The Current State of the US Auto Market

steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
edited April 2014 in General
After a lot of downs, it's looking more positive.

Punditizing welcome. :-)


  • tlongtlong CaliforniaMember Posts: 5,194
    We were using the old forum for a variety of things and this title appears to make more sense.
    Still, a bit of a surprise!

    It looks like the auto market is recovering nicely. Lots of pent up demand after the great recession. And lots of effort from many makes. My view of the makes at this point:

    GM - trying, probably not hard enough. Some good new product. Still needs a better family sedan, and image is suffering after the bailout.
    Ford - was doing well, more innovative than GM across a broad lineup. Recent electronics gremlins threaten their revival.
    Chrysler - reviving quite a bit, but from near dead. A long way to go.
    Toyota - appears to have recovered from recent years of recalls and sudden acceleration. Needs a new Corolla.
    Honda - Lost its way most of last decade. The new Accord is better and the Civic is improved. Not convinced they've done enough.
    Acura - even more lost than Honda.
    VW - Americanizing their cars which appears to be working even though I don't really like the changes. Still needs higher reliability and a better dealer network.
    Others - trying hard. Subaru is a good niche player. Mazda has some good stuff.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHMember Posts: 14,548
    Simple question to ask:

    Was anyone shocked that GM's pickup sales were down in 2012 from 2008? They were the oldest trucks on the market.

    Someone (ahem) had posted elsewhere that news, without a link to where it was from, as if that were shocking news.
  • greg128greg128 Member Posts: 500
    The new Silverado fails to excite -

    They look impressive to me. Conservative styling, a beautiful interior and supposedly best in class fuel economy from reworked engines including a
    more powerful aluminum block 4.3L V-6. I'm glad GM is sticking with naturally aspirated engines as I still say these new turbo motors will have more problems and less longevity down the road.
  • steverstever Guest Posts: 52,454
    The idea is to broadly talk about the US auto market and how it's doing and where it's going.

    This discussion is not called "I don't like GM, why do you?"

    We've already hashed that subject to death so there's no use revisiting all that past history.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHMember Posts: 14,548
    I'm not a truck buyer, but I see the new GM pickups to be evolutionary in styling. Personally, I don't think that's a bad thing. I do wonder WTH the Toyota designers were thinking about the front-end styling on the new big pickup. It's so 'busy'. Someone in California did that styling? Could've fooled me.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    down in 2012 from 2008?

    Isn't everything?

    I don't think we're quite back to the party the auto industry was having in 2008.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I do wonder WTH the Toyota designers were thinking about the front-end styling on the new big pickup

    The chrome front is indeed awful, but it looks fine in body color.

    I don't get America's fascination with fake plasti-chrome on anything. I'll take my trim blacked out, thanks.
  • dieselonedieselone Member Posts: 5,729
    I'm not a truck buyer, but I see the new GM pickups to be evolutionary in styling. Personally, I don't think that's a bad thing. I do wonder WTH the Toyota designers were thinking about the front-end styling on the new big pickup.

    Yeah, the new GM trucks don't excite or offend me. The new Tundra is ugly IMO.

    I don't know if GM went far enough with the new trucks considering how long it has taken them to develop the new model. It will only be a year or so until Ford has another new F150 out and Ram won't be far behind.

    With the GM trucks I'm most curious about the 4.3 v6 and the 6.2 v8. The v6 with its displacement advantage might have enough torque for effortless light towing <6k lbs, and good economy while empty.

    On the other end, I'm curious to see what the power numbers and FE are on the 6.2. Can it match Ford's EB in regards to low rpm torque and FE. But Dodge offering a diesel is a big deal IMO. Real world 20+ mpg, and towing ability has me thinking a Dodge may be in my future.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    GM did add DI to all engines, at least.

    Toyota didn't upgrade the powertrain at all - a mistake.

    Dodge comes in with a diesel so they're the dark horse in this race.
  • dieselonedieselone Member Posts: 5,729
    Plus Dodge will be the first to offer an 8 speed transmission. I think the next wave of truck improvements likely will be in weight reduction.

    The GM trucks will certainly be up to date and competitive, but at this point, I don't see anything that really leap frogs the competition. Power and fuel economy are the x factor as GM hasn't released that info yet.

    I like the Ram a lot. The diesel is certainly interesting.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Bingo - they didn't leap frog competitors. That was their mistake. You have to think 5 years ahead, to compete with trucks that haven't even launched yet.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Member Posts: 2,743
    That's true in general, cars as well. We've seen the same problem in that area.

    You're starting to see a divide similar to other industries. Large,well-established companies are deeply invested in status-quo, while smaller, more agile companies tend to bring about disruptive change to an industry...and said larger companies live in eternal dread of those smaller companies.

