Pickups Are America's Most Popular Vehicle, But Affordability Vanishing

First Up 10/04/18

U.S. Traffic Fatalities Fall Following 2 Years of Rising Toll
Deaths on American roads fell by nearly 2 percent last year, blunting two years of increases that had troubled regulators and safety advocates, reports Automotive News. A total of 37,133 people died in traffic crashes last year, down 1.8 percent from 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Deaths involving pedestrians, drunk driving, speeding, bicyclists and motorcyclists all declined. "The 1.8-percent decrease from 2016 to 2017 compares to the 6.5-percent increase from 2015 to 2016 and the 8.4-percent increase from 2014 and 2015," the report said. The rate of overall fatalities also declined to 1.16 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, even as Americans drove more. Total vehicle-miles-traveled increased 1.2 percent. Standing out was a sharp increase in the number of deaths linked to crashes involving trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds, which jumped 9 percent. Read more here. 

Audio Quality Takes a Leap in Luxury Cars
Music reproduced by audio systems in cars today has room for improvement, reports The Detroit News. A lot of room, says eight-time Grammy Award-winning music producer and engineer Elliot Scheiner, a Nashville legend who works with top musicians, studios — and for the past 15 years, Honda's Acura division. At this year's Detroit auto show in January, Acura announced a new RDX luxury crossover that featured an all-new platform removed from the one it previously used, shared with the popular and less-expensive Honda CR-V. Among the upgrades to the RDX is a new ELS system. It features a 16-speaker, 710-watt Panasonic surround-sound audio system tuned by Scheiner. It is labeled “3-D," meaning not only is the audio balanced from front to rear, but also from roof to floor. It's a technical challenge because the RDX has a “humongous sunroof," as Acura general manager Jon Ikeda describes it, making roof speakers difficult to fit. The ELS system gives the new SUV a third dimension of sound, says Scheiner, who tunes the cars in Acura's facilities in Japan and at the vehicle's assembly plant in East Liberty, Ohio. Read more here. 

Pickups Are America's Most Popular Vehicle, But Affordability Vanishing
The prices people are paying for pickups have steadily risen over the past decade pushing the trucks further and further out of reach for average consumers. In fact, some full-size pickups can cost more than $100,000, reports The Detroit Free Press. Edmunds' data shows, through September, the average transaction price for a full-size pickup is $48,377, a 48-percent boost from 10 years ago and a 19-percent hike from 2013 for the same period. For that price, a person could buy a Mercedes-Benz or BMW luxury sedan. "A 48-percent increase in price is the highest price increase for that time period out of all vehicle categories," said Ivan Drury, senior analyst at Edmunds. "Even at $45,000, it prices a lot of people out." According to data from Kelley Blue Book, in September 2013, the average transaction price for a full-size pickup was $41,680. This September, it was $48,369. Yet the expectations of most pickup buyers fall far below what they actually end up paying, according to data from Cox Automotive, which owns Kelley Blue Book. Most buyers expect to pay $26,699 for a new midsize pickup, Cox data show. Read more here. 

Gas Prices Are Nearing Highest Levels in Four Years
Gas prices are creeping up nationally, now pennies a gallon away from their highest level since 2014, just in time for the November midterm elections when California will vote on rolling back its gas tax. According to USA Today, average prices topped $2.90 a gallon for unleaded Wednesday for the first time since June, having risen about 6 cents a gallon in the past month, the Oil Price Information Service reports. If they rise by about another eight cents, they will be the highest in four years. That could spell trouble at the polls Nov. 6 since voters often have gas prices in mind when they cast ballots. In California, which is second only to Hawaii as the state with the highest fuel prices, voters will decide whether to repeal a tax that raises $5.1 billion a year for road and bridge repair and public transit. Read more here. 

SoftBank, Toyota Team Up on Ride-Hailing, Self-Driving Cars
Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. are betting on a future when consumers and businesses will order up their transportation needs on demand, forming a new venture that will develop and deploy ride-hailing and self-driving car technologies. Bloomberg reports that Monet Technologies Corp. will initially introduce ride-hailing services for Japanese public agencies and private companies, followed by a rollout of autonomous vehicles in 2020, the two companies said at a joint briefing in Tokyo on Thursday. After Japan, Monet will expand globally, they said. The tech investor conglomerate and Asia’s biggest carmaker are seeking to catch up in an area where U.S. technology and car companies have taken the lead. It’s the first significant collaboration between SoftBank and Toyota, which have already poured billions of dollars into ride-hailing startups. The Japanese companies are seeking a new avenue to increase their foothold in automated driving and ride-sharing services, which are threatening to disrupt the car and transport markets. Read more here. 

Webinar: Will You Meet – and Beat –the Used Car Competition in 2019?
Join AIADA's next AutoTalk webinar on Tuesday, October 16, 2018.


  • How to assess your 2018 used car department performance

  • Will you be meeting the competition in 2019?

  • Tips to your 2019 success, including increasing sales and protecting profits as used car shoppers move online

Happening Tuesday, October 16, 2018. 2:00pm EDT *Please note new session time*

To register, click here. 

Around the Web

What Regular Car Has Aged Surprisingly Well? [Jalopnik]

10 Fastest-Selling Used Cars in America [Business Insider]

A Look at the Toyota Supra [USA Today]

2018 Paris Motor Show Editors' Picks [Autoblog]