U.S. Auto Sales Fall in 2019, But Still Top 17 Million for Fifth Consecutive Year

First Up 01/07/20

CNA National Marks 25 Years With AIADA
This month CNA National celebrates its 25th anniversary as AIADA’s longest-serving Affinity Partner. This relationship has benefited AIADA members by offering them F&I solutions specifically designed to increase dealers’ profitability and exceed buyers’ expectations. This milestone coincides with the association’s 50th year of representing America’s international nameplate dealers. “We wholeheartedly congratulate AIADA on its 50th anniversary,” says Joe Becker, CNAN president and CEO, “and are grateful for the opportunity to grow and evolve together in order to better serve dealers and their customers. We look forward to continuing this valuable affiliation for many more years to come.” To start working with CNA National, contact the company at (800) 345-0191 x450 or connect online

Senate to Advance Trump USMCA Trade Deal with Help From Democrats
The Senate Finance Committee is set to mark up President Trump's United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade Tuesday morning, setting up a vote by the full Senate that will include support from trade-skeptical liberal Democrats likely this month, reports The Washington Examiner. Democratic senators including Ohio's Sherrod Brown, Oregon's Ron Wyden, Minnesota's Amy Klobuchar, Colorado's Michael Bennet, and, most recently, Massachusetts's Elizabeth Warren, have all said they'll support the trade deal, which would replace the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement. Only two senators at opposite ends of the political spectrum have so far declared opposition: conservative Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey and socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. The White House spent the entirety of 2019 negotiating with House Democrats to create a compromise version of the trade deal that could pass the House. USMCA eventually passed the House on Dec. 19 after Pelosi said sufficient improvements had been incorporated, especially regarding labor rights. Read more here. 

U.S. Auto Sales Fall in 2019, But Still Top 17 Million for Fifth Consecutive Year
Automakers sold more than 17 million vehicles in the U.S. for a fifth consecutive year in 2019, an unprecedented feat that many presumed was unsustainable when the streak began, reports CNBC. Domestic light-duty vehicle sales totaled almost 17.1 million vehicles last year, a 1.6% decline compared with 2018, according to automotive research and forecast firm Edmunds. The Detroit Big 3 automakers as well as many large foreign competitors such as Toyota Motor reported slight declines in sales of 3% or less in 2019. New vehicle sales for 2019 were originally forecast to fall to between 16.7 million to 16.9 million, but they are in line with revised estimates after sales proved to be stronger than anticipated last year. For 2020, auto analysts see U.S. sales of roughly 16.7 million to 17.1 million vehicles. Cheap and available credit, low unemployment rates and healthy consumer sentiment all contributed to a robust market for U.S. auto sales in 2019. Acevedo and others expect those trends to continue for 2020. Read more here. 

Toyota Plans 175-Acre Woven City in Japan as Living Tech Test Bed
Automotive News reports that Toyota will build a 175-acre hydrogen-powered test city beginning next year at the base of Japan's Mount Fuji to study the interactions of a number of cutting-edge technologies, including autonomous transportation, robotics and artificial intelligence. The huge project, called Woven City, is being personally championed by Toyota Motor Corp. CEO Akio Toyoda, who appeared Monday at CES to discuss the plan. Woven City — which will be roughly the size of Apple's circular campus in Cupertino, Calif., — is being designed by renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, CEO of Bjarke Ingels Group and designer of Google's new headquarters, 2 World Trade Center in New York City and a number of other high-profile projects globally. The cost of the project was not revealed, but it is expected to be in the billions of dollars. Toyota says an estimated 2,000 people — employees and their families, retired couples, retailers, visiting scientists, and industry partners — are expected to inhabit Woven City initially when completed. Read more here. 

Aston Martin's Troubles Mount as Profits Slump by 45%
Aston Martin stunned investors Tuesday by warning that its profit for 2019 would drop by about 45% despite healthy orders for its first ever SUV, reports CNN. The British luxury carmaker's stock plunged as much as 16% in London as CEO Andy Palmer pledged to take steps to get the business back on track after a "very disappointing year." The favorite automaker of fictional British secret service agent James Bond, Aston Martin has suffered from weak demand for some of its models, a global auto slowdown, and uncertainty over Brexit following its IPO in 2018. Investors have punished the stock: Shares have dropped more than 75% in the 15 months since their market debut in London. Aston Martin said in a statement that market conditions were challenging in November and December — the peak period for deliveries — resulting in lower sales and higher selling costs, especially in Europe. The 106-year old company was also hit by currency fluctuations, increased marketing costs and weaker average prices for its luxury vehicles. Read more here.  

Japan Issus Arrest Warrant for Carlos Ghosn's Wife
The Japanese authorities on Tuesday said they issued a warrant for the arrest of Carole Ghosn, the American wife of Carlos Ghosn, taking direct aim at the family of the fallen auto magnate as they seek to bring him back to the country to face criminal charges. The New York Times reports that prosecutors in Tokyo said they had obtained an arrest warrant for Mrs. Ghosn, 53, on  suspicion of giving false testimony. In a written statement, they said Mrs. Ghosn had testified in April that she did not know a person who was involved in Mr. Ghosn’s case, even though she was in communication with that person while the person was wiring money between companies at Mr. Ghosn’s request. The statement did not disclose the identities of the person or the companies. The Ghosn family could not immediately be reached for comment. The arrest warrant is the latest twist in an international tale of intrigue. Mr. Ghosn, the architect of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi auto empire, faces charges of financial wrongdoing in Japan. But he fled the country on Dec. 29 and reappeared in Lebanon. Mr. Ghosn is a Lebanese national, and the nation does not extradite its citizens. Read more here.   

Around the Web

Zombie Cars: 9 Discontinued Vehicles That Aren't Dead Yet [Autoblog]

Hyundai, Uber Partner on Aerial Taxis, Show Off Full Scale Model at CES [The Detroit Bureau]

Ex-UAW Leader Now Expected to Plead Guilty [Detroit Free Press]

Amazon Revs Up Auto Ambitions [TechXplore]