Sales Are Rising, But Incentive-Happy Automakers Are Kneecapping Profits

Light vehicle sales haven’t peaked in the U.S., but the way they’re being sold is putting automakers in some financial peril.

That warning was delivered by Thomas King, vice-president of the Power Information Network, ahead of this weekend’s National Automobile Dealers Association, Wards Auto reports.

Speaking at the J.D. Power Automotive Summit, King said retail sales of cars and light trucks will rise this year and next, even after a very healthy 2015. Last year saw 14.2 million units reach customers, with volume projected to hit 14.7 million in 2017.

Despite moving more vehicles and rising MRSPs, automakers risk forgoing the financial benefits due to incentives and a growing trend towards leasing.

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Piston Slap: The Importance of A Craigslist 3-Ring Binder

TTAC commentator dtremit writes:

Hey Sajeev —

Inspired by your recent Mazda3 Piston Slap, I thought I’d throw this question your way. Seems like something the B&B might have advice on.

I have a 2005 Mazda6 that is a rather desirable used car…on paper. It is in excellent condition mechanically, and has fairly low miles for its age (about 78k). Single owner, and I have maintained it well, though I am not sure the mess of receipts in the glovebox counts as excellent documentation. I have a good set of Nokian snow tires for it on steel wheels, which would go along with it. It would make a good car for someone for quite some time to come.

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On Tesla, Michigan And Factory Stores

Bloomberg’s op-ed “ Detroit Fights Innovation — Again” is not about the Detroit Three of GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler [merger consummated Oct 12th] or even manufacturers, but about Michigan and (indirectly) automotive dealers. It makes the very tenuous claim that a ruling blocking Tesla from running company stores (which is in fact in line with existing state law) is tacit protectionism that represents a step backward. Indeed, the article implies that the restriction is ultimately aimed at preventing a Chinese invasion. In fact the policy is misguided because history shows that there’s no need to fear factory stores, at least as long as they’re not set up by a car company so as to undermine their own existing dealers.

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Editorial: Tesla is What Scion Should Have Been

It’s not an exceptionally large showroom, but the façade is enormous. The Tesla retail store in Columbus, Ohio wraps around an entire corner of the Easton Town Center, that city’s premier upscale shopping venue. My trip to the store, the first time I’d ever set foot in a Tesla retail location, was an eye opener. Tesla’s retail model is an example of what Scion could have (and should have) been.

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Subprime Lending Still On The Rise As GM Financial Grows Prime Lending Operations

Subprime auto financing continues to grow, and while one analyst at Moody’s says that banks are largely staying out of the subprime space, overall lending continued to rise, with retail banks seeing some of the strongest growth. This expansion in lending, particularly subprime, was attributed as a key driver in auto sales. SNL cited forecasts for a SAAR of between 16 and 16.7 million in 2014, up from 15.5 million in 2013.

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Should You Sell Your Car At Carmax?

100,000 miles?

200,000 miles?

300,000 miles?

Everyone has a certain point with their daily driver when they would rather see money back in their pocket, instead of seeing more money fall out of their pocket.

Time marches on. That old clunker loses it’s endearing qualities and then, what do you do?

Well, the answer depends a lot on what type of vehicle you’re trying to sell… which is why I’m introducing Carmax’s wholesale operations into this write-up.

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Ur-Turn: Transparency In The Car Buying Process. What Is It Really?

This week’s Ur-Turn comes from David Ruggles, a noted industry figure, prolific TTAC commenter and author of the Autos and Economics blog.

In my 44 years in the auto industry there have been a couple of continuing themes I have observed. First, there is never ending change. Second, consumers are uncomfortable with the negotiating process required when buying a vehicle. These days vendors to auto dealers are trying to sell dealers on the concept that “transparency” is the key to success in selling cars.

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New Or Used? : No One Loves My Bimmer Edition

A reader writes:

Steve –

So glad to see you back at TTAC. I’ve learned so much more about auctions to go along with what you and I discussed a year-and-a-half (!) ago.

I have a question of a personal nature. Well, it’s still car-related, but it has to do with MY car, so I guess that’s what makes it personal.

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Review: 2014 Chevrolet Impala (With Video)

I have this feeling that our most impressionable automotive years are our high school years. Maybe it’s because I was so eager to drive that I noticed anything with wheels. Maybe it’s that auto shop class where I got to wrench on a Wankel (that sounds wrong doesn’t it?). Whatever the reason, it seems many of my brand and model name identities were formed in the mid 1990s. For me, “Impala” doesn’t conjure up the W-Body abomination GM has been selling for the past 13 years. Instead “my” Impala has always been the 1994-1996 [s]Caprice[/s] Impala SS with the 5.7L Corvette LT1 engine. This is my benchmark on which every Impala must be judged.

