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Used Car Sales Slide in January

Lack of supply may help push prices higher.

by on Feb.22, 2016

Used car sales took a small dip in January, but a lack of availability may push prices higher.

New vehicles sales in the U.S. have been blazing along for the last 13 months, but they may be coming at the expense of the used car market, according to a new report.

The NADA Used Car Guide concluded the used vehicle market slightly underperformed in January 2016 compared to December 2015 with wholesale prices of vehicles up to eigAdd an Imageht years in age were down 0.1% in January versus December.

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January’s used vehicle price index followed a slightly greater decline of 0.3% compared to December, bringing the index to 122.2. The index stood at 125.4 last January, 2.6% above this year’s level. (more…)

Consumers Spending More Than Ever for New Vehicles

Industry revenues hit all-time high, average transaction prices near record.

by on Feb.02, 2016

While car sales were slowed up due to winter weather in some parts of the country, buyers paid more for their vehicles in January.

Despite the chill that last month’s blizzard delivered, automakers managed to shovel up record revenues in January, while consumers paid near-record amounts for the vehicles they purchased.

New vehicle buyers paid a collective $38 billion last month, the 25th consecutive month of year-over-year gains, according to tracking firm TrueCar. And while average transaction prices also jumped, they fell a bit short of the previous record, analysts noted.

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“Growing transaction prices reflect growing consumer preference in trucks and SUVs,” said Tim Fleming, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book.  “Consideration in thse segments also is helped by the country’s lowest gas prices since 2009, a trend which is expected to last through year-end.” (more…)

Tough Weather Puts Chill on US Auto Sales in January

Automakers put up inconsistent numbers.

by on Feb.02, 2016

Jeep sales helped FCA to a 7% sales increase in January, but Dodge and Ram chipped in as well.

After a record year in 2015, the auto industry escaped January’s gloomy weather with stable sales as several manufacturers posted managed to eke out modest gains, bolstering the outlook for 2016.

Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Audi and Nissan all reported sales increases, while Mazda, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen said their monthly sales declined during January.

FCA U.S. managed a 7% increase compared with sales in January 2015. It was the group’s best January sales in nine years as the Jeep, Ram and Dodge brands all reported sales increases and FCA extended its streak of year-over-year sales gains to 70 consecutive months.

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“Mother Nature was no match for our Jeep brand last month as we recorded our best January Jeep sales ever,” said Reid Bigland, head of U.S. Sales for FCA, which wasn’t the only Detroit-based maker to report an increase. (more…)

Winter Storm Puts Freeze on January Auto Sales

New vehicle sales expected to be flat.

by on Jan.28, 2016

Winter Storm Jonas acted like a wet blanket on new vehicle sales in January.

The fierce winter storm that kept a third of the U.S. population indoors this past weekend has slowed auto sales, according to analyst and car makers.

As residents of the U.S. East Coast dig out from Winter Storm Jonas, which dumped more than two feet of snow in major urban areas from New York City to the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. appears to have flattened total new vehicle sales, according to estimates prepared by TrueCar, Inc. of Santa Monica, California.

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TrueCar expects total new vehicle sales, including fleet deliveries, will be flat from a year ago, notching a 0.3% decline. (more…)

Subaru XV Crosstrek Tops List of Quickest January Sellers

Nissan’s fastest car is country’s slowest seller last month.

by on Feb.04, 2015

The 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek was the fastest selling car in the U.S. last month. Dealers moved them out in an average of eight days.

The nasty winter weather that gripped many parts of the U.S. at one point last month didn’t deter new vehicle shoppers last month.

While most automakers posted strong gains, it’s safe to assume that it wasn’t convertibles and small cars leading the sales charge last month, it was – indeed – sport-utility vehicles and similarly capable cars blowing out of dealer showrooms.

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The 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek was the leader of the pack lasting a mere eight days on a dealer’s lot. A Subaru being among the quickest sellers in the middle of winter isn’t all that surprising. However, it has two of the fastest selling vehicles in the country, according to a Top 10 list compiled by Cars.com. (more…)

Mercedes-Benz Fends Off Lexus for January Luxe Sales Lead

BMW falls to third place in monthly tally.

by on Feb.03, 2015

Mercedes-Benz grabbed the early lead in luxury car sales in the U.S., but close behind is Lexus.

