Toyota Plant will Trigger Investments

First Up 01/08/18

Toyota Plant will Trigger Investments 
Automotive News reports that in the next few weeks, Toyota Motor Corp. is expected to announce the location of a $1.6 billion U.S. auto assembly plant that will spark the economy of the geography around it for a decade and beyond. Auto plant construction projects do that. But what Toyota and its project partner, Mazda Motor Corp., are planning is certain to trigger investment activity far beyond the immediate plant. The reason is that Toyota is reimagining its global portfolio, creating lighter, easier-to-build vehicles with new advanced features and powertrains. It also is now scrambling to bring electric vehicles to market — in association with Mazda, and also possibly Subaru — although Toyota officials maintain that EVs are not part of the immediate plant project now in the works. The proposed assembly plant will build Toyota Corollas starting in 2021 as well as an all-new Mazda crossover. Read more here

Detroit Auto Show Revved to Roll 
As certain as snow squalls and sub-zero wind chills, the North American International Auto Show blows into Detroit this month. But while things might be frigid on the streets of Detroit, plenty of hot new stuff can be found inside Cobo Center, reports The Detroit News. Marking its 30th anniversary this year, the NAIAS has become the nation’s premier car show, and for good reason. It offers literally something for everyone. It kicks off with the annual media preview that draws more than 5,000 global journalists and many of the world’s top automotive executives to the Motor City. As the show opens to the public on Jan. 20, the turnstiles are expected to spin furiously with at least 700,000 automotive fans, friends and family likely to swing through Cobo. In years past, that might have been more than enough, but auto show organizers say they’re “adjusting” to the times, reaching out to new audiences to reflect some of the dramatic changes set to reshape the auto industry in coming years. “We’ve really turned this into six shows in one,” says Rod Alberts, the president of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, which organizes the annual automotive extravaganza. Read more about the show here

Self-Driving Cars Featured at CES Tech Show in Las Vegas
The self-driving car is getting closer to deployment in the real world for everyday passengers, reports The Detroit Free Press. It is already here – more or less – for the nearly 200,000 trade industry folks expected to attend this week's consumer electronics extravaganza in Las Vegas, now known simply as CES. A fleet of eight autonomous BMW 5 Series sedans will shuttle conventioneers to 20 destinations across the city, sharing Las Vegas' busy roadways with the regular traffic and any street-crossing pedestrians. The vehicles were transformed into self-driving sedans by Aptiv, formerly known as the mobility arm of Delphi. And they are all connected to the Lyft ride-hailing app. The Aptiv/Lyft self-driving demonstration will be the most prominent example of autonomous driving at this year's event, which opened Sunday for media previews and officially starts Tuesday. Read more here.  

Loan Interest Rates on the Rise for Those With Poor Credit
Car salesmen call it "the payment walk," when a customer wants a new vehicle but is walked instead to the used lot because they can't qualify for a new-car loan. With the Federal Reserve seemingly bent on more interest-rate hikes, it's almost certain that more people will be taking that stroll, reports USA Today. The Fed raised rates a quarter percent in December, the third rate hike of 2017, and it's broadcasting three more this year. For would-be buyers with stellar credit, the impact hasn't been substantial. But many with subprime credit scores of around 600 or below are now settling for cars that already have some miles on them, says Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive. Subprime buyers got substantially better rates even a year ago. The average subprime rate of 5.91 percent last year has jumped to 16.84 percent today, Smoke says. For a 60-month loan of $20,000, that means a monthly payment hike of more than $100, to $495. Read more here

'17 Sales Soften, But Confidence Still Strong
Auto executives and experts are confident that the industry's good times will continue this year despite a 1.8 percent decline in U.S. new light-vehicle sales in 2017 that ended a seven-year growth streak. According to Automotive News, contributing to the calmness are sound economic trends and a trifecta of positive signs: moderate inventory levels, average transaction prices in the mid-$30,000s and consumer preferences that point to more profitable sales. Most automakers and industry experts predict sales this year will decline from 17.25 million vehicles in 2017 — the fourth-highest sales ever after a record 17.55 million in 2016 — to a still robust range of 16.7 million to 16.9 million. It's "still a healthy industry demand level, supported by positive economic conditions and, specific to the auto industry, still welcoming credit conditions and high incentive levels," said Christopher Hopson, manager of North America light-vehicle forecasting for IHS Markit, which forecasts sales of 16.9 million in 2018. Read more here

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