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FEBRUARY AUTO SALES LIFT 2012 OUTLOOK

The U.S. auto industry reported a 16% sales jump in
February. In fact, sales were at their fastest pace in four years.
Automakers sold 1,149,396 cars and light trucks last
month. Quoting Autodata Corp, WSJ.com reports the
annualized pace of sales climbed last
month to 15.1 million vehicles, a level the
industry hasn’t seen since February 2008.
Chrysler led the way as sales rose
40% in February to 133,521 vehicles.
Chrysler company truck sales rose 21%
from a year earlier, while car sales more
than doubled.
Despite rising gas prices, Ford trucks
sustained the biggest increase, up 20.6%
from February 2011. Fuel-efficient Ecoboost
engines made up 43% of F-150’s sold to
individual customers. And after several months of year-overyear declines, sales of the Ford Focus more than doubled.
Ford’s Lincoln division recorded a 16% increase.
Meanwhi le, General Motors sales were up 1%.
Chevrolet’s 5.8% gain powered the overall increase, led
by a 10.1% gain from the Cruze compact, a 38.6% increase
from the Suburban SUV and a 30.7% gain for the Express
full-size van. But GM also posted declines in the Buick
and Cadillac divisions.
Toyota and Honda each posted 12% increases as they
continued to rebound from the earthquake in Japan last
March. It was Honda’s first double-digit gain since April and
Toyota’s first since February 2011.
Hyundai Motor Company announced all-time record
February sales of 51,151 units, up 18% versus 2011.
Sonata, Elantra and Accent total sales increases were 11
percent, 12 percent and 29 percent, respectively. Fleet sales
remain at a low eight percent as the focus remains on retail
customers.
Kia also had the brand’s best ever February sales , up
37.3% over the same period in 2011. Kia continues to be
one of the fastest growing car companies in the U.S., and
the February sales total marks the brand’s 18th straight
monthly sales record.
BMW Group, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda and VW
were among companies with gains of 30% or more.
Mitsubishi was the only other automaker to record a decline
(-31%) in sales.

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U.S. auto industry recovering faster than anticipated; Automakers headed toward best annual performance in three years

The U.S. auto industry is seeing demand recover faster than anticipated, with carmakers headed toward their best annual performance in three years at sales of 12.8 million vehicles.

Consumers entered this year’s final month demanding models ranging from big pickups to luxury sedans to fuel-sipping hybrids after pushing November’s sales to the fastest monthly pace since the government’s “cash for clunkers” trade-in program in August 2009. General Motors Co. (GM) and Chrysler Group LLC, two years removed from bankruptcy, have been taking share from disaster-stricken Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.

U.S. buyers are replacing their cars after delaying new- vehicle purchases as long as possible, and they are snapping up F-Series pickups and Prius hybrids as consumer confidence in the economy jumps. That means the automakers haven’t had to resort to fire-sale prices to goose demand.

“The industry has managed production levels to where demand was this year and didn’t get ahead of itself,” said Jeff Schuster, a Troy, Michigan-based analyst for LMC Automotive. “With inventory now being replenished, it’s not a situation where we’re seeing too much production or seeing heavy incentive use.”

Spending on marketing promotions averaged less than $2,700 a vehicle throughout the industry, down about $74 from a year ago, according to LMC and J.D. Power & Associates.

Consumer confidence surged in November by the most in more than eight years, and the portion of consumers planning to buy a new vehicle within six months climbed to the highest since April, data from The Conference Board showed Nov. 29.

The average age of cars and light trucks on the road today has risen to 10.6 years old, Jenny Lin, Ford’s senior U.S. economist, said on a Dec. 1 conference call.

“We are going to see more and more of this pent-up demand realized,” Lin told analysts and reporters.

She cited declining gasoline prices for providing “relief” to consumers, who responded with purchases of sport- utility vehicles and pickups. Sales of Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford’s SUVs climbed 29 percent and F-Series trucks increased 24 percent.

GM’s deliveries of Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups surged 34 percent and 22 percent, respectively, and Chrysler’s Jeep brand sales soared 50 percent. The average price for unleaded gasoline has dropped 71 cents, or 18 percent, to $3.28 a gallon on Dec. 3 from its peak this year on May 4, according to AAA, the nation’s largest motoring group.

Consumer demand was broad-based, as Toyota (7203) and Honda boosted deliveries of smaller vehicles, making up for production lost after March 11’s tsunami and earthquake inJapan and more recent floods in Thailand disrupted their supply chains.

Toyota, Asia’s largest automaker, reported a 49 percent increase in sales of Prius hybrid models, including its new wagon variant. Deliveries of its redesigned Camry sedan climbed 13 percent to 23,440, securing its position as the top-selling car line ahead of Nissan Motor Co.’s Altima and the Ford Fusion. Toyota slashed discounts on cars by 32 percent last month, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

Honda, the only automaker among the 10 largest that didn’t have a companywide U.S. sales increase for November, still managed to boost deliveries of Civic cars by 3.4 percent. That’s the first increase since April for the Tokyo-based automaker’s top-selling model.

