NADA Headlines - Tuesday, April 12, 2011 (Plain Text Version)

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Auto Sales May Top Analysts' Earlier Estimates on Jobs Recovery

U.S. automobile sales this year may rise faster than analysts had earlier anticipated as the improving job market prevents higher gasoline prices and supply disruptions in Japan from derailing the industry’s recovery. Total sales of cars and light trucks may rise to 13 million this year, the average of 18 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. IHS Automotive lowered its estimate to 12.9 million vehicles, from as high as 13.3 million in February, citing higher oil prices and disruptions following Japan’s earthquake. The higher cost of oil accounts for a 150,000-vehicle reduction in IHS’s estimate, and Japan-related production losses account for the remainder, said George Magliano, a New York- based senior economist for the researcher. “We’re a little more optimistic on the job market, which we think has finally turned,” Magliano said in a telephone interview. “Credit has begun to loosen up a bit more. That made us feel better about where the year was going. Now, we’ve got two things working against us.”
Source: Bloomberg

Editor's note: IHS's Magliano and Nariman Behravesh will discuss the impact that rising oil prices and the disaster in Japan are having on automotive markets at the NADA/IHS Automotive Forum in New York on April 19. For more on the forum and to register, visit www.autoforumny.com.

U.S. Auto Transaction Prices Highest Since '96-CNW

DETROIT -- Automakers and dealers are getting the highest transaction prices in 15 years for vehicles sold in the United States, due to a high demand for a dwindling supply of new vehicles, CNW Research said on Monday. The figures are based on early sales in April, when new cars and trucks sold at 87 percent of manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP), the highest percentage since 1996. "Dealers are the primary beneficiary of these dwindling discounts since they are using fewer of their own dollars to close a deal than was necessary just a few years ago," CNW said. Credit is loosening also, which may help boost sales, and stands to further narrow the gap between actual selling prices and MSRP.
Source: Reuters [return to top]

Toyota Warns US Dealers of Summer Car Shortages

DETROIT -- Toyota Motor Corp. is telling U.S. dealers that new vehicles could be in short supply this summer because of production slowdowns in Japan and North America. In a memo to dealers obtained Monday by The Associated Press, Toyota's U.S. general manager Bob Carter said Toyota is producing cars and trucks at significantly reduced levels in April and hasn't set its production schedule for May through July. "The potential exists that supply of new vehicles could be significantly impacted this summer," Carter said in the memo. "In summary, what we know is, today we have good levels of inventory, but inventory will be getting tighter," Carter said. Toyota's U.S. sales are off to a strong start in April, he said.
Source: The Associated Press [return to top]

GM Puts Malibu Production on Fast Track

General Motors Co. will begin building its next-generation Chevrolet Malibu about four months ahead of schedule, the latest in the company's efforts to accelerate the delivery of new cars and trucks to dealer showrooms. GM spokesman Dave Darovitz said Monday the automaker has advanced its timetable for the midsize Malibu to early 2012 — several months earlier than planned. The 2013 model Malibu will go on sale shortly after, he added, but declined to pinpoint a date. GM Chief Executive Officer Daniel Akerson advocated the Malibu's early arrival. The new version will be the company's first globally sold midsize car. "Since Mr. Akerson came aboard, he's challenging us to move faster and this is the latest example," Darovitz said.
Source: The Detroit News [return to top]

Fiat Increases Chrysler Stake to 30%

DETROIT—Fiat SpA early Tuesday boosted its stake in Chrysler Group LLC to 30% from 25% after the Italian auto maker met the second of three U.S. government-mandated requirements that automatically trigger increases in its ownership stake. This is the second time this year that Fiat has increased its ownership. In January, the stake increased to 25% after Fiat achieved one performance goal by helping Chrysler begin to build a new, fuel-efficient engine based on Fiat technology in Dundee, Mich. Fiat can lift its stake by another 5% once Chrysler starts producing a small car in the U.S. based on Fiat technology that can go 40 miles on a gallon of gasoline. Mr. Marchionne intends to fulfill that requirement this year.
Source: The Wall Street Journal [return to top]