Tag Archive | "Ford"

Ford Relaunches Commercial Vehicle Dealer Program


DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford is launching the Commercial Vehicle Center dealer program to replace the Business Preferred Network (BPN). According to officials, the new program  offers improved service, better parts availability and a new loyalty program.

The program is rolling out at 650 of Ford’s more than 3,000 dealers in the United States and replaces a program that was heavily used by smaller fleets to set up work trucks and vans.

“Nearly 30 years ago, Ford established its first program to improve the purchase experience for our commercial vehicle customers,” said John Ruppert, Ford general manager of commercial vehicle sales and marketing. “Now we are introducing the next chapter in our commercial vehicle story, not only by rebranding the program, but by further expanding a number of program elements to improve the overall customer experience.”

A Commercial Vehicle Center will offer a service counter that’s open at least 55 hours per week and new stocking programs that will improve parts availability, according to Ford.

Ford is also offering a new Commercial Advantage Rewards loyalty program that allows customers to earn various factory benefits that can be redeemed at a Commercial Vehicle Center location. Dealers can offer their own rewards through the program.

The centers will support Ford’s commercial vehicles, including Transit Connect compact vans, full-size Transit cargo vans, F-150 pickups, Super Duty chassis cabs, as well as F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks. Commercial Vehicle Center dealers will also offer the best selection of in-stock Ford commercial vehicles, and a range of financing options and incentives, according to Ford.

Ford is launching the Commercial Vehicle Center dealer program that will replace the Business Preferred Network (BPN) and offer improved service, better parts availability and a new loyalty program, Ford announced.

The program is rolling out at 650 of Ford’s more than 3,000 dealers in the U.S. and replaces a program that was heavily used by smaller fleets to set up work trucks and vans.

Much like a BPN dealer, a Commercial Vehicle Center will offer sales, service, and financing support for commercial buyers.

“Nearly 30 years ago, Ford established its first program to improve the purchase experience for our commercial vehicle customers,” said John Ruppert, Ford general manager, commercial vehicle sales and marketing. “Now we are introducing the next chapter in our commercial vehicle story, not only by rebranding the program, but by further expanding a number of program elements to improve the overall customer experience.”

A Commercial Vehicle Center will offer a service counter that’s open at least 55 hours per week and new stocking programs that will improve parts availability, according to Ford.

Ford is also offering a new Commercial Advantage Rewards loyalty program that allows customers to earn various factory benefits that can be redeemed at a Commercial Vehicle Center location. Dealers can offer their own rewards through the program.

The centers will support Ford’s commercial vehicles, including Transit Connect compact vans, full-size Transit cargo vans, F-150 pickups, Super Duty chassis cabs, as well as F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks. Commercial Vehicle Center dealers will also offer the best selection of in-stock Ford commercial vehicles, and a range of financing options and incentives, according to Ford.

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KBB: Average Transaction Price Climbs to Record High in December


IRVINE, Calif. — The estimated average transaction price for light vehicles in the United States reached an all-time record high of $35,309 in December, according to Kelley Blue Book (KBB). This increase, the auto firm added, amounted to a 1.5% increase over the same time last year.

Virtually all vehicle OEM recorded increases in average transaction prices, with Fiat Chrysler, Ford Motor Co. and Nissan North America leading the way. However, KBB noted that just as new prices have grown, so have incentives.

“Even though transaction prices are at an all-time high, incentives have grown similarly to counterbalance the increased prices,” said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book.  “Higher average transaction prices are reflective of the rapid shift in consumer demand away from cars and into trucks and utility vehicles, which are more expensive. Should the sales mix of cars to SUVs reach a stable point in the near future, actual transaction price growth could match or fall just short of inflation.”

For Fiat Chrysler, average vehicle transaction prices rose 3.3%, driven primarily by the automaker’s Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands. The strength of the Pacifica minivan propelled average transaction prices for the Chrysler brand up 10%, as did fewer sales of the brand’s 200 Sedan. The Dodge brand was up 5% on a lower mix of its compact car, the Dart, and strong performance from the Charger. The average for the Jeep brand was up 2% thanks to a strong month from the refreshed Grand Cherokee.

“December was an interesting month for FCA. Though the Jeep and Ram brands are up, incentives are high, and vehicles such as the Cherokee saw big drops. Jeep has to hope its 2017 redesigns can stem some of the bleeding and help reduce incentives,” said KBB analyst Akshay Anand. “Alfa Romeo and Fiat continue to be drags on FCA, with Alfa’s volume still next to nothing and Fiat continuing to decline in sales. The Pacifica was a great story for Chrysler, but the brand still needs more models in order to become a player.”

Essentially matching Fiat Chrysler’s growth rate, Ford Motor Co. realized a 3% rise in its average transaction price for December. The main drivers were the automaker’s Explorer, Escape and Fusion, which saw their transaction prices climb by 11%, 3%, and 4%, respectively. The Lincoln brand’s average transaction price rose 3% increase due to the Continental $57,156 average transaction price.

