Posts Tagged ‘Auto Industry News’
February 4th, 2013
Chrysler had a good year in 2012. Scratch that, an amazing year, with net profits rising ninefold to $1.7 billion, up from just $183 million the year before.
Before 2011, Chrysler had not turned a profit since 1997. Just 3 years ago, the company was sitting in bankruptcy with no guarantee that Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler cars would be made for the next generation. Now the Pentastar employs 43,000 U.S. workers in good jobs with a living wage, and has vastly improved the quality of its cars.
Chrysler, which is majority-owned by the Italian company Fiat SpA as a result of its Fed-backed bankruptcy reorganization, increased revenue by 20% in 2012 to $68 billion. But of the $12.5 billion borrowed from U.S. taxpayers, the automaker made good on $11.3 billion, and officials will not be seeking the remaining amount. The lack of debt obligation was a major driving force behind the massive profit increase.
So just what is Chrysler going to do with all that cash? In the short term, every U.S. employee is getting a bonus, Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says. But looking forward to future years, there’s plenty of all-new models in the pipeline as some current cars have grown gray while the company focused on its best bets.
-Jeep will get an all-new SUV to replace the Liberty. Reports point to a reboot of the Cherokee badge.
-The Jeep Grand Cherokee and Compass will see significant updates.
-RAM will debut a new dedicated commercial van.
-Alfa Romeo will return to the U.S. by year’s end with a new model.
-Fiat will debut its 500L, a longer, more spacious take on the Fiat 500 minicar.
-The Chrysler 200 will debut with a ground-up redesign, showing off new design language coming to Chrysler’s flagship brand.
-Jeep will get a new small SUV to replace the slow-selling Patriot.
-Two unnamed Dodge models will receive heavy updates.
-RAM will debut a Fiat-designed smaller commercial van/wagon along the lines of the Ford Transit Connect.
-Three more models will be given the SRT high-performance treatment.
Chrysler will unleash a blitz of all-new product as today’s in-development models are completed.
-The Chrysler brand will get three brand-new or completely redesigned models, including the next-gen Town & Country minivan.
-Jeep will see two more new or redesigned models as the Chrysler’s most-important brand continues to expand.
-An unknown Dodge model will be redesigned on an all-new platform.
-The SRT Viper will see its first mid-cycle refresh.
-Fiat will become a full-line automaker in the U.S. with no less than six new models or model variants.
-Alfa Romeo will debut four all-new models, with the brand positioned to compete with BMW and Audi.
January 20th, 2013
Tred is a promising new start-up that will soon make the car-buying experience even easier, allowing you to test drive the car (or cars) of your choice without ever having to pay a visit to the dealership.
Tred, which recently secured funding from a list of industry vets including former General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, will open for business in the Seattle area this Spring, with a rapid expansion planned if things go well. Customers simply visit the company’s simple web portal and choose the vehicles they are most interested in test driving. A delivery person/concierge will then deliver the vehicles to your door for a no-pressure test drive, allowing instant comparison shopping without the hassles of the dealership experience.
To sustain its business, Tred will take a cut of any vehicle you purchase through using its system. Partner dealerships are on-board, the company says, seeing the service as a way to reach more potential buyers. While it remains to be seen whether the no-cost test drives will actually translate into sales, we commend Tred for its innovative business model.
January 11th, 2013
The gasoline price experts at GasBuddy.com have released their annual Fuel Price Outlook for 2013, and things are shaping up to be… about like 2012. We won’t see any great relief at the pump, but barring any major wars or catastrophic natural disasters, pricing shouldn’t spiral out of control, either.
As of the time of this writing, the current average national gas price sits at $3.27 per gallon, just a few cents lower than at this time last year. Expect pricing to stay relatively low through the end of February, but to rise sharply in late March. Gas prices nearly always spike in the Spring, as refineries perform maintenance and begin their annual switch to lower-volatility Summer blend gas.
Prices should peak at a bit under $4 nationally in April, though GasBuddy predicts prices peaking for the year as high as $4.65 in the Los Angeles area, and well over $4 per gallon in several other major markets. Pricing should remain relatively high – near $4 in the most-expensive markets – throughout the Summer, and then taper off as Fall and Winter approach.
