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Delay: Over 180,000 new vehicles waiting to be loaded by Rail in the US

 

01122006849

Delay: Over 180,000 new vehicles waiting to be loaded by Rail in the US

 

MELISSA BURDEN THE DETROIT NEWS

The snow, ice and extreme chill may be gone, but automakers still are feeling the aftereffects of the harsh winter: For months, big delays in the nation’s rail network have forced them to park newly built cars and trucks in guarded lots or to hire truck carriers to get them to dealers.

The delays began several months ago and likely won’t be erased until the Fourth of July, according to one transportation analyst. As a result, some models are in short supply and dealers and customers are having trouble getting them as quickly as they’d like.

The sales hit is hurting profits for some carmakers, as they are unable to sell as many vehicles. And the rail issue has temporarily boosted transportation costs for some car companies — which typically heavily rely on rail — to move new vehicles.

“There is a sizable backlog of shippable vehicles,” Richard Kiley, who heads automotive business at Norfolk Southern Railroad in Norfolk, Va., and chairs the Multilevel Pooling Executive Committee, a rail industry group that helps manage the North America pool of auto carrier rail cars, said in an email.

Kiley said about 180,000 new vehicles are waiting to be loaded by rail across North America; the typical figure is about 69,000 and also is higher than last year’s 120,000 vehicles in March 2013.

Companies, including automakers, tend to run into rail-car delays in the spring, but this year’s colder and longer-than-normal winter caused havoc for automakers’ logistics departments. Kiley said cold weather tends to lead to railroads operating slower than normal, as the weather requires more inspections; people working outdoors aren’t as efficient as normal; and machinery tends to fail more often. This increased the time to move product and cut fleet capacity, Kiley said.

Trains had to lighten loads to safely carry the vehicles; that’s because trains’ air braking systems get more difficult in cold weather. The extreme weather shortened how far conductors and engineers could get the trains on a shift. That meant fewer rail cars were available to ship goods across all industries.

Toyota Motor Corp. said rail delays have made it difficult to get vehicles such as the popular RAV4 and Highlander to dealerships. For example, earlier this month Toyota had about 1,000 Lexus RX SUVs ready to be sent “that have been held up by the rail car shortage,” said Jeff Bracken, Lexus Group vice president and general manager, in a call with reporters this month.

In Flint, rows and rows of 2015 heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierra pickups are parked off-site in a guarded lot near the Flint Truck Assembly Plant until they can be shipped by rail. The bad winter also hurt deliveries of GM’s full-size SUVs introduced in the first quarter. The company in some cases opted to truck vehicles over the road instead of by rail.

GM spokesman Tom Henderson said in a statement, “This winter’s severe weather has severely strained the North American rail network. As a result, many industries including the auto sector, are coping with slowing throughput which is resulting in rising inventories of products at plant and rail yards across the U.S. and Canada.”

He said GM anticipates working through the backlog of vehicles by late May or early June.

Honda North America confirmed it has experienced shipping delays. “We are working with our rail partners to overcome these challenges and have expanded our car-hauling footprint around our plants and ports,” Marcos Frommer, manager of corporate affairs and communications at Honda North America, said in an email.

Ford Motor Co. said shipments of some vehicles, including the F-150 pickup and compact Focus, were delayed because of weather-related rail backups. Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said last month the backups weren’t likely to hurt the company in the long run.

“I think that will clean up and it won’t be an issue going forward,” he said.

An industry report from PHH Arval, a global fleet management firm, says rail-car shortages are typical in the spring, but they started earlier this year. The report dated March 10 noted a rail car shortage of 2,500 cars compared to 1,000 at the same time in 2013.

The report said shipments were slowed from Chrysler Group LLC’s Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant (Ram trucks) and the Chrysler Toluca Assembly Plant (Dodge Journey and Fiat 500). Chrysler said rail deliveries had some of the biggest delays in recent memory. It didn’t help that one of the company’s newest and most popular vehicles — the Jeep Cherokee — was already in short supply.

In addition to relying more on trucks, automakers have begun using different shipping yards to put vehicles on trains — first sending them on car haulers or shipping vehicles by sea from Mexico to the U.S.

Charles Clowdis, managing director of global trade and transportation for IHS, a global information company, said he expects it will be early July before the industry is completely recovered. The problem has included “cars being in the wrong place, shortages of locomotives, shortages of crews to move those locomotives,” he said.

