April U.S. Auto Sales Projected to Double, with 18.1M SAAR

First Up 04/29/21

April U.S. Auto Sales Projected to Double, with 18.1M SAAR

U.S. auto retail sales for April are expected to be the highest ever recorded for the month, helped by strong consumer demand and tighter inventories at dealerships, industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said Wednesday. According to Automotive News, retail sales for new vehicles in April are forecast to reach 1.3 million units, up 111 percent from a year ago as the coronavirus pandemic began to hit the U.S., the firms said. Total auto sales for April, including fleet, are projected to reach 1.5 million units, a 107 percent increase. The forecasters said they expect the industry's seasonally adjusted, annualized selling rate to reach 18.1 million, which would be the highest since September 2017. "With the sales pace exceeding the rate at which vehicles are being produced, compounded by significant production disruption due to microchip shortages, there is a growing risk to the industry's ability to sustain the current sales pace in the coming months," Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power, said in a statement. Read more here (Source: Automotive News). 

Toyota to Spend $803M in Indiana for 'Electrified' Models

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to spend $803 million to retool its factory in Indiana to produce two new “electrified” sport-utility vehicles, one of which will be sold by its luxury Lexus brand, reports Bloomberg. The investment paves the way to manufacture the three-row SUVs, and will create 1,400 new jobs at the plant in Princeton, Indiana, the Japanese automaker said Wednesday. Toyota didn’t specify the model names or type of engine or motor, but hinted they may be gas-electric hybrid or possibly fully electric powertrains. “Both will join a diverse, electrified product portfolio and will help the company get another step closer to Toyota’s global aim towards carbon neutrality by 2050,” the company said in a statement. Toyota also said the vehicles will offer a “semi-automated driving system” that allows for hands-free operation in some conditions. Read more here (Source: Bloomberg). 

BMW Finally Buckles Under the Strain of Global Chip Shortage

BMW AG is giving way to the global shortage of semiconductors after months of managing to maintain output in the latest indication the auto industry’s supply-chain woes are only getting worse, reports Automotive News. The automaker will pause Mini car production at its Oxford, England, factory for three days starting April 30, according to a spokeswoman. It’s also reducing shifts this week at its plant in Regensburg, Germany. BMW was one of the last remaining major automakers unscathed by a shortage of chips expected to cost the industry tens of billions of dollars in revenue this year. Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk this week called the issue a “huge problem.” NXP Semiconductors said it’s expecting supply to be tight all year and warned constraints for the auto industry could extend into 2022. Although BMW sidestepped the turmoil for months, it acknowledged challenges to securing enough parts for all its plants. Read more here (Source: Automotive News). 


Honda Makes it Official, Lifts Cover on the 11th Generation Civic Sedan

In typical fashion, Honda spent the past several months teasing the arrival of an all-new Civic sedan. Now, reports The Detroit Bureau, we’re getting the first close-up look at the 11th-generation model, albeit virtually, thanks to the COVID pandemic. The 2022 Honda Civic adopts a new design that the automaker describes as more “simple,” “clean” and “modern.” It also adopts plenty of new technologies, both for infotainment and safety. Traditionally, this would have been the sort of formula that kept Civic high up on the sales charts. The question is whether the 2022 model can maintain momentum in a market where SUVs and CUVs, such as the Honda CR-V, have largely displaced conventional sedans and coupes. “Civic has been the go-to choice for compact car buyers for almost 50 years and the all-new 11th-generation Honda Civic builds on that leadership with simple and sporty styling inside and out, best-in-class features and class-leading performance,” said Dave Gardner, executive vice president of National Operations for American Honda Motor Co. Read more here (Source: The Detroit Bureau). 

U.S. Safety Board to Release Report on Texas Crash Within a Month

The U.S. transport safety board is working to publish as soon as possible a preliminary report on a recent Tesla vehicle crash in Texas in which local police said no one was in the driver's seat, a senior official told Reuters, acknowledging public confusion over the fatal accident. "A preliminary report typically comes out in a month, but we are working hard to get it out as soon as possible because we recognize there is this confusion out there," Kristin Poland, Deputy Director of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said in an interview with Reuters. Earlier this month, a Tesla Model S smashed into a tree in Texas and burst into flames, killing one occupant found in the front passenger seat and the owner in the back seat. Police said it was apparent that there was no one in the driver's seat at the time of the crash. Read more here (Source: Reuters). 

Around the Web

Toyota Sold Almost a Million Cars in March and Broke an All-Time Record [Jalopnik]

Ford CEO Expects Chip Shortage Impact to Bottom Line in Q2 [CNBC]

This is the Best-Selling Car in America [24/7 Wall St.]

There's Almost Certainly a Hyundai Ioniq 5 N on the Way [Autoblog]