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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.

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“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.”

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Automakers Report Robust Results for July Sales

Despite impressive results, makers fall short of predictions.

by on Aug.01, 2014

Ford sales were led, once again, by the F-150, but supported by the Fusion and Escape. The maker reported a 10% increase in July.

U.S. automakers enjoyed a strong sales month in July, but fell short of lofty analyst expectations. Toyota and Ford were the only makers to surpass predictions with increases of 11.6% and 10% respectively.

New car sales got a lift during July thanks to an improving economy, ample financing and the appeal of new products. Several companies posted double-digit sales increases, including Chrysler (20%), Nissan (11.4%), Subaru (27%), Mazda (17.1%), Audi (11.9%), Porsche (12.6%), Mitsubishi (21.4%), Land Rover (15%) and last, but not least, Maserati, which was up 315%.

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“Incentive spending in July was above this year’s average, taking transaction prices down about one percent,” said John Krafcik, president of TrueCar. “Other than GM and Nissan, every full-line automaker increased incentive spending over last year. With growing discounts and low-interest financing readily available, it’s a great time to buy a car.” (more…)

July Sales Look to be Strong

Chugging along despite a weak economy.

by on Jul.27, 2012

Honda regains lost ground with the 2012 CR-V.

Despite fears of an economic slowdown, sales of new vehicles continue to chug along.

July’s new-vehicle retail sales are expected to post the second strongest year-over-year growth rate of the past 12 months, according to a monthly sales forecast developed by J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network and LMC Automotive.

Nonetheless there are signs of a potential slowdown in sales in the coming months. The supply of used vehicles is creeping higher and used car prices are slipping, indicating fewer buyers are out kicking tires these days, noted analyst Art Spinella of CNW Marketing.

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But July new-vehicle retail sales are projected to come in at 969,200 units, J.D.Power noted in its forecast for July. And that would suggest that the auto industry is defying the slowdown that has gripped much of the rest of the economy.

“Retail sales got off to a fast start in July, and while they’ve slowed down a bit as the month has progressed, through the first 16 selling days, they’re still up 15.1%, compared to July 2011,” said John Humphrey, J.D. Power senior vice president of global automotive operations

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Car Sales Perk Up in July

But demand still short of expectations.

by on Aug.02, 2011

The new Nissan Versa sedan. Nissan was one of the rare few Japanese makers to report a July sales gain.

Sales by Honda and Toyota tumbled again during July even as overall U.S car sales began to regain some momentum last month, raising optimism about the outlook for the balance of the year.

Sales by the major Japanese automakers continued to be hurt by the inventory shortage created by the disruption of production which followed the earthquake that hit Japan in March. Toyota – which has the latest production base in the home market — saw sales drop 19.7% while Honda’s sales fell 25%

A few of the Japanese makers did manage to buck the trend, Nissan reporting a slight 2.7% increase. Subaru, one of the hottest brands in recent months, also reported a meager 2% increase despite an overall increase in the number of unit sales in July.

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Chrysler sales increased 20%, giving the long-struggling band its best July showing in five years, General Motors Co. reported an 8% gain in sales compared to July 2010 and Ford said its sales increased 9%.

“Despite all of the negative news headlines, auto sales have increased during July, which is a good sign for all of us,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service.  Added Ford sales analyst George Pipas, “The sales rate was better than expected.”

Notable for Ford was the fact that its once-strong Lincoln brand, a relative after-thought in the luxury market in recent years, posted a 40% jump for July.

“We are encouraged to see the stronger pace of auto sales, along with continued customer demand for our fuel-efficient cars, utilities and trucks,” Czubay said. “Fiesta, Focus and Fusion have put Ford back in
the car business,” Czubay said.

However, sales of the new Focus remained constrained by low inventory – recent industry reports pointing to a problem with equipment producing the newly updated model’s instrument panel.  Nonetheless, the smaller Fiesta and Focus remain the fastest-turning vehicles on the Ford showroom floor.

Chrysler Group LLC reported U.S. sales of 112,026, a 20% increase compared with sales in July 2010 and the best July sales since 2007.

“In a market that remains tougher than a cheap steak, we were able to produce our highest retail sales in more than three years,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO – Dodge Brand and Head of U.S. Sales.  “I think that statistic is the ultimate testament to the progress we have made with our product in the areas of fuel economy, quality and design.”

Don Johnson, GM vice president, U.S. Sales Operations, said retail sales for GM’s brands rose 6% for the month compared to a year ago, and they also were 1% higher than June.

“Sales of our fuel-efficient cars like the Chevrolet Cruze and our crossovers remain strong, and we’re now also seeing the seasonal lift in full-size pickups that we expected,” Johnson said.

Cruze has nudged aside several traditionally strong Japanese models, including the Honda Civic, to become the nation’s best-selling passenger car in recent months.

Despite early fears, the shortages facing Japanese makers triggered by the March 11 disaster have had little impact on Detroit, European or Korean makers.  Nonetheless, the industry as a whole has faced significant headwinds in the past several months – ranging from raw material costs to the impact of a weak economy.

(As TheDetroitBureau.com reported this week, a new study finds high unemployment reducing U.S. car sales by more than a million units this year.  Click Here for the full story.) Nevertheless, the industry is poised to regain some of its lost momentum in the second half of the year, aided by higher supply and pent-up demand, Johnson believes.

“There are people who put off vehicle purchases because of uncertainty about fuel prices, vehicle availability and the economy,” he said, but, “As these conditions improve in the latter half of this year, many of these buyers will return to the market.”

