Tag Archive | "Sales"

Audi Edges Past BMW to Lead Luxury-Car Sales Race in April


Audi was the world’s biggest seller of luxury cars in April, edging out BMW AG’s namesake brand and fast-growing Mercedes-Benz, reported Bloomberg.

Bolstered by U.S. demand for the Audi Q5 and Q7 sport utility vehicles, the Volkswagen AG unit’s deliveries rose 2.5 percent to 152,850 cars last month, compared with BMW’s 5.6 percent increase to 148,896 autos. Daimler AG’s Mercedes remained the fastest growing of the world’s three biggest luxury-car brands, posting an 11 percent gain to 148,072 cars.

“We’re seeing growth at a good pace,” Audi Chief Executive Officer Rupert Stadler told reporters on Tuesday at a presentation of the revamped Q7 sport utility vehicle in Verbier, Switzerland. “We started the year with a very decent first quarter.”

BMW has vowed to defend its annual lead in global premium car sales, even as key models such as the 7-Series sedan age. The three German luxury-car brands are adding all-new models to widen their appeal and gain an edge over rivals. BMW is rolling out the van-like Gran Tourer this year, and Mercedes plans a pickup truck by the end of the decade.
Through the first four months of 2015, BMW held onto its No. 1 ranking, with sales up 5.5 percent to 600,473 cars. Audi’s deliveries increased 5.2 percent to 591,050 vehicles, while Mercedes demand jumped 14 percent to 577,674 autos.

Audi will expand its SUV offerings with the new subcompact Q1 next year and the full-size Q8 by 2019, Stadler said. The Ingolstadt-based carmaker expects SUVs to account for about 40 percent of total vehicle sales in 2020 compared with 32 percent now.

Those new additions could be critical. Competition in China, the manufacturer’s largest market, is set to intensify as growth moderates. Stadler forecast industrywide demand in the country to rise about 8 percent this year, which is still faster than many other major markets.

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments (0)

GM Expects to Fall Short of 2017 Electric Vehicles Target


General Motors Co said it will fall short of its goal of having 500,000 GM vehicles on U.S. roads by 2017 that are powered by some form of electricity, reported Reuters.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker said in its annual sustainability report that lower gasoline prices and a “surge” in model offerings from all automakers contributed to the lower-than-expected sales for electrified products, including plug-in hybrids, pure electric vehicles and vehicles with the eAssist system that boosts fuel efficiency in gas-powered cars.

“For our commitment to electrification, our forecasted outlook currently projects us, along with the broader automotive industry, falling short of expectations for 2017,” GM said in the 2014 report released on Thursday.

“GM is committed to electrification … but consumer demand for these vehicles has not kept up with our initial projections,” it added.

The company said it counted 180,834 electrified GM vehicles on U.S. roads last year, up from 153,034 such vehicles in 2013.

GM Chief Executive Mary Barra outlined its 2017 target in November 2012 when she was the automaker’s global product chief. At the time, Barra said the company’s plans called for the eAssist system, which boost fuel efficiency as much as 25 percent in some gas-powered vehicles, to be on “hundreds of thousands” of vehicles annually by 2017.

GM, like other automakers, needs more fuel efficient cars as the industry pushes toward more stringent U.S. requirements that will be in place by 2025.

Electric vehicles have failed to catch on with consumers due to high prices, disappointment with electric driving range and an under-developed charging infrastructure. Low gas prices have fueled consumer demand for larger vehicles, including full-size pickup trucks and SUVs.

In 2013, The U.S. Department of Energy backed off President Barack Obama’s goal of putting 1 million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015.

GM is developing an all-electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Bolt, with an electric driving range of 200 miles and production is expected to start in 2016. It will sell for about $30,000 after a federal tax rebate.

The automaker also this fall is introducing a redesigned version of its Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid that has an increased electric driving range of 50 miles and sells for almost $1,200 less than the current version of the car.

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments (0)

Toyota Flags Third Year of Record Profit on Strong U.S. Sales, Cost Cuts


Toyota Motor Corp said it will crank net profit up to a third straight record this year as cost cuts and rising U.S. sales offset weaker business elsewhere, building on bumper earnings last year powered largely by foreign-exchange gains, reported Reuters.

Reporting net income jumped 50 percent in the quarter ended March, the world’s top-selling automaker said on Friday it expects net profit to rise 3.5 percent to 2.25 trillion yen ($18.75 billion) in the year that began in April.