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The Truth About Honda's Fleet Sales

TTAC has a long tradition of digging deep into manufacturer sales data, frequently focusing on retail versus fleet sales. It’s become commonly accepted that high fleet percentages are a sign of weakness in product lines, at least as far as retail consumer preference goes. The traditionally low fleet percentages of Japanese brands have been singled out as evidence of those companies’ ability to attract crucial retail dollars, or at least their superiority in matching production to demand. And they were right. For many years, Toyota and Honda in particular could count on strong retail sales of premium-priced products in a way that the Big 3 couldn’t. Changing trends in the American vehicle market are undermining this model, though.

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Piston Slap: To Rent, To Own
Brad writes:

Hi Sajeev –

I’m a longtime reader of the blog, and also have been car less for the past 17 years. I live in a major Pacific Northwest city and haven’t needed a car. But I’m getting older, I’m partnered up and need to visit in-laws out in the boonies, and I just find myself wanting a car. I don’t want an older car. The two cars I did own back in my teens and early 20s were a 1980s Buick Skylark and a 1988 Dodge Omni. I think dealing with the repairs on those two beaters put a bad taste in my mouth for very old cars. So I’m looking at new or slightly used.

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Analysis: Google Cars Gets Ready To Retail Rumble

Google’s autonomous car program tends to get the lion’s share of attention when discussing the tech giant’s auto initiatives. But lurking in the background is a more immediate project that has the potential to finally “disrupt” (as Silicon Valley types are so fond of saying) online automotive sales.

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Monday Mileage Champion: Saturnalia

I told you that I would report back to the TTAC faithful when something new came up.

Well, for quite a few weeks there has been the usual distribution of dominance when it comes to high mileage cars that are curbed by their owners. 70% to 80% of the vehicles in the Top 25 of trade-ins mileage wise (out of 6000+ a week) were either Ford and Chevy trucks, Honda cars, or Toyota anything.

This week the streak is broken. Thanks to two Saturns which managed to cross the 400k mark.

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Blind Spot: America's New Motor City

Throughout the history of the automobile in America, one city has been synonymous with the industry and culture of cars. Booming with America’s great period of industrialization, Detroit became the Motor City, the hometown of an industry that created a blue-collar middle class and a culture based on personal mobility. But as America has entered the post-industrial age, as the focus of our economy has shifted from production to consumption, Detroit has been left behind. Long used to defining consumer tastes, Detroit was caught unawares by the changes wrought by globalization and the rise of information technology. And as America’s traditional auto industry struggles to redefine itself in the new economy, another Motor City is rising to meet the challenges of a new age.

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A Snapshot Of January Sales: Honda Civic Is America's Third Best-Selling Car

One month is far too premature to make any predictions about 2012’s sales race, but we still got our hands on the data, thanks to independent analyst Timothy Cain. As usual, the Ford F-Series and Toyota Camry were the top dogs.

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  • Syke Felt that Corvette should have been removed from Chevrolet dealerships decades ago and become their own brand. At which point, however, that takes away the only thing Chevrolet has done right in the last fifty years. Dealers will see to it that'll never happen, or, at best, every dealership becomes a Chevrolet/Corvette franchise.And before anyone starts crying at the thought, it's certainly worked for Porsche . . . .
  • VoGhost First of all, more great performing vehicles are always welcome. But it really does point to a cancer within GM that their answer is always: 'more models.' They face an existential crisis from a competitor that grows at 50% annually and is stealing their market share. And they are doing it on the back of just two models. And while the commentators moan about where the CyberTruck is and when will they update their vehicles, Tesla now produces two of the top five vehicles on the planet. GM doesn't need more models - they need a few GREAT vehicles. Come on, GM! Show us a vehicle that can sell at 500K+ units, that isn't a third place pickup people only buy because the F-150 and Ram are sold out.
  • Ajla Everything should be branded as a Corvette, Mustang, or AMG.-Subaru Crosstrek AMG-Toyota Mustang GR86-Buick Shelby Corvette Encore AMG
  • SCE to AUX Since I refuse to sign up for Sirius XM, can it still be a gateway into my car?
  • Kcflyer So they are leveraging the Corvette name and leaving off the best feature. Bummer.