Tag Archive | "new vehicle sales"

NADA: New-Vehicle Sales Remain Strong, Older Units Drive Used Market

McCLEAN, Va. — A strong November has kept U.S. new-vehicle sales on pace to finish at 12 million units for 2010, and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) says that figure could grow by another million units next year. On the used side, vehicles from model year 2005 and older are making gains in a still-competitive wholesale market, F&I and Showroom reported.

NADA’s latest report cites a range of indicators that paint a rosy picture for new-vehicle sales in 2011. On the manufacturing side, the report singled out Audi and Kia as well as the Chevrolet Equinox, Hyundai Sonata and Honda Odyssey as makes and models that have enjoyed a surge in popularity — so much so, in fact, that each manufacturer is ramping up production to meet the demand.

As a result, factory incentives will undoubtedly see a surge in December and January. Bandon, Ore.-based CNW Research recently reported that incentive spending was on the rise in October; however, not yet up to par with historical trends and about 15 percent lower on a year-over-year basis. The same could be said for The Conference Board’s U.S. Consumer Confidence Index, which made news earlier this month with a November spike driven by heavy holiday-season discounts across the retail segment.

All this is in spite of a nationwide unemployment rate that continues to hover around the 10 percent mark. Any positive change in that number would almost certainly result in a payoff for auto dealers, especially considering CNW’s Pent-Up Demand indicator shows that 46 percent of new-car buyers are “new-to-market” — a steep increase from the mere 17 percent of shoppers who initiated their purchase in the first quarter of 2010.

The strong demand for and short supply of quality used vehicles — broadly defined as units less than five years old, many still under factory warranty — is no longer news for new-car dealers. In recent years, most have been slower to send trade-ins to auction or, in the case of many disenfranchised former General Motors and Chrysler dealers, converted their properties into used-car lots.

Now, used units older than five years are beginning to see their values rise. The NADA reports that prices on model year 2004 and lower vehicles are outpacing increases on newer used units. The older units are up 14 percent on a year-over-year basis, compared to 5 percent for model year 2005 to 2009. Those figures are driven by the SUV and pickup segments, which enjoyed price hikes of 24 and 19 percent, respectively.

The NADA report cites the increasing availability of vehicle history reports such as those provided by Carfax and AutoCheck as one reason consumers may feel more comfortable investing in an older car. The bulk of the credit, however, must go to the economic downturn, which forced many used-car buyers out of the price range of newer used units.

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Car Sales Post Strong Gains, With Toyota as the Exception

DETROIT — New-vehicle sales in the United States rose nearly 17 percent in November, setting the stage for the industry to end the year on a high note and enter 2011 with considerable momentum.

But one carmaker, Toyota, has been left out of the strong gains, The New York Times reported. Toyota, still struggling to overcome the damage done to its image by numerous recalls, reported a 3.3 percent decrease in sales last month. Among the 10 largest manufacturers, all but Toyota reported increases of at least 12 percent.

All three Detroit companies posted sizable gains last month. Ford’s sales were up 20 percent, General Motors 12.2 percent, and Chrysler 16.7 percent.

Toyota is on pace to end the year with its lowest market share since 2005 and to sell the fewest passenger cars since 2003. Its share in November fell to 14.8 percent, from 17.9 percent a year earlier.

“They just don’t seem to be able to catch a break,” Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends and insight at TrueCar.com, which tracks vehicle sales, said. “Toyota has a tough road ahead. They have not been able to take advantage of the recovery this year.”

Mr. Toprak said he thinks Toyota’s slow reaction and inability to reassure many consumers after widespread complaints about its vehicles accelerating suddenly, “has hurt them permanently.”

Toyota officials attributed last month’s decline to a decision to sell fewer vehicles to businesses and governments that pay discounted rates — known as fleet sales — and a shift in demand toward trucks and away from smaller cars, Toyota’s forte.

Robert S. Carter, a Toyota group vice president, noted that the Toyota brand, which he heads, remained the industry’s most popular brand among individual buyers, even though its sales for the year were down. The Toyota Camry sedan is the top-selling car in the United States for the ninth consecutive year, despite a 24 percent decline in November.

“Over all, we believe our retail volume is right on track. We’re pleased with the month,” Mr. Carter said on a conference call with reporters. “We just chose not to participate in some of the fleet business that’s out there.”

But he conceded that the recalls, totaling more than 10 million vehicles globally this year, have taken a toll, hurting the company’s ability to attract new customers. On Tuesday, Toyota began a “limited service campaign” — short of a full-blown recall — to repair a coolant pump on 650,000 Prius hybrid cars.

“I won’t say that the opinion of our brand is where it was 18 months ago,” Mr. Carter said. “But we’re really pleased with the progress that we’re making. Our retention of our current owner body has not wavered one bit.”

Toyota has been offering some of its best-ever deals this year in the hopes of drawing in shoppers. Meanwhile, the Detroit automakers have been largely successful in ending their dependence on big discounts, a tactic that helped cause many of their financial troubles.

