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Nissan Enjoys Strong Quarterly Earnings

Japanese maker seeing strong sales in U.S., China and Mexico.

by on Jul.29, 2016

Nissan Corporate Vice President Joji Tarawa spells out the maker's quarterly results.

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. enjoyed a profitable second quarter for this year with operating profit up more than 35% due to strong demand for its crossovers and sporty sedans in the United States, officials said.

During the three months ending June 30, global total industry volumes – or TIV – reached 22.79 million units, an increase of 3.5%, the company reported. In the U.S., Nissan’s sales rose by 7.9% to 398,000 units, equivalent to a market share of 8.7%, amid strong demand for Altima, Rogue and the new Maxima.

The Last Word!

The company has performed well in China as well during the first half of 2016. Six-month sales performance in China, Nissan’s passenger vehicle sales increased 6.6% to 526,000 units. (more…)

Despite Solid July Sales, Ford CFO Sees US Auto Recovery at an End

Sedan, coupes already signal a slowdown, but trucks holding momentum.

by on Jul.29, 2016

Ford may see a weakening of the U.S. market but its F-Series is still delivering solid numbers.

U.S. auto sales have been taking some uncertain detours in recent months, May numbers tumbling before the industry showed signs of rebounding in June. Preliminary estimates, meanwhile, suggest the market will look good for July, the industry back on track for another record year.

But senior Ford officials say that we may be at the end of the line for the current recovery, with sales likely to begin another cyclical slide in the near-term.

The Last Word!

“The growth is over,” Ford Chief Financial Officer Robert Shanks told the Reuters news service. The executive separately told analysts and reporters that, “We see the second half being softer than the first half. Looking into 2017, we think we will see further softness.”

(more…)

Mercedes-Benz Pulls Controversial, Self-Driving E-Class Ad

“You have to evaluate the environment,” especially after Tesla crash, says spox.

by on Jul.29, 2016

In "The Future," a new Mercedes-Benz E-Class (r) catches up with an autonomous F 015 concept.

Mercedes-Benz is pulling out of rotation a controversial ad for the new 2017 E-Class sedan that, critics contend, implies that the vehicle can be driven autonomously.

The issue has become particularly sensitive in the wake of a fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S sedan in Florida on May 9th. The vehicle was being operated in Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot mode and, some evidence suggests, 40-year-old Joshua Brown may have been watching a video rather than remaining positioned to take control of the battery sedan in the event of a malfunction.

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“The intent was never to suggest this was (an autonomous vehicle), but that this is the latest of the building blocks” that will eventually lead to self-driving technology, said Mercedes spokesperson Donna Boland, when asked about the video ad dubbed “The Future.”

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Another Surprise: VW Lands in Global Sales Lead Despite Diesel Drop

Toyota slips to second after production problems.

by on Jul.29, 2016

VW hopes to keep momentum building - despite its diesel woes - with new products like the Alltrack.

A day after reporting a sharp drop in second-quarter earnings, embattled German automaker Volkswagen AG got some good news. Despite its ongoing diesel emissions problems, VW is once again the world’s best-selling automaker – albeit because of a series of unexpected production problems that have been hobbling Japanese giant Toyota in recent months.

Hit by both natural and man-made disasters, Toyota has repeatedly been forced to trim home market production, and the result was a global slide of 0.6% in sales for the first half of 2016, to 4.992 million vehicles. A year earlier, the automaker sold 5.021 million Toyota, Lexus and Daihatsu-branded vehicles from January through June.

By the Numbers!

Though sales have been down in some markets, notably including the U.S., where it can’t sell its once-popular diesel models, VW managed to deliver 5.116 million cars, trucks and crossovers for the first half of this year, a 1.5% increase.

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Apple Brings Back Product Guru to Run Project Titan

Move suggest computer giant is producing a vehicle, not just software.

by on Jul.29, 2016

Apple appears to be readying to bring a car to the market with the recent rehiring of product guru Bob Mansfield.

Reports from Silicon Valley indicate that Apple brought back a trusted senior executive who helped bring to market many of the company’s signature products to oversee its efforts to build automotive program.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive officer, said last winter that Apple was preparing to enter the car business.

The Journal of Record!

But true to its corporate culture, Apple has remained highly secretive about its intentions and its project unlike its Silicon Valley neighbors Google and particularly Tesla and its founder Elon Musk, who seems to speak almost every day about new developments. (more…)

New Vehicle Sales Expected to be Flat in July

Many analysts believe sales run peaked last year.

by on Jul.29, 2016

New car sales are expected to flatten out in July, but makers are still tracking for a record year.