Kiley said railroads have been able to cut into the number of vehicles awaiting shipment by about 10,000 in the past two to three weeks.

Clowdis said other factors also contributed to the delays, including a focus by some railroads late last year on moving more crude oil by trains. Some railroad companies now are hiring more conductors and engineers and are working to refurbish locomotives and rail cars that were parked during the recession, Clowdis said.

“They have come out of it by in large pretty well now, but it was severe when it was happening,” he said of the delays

MARCH 2014 U.S. AUTO SALES BY THE NUMBERS

 

MARCH 2014 U.S. AUTO SALES BY THE NUMBERS

 

MARCH 2014 U.S. AUTO SALES BY THE NUMBERS

 

 

Automaker

Mar. 2014

Mar. 2013

Pct. chng.

3 month
2014

3 month
2013

Pct. chng.

 

 

BMW division

32,107

27,078

19%

72,377

64,902

12%

Mini

3,655

6,071

–40%

–8,657

14,055

–38%

Rolls-Royce

75

71

6%

225

213

6%

BMW Group

35,837

33,220

8%

81,259

79,170

3%

Chrysler Division

26,140

33,905

–23%

72,483

79,684

–9%

Dodge

60,575

59,885

1%

145,224

158,751

–9%

Dodge/Ram

105,054

94,425

11%

246,217

238,105

3%

Fiat

4,738

3,807

25%

11,425

9,612

19%

Jeep

57,983

39,469

47%

145,839

100,951

45%

Ram

44,479

34,540

29%

100,993

79,354

27%

Chrysler Group†

193,915

171,606

13%

475,964

428,352

11%

Maybach

2

–100%

6

–100%

Mercedes-Benz

29,316

26,176

12%

77,238

73,024

6%

Smart USA

775

929

–17%

2,237

2,193

2%

Daimler AG

30,091

27,107

11%

79,475

75,223

6%

Ford division

234,448

228,818

3%

558,657

580,917

–4%

Lincoln

8,969

6,825

31%

21,603

15,899

36%

Ford Motor Co.

243,417

235,643

3%

580,260

596,816

–3%

Buick

20,428

18,007

13%

52,898

47,620

11%

Cadillac

14,765

15,751

–6%

39,588

42,712

–7%

Chevrolet

179,681

173,859

3%

452,683

469,704

–4%

GMC

41,173

38,333

7%

104,468

104,927

0%

General Motors

256,047

245,950

4%

649,637

664,963

–2%

Acura

15,580

14,100

11%

37,948

34,953

9%

Honda Division

117,738

121,938

–3%

287,406

302,698

–5%

Honda (American)

133,318

136,038

–2%

325,354

337,651

–4%

Hyundai division

67,005

68,306

–2%

160,013

164,330

–3%

Kia

54,777

49,125

12%

133,006

126,932

5%

Hyundai Group

121,782

117,431

4%

293,019

291,262

1%

Jaguar

1,816

1,408

29%

4,715

3,585

32%

Land Rover

4,399

4,314

2%

13,079

12,419

5%

Jaguar Land Rover

6,215

5,722

9%

17,794

16,004

11%

Maserati

963

218

342%

2,368

549

331%

Mazda

34,903

32,028

9%

78,058

78,282

0%

Mitsubishi

8,996

5,286

70%

19,840

15,996

24%

Infiniti

12,494

11,103

13%

31,221

27,376

14%

Nissan Division

136,642

126,623

8%

323,745

290,905

11%

Nissan

149,136

137,726

8%

354,966

318,281

12%

Subaru

44,479

36,701

21%

112,388

92,527

22%

Suzuki*

2,696

–100%

5,946

–100%

Tesla*

1,507

1,500

1%

6,016

5,990

0%

Lexus

28,593

23,190

23%

65,085

56,740

15%

Scion

5,917

6,432

–8%

14,457

16,377

–12%

Toyota Division

180,838

175,720

3%

441,455

456,327

–3%

Toyota/Scion

186,755

182,152

3%

455,912

472,704

–4%

Toyota

215,348

205,342

5%

520,997

529,444

–2%

Audi

14,246

13,253

8%

35,228

34,186

3%

Bentley

280

206

36%

650

574

13%

Lamborghini*

59

57

4%

177

171

4%

Porsche

3,808

3,486

9%

10,136

9,649

5%

VW division

36,717

37,704

–3%

87,323

98,178

–11%

Volkswagen

55,110

54,706

1%

133,514

142,758

–7%

Volvo Cars NA

5,915

5,365

10%

13,698

15,107

–9%

Other**

291

284

3%

873

852

3%

TOTAL

1,537,270

1,454,569

6%

3,745,480

3,695,173

1%

Numbers in this table are calculated by Automotive News based on actual monthly sales reported by the manufacturers and may differ from numbers reported elsewhere.
Source: Automotive News Data Center
Note: *Estimate
†Fiat S.p.A. purchased the remaining 41.46% stake in Chrysler Group from the UAW’s VEBA Trust on Jan. 20, 2014.
**Includes estimates for Aston Martin, Ferrari, and Lotus