Among luxury brands, Daimler AG (DAI)’s November deliveries jumped 47 percent, as the brand’s year-to-date sales closed to within 1,600 of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW)’s BMW line. The two German brands are vying to replace Toyota’s Lexus, the annual luxury champ for the last 11 years, which also lost production to the March disasters.

Industry sales accelerated to a 13.6 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate, according toWoodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based Autodata. The pace exceeded the 13.4 million average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

“The recovery is showing a little bit more resiliency than what people feared,” Paul Ballew, chief economist for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., said in a Dec. 1 phone interview. “Vehicle sales are inching their way back up to 14-, and then eventually 15- and 16-million units.”

If December matches November’s 14 percent increase in industrywide deliveries, auto sales will finish the year at 12.8 million cars and light trucks. That would exceed the 12.7 million sales total that was the average estimate of 18 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg in August.

Jefferies Inc., IHS Automotive and TrueCar.com are now considering increases to their estimates for 2012 deliveries, according to analysts at the three firms.

Auto sales may total 13.5 million light vehicles next year, the average of 14 estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The industry delivered 11.6 million cars and light trucks last year, up from a 27-year low of 10.4 million in 2009.

The seasonally adjusted annualized rate for auto sales “appears to be building to a 2011 exit run-rate close to 14 million without a full Japanese supply recovery and bad economic news cycle,” Adam Jonas, a New York-based analyst for Morgan Stanley, wrote in a Dec. 1 research note. The momentum “bodes well for 2012,” he said.

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U.S. auto sales may rise 20% on pent-up demand as recovery starts

U.S. auto sales will rise 20% in 2010, buoyed by pent-up demand and stronger credit markets, as the industry starts recovering from its worst year in almost three decades, a researcher said.

Deliveries will climb to 12.4 million from 10.3 million in 2008, the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research said Tuesday. U.S. sales were 13.2 million last year, after averaging 16.8 million this decade through 2007.

“No recession has ever been this long in terms of cumulative job loss,” Sean McAlinden, CAR’s chief economist, said at a briefing in Ypsilanti. “Will we ever see the 17 million sales levels we saw a few years ago? No, that was truly an automotive sales bubble.”

The forecast exceeded four projections by consultants and analysts for U.S. industry deliveries in a range of 11.3 million to 11.8 million light vehicles. Sales at those levels would enable General Motors and Chrysler Group to make money in the United States based on their plans to cut expenses.

Both automakers reorganized in bankruptcy this year. Chrysler has said it expects to break even in 2010 with industry sales of 11 million units and a 10% market share. In March, GM gave a target of paring expenses to the point where it could break even with industry volume at 10.5 million units.

GM and Chrysler “have done enough cost reductions to break even in North America,” McAlinden said. He said GM probably won’t reach that goal in 2010 because it still has 6,000 workers on furlough, inflating its costs.

Sales in 2010 will resume gradually, McAlinden said. “You’ll see lousy sales numbers through the spring and then it will break, but not through the roof.”

Ford Gains, Rivals Falter; Market Share Rises

The Wall Street Journal

Ford Motor Co. has weathered the car industry’s downturn better than many competitors. Now some analysts think the company has turned the corner so far it could report break-even results for its core North American operations or even an overall profit when it releases third-quarter earnings Nov. 2.

At the heart of Ford’s relative success has been its ability to minimize its year-over-year sales declines while taking advantage of its competitors’ weakness and grabbing market share.

[FORD]

Ford continues to benefit from stronger prices for both its new and used cars that should boost results at its wholly owned financing arm, Ford Motor Credit. The trend could help the company reverse large losses accounted for in 2008 at the unit based on anticipated declines in the value of its leased vehicles.

Another positive sign could come in a report expected to be released soon by auto guide Kelly Blue Book. Two Ford vehicles will appear on the list of 2010 model-year vehicles projected to retain the greatest amount of their original retail price after five years of ownership, said a person familiar with the matter. Last year, no Ford car or truck held a spot on the 2009 model-year list. Ford also is expected to perform well in the annual auto-reliability survey by Consumer Reports, due out Tuesday.

In the second quarter, the car maker reported a profit of $2.3 billion, though that came mainly from gains it recorded as part of efforts to restructure its debt. Excluding the gains, Ford would have reported a loss of $424 million, still narrower than a comparable loss of $1.03 billion a year earlier and much better than analysts had expected. The company has lost more than $30 billion since 2006.

The improved results have helped build Chief Executive Alan Mulally‘s image as a turnaround leader. But Ford still carries a massive debt after borrowed $23.5 billion in 2006 to fund its restructuring. Many on Wall Street are waiting to see how Ford will cut its debt load.

The optimistic earnings outlook comes at a delicate time for Ford. It recently won additional concessions from the leadership of the United Auto Workers, including a reduction in work rules and a no-strike pledge. But the new agreement, the second amendment to its labor accord this year, is in the midst of a ratification vote from the union rank-and-file, and some have already voiced opposition to the concessions.

