With an extra selling day compared to the March that came before it, last month saw U.S. new vehicle buyers continue doing what they’ve done for years. By that, we mean snap up trucks and SUVs like it’s going out of style. (There’s no indication it’s going out of style.) According to figures from Autodata, truck and SUV sales rose 16.3 percent in the U.S., year over year, while traditional passenger cars continued to fade from the minds of new vehicle buyers. That segment declined 9.2 percent, year over year. Monthly sales figures can be fickle, which is apparently the reason for General Motors’ switch to quarterly sales reports starting next month, but we prefer receiving data more often. And last month’s data paints a very different picture than February’s. Leaving SUVs aside, which pickups soared in March? If you suspect the bottom didn’t fall out of Ford F-Series demand, you’d be correct. Ford claims last month was the … [Read more...] about March 2018 U.S. Truck Sales: Springtime for Hauler
Amid the Chicago Auto Show hoopla last week came reports that Mercedes-Benz was considering dropping out of next year’s Detroit Auto Show, news that has since been confirmed. I was invited to a dinner with journalists by an OEM during the Chicago show, and while eating, the PR guy posed a question – “Does the auto show still matter to you guys?”Immediately, all in attendance agreed that the shows are as important as ever to consumers and the dealers who sell them cars. Which makes sense – the shows are usually run by dealer associations, with the intent of generating sales leads.For us in the media, though, it’s been an open question. Thanks to changes in technology and how both journalists and PR departments do their jobs, many journalists now find it easier (and cheaper) to cover the shows from home (especially if they snagged embargoed material in advance).Not to mention that automakers are increasingly spending time and money on off-site reveals … [Read more...] about QOTD: Do Auto Show Media Days Matter to the Consumer?
There’s always big money in the collector car market. Auction houses like Mecum and Barrett-Jackson simply roll the shiny and tempting classic metal (like that Purp Drank Impala SS) across their blocks. The old folks (or their buying representatives) in the audience quickly and happily shill out huge sums for the privilege of adding a pretty and desirable machine of yesteryear to their collection.Let’s see if we can’t predict the not-so-old vehicles that will appear on these illustrious auction blocks in the future.We’re not going to impose too many rules today, just one rule and one general principle.Your predicted vehicle must be 15 years old or less, which leaves it 10 or more years to age into classic status at 25. This rule eliminates the mid-90s Japan metal that’s easy fodder. 2004 or newer.There needs to be some real reason your selection(s) might become collectible. “The Corolla S will be collectible because I like it” is not … [Read more...] about QOTD: Which Newer Vehicles Are Destined for Collector Status?
January started strong for several automakers in America, with the industry shifting 1,157,407 cars and light trucks last month. That represents a 1.2 percent increase over this time last year.More than one company is guilty of padding its numbers with fleet sales, though. In one instance, it represented nearly a third of January’s reported sales for that automaker.Combined, Nissan and Infiniti moved 123,538 machines last month, marking a full 10 percent increase over January 2017, thanks to the marque’s portfolio of trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. However, according to Automotive News, fleet deliverers surged 48 percent last month for that automaker, cresting the 40,000-unit mark. Basic math tells us, then, that a full 32.5 percent of Nissan’s reported sales were to fleets. That percentage is even higher if one backs January’s 10,635 Infinitis out of the equation.To be fair, this could simply be a case of Nissan fulfilling a huge order at the beginning of … [Read more...] about Fleet Week: January’s U.S. Auto Sales Buoyed By Fleets
With the automotive market continuing to cool off, the industry went into 2018 with a less than optimistic view. Volume for the year is anticipated to continue its downward trend but, incredibly, January appears to be on par with the same period last year — if not slightly better.Did the analysts get it wrong? Probably not. Incentive spending was up across the board and that’ll likely be the case throughout the rest of the year. The real trick will be for automakers to keep their lineups appealing without going wild with discounts. That’s because the annual forecast still calls for lower volume than in 2017.Not everyone is in agreement, though. Cox Automotive and J.D. Power actually expect sales to rise about 1 percent, year-over-year, while Edmunds, Forbes, BMI Research, Nord LB, the Center for Automotive Research, and practically everyone else projects anywhere from a 1-to-2 percent decline. This January could end up being an outlier where auto deliveries … [Read more...] about So Far, 2018 Auto Sales Are Better Than Expected; Thank Dangerously Heavy Incentives