The forecast assumes the dollar will be worth 115 yen on average this year. That’s conservative compared with 120 yen currently, implying Toyota’s net profit for the year may yet come closer to the 2.44 trillion yen average estimate of 27 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

For the past few years, President Akio Toyoda has called an “intentional pause” for the company founded by his grandfather. The strategy seeks to ensure sales growth stays at a sustainable pace, free of the overcapacity and quality problems that plagued the company in previous years.

“I think we are at a stage where we can move on to putting into practice what we have been preparing during the intentional pause,” Toyoda said at a news conference in the capital.

Toyota is looking to overhaul the way it designs and manufactures cars under a new initiative called Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), which aims to slash development and production costs and allocate part of the savings to making its cars more appealing. Advanced safety devices would be among features it plans to add to cars.

The first car developed under TNGA specifications – widely expected to be the next-generation model of the Prius sedan – is due for launch later this year. The first full-scale “simple and slim” TNGA factory will be built in Mexico in 2019.

The forecast for earnings growth this year came as Toyota projected overall vehicle sales will drop 0.8 percent to 8.90 million. But it expects lucrative sales in North America to grow 4.2 percent to 2.83 million, cushioning the blow of weaker sales in Asia, as well as Russia and the Middle East, which have been hit by falling oil prices.

Toyota expects operating profit to edge up 1.8 percent this year to 2.80 trillion yen, giving an operating margin of 10.2 percent – among the highest in the industry.

It expects cost cuts to contribute 265 billion yen, while currency losses will knock off 45 billion yen as a weaker Brazilian real and Russian rouble offset windfalls from a stronger dollar, which boosts the value of U.S.-based earnings when converted back into yen.

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments (0)

VW’s Audi Sales Up 2.5 Percent in April to 152,850 Cars


Volkswagen’s Audi luxury division said on Friday sales increased 2.5 percent in April to 152,850 cars and sport-utility vehicles, the highest-ever level recorded for any month in the carmaker’s history, reported Reuters.

Sales in Europe edged up 0.9 percent as gains in Italy and Spain offset a 42 percent slump in deliveries in Russia to 2,116 vehicles, Ingolstadt-based Audi said.

In the Americas, sales were up 12.7 percent, bolstered by a two-thirds increase in Brazil to 1,856 cars and a 37 percent jump to 3,219 cars in Canada.

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments (0)

Detroit Automakers Face Speed Bumps as Sales Growth Slows


Detroit’s automakers, on track for their best sales year since 2006, may want to brace themselves for rockier times ahead, reported Reuters.

Auto executives say the industry is as healthy as it’s been since being restructured in 2009. But judging by the recent stock performance of General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automotive, investors have a less robust view.

Over the past year, GM and Ford share prices have lagged the overall market, in spite of moves by those two companies to give more cash back to shareholders. Fiat Chrysler prices plunged last week as Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne made increasingly overt efforts to drum up interest in a merger with one of his rivals.

“The party may be starting to wind down,” said Charles Chesbrough, senior principal economist for IHS Automotive. “We’re still looking at a good couple years of strong demand, but the days of big sales increases are behind us.”

Optimists include Kurt McNeil, head of GM’s U.S. sales operations, who said Friday that the industry is on track to have its best sales year since 2006. U.S. sales of cars and light trucks are estimated to reach 17 million in 2015, compared with about 10 million in 2009.

U.S. consumer confidence is up, house prices are recovering and gasoline costs less than $4 a gallon in most parts of the country, supporting sales of the big trucks and SUVs that drive profits for the Detroit Three, just as they did before the financial crisis crash in 2008-2009.

But there are warning signals. Sales growth is slowing in the home market, demand for small cars and family sedans is falling, revenues have declined, profits outside North America and China are virtually nonexistent and share prices have flattened.

All three Detroit automakers missed analysts’ expectations for first-quarter earnings. After reporting healthy April U.S. car sales on Friday, stocks fell again at all three.

U.S. sales growth this year has slowed to 6 percent from double digits in 2010-2012. As demand slows, and more companies add production capacity in North America, competition from Asian and European rivals using cheap currencies will intensify. GM’s share of the North American market in the first quarter slipped to 16.4 percent in the first quarter from 16.5 percent a year earlier.

“Over the next couple years, we expect to see the industry cycle down — not next year, but 2017,” said John Hoffecker, managing director and global vice chairman of operations at AlixPartners. Detroit automakers have had “a good strong, long run,” but “there will be a correction from where we are today.”

Before the next downturn, the U.S. carmakers “need to find long-term solutions to sustainable profitability and cost competitiveness,” said Xavier Mosquet, global automotive practice leader for the Boston Consulting Group. “That may be their biggest challenge.”

