August 27, 2012
Hybrids, Electrics Moving Some Big Trucks - Slowly
After years of diesel clatter, sweet silence fills the cab of KevinKnowles' Frito-Lay delivery truck. The truck, one of 10 electric vehicles in Frito-Lay's Dallas-area fleet, quietly plies the streets of Wylie, Texas, and Murphy, Texas. Once the soot-belching, big-foot monsters of the highway, The Detroit News reports that giant commercial trucks are slowly becoming more eco-friendly — out of necessity. "We're not blowing coal anymore, and for some sound reasons," said Doyle Sumrall, senior director of business development at NTEA, the association for the work truck industry. Commercial trucks — ranging from growling 80,000-pound tractor-trailer rigs to much smaller delivery trucks — face the same head winds that continue to reshape the auto industry. Diesel fuel doubled in price four years ago. Although it has dropped some, costs remain as volatile as gas prices. In addition, federal regulations will require big trucks, many of which average only 6 or 7 miles per gallon, to improve their economy and emissions by 3 percent in 2014 and another 3 percent in 2017. This much is certain: Trucks will look and sound different in the years ahead. Click here for more on the changing face of commercial trucks.
Days’ Supply of Used Vehicles Reaches High Point of 2012
When crunching its August numbers, CNW Research calculated that the days’ supply of used vehicles is up more than 15 percent versus a year ago, a level approaching 55 days and the highest so far this year. What does the figure mean for used-car managers trying to plan for the remainder of 2012? CNW president Art Spinella thinks the supply level will translate into softer used prices as dealers attempt to shed inventory that’s beginning to back up. Auto Remarketing reports that CNW indicated that trucks are in shorter supply than cars for the third month running, making up less than 90 percent of average days’ supply compared to 120-plus percent for cars. The firm also mentioned domestic, Asian, and European brand used models are all up in terms of days’ supply as well. “But Detroit products are lingering on lots longer than either their Asian or European counterparts,” Spinella pointed out. With autumn quickly approaching, Spinella attempted to place some clarity into where the supply trend might be going. “The new- and used-vehicle industries aren’t out of the woods just yet,” Spinella acknowledged. “Much will hinge on the perceptions of consumers after the presidential election.” Read more from Auto Remarketing on the rising supply of used vehicles.
Defying Predictions, New Car Sales Aren’t Slowing Down
Concerns that sales of new cars and trucks could slow down during the second half of the year appear to be unfounded, at least during August. USA Today reports that U.S. consumers are on track to buy 1.3 million vehicles in August, or 16 percent more than a year ago, according to forecasting firm LMC Automotive and data from J.D. Power and Associates. That would translate to a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 14.5 million, which would be the strongest pace for any month this year. "August continues this summer's trend of healthy growth in retail sales as dealers work to sell down inventory in time to make room for 2013 models," John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations for J.D. Power and Associates, said in a statement. Pent-up-demand among consumers that deferred purchases over the last several years and easier access to credit is prompting consumers to buy vehicles despite a national economy that continues to recover slowly. AIADA will issue its Market Watch sales report for the month of August when the month's sales figures are released next week. Click here for more on expectations for August auto sales.
Honda Expects Best U.S. Sales Since 2007
Honda Motor Co. expects its August delivers to be up "40 plus percent" on U.S. demand for Civic small cars and CR-V crossovers, buoying a 27 percent annual rise to the company's best sales in the region in five years. According to Automotive News, deliveries of Honda and Acura vehicles in the U.S. will reach at least 1.46 million this year. That would be Tokyo-based Honda’s best U.S. sales since 2007 as its North American plants work overtime to supply dealers asking for more Civics and CR-Vs, he said. Honda plans to accelerate U.S. sales in 2012’s second half as North American production grows and a new Accord sedan and modified Civic small car are added. Natural disasters in Asia in 2011 pared output of parts needed by Honda’s North American factories. The company’s U.S. deliveries grew 19 percent in this year’s first seven months, aided by a 45 percent gain in July. Honda’s North American factories made 75 percent more vehicles in 2012’s first half. More than 87 percent of Honda and Acura models sold in the first half were produced in North America, up from 84 percent a year earlier. Read more about Honda's growth here.
Drivers – But Not All – Love Vehicles' Push-Button Starts
Push-button starts have become one of the hottest amenities in new vehicles, now offered on more than half of all car models – and appreciated or wanted by more than half of American car buyers. However, according to Forbes, a sliver of the American public refuses to embrace push-button starts, regarding them as actually complicating the entry and ignition process rather than simplifying it. “It’s a convenience, like the TV remote, and Americans love that kind of thing,” noted Joe Oddo, practice lead for CapGemini’s auto-consulting operation, in Troy, Mich. “It also makes it a lot more difficult for thieves to steal cars. So it’s rapidly moving down from the luxury market to mid-luxury and beyond.” Overall, 193 out of 334 U.S. 2012 models, or 58 percent, offer standard or optional “keyless ignition” or push-button start, according to Edmunds.com data. While only 1 in 10 of respondents to a recent AutoTrader.com poll currently owned the feature, 4 in 10 wanted it in their next vehicle. AutoTrader.com found that, for future purchases, push-button start was one of the top three desired features, right behind GPS and MP3. Click here for more on drivers’ growing desire for push-button starts.
Around the Web
Peoria Euphoria is Dirt Track Done Right [Autoblog]
Used Car Face Off: Battle of the Brits [Jalopnik]
2013 Nissan Pathfinder is Centerpiece of Virtual Showroom [Edmunds Inside Line]
Robert Pattinson Buys Old Vehicles on Craigslist [DriveOn]