Lexus has moved within striking distance of taking over the lead in luxury sales from its German rivals after a 31% sales increase in January.

With January sales totals in the books, Lexus is trailing Mercedes-Benz by fewer than 1,500 units, setting up what promises to be a contest for luxury leadership that is likely to stretch out over the next 11 months.

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Carmakers like to claim the leadership crown doesn’t matter. But it does. (more…)

Winter Storm Blasting East Coast May Temper Auto Sales

January was expected to post biggest number in nearly a decade.

by on Jan.27, 2015

Driving a Cadillac Escalade may be the only way shoppers on the East Coast could go out and buy a new car at the end of the month.

Monthly new car sales could take a hit from the fierce storm sweeping across the Northeast right now. The final weekend of the month is typically one of the best for car dealers, but big storms have a way of keeping potential buyers at home.

With what could be the highest reported January since 2006, sales are expected to increase 12.9% year-over-year. However, this could be impacted by the blizzard currently blasting parts of the East Coast, as we head into the final selling days of the month, according to analysts at Kelley Blue Book.

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Alec Gutierrez, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, noted January is typically one of the slowest months of the year, due to the strong push by manufacturers prior to year-end. However, at an estimated 1.14 million units expected in January, this month could be the one of the better Januarys in some time. (more…)

Automakers See Sales Mirror Winter Weather: Cold, Cold and Cold

Fiat Chrysler defies trend with 8% increase.

by on Feb.03, 2014

Nissan enjoyed a sales increase in January as did it's luxury sibling, Infiniti.

High-flying luxury brands, middle-market nameplates and smaller boutique brands all suffered as new car sales slid 2% for January, failing to live up to the optimistic expectations of carmakers and analysts who are predicting total sales of 16 million units this year.

The record cold weather that has swept across much of the U.S. in recent weeks has apparently put car sales in the deep freeze – a situation analysts suggest was worsened by the slide in stock prices that has again raised concerns about the nation’s on-again/off-again economic recovery.

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While a few manufacturers were able to buck the downward trend, key makers including General Motors and Volkswagen saw sales tumble last month. And the industry saw average transaction prices – the amount consumers actually paid for a vehicle after factoring in incentives and options – slide after months of reaching new records. (more…)

Cold January, Hot Car Sales

Transaction prices likely to hit an all-time record.

by on Jan.27, 2014

Strong demand for compact crossovers like the Nissan Rogue is keeping the new car market hot despite record cold weather.

Cars sales are off to a strong start in 2014 despite the frigid weather that has gripped the U.S. during January. That could be particularly good news at a time when Wall Street is worrying about a new slowdown of the global economy.

Demand for new vehicles, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, forecasts a 1% increase in total sales when all figures are in for the month.  Power and LMC also predict that the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate, known as the SAAR, will reach 15.9 million units for January – well above the 15.6 million vehicles sold during all of 2013.

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“We are forecasting January 2014 to have the strongest level of retail sales for a January since 2004, and transaction prices will be the highest on record for the month of January,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. “In combination, the strong sales rate and record transaction prices are expected to result in record levels of consumer spending for the sector.”

(more…)

Cadillac Soars, Lincoln Sags

January sales tell two very different tales.

by on Feb.04, 2013

A Cadillac ATS shown during filming of the sports sedan's debut ad campaign.

It was, to mangle Charles Dickens, the best of times and the worst of times for the two domestic luxury makers last month.

For Cadillac, January brought a sign of vindication suggesting that, after a slow start for the 2013 model-year, critical new products like the compact ATS sedan are finally building the sales momentum needed to help restore General Motors’ flagship brand to its former luster.

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For Lincoln, however, January delivered an unexpected setback, sales plunging by 73%, year-over-year, despite parent Ford Motor Co.’s strong aspirations for the luxury brand’s new MKZ sedan.

While Lincoln’s numbers plunged 18%, to their lowest level since the Reagan era, Cadillac posted its best performance at the retail level in 23 years, demand overall surging by 47%.

The new Lincoln MKZ reached showrooms late in 2012 and production has only slowly been ramping up.