    GM is one of those large well established companies. Frankly, so are Toyota and Honda. You're seeing the disruptive advances come from the likes of Ford, Nissan, and Mazda. Toyota's last "disruptive" change was hybrid tech, and that was years ago now.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Frankly, so are Toyota and Honda

    I agree.

    Those have a major handicap, too - Lexus and Acura. Those brands put a glass ceiling on how good a Honda or Toyota can be.

    For example, Lexus get DI but Toyotas don't. Civic was cheapened to make the ILX seem worth the extra cost.

    Meanwhile, Hyundai comes in and makes DI standard on the Sonata. Half the market has yet to respond. Even the Accent has DI now. Hyundai is nimbler and has no glass ceiling, so the sky's the limit. Plus no overhead in marketing a whole other luxury brand.

    Ford's doing great but at the expensive of Lincoln.

    Nissan is hit or miss.

    Mazda has to transition from Zoom Zoom to SkyActiv fuel economy boom else they'll be doomed. :D
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 54,994
    I believe there is definitely a ceiling as to how far up the market Hyundai can climb. As nobody is really buying the Equus, that ceiling is the Genesis.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    True...but other mainstream brands could not even think of going there.

    Equus has sold better than the Phaeton did, FWIW.
  • carstrykecarstryke Member Posts: 168
    I know 4 People with rams (last gen 2500 and a 3500) and 2 people with current 1500's. The general consensus is you better keep your ram on the pavement or the electrical system will rattle apart( All 4 trucks have been plagued with electrical issues). However maybe they are just unlucky......i guess no matter what you buy there are some winners and losers.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 54,994
    I suspect it isn't actually making money, which might be why others wouldn't go there. I also have my suspicions about Genesis profitability, especially the loss leader models.

    Equus is cheaper with better incentives too, I think. Still, seems like something for livery service over actual private drivers.
  • bpizzutibpizzuti Member Posts: 2,743
    No transition needed, SkyActiv preserves the Zoom-Zoom. :shades: It's EPA figures hold up in the real world too, something Ford's EcoBoost is still having trouble with (though a boost gauge and some basic instructions on how to drive a turbo would fix that).

    Nissan's having good luck with their CVTs. GM is NOT having good luck with the Volt or eAssist. They need to come up with a better overall strategy like the others and stick with it.

    Chrysler needs to come up with a strategy too. Right after they look the up the word "strategy."
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    seems like something for livery service


    They probably spent about 3 dollars re-engineering it for the US market.

    It's a Korean Town Car.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I like the new Altima. 18.5 gallon fuel capacity plus 38mpg highway = awesome range.

    In CR's real world tests is got class leading mileage, too. Not not just good in a lab.

    But...the Versa sedan is weak, built to a price I guess, but you can damage your reputation selling too many cars like that.

    The Sentra looks better, and the back seat is shockingly huge (bigger than the Malibu's). I'll have to drive one with a CVT. A friend has the outgoing Altima and it seems to be that Nissan makes some of the better CVTs (faint praise, perhaps).

    A neighbor just replaced her MDX with a Pathfinder, so I'll check that out next time I see them.

    Let's see if the Versa Note is better than the lame (IMHO) sedan.
  • circlewcirclew Member Posts: 8,666
    edited February 2013
    ORLANDO -- Hyundai Motor America hopes that the third shift added in September at its Montgomery, Ala., plant will help the company boost 2013 sales 4 percent, to 730,000 units.

    But Hyundai might sell more than that if slack demand in other markets allows for more U.S. volume. Last year, Hyundai targeted 675,000 units, but totaled 703,007 for a gain of 9 percent when other markets softened.

    Hyundai aims to increase owner loyalty

    Krafcik noted that the average Hyundai store made $1 million in profit last year.

    He added: "We have a lot of momentum. We have a low fleet mix, and we're going to push harder into retail this year."
  • circlewcirclew Member Posts: 8,666
    Honda's Accord, Civic and CR-V account for 65% of the company's US sales.