Despite Volkswagen delivering an impressive 10.74 million vehicles in 2017, Nissan-Renault Alliance head Carlos Ghosn says his automotive group was actually the top sales dog. VW managed a 4.3-percent increase over last year’s volume and set a new record for itself, but Ghosn argues that doesn’t matter if it’s counting heavy truck sales in its total sum.“The [Renault-Nissan] alliance, with more than 10.6 million light private and commercial vehicles sold in 2017, is the premier global automobile group,” the CEO told a parliamentary committee hearing in Paris.“That has just been confirmed after Volkswagen this morning announced its sales of 10.74 million, including 200,000 heavy trucks, which we do not include in our statistics,” Ghosn explained, before adding “there can be no further discussion.”While the CEO’s savage burn on Volkswagen is accurate, had the alliance included heavy trucks as part of its final tally, the … [Read more...] about Ghosn Says Nissan’s Alliance Makes It the Biggest Dog in the Auto Yard
While it’s definitely not the same doom and gloom vibe felt around the domestic auto industry as it was financially circling the drain in 2008, headlines in the new year seem to forecast storm clouds on the horizon.After nearly a decade of sales growth, the American market for passenger cars and light trucks flattened out in 2017. Actually, sales didn’t just flatten in the U.S., they dropped 1.75 percent for the year. Not only has the overall U.S. market shrunk, we’re seeing predictions of the death of an entire segment of that market, the sedan — a segment that has pretty much defined the American automotive world for a century. It’s one thing for an iconoclastic website like TTAC to be talking about a sedan deathwatch, but when that prediction is on the front page of the Detroit News, with reports that Ford may very well stop building sedans in America and that Buick sedan sales have been cut in half over the past year, people will take … [Read more...] about Depressed About Flat U.S. Car Sales and the Death of the Sedan? Will 90 Million Units Globally Cheer You Up?
Actually, I don’t feel fine. Far from it, in fact. Ever since I can remember, there has been a three-box sedan in my family’s driveway — both before and after I was old enough to buy by own vehicles. Midsize sedans used to be the default choice for most families in my hardscrabble hometown, parked cheek-to-jowl with rusty pickups at the local grocery store.Now, our inky-black Charger is the exception rather than the rule in the school drop-off queue. Save for a CTS next door and a Mazda 3 down the street, we’re about the only household around with a sedan in the drive. The midsize four-door is in a bad way.Through November of last year, every single midsize sedan in America, save for the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, recorded double-digit declines in sales. It’s a sea of red, like the departure board at JFK during a so-called snow bomb cyclone. Even those two models, nameplates steeped in value and recently refurbished unto the zenith of plushness, were … [Read more...] about It’s The End of the Sedan as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)
America’s love affair with the pickup truck is about as well kept a secret as the styling of the next Mercedes G-Wagen. Steph talked about mid-sizers this morning, alluding to VW’s new trademark and pontificating if it’s worth the OEM taking a plunge into that segment.Full-size trucks have no such concerns, of course, with their sales success seemingly as reliable as the sunrise.It’s tough to break out individual models from the sales data, as “F-Series” sales encompass everything from workaday, naturally-aspirated V6 F-150s to gonzo Super Duty pickups set to haul the largest of RV campers. The same goes for General Motors, Ram, and Nissan Titan sales reporting. Half-ton vs 3/4-ton (or near ¾ ton in Nissan’s case) volumes are not broken out. This helps explain the dominance of some nameplates.Ford did indeed dominate the full-size market in 2017, selling a total of 896,764 F-Series pickups last year. That works out to one Blue Oval truck … [Read more...] about 2017 Auto Sales – ‘Murica Loves Trucks, and so Do Manufacturers
Uber Technologies Inc. received quite a bit of publicity when it purchased autonomous semi truck developer Otto in 2016. Still, it saw even more headlines when it became embroiled in a trade secrets lawsuit with Waymo. That case involved files obtained by Anthony Levandowski, former Google engineer and co-founder of the self-driving truck company, who was accused of selling confidential data to Uber (along with his business).The bad news is that Uber now the subject of a federal investigation and knee-deep in the aforementioned litigation. But the good news is that it appears to have scored a really sweet deal on Otto. After purchasing the autonomous trucking startup, the assumption was that the deal was for 1 percent of Uber’s stock, which would have been worth around $680 million at the time. But, according to IEEE Spectrum, documents filed as part of the company’s ongoing lawsuit with Waymo indicate the sum may be closer to … [Read more...] about Despite Being Under Criminal Investigation, Uber Got a Great Deal on Otto