Category Archives: News

GM, Ford sales drop as Toyota gains steam

David  Phillips Automotive  News — May 1, 2012 – 7:23 am ET UPDATED:  5/1/12 11:34 am ET — Toyota, Nissan, VW added

DETROIT — General Motors and Ford Motor Co. posted U.S. sales  declines for April while the pace of gains at Chrysler Group fell and Toyota Motor Corp. generated another  double-digit increase.

GM sales fell 8 percent and Ford was down 5 percent.  It was the largest  decline for each automaker since August 2010.

Chrysler’s 20 percent gain marked its smallest since July. Toyota’s 12  percent increase followed a 15 percent gain in March, signaling the automaker’s   ongoing recovery from last year’s natural disasters in Asia.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. also came within 1,614 sales of outselling Ford in  posting its sixth straight monthly increase.

Nissan Motor Co. said its April  sales were flat, while deliveries at Volkswagen Group’s VW brand jumped 32  percent to 37,525.

The results from the first automakers to report today reflect an  industry  struggling to sustain the increases in previous years as the  market pulled out  of recession.  Sales rose 20 percent in April 2010 and  18 percent in April last  year.

Still, Chrysler today predicted a seasonally adjusted annual sales  rate of  14.6 million units for the month, higher than most analysts’  forecasts.

And GM raised its forecast for 2012 U.S. light vehicle sales by a half  million units, to a range of 14 million to 14.5 million.

“We expect gradual improvement in the economy going forward,” Don  Johnson,  head of U.S. sales operations for GM, said in statement. “Over  time, strength  in the manufacturing sector and strong retail sales will  lead to more job  creation. That will help more consumers put the  recession behind them.”

The automaker released its corporate totals  hours earlier than usual. Toyota  said full results would be announced by  1:30 p.m. EDT.

GM fleet sales drop

GM said its sales fell to 213,387 units, with fleet volume down 25  percent.  GMC was the only division to post higher sales last month.

Chevrolet deliveries fell 8 percent. Buick and Cadillac each dropped for the  seventh straight month.

At Ford, sales dipped 5 percent, with demand off 13 percent at  Lincoln and 5  percent at the Ford Division. Ford said its car sales  dropped 11 percent, while  demand for SUVs and pickups slipped 1 percent  last month.

It was the first month Ford has posted an overall decline in U.S. sales since  May 2011.

Chrysler said it sold 141,165 light vehicles last month, up from  117,225  units a year ago. Jeep and Ram truck brand sales rose 19  percent, while  deliveries at the Chrysler brand jumped 56 percent.

It was the 25th consecutive month that Chrysler sales have increased.

In addition to new and refreshed models, Chrysler is offering some of  the  industry’s highest incentives. TrueCar.com estimates Chrysler’s  discounts  averaged $3,071 per vehicle last month, down 6 percent from  March but up 10  percent from April 2011.

Across the industry, incentives averaged $2,446 per vehicle last  month, down  5 percent from March but up 6 percent from a year ago,  TrueCar said.

Other automakers are scheduled to report April results later today.

U.S. light vehicle sales are forecast to climb 1 percent to 1.16  million  units in April, based on a survey of analysts by Bloomberg.

There were three fewer selling days last month compared with April  2011. GM  said April marked just the second time in the last 10 years  that there have  been three fewer selling days compared with the  previous-year period.

The SAAR is projected to reach 14.4 million in April, based on a poll  of 41  analysts from Reuters, up from 13.1 million a year ago and on par  with a 14.4  million sales rate in March.

Shift to cars

The growth in car deliveries is expected to outpace the gain in light truck  volume in April.

The spring run-up in gasoline prices has boosted consumer demand for cars and  other fuel-efficient vehicles.

Ford said demand for vehicles equipped with EcoBoost engines jumped  77  percent in April. Sales of the Fiat 500 minicar hit 3,849 last month,  and 2012  deliveries have reached 12,699 units, Chrysler said.

Cars are expected to account for 55 percent of industry light vehicle  sales  in April, up from 54 percent in March and 49 percent over the  past two years,  Barclays said in a report last week.

Automakers started April with car inventories that were below normal  — a  44-days supply, while truck supplies stood at a 66-days supply.

Easing credit terms, pent-up demand and a steady, though bumpy,  recovery in  the U.S. economy is giving a lift to new car and truck  sales.

During the first quarter, new cars and light trucks sold at an annual rate of  14.5 million.

U.S. light vehicle deliveries fell to 10.4 million in 2009 before  rising to  11.6 million and 12.8 million the following two years. The  average annual sales  total for most of last decade was above 16 million.

You can reach David Phillips at dphillips@crain.com.
Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20120501/RETAIL01/120509996#ixzz1tdLbB1Lg

How Much Are Fleet Sales Inflating New Sales Figures?

