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The Current State of the US Auto Market



  • berriberri Posts: 7,969
    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, PAPosts: 15,294
    Heck, the Avalon was nicer than the ES350! Too bad they had to go and uglify it this year.
  • fho2008fho2008 Posts: 393
    Maybe Buffet will be the future owner of GM.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,624
    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 Posts: 7,969
    Ironically, he actually switched over to a Cadillac a few years back after being a long term Lincoln driver.
  • berriberri Posts: 7,969
    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 Posts: 393
    And he bought a railroad recently. Bought, not invested in, he owns it.
  • fho2008fho2008 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 Posts: 7,969
    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 Posts: 5,727
    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, OHPosts: 9,861
    I like the car, but I detest that it's built in Australia.
  • ateixeiraateixeira 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 Posts: 3,490 le-w-video/

    Wonder if this car will ever make it here?

    Probably not, at least for several years...
  • ateixeiraateixeira 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 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 Posts: 8,624
    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 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 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 Posts: 8,624
    12 Month Fleet Sales - 2012
    Ford - 30%
    GM - 26%
    C- 26%
    Toyota - 10%
    Nissan - 15%
    HyuKia - 10%
    Honda - 2%
  • dieselonedieselone Posts: 5,727
    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.
  • busirisbusiris Posts: 3,490
    A surprise to me was the PT convertible, that had tons of leg room.

    Seeing as how the PT convertible really didn't have a traditional trunk structure, the designers were able to use that space for leg room.
  • cannon3cannon3 Posts: 296
    We are in an upswing in the U.S. car market. Yes, things are good. This cannot be sustained however. GM/Ford better take advantage and use this surge and momentum to their advantage. Keep up the product and innovation. I am a Ford fan, have owned mostly Ford products for over 35 years. However, I know Ford is known for coming out with great vehicles then letting them die on the vine. If a Ford representative reads these forums, they must pay attention to the consumer and keep developing and evolving their products. Other wise Ford could end up like Mercury, AMC, Pontiac or soon to be Suzuki..
  • rockshocka1rockshocka1 Posts: 310
    edited February 2013
    Just reading for fun, not trying to pick a fight, but what is def of useable back seat? I've got an S5 & the back is useable to set a bag. I'm 6'1" & wife is 5'9". Not too much above avg, & if we put our hands behind our seats, they touch both the back of the front seats & the front of the back. Very tight. Had one rear passenger, once. Not pretty. Love the car, back seat pointless imo.
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,624
    Although automakers continue to focus on shifting their production facilities to new regions driven by cost and demand factors, developing the supplier networks remains one of the greatest challenges faced by them. Existing suppliers to automakers often lack the financial strength to expand capacity in new markets. On the other hand, auto parts suppliers are sensitive to technology transfers to local third parties, which can give rise to low-cost competitors.

    Since 1999, more than 20 of the largest global auto parts suppliers have filed for bankruptcy. The financial condition of the majority of auto market suppliers continues to deteriorate, resulting from a historically weak demand and high dependence on automakers.

    Thus, despite the government’s sizable investment in the industry, it is likely that there will be auto parts suppliers who are unable to restart operations due to a lack of sufficient working capital even as automakers start production. According to the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, 12% of the auto industry suppliers do not have sufficient working capital to support a 10%–25% expansion in production.

    High dependence on automakers makes the auto market suppliers vulnerable to several maladies, primarily pricing pressure and production cuts. Pricing pressure from automakers constricts parts suppliers’ margins. On the other hand, production cuts by automakers driven by frequent market adjustments negatively affect their operations.

    Some of the auto industry suppliers who have a high reliance on a few automakers such as General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and Volkswagen include American Axle and Manufacturing (AXL), Meritor Inc. (MTOR - Analyst Report), Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. (GT - Analyst Report), Magna International (MGA - Analyst Report), Superior Industries (SUP - Analyst Report), Tenneco Inc. (TEN - Analyst Report) and TRW Automotive (TRW).
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,624
    Safety Recalls

    Since November 2009, Toyota recalled about 20 million vehicles globally, surpassing all other automakers. Few months back, the automaker had announced a major worldwide recall of 7.43 million vehicles that included more than a dozen models manufactured between 2005 and 2010. The recall was related to faulty power window switches in the vehicles that can cause fire because they did not have grease applied properly during production.

    In 2012, the Transportation Department of U.S. slapped a fine of $17.35 million on Toyota due to late response regarding a defect in its vehicles to safety regulators as well as late recall of those vehicles. According to the department, it was the maximum allowable fine under the law for not initiating a recall in a timely manner. The latest fine adds to $48.4 million imposed by the U.S. government on the company in 2010 due to late recall of millions of defective vehicles.

    Toyota would also need to pay $1.1 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit related to complaints of unintended acceleration in its vehicles. According to a plaintiff lawyer, the settlement is one of the largest in a lawsuit in the history of automotive industry. The lawsuit blamed Toyota’s defective electronic throttle-control system rather than floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals for unintended acceleration, resulting in a crash. The settlement would pacify 16 million owners of Toyota, Lexus and Scion of model years 1998 to 2010.

    In the spate of recalls following Toyota’s, other automakers’ recalls also came into the limelight. They include Chrysler, Ford, GM, Honda and Nissan. Among them, GM recalled most frequently.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,683
    edited February 2013
    Existing suppliers to automakers often lack the financial strength to expand capacity in new markets.

    They just need to learn the "Japanese" way. :shades:

    "For decades, Japan's auto industry keiretsu—networks of parts suppliers closely allied with companies including Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. —appeared as a black box to outsiders.

    But there was a lot going on behind the scenes and some of it wasn't legal. In fact, some areas of the Japanese auto-parts business were rife with bid rigging and collusion, according to confessions by companies and executives to antitrust officials around the globe that have produced multimillion-dollar fines and a dozen prison sentences."

    Japan Probe Pops Car-Part Keiretsu (WSJ)

    Government intervention is one thing but Gnosen really upended the cartels when he opened up the supplier network for Nissan to worldwide open-source bidding.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    what is def of useable back seat?

    Plopped my 2 kids in there, then ask, do you fit?

    That's my definition. :D
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 9,861
    Thanks for posting that Toyota is the most-recent 'King of Recalls'.

    Where's your comment on the half-million BMW's recalled the other day?

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    edited February 2013
    Just looking at the totals is unfair because it penalizes big makes like GM.

    Let's think about it - if everyone tied in terms of % of cars recalled, GM would be King by default. That's not really fair, then.

    We should look at # of recalls as a % of cars sold.

    BMW's was a big one:

    BMW has told safety regulators it will recall about 570,000 vehicles

    Read more:
    Follow us: @Automotive_News on Twitter | AutoNews on Facebook

    BMW only sold 281k cars last year, so that recall is about twice as many cars as they sell per year.

    For GM to beat that, they would have to recall more than FIVE MILLION cars this year.

    Toyota over FOUR MILLION this year.

    So looks like BMW is the new King of Recalls.

    Having said that - recall count is a very poor way to measure quality.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 9,861
    that - recall count is a very poor way to measure quality.

    Well, not exactly, but I think if we were all honest with ourselves here, we'd know that GM recalls for far fewer numbers have been posted on Edmunds with glee and ridicule.

    Again, for me, it's all about balance.
This discussion has been closed.