Despite an improved outlook, Ford hasn’t revised its profitability forecast, stating the company won’t break even or make money until 2011. A person familiar with the matter at Ford said that even if encouraging signs continue to emerge, Ford may stay conservative about how quickly it can return to sustained moneymaking.

Big Three take 47 percent of ‘Cash for Clunkers’ sales; Ford Focus top-seller

Big Three take 47 percent of ‘Cash for Clunkers’ sales; Ford Focus top-seller

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Detroit’s automakers accounted for 47 percent of the first 80,000 “Cash for Clunkers” sales, the Obama administration said today, and the Ford Focus is the top-selling vehicle in the program.

Through Saturday afternoon, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has processed 80,500 transactions, the White House said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said buyers should be able to take advantage of the program until Friday, but he warned it would likely have to shut down before next weekend if the Senate doesn’t agree to add $2 billion to the original $1 billion pot.

On Friday, the House approved the $2 billion increase. The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday or Thursday; the White House is pressing it to act.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told MSNBC that the program has been a “lifeline to the economy.”

NHTSA said about 250,000 vehicles will be able to take part in the $1 billion program.

General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC sales account for 47 percent in the program, which is above their overall share in the auto market of about 45 percent of the three Detroit companies.

The Ford Focus is the top-selling vehicle in the program. Four of the top 10-selling vehicles are manufactured by Detroit’s Big Three. Of non-Big Three purchases, the Transportation Department’s preliminary analysis suggests that more than half of these new vehicles were manufactured in the United States.

Gibbs said the program has been a “big benefit to domestic automakers.”

The transactions are generating a 61 percent increase in vehicle fuel economy, Gibbs said. The average fuel economy of new vehicles purchased under the CARS program is 25.4 miles per gallon, and the average fuel economy of trade-ins is 15.8 mpg, for an average increase in fuel economy of 9.6 mpg.

This is well above the law’s minimum requirements of a 2 mpg improvement for trucks and a 4 mpg improvement for cars. Gibbs said it will save an average consumer $700 to $1,000 in gas.

Gibbs said the $2 billion should allow the program to continue through September.

Supporters and the White House will use the numbers and the job-creating impact of the “Cash for Clunkers” program to ease environmental concerns of many Senate Democrats who thought the program’s efficiency requirements should be tightened.

The improvement in fuel efficiency will save a typical consumer between $700 and $1,000 per year in reduced gas costs, Gibbs said. In addition to the money saved from fewer gas purchases, consumers participating in the program will have safer cars, fewer repair costs and dramatic reductions in air pollution, officials said.

Thus far, 83 percent of trade-ins under the program are trucks, and 60 percent of new vehicle purchases are cars.

A GREAT WHY BUY MESSAGE FROM LINCOLN MERCURY

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Why Lincoln Why Now

If you’ve been considering trading up to the luxury and technology available in a new Lincoln, now would be a great time to act. If you have already purchased from us, we appreciate your business. Please pass this offer to family and friends.

Why Lincoln.
Lincoln has the luxury you deserve and the technology you expect.

Why Now.
The government’s CARS program, better known as “Cash for Clunkers,” is offering a $3,500 or $4,500 incentive when you trade in a qualifying vehicle at our dealership.1 We are your Cash for Clunkers Specialist, and no one makes it easier to recycle your ride.

Please contact us immediately; you may also be eligible for THOUSANDS of dollars in private offers this month that are compatible with all rebates and incentives.

1This is a government program, and rules are subject to change. Vouchers are available at participating dealers and are limited. Rebate varies based on vehicle age, ownership length and old/new vehicle fuel economy. Not all vehicles qualify. Offer good while voucher supplies last or until 11/1/09. See cars.gov or ford.com for complete details.

// posted by Ford BDC @ 7:01 PM 0 comments links to this post

Why Mercury Why Now

If you’ve been considering a new-vehicle purchase or lease, now would be a great time to consider Mercury. If you have already purchased from us, we appreciate your business. Please pass this offer to family and friends.

Why Mercury.
Because we have the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan in America1 — Mercury Milan and the most fuel-efficient SUV2 on the planet — Mercury Mariner Hybrid.

Why Now.
The government’s CARS program, better known as “Cash for Clunkers,” is offering a $3,500 or $4,500 incentive when you trade in a qualifying vehicle at our dealership.3 We are your Cash for Clunkers Specialist, and no one makes it easier to recycle your ride.

Please contact us immediately; you may also be eligible for THOUSANDS of dollars in private offers this month that are compatible with all rebates and incentives.

1EPA-estimated 23 city/34 hwy/27 combined mpg, Milan I-4 automatic with Rapid Spec 101A. Midsize class per R. L. Polk & Co. Non-hybrid. 22009 EPA-estimated 34 city/31 hwy mpg, Mariner Hybrid FWD. Actual mileage will vary. Excludes vehicles built for Mazda. 3This is a government program, and rules are subject to change. Vouchers are available at participating dealers and are limited. Rebate varies based on vehicle age, ownership length and old/new vehicle fuel economy. Not all vehicles qualify. Offer good while voucher supplies last or until 11/1/09. See cars.gov or ford.com for complete details