Posted @  4/10/2012 12:02 PM  NADA

Since the beginning of the year, new vehicles sales have been booming for both import and domestic manufacturers alike.  More than 3.46M new units were sold in the first quarter, which is a result that has many analysts raising their full year forecasts.

Some analysts and industry executives are cautioning against being overly optimistic however, arguing that the unseasonably warm winter and higher volumes of fleet sales helped to inflate new vehicle growth over the past three months.
Exactly how many new vehicle sales can be chalked up as non-retail fleet deals?
The simple answer is, a lot.
Per CNW data, almost 1.3M or 37% of all new vehicles sold have been designated for fleet duty year-to-date.  This is a 5 percentage point increase over the same period of time last year.
Through the end of March, four of the six manufacturers that CNW tracks fleet sales on have a fleet penetration rate averaging 23% or more (this is the total number of fleet sales divided by the total number of all sales).  Topping the list are GM and Nissan at 27 and 26 percent, respectively.
Interestingly, Chrysler group’s fleet penetration figure is second lowest at 21% (Honda is the most fleet independent at 14%).  This is curious considering that Chrysler’s individual brands of Chrysler and Dodge (cars) placed about 32% of all vehicles sold last year into rental fleets.  Jeep on the other hand only put an average of 14% of its vehicles into rental fleet.
Historically the sheer volume of fleet units returning to the used market over a concentrated period of time has had a detrimental effect on used vehicle values.
Analysts here at the NADA Official Used Car Guide will continue to monitor the growing number of new fleet sales and will forecast the anticipated return to the secondary market using NADA’s proprietary used vehicle supply forecast.  Make sure to check out future issues of Guidelines and our used vehicle blogs, as we’ll be taking a closer look in the coming weeks at new fleet sale trends at the model level.

High Gas Prices Drive Car Sales: “Fuel Economy Is Top of Mind,” Ford Exec Says

By Morgan Korn

By Morgan Korn | Daily Ticker – Fri, Apr 6, 2012 1:32 PM EDT

 

 

Consumers are buying new cars at record rates this year, even as gasoline prices creep upward and the economic recovery remains uncertain. Ford Motor (F), the No. 2 U.S. automaker, posted it strongest sales numbers for March in five years. The company sold a total of 223,418 cars last month, up 11 percent from February.

The success of the top-selling fuel-efficient Focus hybrid has proved a surprise for the car maker best known for its gas-guzzling trucks. Nearly 95,000 Focuses have been sold since January and Focus sales increased 78 percent in the first quarter alone. Ford continues to nip at the heels of Toyota (TM), maker of the popular Prius hybrid.

At this week’s New York International Auto Show at the Javits Center, Ford’s electric vehicles and fuel-efficient technologies dominate its showcase space, an obvious move by Ford brass to emphasize the company’s intention to woo and seduce eco-friendly consumers. Visitors can touch, sit in and pretend to drive five hybrid and electric cars, including the Fusion plug-in hybrid and the 2013 C-Max hybrid.

Mark Fields, president of Ford Americas, says “fuel economy is top of mind for consumers” and Americans have been dumping their aging cars in favor of new vehicles that offer better fuel mileage. In an interview from the auto show, Fields points out that one-third of Ford vehicles get at least 40 miles per gallon and the Detroit automaker’s strategy over the past few years has been to “be the best or among the best in fuel economy [in] every segment that we’re in — from small cars all the way up to large trucks.”

Climbing gas prices may compel some consumers to pull back on big-ticket spending, but Fields says the pain at the pump has actually helped the company deliver stronger-than-expected sales. Even demand for its F-Series truck, which according to Ford is America’s top-selling truck for the past 35 years, has jumped 14 percent in the first quarter.

With the national price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline just a few cents shy of $4, hybrid cars could be expected to fly out of showroom floors. That may have been the case in 2008, when the price of oil hovered near $150 a barrel and record-high gas prices showed no signs of abating. Hybrid sales have surged 60 percent this year but their overall market share is relatively unchanged from a year ago.

Hybrids make up less than three percent of the total auto market and accounted for just 300,000 of the 1.4 million cars sold last month. Hybrids save consumers money at the pump, but those savings could take years to materialize as manufacturers charge a premium for the fuel-efficient technology. For example, hybrid Ford Fusion owners may not break even on their purchase for six and a half years at $5 gas, according to data from TrueCar. The number jumps to eight years at $4-a-gallon.

Fields says Ford offers a range of hybrids and electric cars to appeal to a broader base of consumers. “Different strokes for different folks,” he quips.

“We’re not using a dedicated technology for a dedicated plan,” he says. “We’ll be able to be flexible and follow the consumer.”