October 26, 2012

October U.S. Sales Predicted to Rise 11% with 14.8M Annual Rate
U.S. light-vehicle sales will rise 11 percent to 1.13 million units in October from a year earlier, J.D. Power and Associates predicted Thursday. October's seasonally adjusted annual selling rate is expected to be 14.8 million, down slightly from September's 14.9 million rate. But at 14.8 million, the sales rate would still be the second-highest since March 2008, according to Automotive News. For the year, J.D. Power expects U.S. light-vehicle sales of 14.4 million units, an increase of 100,000 units from the previous forecast. Consumer demand is driving up the forecast. J.D. Power now expects retail U.S. light-vehicle sales to hit 11.7 million units, up from the prior forecast of 11.6 million. Deirdre Borrego, vice president of J.D. Power's U.S. automotive operations, said at the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable here that the economy is still "a little fragile. But we are seeing some good news on the jobs front, which is expected to get better next year post-election, interest rates are at all-time lows and are expected to stay that way until 2015 and we're seeing some positive signs from a consumer sentiment standpoint." Click here for coverage of anticipated October sales figures.

Toyota Targets 20% October U.S. Gain on Camry, Prius Sales
Toyota Motor Corp., rebounding in the U.S. after four years of falling sales, may report a 20 percent rise in October deliveries on demand for Camry sedans and Prius hybrids, U.S. Group Vice President Bill Fay said. The pace of sales so far in October is up "18 to 20 percent" from a year ago, slower than the 42 percent increase Toyota reported in September, Fay said. According to The Detroit News, Toyota and other automakers are to release October sales figures on Nov. 1. "We're going to start to moderate a little bit in October," said Fay, who manages U.S. sales of Toyota brand cars and light trucks. "Camry and Prius are strong. Cars continue to do very well this month." Demand for new vehicles remains a bright spot in an otherwise sluggish U.S. recovery this year, rising 15 percent through September and keeping the industry on pace for the best sales since 2007. Toyota, Asia's largest carmaker, has had the biggest volume increase this year among the six largest automakers by U.S. sales. The company boosted Toyota, Scion, and Lexus brand sales 32 percent, or 376,900 vehicles. Click here for more on Toyota’s expected October sales figures.

Hyundai Beats Expectations with 13% Net Income Rise
Hyundai Motor Co. reported a 13 percent increase in its third-quarter net profit, beating analysts’ average forecast, as shifting more production overseas helped offset the impact of strikes at the South Korean car maker’s local factories. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company also said Thursday that it is on track to exceed its sales target for this year. It projected strong growth in the U.S. and in China, where it has been the unexpected beneficiary of a territorial spat between China and Japan that has led Chinese consumers to shun products associated with Japanese manufacturers. Consolidated net profit for the three months ended Sept. 30 was 2.166 trillion won ($2 billion), up from 1.918 trillion won a year earlier. It beat the average forecast of two trillion won from 15 analysts polled earlier by Dow Jones Newswires. Favorable exchange rates also helped the bottom line in the third quarter, Hyundai said. The average value of the U.S. dollar during the quarter was 4.7 percent higher than a year earlier, at 1,133.54 won compared with 1,083.04 won. Read about Hyundai’s third quarter profit here.

AutoNation Q3 Net Income Rises on Record F&I Business
Higher volumes and record finance-and-insurance income counteracted a slipping new-vehicle margin to help AutoNation Inc. to a 15 percent jump in total profits in the third quarter, reports Automotive News. AutoNation, the largest U.S. retailer, today reported third-quarter net income of $81.6 million, up from $70.7 million in the same period last year. Operating income rose 14 percent to $163.7 million. Revenue rose 12 percent to $3.9 billion, driven largely by a 21 percent gain in AutoNation's retail new-vehicle unit sales. With earnings per share of 66 cents, AutoNation fell just under analysts' expectations of 67 cents, Bloomberg reported. The company's shares fell 4.7 percent to close at $45.76 today, but are up 24 percent this year, Bloomberg said. Profitability increased in all four of AutoNation's business sectors – new vehicles, used vehicles, parts and service, and F&I, CEO Mike Jackson said. The 21 percent gain in finance-and-insurance gross profit was particularly strong. Gross profit per new vehicle retailed dropped 14 percent to $2,117. But because of the higher volumes, total gross profits from new vehicles rose 5 percent to $144.7 million. For further coverage of AutoNation’s income rise, click here.

The Hottest New Cars to Customize
Every year, the nation's top aftermarket car products show seems to always produce one vehicle that rises above all others. You see more of them because they are tops when it come so the cool factor. For this year's Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show in Las Vegas – SEMA – USA Today says it can already see one car rising above the pack. Well, two, but they're nearly identical. It would be the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ. Affordable sports cars like the Scion/Subaru always have an edge. Look at how the Hyundai Veloster dominated last year, or the Chevrolet Camaro before. But not always. We recall in past years when Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger took their star turns. The publication says we’ll know for sure in a week if its prediction is correct. The show kicks off next Tuesday. It is already hearing about crews that are customizing the Scion/Subaru in hopes of cranking up enthusiasm for aftermarket parts from buyers. USA Today was provided with one example. Backers say it will contain: custom exhaust, port suspension, and fancy wheels. Read more about what’s hot in vehicle customization here.

Time is Running Out: Nominate a Dealer for AIADA’s Lifetime Achievement Award
Every year, during our Annual Meeting and Luncheon, AIADA honors a highly respected member of the international nameplate auto industry with our David F. Mungenast Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was created to honor the legacy of Dave Mungenast and recognize some of the truly outstanding leaders in our industry who possess an unparalleled work ethic and a commitment to their families and communities. Recognizing members of our industry who reflect the values and commitment that Dave exemplified is the best way we have to honor his memory. If you know someone in the international auto industry like Dave, AIADA wants to know! Please take the time to read more about the award and nominate a distinguished member of our industry by clicking here. Nominations are due by October 31. The 2013 recipient of the David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award will be honored at AIADA’s 43rd Annual Meeting and Luncheon on February 11, 2013 in Orlando, Florida. If you’re not already registered, click here to do so.

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