Toyota, Lexus Lending Arms Offer Hand to Furloughed Federal Workers

First Up 01/03/19

Jan. 3, 2019

Toyota, Lexus Lending Arms Offer Hand to Furloughed Federal Workers

Toyota Motor North America says it will lend a helping hand to individuals and businesses financially burdened by the extended federal government shutdown. Automotive News reports that the automaker said Wednesday that customers of either Toyota Financial Services or Lexus Financial Services who are otherwise in good standing on their loans or lease payments and who can demonstrate that they are directly impacted by the shutdown may be able to defer up to two months of payments in their contracts. The missed payments will be tacked on to the end of the loan or lease, the company said. Click here for information on how customers can take advantage of this offer. About 800,000 federal employees have either been furloughed or have been working without pay since Dec. 21 when a bipartisan deal to fund the federal government through February was rejected by the Trump administration. Click here for the full story.

Auto Dealers, Startups Try Amazon-Style Ordering for Cars

Car buyers looking to skip the dealership and buy a set of wheels online are starting to find more options. The Wall Street Journal reports that more auto dealers, as well as startups, are offering direct sales through their websites, latching onto the click-to-buy culture of online retailing. The shift to more online sales could change the dynamics of automotive retail, allowing dealers to expand their geographic reach, and make it easier for customers to cross-shop stores based on price, retailers and industry analysts say. As customers become more comfortable with buying big-ticket items online, from furniture to large electronics, more dealerships are introducing direct-delivery service for new vehicles. Some will deliver a car anywhere free, while others charge by distance after a certain number of miles.  “Everyone loves Amazon and it’s pushing us to do more,” said Brendan Harrington, chief operating officer of Penske Motor Group, a new-car dealership chain with stores in California and Texas.  “People now expect the same thing from the car business.” For more on how dealers are approaching online ordering, click here.

Used EV Prices are Finally Heating Up — a Little

Calling a car or truck an appreciating asset is usually an oxymoron unless you're talking about collectibles such as a first-generation Ford Bronco or a third-generation Mazda RX-7. Or a 2015 Nissan Leaf. Indeed, the electric vehicle that has exemplified plummeting value in recent years has finally stopped its depreciation plunge. According to J.D. Power and Associates, 2015 Leaf wholesale prices are about 1 percent higher than they were a year ago. It's just 1 percent, but still. "So from a consumer standpoint, that means they have an appreciating asset," Larry Dixon, J.D. Power senior director of valuation service, tells Automotive News. "That's quite extraordinary." Dixon said the Leaf's annual depreciation rate has been in the 25 to 30 percent range. "Now we have prices up for the first time ever," he said. Other used EVs are showing a similar trend in prices or retained value improvements, Dixon said. Fiat 500e retention is at 21 percent in the fourth quarter, up from 18 percent a year ago; Chevrolet Spark EV value retention is 25 percent this quarter, vs. 21 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017. For more on what is causing this reversal, click here.

These are the 19 Top New Vehicles Coming in 2019

Optimism is required this New Year, thanks to threats ranging from tariffs to trade wars. Even so, dozens of new vehicles will hit the market in 2019. The shift from cars to SUVs adds to the uncertainty, as do a pair of midsize pickups that will test the limits of demand for a segment automakers nearly abandoned less than a decade ago. Here’s a look, from Forbes, at some of the most important and interesting vehicles coming this year. One is the 2019 Audi E-tron Quattro. The first in a family of E-tron luxury vehicles, the Quattro five-passenger SUV is the first real test of Volkswagen Group’s conversion to electric vehicles. Early reports from the first drive in Abu Dhabi have been largely positive on comfort and performance, but they’re not particularly relevant until EPA ratings for range and charging time are available. The 2019 BMW X7 is also highly anticipated. Nearly the size and weight of a Chevy Tahoe, the X7 will have its hands full delivering thrilling performance that can compare to the 7-series sedan that’s been the brand’s top model till now. For the complete list and photos of top new vehicles, click here.

Trump Trade 2019: Race to Resolve China Trade War, Global Auto Tariffs, NAFTA

President Donald Trump's ambitious effort to reroute global trade flows in an America First direction is racing toward a conclusion. In the next couple of months, reports Investor’s Business Daily, Trump will escalate his China trade war or declare a truce. He'll decide whether to unleash global auto tariffs, and he'll push Congress to accept his deal to replace Nafta. How those Trump trade issues are resolved will have a major impact on the global economy as well as the Dow Jones and broader stock market. The Trump administration faces a mid-February deadline for wrapping its national-security investigation into auto imports. Trump has threatened global auto tariffs of up to 25 percent. The real question about auto tariffs isn't whether Trump will give the go-ahead, but how they'll be structured. Trump rails about cars assembled in Mexico for the U.S. market. But he agreed to a quota of 2.6 million vehicles, above current levels. That's a big concession, considering that the U.S. auto market has peaked. For what else could be on the table, click here.

2018 Trending to be Most Active Buy/Sell Market on Record

According to the just released Blue Sky Report® by Kerrigan Advisors, 2018 will be the fifth consecutive year of over 200 buy/sells. Auto retail buy/sell transactions increased 20 percent year-over-year in the third quarter driven by a strong economy and record average dealership sales. Other major trends that will continue to shape the buy/sell market include generational transfers within the dealer body, increased activity by financial investors, and sellers accepting structured transactions. The report also evaluates millennial market share and the possibility of high import tariffs, which will play a large role in future valuations. The Blue Sky Report®, is the auto industry's most comprehensive and authoritative quarterly report on dealership M&A activity, as well as franchise values. It includes analysis of all transaction activity for the quarter, and lays out the high, average and low blue sky multiples for each franchise in luxury and non-luxury segments. Click here to preview the Third Quarter 2018 Blue Sky Report®.

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