Beltway Talk Podcast Special Report: September Auto Sales Analysis

First Up 10/03/19

Beltway Talk Podcast Special Report: September Auto Sales Analysis
Charlie Chesbrough, Senior Economist and Senior Director of Industry Insights for Cox Automotive, is back with his reoccurring series of Beltway Talk podcasts analyzing the most recent monthly auto sales reports. In today’s episode, Charlie gives us an overview of September’s generally positive numbers, talks about some dark clouds on the horizon, and explains why luxury car makers could be feeling nervous. Listen and subscribe by clicking here. 

Toyota Revamps Its Biggest Car Plant for Hybrid SUVs
Toyota Motor Corp.’s largest plant in the world sits on 1,300 acres surrounded by rolling fields of bluegrass in rural Kentucky, reports Bloomberg. With floor space equal to about 170 football fields, the Georgetown factory houses more than 2,000 industrial robots, 6 cafeterias, 2 paint shops, and an indoor basketball court. Walking down crowded aisles between parts bins and half-assembled cars, plant manager Susan Elkington scans the facility, obsessed with finding more open space. “I talk a lot about space,” she says. “If you want something new, you need space first.” Say for room to build a RAV4 sport utility vehicle, which isn’t presently built in Georgetown but Elkington expects will be starting in January. The 48-year-old engineer was tapped to run the factory last year, and her first order of business has been to add the gas-electric hybrid version of the popular SUV to one of the plant’s three assembly lines. Read more here (subscription required). 

Mitsubishi's Tokyo Concept Gets Four-Motor Electrified AWD 
Mitsubishi Motors says the electrified crossover concept it will unveil at this month's Tokyo auto show will be a plug-in hybrid with four-motor, electric four-wheel drive, reports Automotive News. In releasing new details and a full-length teaser photo of the vehicle, Mitsubishi said Thursday that the model will be called the Mi-Tech Concept and feature a downsized, lighter plug-in powertrain. The system is a series hybrid setup in which a gasoline turbine engine provides power for four electric motors, two on the front axle, two on the rear, Mitsubishi said. "This provides the driver to use pure-electric driving mode and series hybrid modes and delivers the smooth and powerful performance characteristics inherent to electrified vehicles," the automaker said. Read more here.  

Ram Beat Silverado in Third Quarter
Ram or Silverado? If the third quarter of 2019 is an indication, it's Ram. According to The Detroit Free Press, the race for second place in the Truck Wars — Ford's F-Series pickups still lead — has been a story all year, but now the third quarter is in the books, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has more to crow about. GM, however, sells more total trucks, thanks, in part, to its GMC Sierra line, which was up solidly for the quarter. For full-size pickups — Detroit's golden geese — Ram sales were up 14%, from 142,044 to 161,635; GM's Silverado saw a 16% increase, to 155,482 from 133,329; while Ford's F-Series actually fell 6%, from 227,880 to 214,176. FCA and GM saw total sales rise for the quarter, while Ford's dropped. "Whatever the outcome in any one month or quarter, based on what incentives and promotions are offered, the long run trend is for Ram to permanently surpass Chevrolet into second place,” said Jon Gabrielsen, a market analyst and auto adviser. Read more here.  

Analyst Says for the First Time Ever He is Worried About Tesla Demand, Downgrades Stock
Tesla’s third-quarter deliveries miss may reveal a more worrying trend, according to JMP Securities. “The delivery data show low single-digit sequential unit growth, and we know of no operational issues that could have prevented TSLA from delivering more vehicles if demand were available,” JMP Securities analyst Joseph Osha said in a note on Thursday. “To put it another way, yesterday’s announcement was the first time since covering the stock that we found ourselves wondering whether demand growth for TSLA’s cars might be leveling off.” CNBC reports that Tesla dropped 5.2% in premarket trading from its previous close of $243.13 a share. JMP Securities lowered its rating on Tesla’s stock to market perform from market outperform. The firm does not have a price target on the stock. Read more here.

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