  • circlewcirclew Member Posts: 8,666
    The Chevy Equinox is just so hot right now.
  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    I know a lot of people here think GM is dying and they've lost some market share - BUT I just saw that Warren Buffett bought another chunk of GM stock. He's not always right, but his batting average is probably a hell of a lot better than most of ours! Maybe GM isn't on it's death bed, but just starting to recuperate from a bad case of flu?
  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    edited February 2013
    Honestly, I think D3 prices their vehicles higher and then gives higher rebates/promo's. It just seems to be their playbook. I wish I had the data to compare sticker price differential and promo $. Something tells me D3 wouldn't look quite as out of whack from that "net" perspective. Maybe average net retail selling price vs. rebate/promo $ or something like that?
  • greg128greg128 Member Posts: 500
    edited February 2013
    Nssan's having good luck with their CVTs

    not according to these owners:

    lAltima CVT problems

    Plenty of unhappy Rogue and Murano owners, too
  • tlongtlong CaliforniaMember Posts: 5,194
    I know a lot of people here think GM is dying and they've lost some market share - BUT I just saw that Warren Buffett bought another chunk of GM stock. He's not always right, but his batting average is probably a hell of a lot better than most of ours! Maybe GM isn't on it's death bed, but just starting to recuperate from a bad case of flu?

    If the auto market is trending up, GM will probably do fairly well and be profitable. It's the next downturn that will really tell who is operating more successfully among all the makes. Sort of like in an ice storm or a wind storm - the trees all looked healthy before, but suddenly the weaker ones that had been doing fine in good weather come down.
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    edited February 2013
    Hmmmm... Another example of spotty, anecdotal evidence.

    You might want to check out the Nissan Versa section on CVT's. it has 3 posts, all from me.... Regarding a single incident.

    250 posts on the Altima? Out of how many Altimas sold with CVT's?
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHMember Posts: 14,548
    Regarding incentives...does anybody think that they have something to do with age of vehicle? I know my wife wanted an Equinox (which I didn't want) in June '11 and at the time they were giving zero off of was an all-new vehicle. So even if they're now giving $100 off, wouldn't that put it at the bottom? Another time to remind about 'balance', apparently. But what must I be smoking to expect that?
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    Seems only logical that incentives would only increase as models "age-out" of their lifespan, before new updated models come out...

    And, you're right about $ .vs. %.

    If the incentive on a vehicle goes from $100 to $200, thats a 100% increase.
  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    It's the next downturn that will really tell who is operating more successfully among all the makes.

    That's certainly a valid point, although Buffett tends to be a longer term trader. Maybe on this one he's just looking at a trading opportunity though. However, GM shed a lot of crap off it's balance sheet in the BK and buffed up it's liquidity, so I'd almost be more concerned about Ford in that scenario right now. But unless the next downturn is severe, I think both will handle it much better than the recent distress.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,261
    Heck, the Avalon was nicer than the ES350! Too bad they had to go and uglify it this year.
  • fho2008fho2008 Member Posts: 393
    Maybe Buffet will be the future owner of GM.
  • circlewcirclew Member Posts: 8,666
    edited February 2013
    Well, for GM, it isn't black and white that their pricing strategy helped in the recent quarter:

    During the fourth quarter, costs rose by $US400 million in North America, GM's most profitable region. But combined vehicle pricing fell by $US300 million there as the company offered incentives to cut through its inventory of trucks on dealer lots ahead of its introduction of redesigned versions this year.

    It was the first drop in North American pricing for GM since the first quarter of 2011.

    Jefferies' Nesvold said the weaker Japanese yen and the deteriorating European market would probably lead to more competitive pricing in North America.

    That would continue the trend seen in the fourth quarter, when GM lost one per centage point of US market share despite raising its incentives slightly, according to research firm
  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    Ironically, he actually switched over to a Cadillac a few years back after being a long term Lincoln driver.
  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    No doubt that GM is a hard one to get your hands around as an investor. Does North America get into consolidation down the road? Do gas prices really go down in a few years helping higher margin truck and crossover sales where GM is a big player? Does a foreign, maybe Chinese firm make a buyout try for GM? As for Europe, there are several ways to look at it. That market looks ripe for consolidation because the government's probably can't keep carrying unprofitable, marginal brands while their economy's are in stress. It doesn't seem clear where they are in the business cycle either. For example, one of the reasons the Oakmark International Fund has done so well recently is that it made an unpopular, but successful bet that European banks were near the bottom. Could that be happening to the automakers down the road over there and the car market? If so, who benefits most; European factories or Asians? Warren Buffett made his fortune as a value investor, so I'd suspect he thinks GM is going to turn around. Remember that value investors (as opposed to growth) tend to buy early when things are ugly and are more willing to use patience and hold a stock.
  • fho2008fho2008 Member Posts: 393
    And he bought a railroad recently. Bought, not invested in, he owns it.
  • fho2008fho2008 Member Posts: 393
    Gas prices do not go down $4, get used to it, but I guess you are as we both drive 4 cyl turbos!
  • berriberri Member Posts: 10,165
    Incidentally, when he first bought into railroads some investors proclaimed he was making a mistake and it took several years to pan out. But man, did it pan out! Personally, I respect Buffett and I'm a fan. But I also tremendously respect him. Not just as an investor, but as a person. There are a lot of wealthy people like him that aren't loud mouth, ostentatious and obnoxious. Buffett lives a quiet life style and is a generous contributor to charitable causes.