“Without new product to compete with and stripped of its bulletproof quality reputation, Toyota is forced to sell on the deal,” Jessica Caldwell, a senior analyst with Edmunds.com, which provides car-buying advice to consumers, said. “This lack of profitability is a growing concern for dealers.”

Ford is on track to outsell Toyota for the first time since 2006 with its sales in 2010 up 16.6 percent. The Ford brand sold 31.3 percent more passenger cars in November than a year ago, compared to an 18 percent decline for the Toyota brand.

Ford said it planned to build 11 percent more vehicles in the first quarter of 2011 — 635,000 — than it did a year earlier. Ford’s 20 percent overall increase accounts for sales last year by the Volvo brand, which Ford no longer owns, while sales of its remaining brands were up 24.3 percent.

Excluding the brands G.M. closed, Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer, and the one it sold, Saab, sales of the brands it still operates were up 21 percent.

“Consumers are still cautious,” said Jim Bunnell, a G.M. executive who oversees the company’s dealer network and sales, “but we’re starting to see people show an inclination to come back into dealerships and go back into malls. As we go into 2011, we’re going to continue to see a nice improvement.”

Among imports, sales were up 48.2 percent for Kia, 45.2 percent for Hyundai, 26.8 percent for Nissan and 21.1 percent at Honda.

The Detroit automakers, all of which have operating profits for three straight quarters, are being helped financially by higher truck sales in recent months. Sales of light trucks, which generally sell at higher prices and generate more profits than cars, were up 24 percent at Ford and Chrysler and 21 percent at G.M.

November was the second straight month in which the industry’s seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate was more than 12 million. The rate was below 10 million in parts of 2009 but still far below the 17 million rate in the early 2000s.

Analysts expect the industry to sell about 11.5 million vehicles in 2010 and project that 2011 sales could reach 13 million.

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Hyundai Expects to Add to Record U.S. Sales in 2011

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Hyundai Motor Co. expects to set a company record for annual U.S. sales next week and to increase from there in 2011 amid gradual industry growth, its top U.S. executive said.

Hyundai Motor America President and CEO John Krafcik said he expects U.S. auto industry sales to rise to 12.3 million vehicles in 2011, from about 11.3 million this year, almost purely from sales to retail customers, Reuters reported.

“As we look at how heavy the industry went to the fleet market to keep sales up this year, it is pretty amazing,” Krafcik told reporters at a Hyundai facility near Ypsilanti, Mich. “We are not going to have that next year.”

Krafcik said the increase in 2011 would amount to a 10 percent rise in retail sales for the industry. That mark will be hard to reach, with retail sales closely tied to housing starts and home equity in the United States, which remain uncertain amid high unemployment, he said.

“That is asking a lot,” Krafcik said.

Hyundai, which has been introducing new versions of its vehicles, including a Sonata sedan, expects to top 500,000 in U.S. sales by mid-December and end 2010 with a 4.8 percent market share.

Krafcik said the 2011 sales goal would be “more than that.” He also said it would be hard to increase U.S. market share much in 2011 due to company production capacity limits.

Hyundai has been hitting maximum production capacity in the United States, with sales up 21 percent through the first 10 months of 2010, and will have similar limits next year, Krafcik said.

The automaker added about 100,000 vehicles of U.S. capacity this year, reaching about 400,000 vehicles by shifting production of Santa Fe SUVs to a Kia plant.

“I think it is fair to say we will probably be production constrained next year as well,” Krafcik said.

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GM, Ford Top Analysts’ Sales Estimates in Best Month of 2010

General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. reported U.S. sales increases that topped analysts’ estimates as consumers returned to showrooms, making October the best month for vehicle deliveries in more than a year, Bloomberg reported.

GM’s sales climbed 3.5 percent to 183,759, the Detroit- based automaker said today in a statement. Sales at Ford increased 15 percent to 157,935, the Dearborn-Mich. based company said. Five of the top six automakers by U.S. sales reported gains, and Toyota Motor Corp. had a decline.

Industrywide light-vehicle sales rose to a 12.3 million annual rate in October, researcher Autodata Corp. said today. That’s the fastest since the U.S. government’s “cash for clunkers” incentive program lifted the pace to 14.2 million in August 2009. The average of nine analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for the rate to reach 11.9 million last month.

“Consumers who have a job are feeling a little bit better and not fearing every Friday anymore,” said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at researcher IHS Automotive in Lexington, Massachusetts. “They feel like the worst is over and they’re starting to trickle back into showrooms.”

GM, the largest U.S. automaker, exceeded expectations for a decline of 6.3 percent, the average of three analysts’ estimates, as customers bought more Buick and GMC brand vehicles.

Buick sales climbed 39 percent to 12,569 vehicles, led by a 53 percent increase in deliveries of the Enclave sport-utility vehicle, GM said today. GMC sales gained 30 percent to 33,136.

