Tag Archive | "2003"

U.S. November Auto Sales Pace Best Since 2003


The top six automakers sold more cars and trucks in November than analysts expected, with a healthy economy, generous discounts and low fuel prices luring consumers into U.S. showrooms, reported Reuters.

The industry’s annualized sales rate in November was about 17.2 million vehicles, according to industry consultant Autodata Corp. That is the best pace for that month since 2003 and well ahead of the estimated 16.7 million in a Thomson Reuters survey of 41 industry economists and analysts.

November sales totaled 1.3 million, up 4.6 percent from a year ago and higher than analysts’ expectations of 1.27 million.

“This sustained demand for new vehicles was building for years during the recession, and it should continue unless a major shift in economic stability occurs,” said analyst Karl Brauer of Kelley Blue Book.

General Motors Co, Chrysler Group, Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co all reported year-to-year sales gains in November, while Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd had modest declines. All six topped forecasts from analysts surveyed by Reuters.

Early buzz and promotions tied to the post-Thanksgiving “Black Friday” retail blitz helped spur car sales, according to John Krafcik, president of online shopping service TrueCar.com. Krafcik said average transaction prices on full-size pickups in November topped $40,000 for the first time.

GM on Tuesday said November sales rose 6.5 percent to 225,818 vehicles. Sales of GM’s Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups climbed 34 percent to 65,343.

“Lower gasoline prices are helping the entire market, not just SUVs and trucks,” said GM spokesman Jim Cain, who also cited improving consumer confidence, higher wages and lower unemployment.

Chrysler Group sales rose 20.1 percent to 170,839 vehicles on strong showings by its Jeep utility vehicles and Ram trucks. Ram pickup sales were up 21 percent, while Jeep SUV sales jumped 27 percent.

Ford reported a slight decline in sales to 186,334 vehicles, about what analysts had expected. Sales of the best-selling F-150 pickup were down 10 percent to 59,049 as the automaker began a changeover to the redesigned 2015 model.

Ford chief economist Emily Kolinski Morris said plunging fuel prices have provided a “financial windfall” for buyers, bolstered by still-low interest rates.

“By any measure, households are reaping significant disposable income gains each week at current gas prices,” she said.

Toyota said sales rose 3 percent to 183,343, while Honda reported an increase of nearly 9 percent to 121,814. Nissan said sales were down 3 percent to 103,188. All three companies beat analysts’ expectations.

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GM Tells NHTSA Problems With Midsize Car-Ignition Switches Surfaced in 2003


General Motors Co. changed the design of ignition switches in certain midsize cars in 2003 and 2004 after discovering that the force of a swinging, heavy key chain could turn the vehicles off, but company officials didn’t treat the problem as a safety issue and order a recall of the vehicles until June 2014, according to a document filed with federal regulators on Friday, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The document provides more details on GM’s June 30 recall of 7.6 million midsize cars. Among the recalled cars are 2000 to 2005-model Chevrolet Impalas. GM says it knows of two accidents, involving three fatalities, in which air bags in a 2003 and a 2004 Impala failed to deploy. It is not known whether the ignition switches in those cars had slipped out of the run position, GM spokesman Alan Adler said Friday.

While GM changed the ignition switch designs of other midsize cars made in that period to make it harder for keys to rotate out of the run position, Mr. Adler said the ignition switch of 2000-2005 Impalas wasn’t changed in that way.

GM’s chronology of the events leading to the June 30 recall also highlights the difference in the way the company is responding now to potential safety defects compared to a decade ago.

In 2003, the GM document states, company officials learned of a customer complaint that a Pontiac Grand Am would shut off intermittently. A GM brand quality manager visited the dealership, and asked the car’s owner to demonstrate the problem. The customer had a key ring “containing approximately 50 keys and a set of brass knuckles,” the document states. When the car drove over a speed bump at 30 to 35 miles an hour, it shut down, the chronology states.

On May 22, 2003, GM issued a voice mail to dealers warning them to pay attention to the mass attached to key rings. On July 24, 2003, GM ordered a change in the design of the ignition switches used in Chevrolet Malibus, Pontiac Grand Ams and Oldsmobile Aleros. The change increased the force required to rotate the keys, and a new part number was issued.

In March 2004, a separate order was made to change the “detent plungers” in the ignition switches installed on Pontiac Grand Prix midsize cars, the chronology states. In this case, GM didn’t change the part number, the chronology states.

More than a decade later, on May 22, 2014, an official of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration questioned GM officials about a 2003 service bulletin issued for the Malibu, Grand Am and Alero.

Since the disclosure of the delay in recalling the Cobalt and other small cars, GM has been fined $35 million by NHTSA and is under investigation by federal prosecutors, two congressional committees and other federal and state regulators.

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