Diesel fuel is projected to stay significantly higher than the cost of regular gasoline, and likely even more expensive than premium fuel, throughout most of the year. High diesel prices mean we pay more for consumer goods at the grocery store, etc., and diesel-burning passenger cars do not save you as much money despite high mpg ratings.
As for events which could throw off the whole scale, hurricane season presents the biggest challenges. If refinery production is thrown off by disasters in the Gulf Coast, we could see a dramatic spike in prices, after 2012 showed just how vulnerable our infrastructure can be. Also, the devaluation of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies is a major concern. Since world oil prices are based on the dollar, a weak dollar means Americans pay more at the pump.
January 4th, 2013
Audi, currently the world’s second-largest maker of luxury cars after narrowly passing Mercedes-Benz, will invest $17 billion over the next 4 years in a bid to overtake BMW for the #1 spot.
As part of parent company Volkswagen AG’s bid to become the world’s largest automaker by 2018, Audi will invest mightily in lightweight vehicle construction technology and alternative powertrains, including electric propulsion and a new generation of efficient clean diesel engines. Audi will also expand its manufacturing operations in Hungary, China and Mexico.
What’s in the pipeline at Audi? 2013 will bring an expanded U.S. diesel lineup, beginning with the A8 TDI flagship luxury sedan in just a couple of months. A diesel-powered halo supercar, codenamed R20, is currently in development. And years of electric car research will culminate sooner rather than later on the brand’s first electric car, likely based heavily on the A3 luxury compact. The redesigned A3 lineup will grow to include a sedan variant, as well.
Industry forecasters at IHS Automotive predict that Audi worldwide sales will grow by around 1.1% in 2013 to reach 1.44 million vehicles. IHS predicts 1.54 million cars and trucks sold for BMW this year, and says Mercedes-Benz is likely to pass up Audi for the #2 spot once again. Let the German luxury car wars begin!
January 4th, 2013
A strong December capped a year of solid growth for the U.S. auto industry, as holiday car shoppers reacted to easily available credit and large discounts on pickup trucks by buying up 1.4 million cars and trucks, an increase of 9%. Total light vehicle sales in 2012 rang in at 14.5 million units, an increase of 13.4% over 2011 and the best year since 2007.
The Volkswagen brand continues its quest for world sales domination with startling growth, up an industry-leading 35.1% year-over-year with 438,134 units sold (excluding Audi and Porsche). Across all their brands, Toyota and Honda enjoyed strong growth as well, up 26.6% and 24% with 2.08 million and 1.42 million units sold, respectively, as the two automakers recovered from a 2011 marked by natural disasters and production shortages. Among the Americans, Chrysler continued to pace the field, up 20.6% in 2012 with 1.65 million units.
But at Ford and GM, growth underperformed the industry as the two automakers gave back ground to the Japanese that they had captured in disaster-battered 2011. Ford was up just 4.7% at 2.24 million units, while GM rose 3.7% at 2.6 million units.
As for the rest in 2012: Nissan sales rose 9.5% to 1.14 million units, Kia rose 14.9% to 557,599 units, Hyundai was up 8.9% with 703,007 cars and trucks, Mazda rose 10.6% with 277,048 units, Subaru rallied up a full 26% with 336,441 vehicles, Mitsubishi tanked down 26.9% with 57,790 cars, Volvo was flat at a 1.3% gain with 68,125 units, and bankrupt American Suzuki finished with 25,358 units sold for a loss of 4.7%.
Among the German luxury brands, Mercedes-Benz narrowly edged out BMW for the #1 spot with 295,013 units, up 12.7%. BMW sales rose 13.5% to 281,460 units, while Audi moved 139,310 cars for a gain of 18.5%. Sales at Porsche rose 20.7% at 35,043 cars.
Experts at Polk Research predict sales growth will continue throughout 2013, with estimated annual sales for this year pegged at 15.4 million cars and trucks. The best year in recent memory was 2005, when the industry sold around 17 million vehicles.