Nissan North America realized the biggest year-over-year increase among all the OEMs, with its average transaction price rising 5.9% over the same time last year, according to KBB. Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for AutoTrader, noted that the brand’s growth was driven in large part by the success of its Nissan Rogue sport utility, which benefited from the advertising tie-in with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

“Appealing products, incentives, and financing likely drove the industry to another record year in 2016. A three-peat is possible (if not probable) if Wall Street, consumer confidence, and the economy continue to respond favorably to the incoming administration. There are a lot of old cars on the road still and a lot of new technology awaiting shoppers in today’s showrooms,” said Rebecca Lindland, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

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KBB Announces 2017 Best Buy Awards


IRVINE, Calif. — Kelley Blue Book today announced the winners of its 2017 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards. The 2017 Honda Civic was named the Overall Best Buy of 2017, however, 11 other vehicles also took top honors for their respective categories.

“Kelley Blue Book editors went to the unprecedented choice of honoring the Honda Civic as the Overall Best Buy for the second year in a row because of the Civic’s unsurpassed all-around value,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for KBB.com. “It turns in very high marks in objective measures like resale value and cost to own, yet it also is a supremely satisfying car to drive and live with every day.”

Overall, the Honda brand took home four awards, with its new Civic also winning in the small car category. The Honda Accord and Pilot also won in the mid-size car and mid-size SUV/crossover categories, respectively.

The Chevrolet brand received the second-most Best Buy awards, with its Impala winning in the full-size car category and the automaker’s Tahoe winning in the full-size SUV/crossover category.

The 2017 Audi A4 was named the Best Buy in the luxury car segment, while the 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster took top honors in the sports/performance car segment. The best electric/hybrid was the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime.

In the small SUV/ crossover category, the 2017 Kia Sportage emerged as KBB’s Best Buy. In the luxury SUV/ crossover category, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC was honored with the top award. And for the third year in a row, Ford’s F-150 received KBB’s Best Buy award.

Lastly, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica received the best buy award for the minivan category.

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Exclusive: U.S., Major Automakers to Announce Safety Accord Friday


The U.S. government and a group of global automakers are set to unveil a voluntary agreement at the Detroit auto show on Friday aimed at improving auto industry safety and spurring culture changes, according to company and government officials.

The accord could set the framework for further discussions on safety reforms and mark a new era of cooperation between automakers and regulators after a record-setting year of safety fines, recalls and investigations into malfunctioning vehicles made by General Motors Co, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Honda Motor Co and others.

But it stops short of what many safety advocates have urged Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to adopt: new binding legal requirements to toughen safety rules. And automakers may be able to raise the voluntary agreement to argue against future proposed regulations, saying the accord makes legally binding rules unnecessary.

 The agreement, under discussion for several weeks, would also attempt to improve vehicle cyber security and the use of early warning data to detect potential defects that might lead to safety problems or large-scale recalls, sources said. It would also create new government-industry task forces to work to improve auto safety.

Despite the voluntary agreement, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said the agency will not hesitate to fine automakers that fail to follow the rules and will not give up its aggressive enforcement of auto safety rules.

Automakers recalled a record-setting 63.95 million vehicles in the United States in 2014, incurring large fines from NHTSA.

Companies in the talks leading up to the agreement include GM, Toyota Motor Corp, Ford Motor Co, Daimler AG, Fiat Chrysler, BMW AG, Honda, Nissan Motor Co and Hyundai Motor Co.

The agreement is to be announced at the auto show in the U.S. auto capital of Detroit by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and top auto executives, sources told Reuters.

In a letter last week to the NHTSA seen by Reuters, the group of 16 automakers said industry support of an agreement “reaffirms our shared commitment to safety, and signals to the public the areas in which government and industry intend to collaborate to further improve automotive safety.”

Automakers met with the NHTSA in Chicago on Dec. 16 and since then exchanged proposed “Principles for Working Collaboratively to Enhance Motor Vehicle and Traffic Safety.”

In recent days, NHTSA and automakers have continued to propose revisions, including discussions about government-industry working groups, according to auto industry officials who spoke to Reuters at the Detroit show.

The talks come after NHTSA came under intense criticism in 2014 for failing to detect ignition switch defects in 2.6 million older GM cars linked to at least 124 deaths. Since then, NHTSA has been more aggressive in handing out fines and demanding outside monitors oversee automaker safety compliance.

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said on Monday in an interview on the sidelines of the Detroit show that the agency cannot make vehicles safe simply by imposing new regulations and handing down fines. He said he hoped a deal would be announced Friday.

“We’re going to have to find new tools – that means new collaborations, new partnerships,” Rosekind said.

But the voluntary agreement will not be enforceable – and is not as tough as what some safety advocates have called for. With only a year remaining in the Obama administration, there is a shrinking window to complete new legally binding auto safety rules.