New vehicle sales are expected to drop 1% year-over-year to a total of 1.5 million units in July 2016, resulting in an estimated 17.5 million seasonally adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, according to Kelley Blue Book.

The estimate is in line with a growing consensus that sales of new vehicles peaked during the summer and fall of 2015 and the growth of sales has flattened out in recent months. However, the competition for those sales has intensified as the recent furor General Motors use of incentive “increases” revealed.

Auto Insider!

Chuck Stevens, GM’s chief financial officer, said the discounts GM offered over the Fourth of July was a “tactic” and not a signal that GM was preparing to make broader use of incentives. (more…)

Wyoming Most Expensive State to Own a Vehicle

Hawaii is the least expensive place to own a car.

by on Jul.28, 2016

Wyoming is the most expensive state in which to own a car, largely due to the fact it has the highest average gas price.

So often, car buyers are shopping for a payment. However, they often forget that the monthly outlay for a vehicle is so much more than paying on the note: insurance, gas, maintenance all add up in a hurry, and where you live can double some of those numbers, according to a new study.

The most expensive place and the cheapest place to own a car are pretty surprising: Wyoming and Hawaii. Wyoming topped insurance.com’s list of priciest places to own a vehicle. Why so high? It has the highest average gas cost and to go anywhere in Wyoming requires quite a bit more driving than other states.

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Residents of the Equality State spend more time behind the wheel and pay more for gas and maintenance, the website noted. In determining what places were the most and least expensive, it factored in five expenses: gas, insurance, maintenance, registration and sales tax over a five-year period. (more…)

Mercedes Breaks Ground for First US Van Assembly Plant

Other plans, including an electric Sprinter, may be in the works.

by on Jul.28, 2016

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has traditionally been big with contractors, but is gaining demand from e-commerce.

While Daimler AG may best be known for luxurious passenger vehicles like the all-new 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the SL roadster, there’s another side to the maker’s ledger sheet. It also lays claims to being the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, about 850,000 of them last year alone.

And it’s bound and determined to grow that business, starting with the U.S. market. It will clearly help when, in a few years, it will be able to start producing the big Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van from a plant going up on the north side of Charleston, South Carolina. That will end the costly dependence on bringing partially assembled bodies in from Germany and then finish them in Charleston.

Keep on Truckin'!

The lower costs could help make Mercedes more competitive in what has turned out to be a fast-growing U.S. market for European-style vans. But the maker is also looking at other ways to boost sales. The factory will be flexible enough to assemble the smaller Mercedes Metris van. And the maker is looking at other options, including possible battery-electric versions of those vans.

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Mercedes Eyeing Market for Electric Vans, Trucks

Mercedes looking to compete with Tesla, Ford and others in segment.

by on Jul.28, 2016

Mercedes expects its next generation Sprinter to be capable of adopting a battery-electric powerplant and autonomous driving features.

The next generation vans from Mercedes-Benz will be capable of supporting both battery electric propulsion and autonomous driving features in the future into a competitive landscape where electrification is destined to play a larger role.

Mercedes isn’t alone in its plans to move into the electric van and truck segment. Tesla CEO Elon Musk surprised some analysts earlier this month when he announced that the electric-vehicle company he founded is now looking to enter the truck market with a battery-powered vehicle.

Keep on Truckin'!

Ulf Zillig, head of project VS30, which is developing the replacement for the current generation Sprinter, said the next-generation Sprinter due out in calendar-year 2018 will be about the same dimensions as the current Sprinter, but will have several improvements that will make it easier to drive. (more…)

Ford Posts Lower Than Expected Q2 Profit

Despite missing analyst estimates, company sets new record.

by on Jul.28, 2016

Ford Motor Co.'s second-quarter profits fell short of analyst estimates at $2 billion.

Ford Motor Co. second-quarter profits came in below expectations, as the company’s operations in South America lost money and Ford Credit’s profits fell due to a decline in the value of off-lease used cars sold at auction during the quarter.

Overall, Ford reported net income $2 billion in the second quarter, which was down $190 million from a year ago. Additionally, total company adjusted pre-tax profit of $3 billion in the second quarter, typically the industry’s most profitable, was down $293 million while earnings per share were 49 cents per share – down 5 cents per share from a year ago.

Earnings News!

The results fell short of analyst consensus estimates of 60 cents per share; however, company revenue was up by $2.2 billion to $39.5 billion, exceeding analyst estimates of $36.1 billion. (more…)