a finance manager at a Los Angeles Mercedes-Benz dealer told me and a Mercedes-Benz Financial colleague of mine about the day he picked up the phone to fix the opposite situation: the dealership had miscalculated the taxes on a client’s lease on a black ML350 Bluetec SUV and they needed the client to return and sign a new lease agreement reflecting payments of $14 per month lower than the original contract.
He called the customer with the good news only to hear, “No no no! Payment good. Payment good. We OK!”
After he hung up, he thought, “We just got snookered. That ML is probably on a slow boat to China and the factory is going to kill us.”