Sean Kane, president of Massachusetts-based Safety Research & Strategies Inc and an auto safety advocate, praised NHTSA “for having a dialogue” with automakers and prodding them to do more on safety “and be strong on enforcement.”

Kane raised concerns about a voluntary agreement that is not legally enforceable. “It also eliminates input from outside parties” like safety advocates and consumers, Kane said, “and that is a little troubling.”

Foxx met with top executives from major automakers on Dec. 1 in Washington. A spokeswoman for Foxx said there have since then been “productive discussions with auto manufacturers toward agreement on steps to bolster safety.”

Foxx “is hopeful that they will soon result in concrete commitments that lead to significant safety improvements that will strengthen public confidence,” said his spokeswoman.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said on Monday he agreed with the NHTSA that the auto industry needs more collaboration with regulators. He said he wanted the industry to “get to a stage where safety is no longer a competitive edge used by one automaker against another.”

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December Auto Sales Soar 9% in Record Year


Automakers posted a solid 9% sales gain in December, an exclamation point that sealed 2015 as the biggest sales year ever for the industry, reported USA Today.

All told, automakers sold 17.47 million new vehicles for the year, Autodata reported, besting the previous record set in 2000 by 68,138 vehicles. Low gas prices, cheap credit, low unemployment, soaring consumer confidence and warm weather fueled a rush into showrooms in December.

“The U.S. economy continues to expand, and the most important factors that drive demand for new vehicles are in place, so we expect to see a second consecutive year of record industry sales in 2016,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist, in a statement.

Still, sales success for individual automakers presented a mixed bag. Detroit’s Big 3 fared well for December and the year. General Motors had a 5.7% sales increase in December, Ford Motor saw an 8.3% boost and Fiat Chrysler sales rose 12.6%, according to Autodata. Tesla Motors doubled sales during the month and sold 23,650 of its luxury electric cars in the U.S. for the year, but came in at the low end of its delivery guidance on worldwide deliveries.

Among Asian makers, Toyota saw a 10.3% increase for the month, Honda was at 9.9% and Nissan at 8.7%. But for the full year, they came in lower, with Toyota posting a 5.3% increase compared to the industry average of 5.7%

One laggard was German automaker Volkswagen Group, which still cannot sell diesel vehicles amid an emissions scandal, down 3.4% overall. The automaker’s Volkswagen brand sales fell 9.1% in December and 4.8% for the year. The company’s Audi luxury brand, which has felt a smaller impact from the scandal, achieved a 6% gain in December and 11.1% for the year. Another loser for the month was Hyundai, saddled with a car-heavy lineup during the SUV surge, down 1.5%.

Consumers continued their exodus from less-lucrative cars into crossovers, sport-utility vehicles and pickups amid low gasoline prices.

At 13.9% market share, the small SUV segment is now the largest category of vehicles in the U.S., trailed by small cars and midsize cars at 13.7% apiece, according to Kelley Blue Book.

“There’s no end in sight to those trends,” AutoTrader.com analyst Michelle Krebs said. “You’re going to hear the same broken record next year.”

Crossovers like the Toyota RAV4, the Nissan Rogue and the Jeep Renegade delivered a robust showing in December.

“The segment is in demand with Baby Boomers and Millennials both looking for increased utility. We think this is a long-term trend,” Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle said on a conference call.

Unlike 2000, when automakers were piling on discounts to sell vehicles despite a strong economy, the industry is financially fit and has spurned steep incentives. Average incentives rose 3.9% in December, compared with a year earlier, to $3,063 per vehicle, according to TrueCar.

Toyota division general manager Bill Fay told reporters it was a “standout year,” though he projects sales to “start to level off a bit” in 2016.

Even as crossovers gain, the industry’s stalwart full-size pickup trucks have also flourished, in addition to new midsize pickups.

The Ford F-Series pickup, the most popular vehicle in the U.S., rose 14.6% to 85,211 units in December. Sales were up 3.5% for the year to 780,354.

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Ford and Google to Partner on Self-Driving Cars


DETROIT, MI – In a strategic partnership between a tech giant and an automaker, Google and Ford Motor Co. will pair on an autonomous vehicle-building project, according to a report in Yahoo Autos.

Citing sources familiar with the plans, the report says that the joint venture will be announced by Ford at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

For autonomous vehicles, the two companies are complimentary in that Google has been developing self-driving car software for years, and already has 53 test vehicles on roads in California and Texas, according to mlive.com.

Partnering with Ford – which has also been developing autonomous vehicle technology – gives Google immediate access to the 102-year-old company’s sizable vehicle-building infrastructure and network.

“Tech companies have an advantage when it comes to rapidly developing advanced autonomous features, but building an entire vehicle goes far beyond high-tech engineering,” Karl Brauer, senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said in an email Monday night. “Car companies will struggle to keep up with the pace of autonomous technology, while tech companies will face a daunting task in setting up the full production and distribution of an automobile line. An alliance between the two industries could make everything happen much quicker, giving the advantage to tech and car companies that align first.”

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