“When you look inside the numbers, we’re even more encouraged to see our products building momentum, drawing new luxury consumers and expanding our brand,” said Chase Hawkins, vice president of sales for Cadillac.

The executive pointed to two key products for building brand momentum, the SRX crossover-utility vehicle and the new ATS sedan. Roughly the size of a BMW 3-Series, Caddy’s new 4-door has been winning wide praise since its launch last year, most notably being named last month the North American Car of the Year by a panel of 49 U.S. and Canadian journalists.

To industry analysts, one of the most significant measures of Cadillac’s rebound is the fact that it is rapidly gaining converts in the retail market, rather than by pumping cars into fleets, as it had done in the past. A full 94% of the brand’s sales were racked up at retail showrooms last month.

Of course, January alone won’t guarantee that Cadillac – which long billed itself the “standard of the world” – has truly recovered.  The maker has, in fact, been promoting its “renaissance” for more than a decade, ever since it introduced the dramatic “Art & Science” design language with the launch of its original CTS sedan.

But after some early signs of success, the promised revival faltered as consumers turned their backs on other edgy designs, such as the bigger STS sedan and the XLR sports car.

The arrival of the ATS and the XTS, the latter also new for 2013, appear to be putting the brand back on track, but analysts caution Cadillac will need to continue building momentum month after month.

And it will face another big test when it reveals the third-generation CTS sedan later this year. The first versions were so-called “tweener” cars, according to analyst Jim Hall, of 2953 Analytics, in Detroit, falling somewhere between the BMW 3-Series and 5-Series models.  With the ATS directly taking aim at the smaller of the Bavarian models, the 2014 CTS will move up in size – and price.

Cadillac has even more ambitious product plans in the works, including a replacement for the massive Escalade sport-utility vehicle. And it has hinted at product development programs underway that could result in a variety of other much-needed offerings, including a compact crossover, a convertible and other models.

For its part, Lincoln also is looking to broaden its appeal with a newer, more modern design language that will be shared across an expanding line-up of products. It has announced plans to introduce four new models by 2014 while Ford CEO Alan Mulally recently confirmed in a DetroitBureau.com interview that even more vehicles are now under development for the rest of the decade – including Lincoln’s first rear-drive passenger car since the aging Town Car was pulled from production.

The MKZ is the first step in Lincoln’s revitalization. But despite generally positive reviews, and what Lincoln officials had claimed to be record advance orders, January did not deliver a strong launch.

The entire brand’s line-up generated just 4,191 sales – less than the total for the Ford division’s Fiesta – and the lowest monthly tally since July 1981.

Despite that weak performance, company officials put as positive a spin on the results as possible.  A key reason for the slow take-off, they stressed, was not a lack of demand.  If anything, there are more customers waiting in line than for any product in Lincoln history, asserted Ken Czubay, Ford’s vice president of sales, marketing and service.

But in light of the problems the parent company had with the debut of the Ford Fusion – which shares the same underlying platform with the Lincoln MKZ – it’s perhaps no surprise the maker is putting the luxury sedan through a rigid inspection process that has sharply reduced production rates.

“We are going over them as we have never gone over vehicles before,” said Czubay, during a conference call discussing Ford’s January sales. “As we re-launched Lincoln … we know the quality finish of all of our competitors,” and wanted to ensure Lincoln would match the best it will face off against.

Despite the short supply, Lincoln went ahead with plans to advertise the new model – and to emphasize the brand’s transformation – on the Super Bowl, perhaps the highest-profile venue an automaker can participate in all year.

Lincoln took some flak when it previewed its Super Bowl campaign on Youtube, Mark Simon, the chief creative officer at Detroit’s Campbell Ewald – an ad agency that, until recently had long represented Chevrolet – offered a put-down on Twitter. The spot, chided Simon, “doesn’t change my opinion about the brand.”

Whether potential luxury buyers will agree remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Lincoln, like its cross-town rival, Cadillac, will have to change plenty of minds as it struggles to regain its former glory. And that will be all the more difficult considering the solid gains by rivals ranging from Porsche – which set a new sales record in January – to Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Both U.S. luxury marques have slipped well behind the imports and face the fight of their corporate lives to win back buyers. Ford Cadillac, January showed signs that this just might be possible. For Lincoln, the New Year is off to a worrisome start.