    Who really knows what will happen with gasoline prices. There are more than a few economists and investors that think we're nearing a top this year and then prices will come down due to fuel efficiency increasing along with production. I haven't a clue what will really happen. I tend to use $5/gallon when I'm considering them.
  • dieselonedieselone Member Posts: 5,729
    The LED fogs are a little garish given how sedate the sedan is in general, but other than that, it's not bad looking, could be a real sleeper. Frankly, I'd say make a V6 version and dump the planned Impala entirely.

    Is the platform being imported from Australia like the G8, and GTO was? If so, I know it was expensive for GM to bring those cars over, so I if they are doing something similar with the SS, a lower cost, high production model could be cost prohibitive. I'd think it comes down to where it's being built.

    Overall I like it.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHMember Posts: 14,548
    I like the car, but I detest that it's built in Australia.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Dunno, let GM-USA focus on trucks and crossovers, GM-Europe can do sporty small cars, GM-DAT the tiny cars, and the Aussies can do this and a ute.

    What's a ute? ;)
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490 le-w-video/

    Wonder if this car will ever make it here?

    Probably not, at least for several years...
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Beautiful styling, but that back seat looks pointless. The A5's is useable.

    I doubt they'll bring it, Eos never sold well.
  • busirisbusiris Member Posts: 3,490
    I always felt that the Eos was over-priced for the car you got...

    Just curious, how roomy is the Chrysler convertible back seat in your father-in-law's (I think it's father-in-law, apologies if I have it wrong) back seat?

    FWIW, the back seat in the 2010 3-series convertible i have isn't exactly a bastion of roominess...
  • circlewcirclew Member Posts: 8,666
    The industry usually sees a surge of fleet sales in the first quarter, but so far this year it is a different story. Fleet efforts by the Detroit 3 and Nissan were subdued in January, while Toyota and Hyundai-Kia made the only aggressive moves.

    Among the major automakers, fleet sales rose 4 percent in January to 179,000 units, dwarfed by a 19 percent surge in retail volume.

    Fleet sales represented 16 percent of Toyota Motor Sales' total, double the normal mix for the company. That's up 13 percent from unusually brisk fleet volume in January 2012, said Bill Fay, Toyota brand boss.

    He said a late start to 2013-model Camry production caused Toyota's fleet bump this year.

    "It will all balance out by the end of the year and be [back] at the 8 to 10 percent range," Fay said.

    Hyundai-Kia America fleet sales soared 37 percent in January, hitting 14 percent of the sales mix compared with 10 percent a year earlier. That offset a 2 percent retail decline and gave the Korean brands a net 2 percent gain in volume.

    But the four automakers with the biggest fleet mix in January 2012 throttled back this year.

    Despite expanding its offering of commercial vehicles since last year, Nissan North America cut January fleet sales 26 percent, reducing its mix to 18 percent from 24 percent a year ago.

    General Motors trimmed fleet sales 2 percent while its retail volume jumped 24 percent. That slashed its January fleet mix to 25 percent from 30 percent.

    Chrysler Group will re-enter the commercial van market this fall with the Fiat Doblo-based Ram ProMaster, but in January fleet volume rose a mere 1 percent.

    And while Ford Motor Co. boosted fleet volume 17 percent in January, its retail sales grew 24 percent, so the fleet mix dropped a point to 28 percent. analyst Jessica Caldwell says the replacement pattern for last fall's Hurricane Sandy likely skewed fleet patterns.

    She said: "Some fleet could have been deferred to ensure retailers had enough units."
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Dad and step mom, no prob.

    The back seat is ok, I think the Avalon vert was bigger, the old Sebring seemed (?) roomier but maybe my standards for comfort have gone up.

    I'd say adults are ok but I still wouldn't want to be there for a road trip.

    A surprise to me was the PT convertible, that had tons of leg room. Too bad the structure was a wet noodle. No 4 seat convertible was fun enough so I bought the Miata.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Some of those fleet numbers are high, but I wold look at a 6 month period to smooth out the short-term spikes.
  • circlewcirclew Member Posts: 8,666
    12 Month Fleet Sales - 2012
    Ford - 30%
    GM - 26%
    C- 26%
    Toyota - 10%
    Nissan - 15%
    HyuKia - 10%
    Honda - 2%
  • dieselonedieselone Member Posts: 5,729
    I'd be curious to see the fleet sales mix between Ford and GM by trucks and cars. My guess is Ford sells a higher percentage of trucks to fleets.
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