 

MARCH U.S. AUTO SALES

Ford, GM, Toyota post first gains of the year; SAAR surges to 16.4 million

 

MARCH U.S. AUTO SALES

U.S. light-vehicle sales rose 6 percent in March, exceeding analysts’ forecasts and signaling the auto industry has shaken off its sluggish start to 2014.

The seasonally adjusted sales rate — a broad gauge of the industry’s health — surged to 16.4 million units from 15.3 million units a year ago. It’s the best showing for the SAAR since November 2013 and among the highest in the past seven years.

U.S. light vehicle sales have now edged up 1 percent this year through March.

Overall, car sales rose 1 percent and light-truck deliveries advanced 11 percent last month.

Among major automakers, Chrysler Group led the advances with a 13 percent rise, followed by Nissan Motor Co.’s 8 percent gain. Ford Motor Co. was up 3 percent, General Motors advanced 4 percent and Toyota Motor Corp. chalked up a 5 percent increase in recording their first increases of the year.

“March sales turned noticeably higher mid-month and finished strong,” John Felice, Ford’s vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service, said in a statement. “It was encouraging to all of us — after a softer January, February — the spring market kind of bloomed in March.”

GM — ending three consecutive months of sales declines in the United States — said volume rose 3 percent at Chevrolet, 7 percent at GMC and 13 percent at Buick. Cadillac’s deliveries slid 6 percent.

GM, dogged by several high-profile recalls during the month that have sparked safety investigations, said its retail sales rose 7 percent in March. The company’s fleet sales fell 5 percent due to a planned reduction in rental deliveries.

However, GM’s commercial fleet sales climbed 5 percent — the fifth consecutive monthly increase.

Analysts and automakers said the industry’s rebound from January and February, when severe cold and record snowfall in large parts of the country dented showroom traffic, was impressive.

March sales were also aided by five full weekends during the month.

“Solid March sales pushed first-quarter industry results ahead of last year’s pace despite one of the harshest winters on record,” Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, said in a statement. “Toyota dealers had their two best sales weekends of the year late in the month, and we’re optimistic that momentum will spring us in into April.”

Nissan’s 8 percent advance snapped a five-month run of double-digit sales gains in the U.S. market. Still, the Japanese automaker set a monthly U.S. sales record of 149,136 units, with the Nissan brand jumping 8 percent and Infiniti advancing 13 percent.

The company credited double-digit increases in sales of the Rogue crossover, Juke compact crossover and Sentra compact car, as well as strong demand for the mid-sized Altima sedan.

Ford Motor said its retail volume rose 3 percent to 166,030 units. Demand increased 3 percent at the Ford division and 31 percent at Lincoln. Fusion deliveries hit an all-time record of 32,963, Ford said.

F series tops 70,000

Sales of the F-series pickup increased 5 percent to 70,940.

Strong demand for Jeeps and the Ram pickup helped Chrysler Group extend its streak of U.S. gains to 48 months.

Ram pickup deliveries rose 26 percent last month, and sales at Jeep climbed 47 percent to 57,983 units — the best month ever for the brand. The introduction of the mid-sized Cherokee and revamped 2014 Grand Cherokee have bolstered Jeep deliveries in recent months.

Overall, Chrysler’s truck sales rose 34 percent, but car volume skidded 25 percent.

Deliveries rose 24 percent at the Fiat brand, 1 percent at Dodge, and 29 percent at the Ram brand, while volume dropped 23 percent at the Chrysler brand.

The company’s sales have been spurred by new product launches and some of the industry’s highest incentives.

Chrysler offered average incentives of $5,598 on the Ram 1500 pickup last month, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing data that dealers provided to J.D. Power and Associates.

“We are entering the spring selling season on a high note,” Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales for Chrysler Group, said in a statement.