Ford’s gain topped the 14 percent average estimate of six analysts on record sales of Fusion sedans. Fusion sales gained 29 percent, while F-Series rose 24 percent, pushing deliveries of the pickups past last year’s total in the first 10 months of this year.

“That’s a good harbinger of the economy starting to move forward,” Ken Czubay, Ford’s U.S. sales chief, said on a conference call with analysts. “It’s good to see the industry nudging forward.”

Ford will seek to boost Lincoln sales with more marketing through the end of the year, Czubay said. Lincoln sales rose 1.5 percent in October compared with a 21 percent increase for Ford- brand vehicles.

“Lincoln just isn’t yet playing in the big leagues with legitimate luxury cars,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with automotive researcher Edmunds.com. “Lincoln is in neverland right now. It needs new products.”

Ford rose 75 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $15.18 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, the highest closing price since July 28, 2004.

“Ford has been a phenomenal winner for us,” said Frank Ingarra, co-portfolio manager at Novato, California-based Hennessy Advisors Inc., which held 407,700 Ford shares as of Sept. 30. “They were a lot more nimble than their competitors, moved a lot quicker, took out parts of the company they needed to and have reemerged.”

The Federal Reserve said today it will buy an additional $600 billion of Treasuries through June, expanding record stimulus in an effort to boost growth and reduce unemployment. The U.S. economy expanded at a 2 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the Commerce Department reported Oct. 29. The jobless rate is projected to stay above 9 percent through next year.

“We have a recovery with a lot of weight on its back,” said Paul Ballew, chief economist for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. in Columbus, Ohio, and a former General Motors Corp. economist. “For vehicle sales to jump a heck of a lot more, it’s going to take stronger growth, job creation and higher levels of confidence than what we’re seeing.”

Chrysler Group LLC’s sales rose 37 percent from a year earlier to 90,137 vehicles. The automaker, based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, posted a 29 percent gain in deliveries of its namesake brand and said sales of its Jeep line more than doubled on higher demand for its redesigned Grand Cherokee SUV. Deliveries of the Ram pickup rose 41 percent to 17,316.

Chrysler was expected to report a 41 percent sales increase, the average estimate of six analysts.

“Most of what we’re seeing from Chrysler is either fleet- and rental-based or incentive-fueled sales, so it’s a bit harder to judge Chrysler,” said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends at Santa Monica, California-based TrueCar.com. “We don’t expect a real recovery in their retail sales until the Fiats start rolling in next year.”

The U.S. auto selling rate has stayed above 11 million since March, according to Autodata, based in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. A rate above 12 million would be “a good sign and an indication the fourth quarter will be higher,” George Pipas, Ford’s sales analyst, said yesterday in an interview.

“We feel pretty good about October for the industry overall and for GM in particular,” Don Johnson, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales, said today on a conference call.

GM today said it will raise as much as $10.6 billion in an initial public offering that will reduce the U.S. and Canadian governments’ stakes in the automaker. The company also said it had third-quarter net income attributable to common stockholders of $1.9 billion to $2.1 billion.

Toyota’s U.S. deliveries fell 4.4 percent, the only drop among the top six automakers. The decline was smaller than the 5.6 percent drop estimated by four analysts, on average. Sales of the Corolla decreased 25 percent and the Camry slipped 14 percent.

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Hyundai’s U.S. Sales Increase 38%, Topping 2009 Total

Hyundai Motor Co. said U.S. deliveries in October rose 38 percent, with demand for Sonata sedans and Tucson sport-utility vehicles leading the automaker toward record sales for the year, Bloomberg reported.

South Korea’s largest automaker sold 42,656 cars and light trucks last month, up from 31,005 a year ago, the company said. The company’s U.S. deliveries through October surpassed its total for all of 2009. Kia Motors Corp., Hyundai’s affiliate, said U.S. sales increased 39 percent.

The revamped Sonata, on the market since January, outsold Nissan Motor Co.’s Altima and Ford Motor Co.’s Fusion last month, Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai’s U.S. executive vice president, said in the statement.

Nissan, Ford and most other large carmakers will release October sales results tomorrow, with industrywide deliveries expected to accelerate to the fastest rate in 14 months, according to the average nine analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. deliveries for Hyundai through October were 452,703, while the Seoul-based company sold 435,064 in all of 2009. Hyundai’s U.S. sales peak was 467,009 in 2007. The company’s U.S. operations are based in Fountain Valley, Calif.

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Ford Chief: Total Industy Sales Could Hit 13 Million in 2011

“We’re thinking that we could move up past 12 million maybe closer to 13 million for 2011,” Alan Mulally, chief executive for Ford, told Automotive News.

Mulally was referring to total light vehicle sales in the United States (not just Ford). He said that through the first nine months of 2010, sales were around 11.5 million, which is a jump from 10.5 million from last year.

Last week, Ford posted its sixth consecutive quarter of profit. But Mr. Mulally acknowledged that even 13 million was nowhere near the level of total industry car sales of a few years ago, when Americans were buying around 16 million cars a year.

“So it’s gradual expansion, but very solid,” he said.

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