Japanese executives also sounded more upbeat than in recent months. “We’re optimistic about the rest of the year,” said Randy Pflughaupt, Toyota Motor Sales vice president of sales administration.

“We look forward to improved inventory levels in the coming months as most of our North American facilities begin to return to full production in August,” said John Mendel, American Honda executive vice
president of sales.

Jeff Bracken, Toyota Division vice president, also emphasized the Japanese auto giant was prepared to defend its claim to having the best-selling car in America.

Saab North America reported an 18% decline in sales, following the recent turmoil at the company home base in Sweden.  The maker’s main assembly plant has been out of production since late March due to a boycott by suppliers demanding payment.

But Volkswagen of America, Inc. reported a 21.7% increase over prior year numbers.

“July was a strong month and signaled a good start for the second half of the year,” said Jonathan Browning, President and CEO, Volkswagen of America, Inc.  “For the seventh month in a row, we significantly outpaced the industry performance, showing strong baseline demand for our products,” Browning said.

Mercedes-Benz sales increased 16% and BMW sales were up 11%, while Porsche sales climbed 2%. Among the Korean automakers Kia posted a 42% increase in sales, while Hyundai’s sales increased 10%.

“Despite continued weakness in the economy and the ongoing concern over the debt ceiling, consumers continued to purchase vehicles packed with options in July,” said Jesse Toprak, VP of Industry Trends and Insights for TrueCar.com, an internet site devoted to monitoring automobile pricing, purchases and shopping trends.

“Tightened inventories, lower dealer discounting and manufacturer incentives, along with a more expensive product mix resulted in the highest transaction prices we have recorded in the industry.”

(Used car prices slide after months of steady increases – even though July demand hit “blockbuster proportions.  Click Here for that story.)

July Car Sales Look Promising – But Japanese Shortages Remain a Problem

Market showing signs of increasing consumer confidence.

by on Jul.22, 2011

Business is picking up at U.S. showrooms.

Things are beginning to look more promising in the U.S. automotive market after an unexpected downturn heading into the normally robust spring-summer buying season, industry analysts say.  But the pace of preliminary July sales still are lagging behind the more robust automotive recovery seen earlier in the year.

July is likely to come in well ahead of year-ago levels, and will be a definite improvement over May and June 2011.  But the current sales rate – if averaged out over the full year, would fall just short of 12 million vehicles.  Until the mid-spring downturn, the U.S. market seemed on track to top 13 million.

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“Consumers continue to face obstacles in their willingness and ability to purchase a new vehicle,” cautioned Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates. “The ongoing debate regarding the debt ceiling and stagnant economy are creating added pressure on top of a generally weaker vehicle sales environment.”

Total light vehicle sales for July, Power predicts, will come in at just short of 1.1 million units, an 8% year-over-year gain.  The retail portion of the market, at 913,000, will be up a similar amount.  Adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, that would work out to an annual total of 11.9 million vehicles, at the current pace, or 9.8 million sold at retail.  Earlier in the year, numbers approaching 13 million were readily being quoted.

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July Car Sales Bounce Back

Some brands soar, but Toyota, Honda post declines.

by on Aug.04, 2010

Honda is hoping new 2011 models like the CR-Z will help push sales back into the plus category.

Car sales bounced back in July after sputtering a bit in June  as Auto Data estimated the annual sales rate in July hit 12.1 million units.

But the comeback in sales wasn’t uniform as some brands posted double digit increases while major brands such as Toyota and Honda actually reported declines in overall sales.

American Honda Motor reported sales dropped 5.6% for the combined Honda and Acura brands, to 112,437 vehicles.  Honda was one marque to score significant gains from the Clunkers program, which generated significant traffic in July 2009 and made it more difficult to score gains for July 2010.

Overall Toyota sales dropped 6.8% to 169,224 units, despite the hefty incentives it has been offering in recent months. Toyota Motor Sales vice president Bob Carter insisted the Japanese giant was pleased with its sales performance, blaming the drop in  July volume on last year’s “Cash For Clunkers” program.

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While the two leading Japanese automakers found it difficult to pull year-over-year gains when comparing their latest numbers with Clunker-driven July 2009 volumes, Hyundai was able to pull off another strong showing.  Though it was also one of the biggest beneficiaries of the incentive program, Hyundai said its sales increased by 19% compared with the same period a year ago – in fact, it set an all-time sales record for the month of July.

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“Clunkers” Extension DoA?

Senate reluctant to approve additional $2 billion, despite clear signs the rebate program is spurring U.S. auto market.

by on Aug.04, 2009

Without a fresh infusion of government cash, the Clunkers program will have to shut down by this weekend.

Without a fresh infusion of government cash, the Clunkers program will soon shut down.

Despite clear signs of success, the U.S. Senate seems reluctant to approve an extension of the so-called Cash-for-Clunkers bill.

The House authorized a $2 billion extension to the original, $1 billion fund, formally known as the Car Allowance Rebate System, or CARS, and the Obama Administration has joined those lobbying for approval by the other side of Capitol Hill.

There would be a significant irony should the Senate reject the proposal, as many observers are now calling CARS the most immediately effective stimulus program to emerge from Washington since the nation fell into the current, deep recession.  Not only has the program spurred hundreds of thousands of motorists to buy a new vehicle, but it appears they are purchasing even more fuel-efficient models than Clunkers proponents had anticipated.

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Describing CARS as “inept and poorly run,” South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint signaled he is unlikely to support the requested $2 billion infusion, though his Carolinian colleague, Lindsay Graham, also of the GOP, told the Today Show, “I think the Senate will act this week and get some of the clunkers off the road.”

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