Hyundai Motor America blamed weather for a 2 percent drop in its March sales.

Bob Pradzinski, vice president of national sales for Hyundai Motor America, said the company’s pace of retail sales accelerated during the second half of March.

He added those gains are forecast “to continue throughout the month of April.”

VW results

Volkswagen brand’s March sales dipped 3 percent to 36,717, though Jetta and Passat volumes rose. It was the 12th straight monthly decline for the marque.

Mark Barnes, vice president of sales for VW of America, said sales of diesel-powered models totaled 9,764 units — or 27 percent of its U.S. sales in March. The company pumped up diesel deliveries by offering $1,000 fuel cards to buyers.

The VW brand, Barnes said, saw some of its strongest sales last month in the Midwest region, where winter weather crimped demand in recent months.

Audi record streak

Volkswagen Group’s Audi luxury unit reported March U.S. sales of 14,246 vehicles, an increase of 8 percent, and the brand’s 39th consecutive month of record monthly sales.

Subaru of America said it sold 44,479 vehicles in March, a 21 percent increase from March 2013.

March was the 28th consecutive month of sales increases, and 15th straight double-digit gain for the brand. Subaru is running out the Outback crossover, its biggest seller, and the Legacy sedan. Both will be replaced this summer.

“We are delighted to have once again delivered record results,” said Tom Doll, Subaru of America president. “2014 looks already set to be our seventh year of consecutive sales growth, with more new product to come”

Overall, U.S. sales had been projected to rise 2 percent from year-earlier levels to 1.48 million light vehicles in March, based on the average of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Tracking the SAAR

After a 1 percent decline in overall U.S. sales over January and February, automakers ratcheted up the deals last month to draw shoppers.

The average incentive per light vehicle was approximately $2,773 in March, an increase of 7.9 percent from March 2013 and 2.6 percent higher than February, TrueCar estimates.

Larry Dominique, president of ALG and executive vice president of TrueCar, said incentives rose at a rate four-times greater than industry sales in March, forcing a final rush to discount in the last week of the month and setting the stage for equally aggressive deals in April.

“An incentive-fueled battle is on the horizon,” Dominique said.

VW’s Barnes said today Volkswagen sees total industry sales for 2014 coming in at between 15.8 million and 16 million units. That’s lower than most forecasts at the start of the year, when sales of at least 16 million were expected.

Vehicle Depreciation, How much will my vehicle be worth in the future?

 

Vehicle Depreciation, How much will my vehicle be worth in the future?

Vehicle Depreciation How much will my vehicle be worth in the future

The Bad News — and Some Good News — About Depreciation

The very minute that you drive a new car off a dealer’s lot, it loses value. That’s just a fact of life, and the infographic below gives you a roadmap of depreciation milestones. But depreciation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy a new car. In fact, if your plan is to drive the wheels off your car, then depreciation has no effect on your purchase. But if you do intend to trade it in, you need to be smart about the resale value of cars, and here’s the key: Not all cars depreciate at the same rate. You can compare the depreciation for cars you’re thinking about buying by using Edmunds True Cost to Own tool. Now, on to a step-by-step look at how fast new cars can lose their value. Buckle up.

 


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Source: Edmunds.com

Maserati bringing new sports car concept to Geneva?

Maserati is in the midst of a major product overhaul. The Quattroporte was recently redone, the Ghibli is a fresh new model and the Levante crossover is still in the pipeline. But what about its two-door line? Surely Maserati hasn’t forgotten about those, right?

Not according to the latest gossip, it hasn’t. Word has it that in celebration of its centenary this year, the Trident marque is preparing a new sports car concept to unveil at the Geneva Motor Show. Apparently smaller than the aging GranTurismo, the new concept is said to take aim at the Jaguar F-Type – not to mention the Porsche 911.

According to GTSpirit, the concept could pack the Modenese automaker’s new twin-turbo V6 or V8 engines, but no matter how many cylinders, it’s understood we’re likely looking at a front-engine/rear-drive layout and an automatic transmission.

In regards to the alleged showcar, we reached out to our source at Maserati, and they expressed serious doubt as to the veracity of the original report, while simultaneously not being able to confirm or deny its existence. For the moment, we’re going to chalk this one up to the Rumormill until we hear more.

In any case, Maserati is also expected to reveal the finished version of its Ermenegildo Zegna edition Quattroporte, something it has only shown in “concept” (albeit close to production) form to date.