Part of that solution may be to reduce their dependence on the U.S. market.

The companies need to reduce excess production capacity overseas, especially in Europe and South America, said Matthew Stover, auto analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group. And as U.S. demand slows, they need to generate a higher return on their overseas investments.

Ford and GM are losing money in Europe even after restructuring efforts that included plant shutdowns. GM has said it expects to return to profitability in Europe in 2016. In Latin America, GM and Ford are losing money as the Brazilian economy slows and economic turmoil wracks Venezuela, where Ford earlier this year took an $800 million pre-tax writedown. GM has signaled it could stop Venezuelan production in July. In China, GM’s profit margins fell to 9.9 percent in the first quarter from 11.2 percent a year earlier.

“GM and Ford earn terrific rates of return in North America, but they’re getting killed in Europe and South America,” Stover said.

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments (0)

Older Riders Rev Up Motorcycle Sales


MILWAUKEE — Jim Heppe bought his first motorcycle nearly a half-century ago, when he was a teenager, and has been riding most of his life, reported The Detroit News.

Now 65 years old, he’s throttled back some from riding 800 miles in a single day, but he still takes an occasional trip to Sturgis, South Dakota, and many trips closer to his home.

That bodes well for companies like Harley-Davidson Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of heavyweight motorcycles, which want to keep folks like Heppe in the saddle — and buying new bikes — as long as possible.

“I am going to keep riding as long as I can. I believe that when you quit, you get older a lot quicker,” said Heppe, who has owned about 10 motorcycles in his lifetime and now rides a 2009 Harley-Davidson Street Glide.

In Wisconsin, the average age of a motorcycle license holder is 51, according to the most recent figures from the state Department of Transportation.

More than 58 percent of the 518,567 motorcycle license holders in the state were 50 or older, the data from 2013 showed. Nationwide, 39 percent of motorcycle owners are 51 to 69, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.

Americans over 50 control 77 percent of the total net worth in the nation, U.S. News & World Report said in 2014, and that represents a huge market for companies like Harley-Davidson.

Harley’s core customers — white men age 35 and older — continue to be an important part of the business, even as the company aggressively pursues “outreach” customers — those ages 18-34, women, African-Americans and Hispanics.

The company takes a “balanced approach” to make sure it has the right products for customers at all stages of their lives, said Ken Ostermann, integrated marketing operations general manager.

Some of that includes comfort features appealing to older riders and others who spend a lot of time in the saddle, but that don’t give the bikes a “senior look.”

Some older bikers want fast motorcycles, known as “sport bikes,” where the rider is in a crouched position for aerodynamics and bike performance.

An Erik Buell Racing 1190RX, for example, has a top speed of 167 miles per hour and can travel from 0 to 60 mph in under three seconds.

Priced at $19,000, it’s aimed at experienced riders still on the young side of the sport.

But baby boomers are buying these kinds of bikes, too, said Erik Buell, founder of the Wisconsin company that bears his name.

“I am 64 and I ride a sport bike all of the time. I would also rather drive a sports car than a luxury car, and I am willing to bet that people who buy Corvettes are also a bit older. It makes you feel young,” Buell said.

Much of the advertising for consumer products, including cars, is aimed at buyers 18 to 34. But in 2011, the peak age range of car buyers rose to 55-64 from 35-44, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

If there’s a downside to more older folks on motorcycles, though, it’s that a high number of them are seriously injured or killed in crashes.

In 2012, the worst year for motorcyclist fatalities in Wisconsin in decades, 60 percent of the victims were between the ages of 46 and 65 — an increase from years ago when most of the fatal crashes involved much younger riders.

Some of the increase stems from motorcyclists, overall, being an older crowd now. But some of it could be linked to more people starting to ride in their 50s or returning to the sport after a lengthy hiatus and losing their skills.

“There are guys who rode when they were in their 20s, then got married, had a career, raised a family, and the bike took a back seat. Now they’re starting to relive their youth,” said Tony Sanfelipo, an accident investigator for the law firm Hupy & Abraham and a founder of Abate of Wisconsin, a motorcyclists rights group.

“I suspect that guys are coming back with riding skills that are pretty rusty. And for vanity, or whatever reason, they haven’t taken a rider education course,” Sanfelipo said.

Some midlife bikers are buying motorcycles that are much more powerful than the machines they rode in their youth, which can result in accidents.

Sanfelipo said he would like to see more mentoring of inexperienced motorcyclists regardless of their age.

“I would rather have somebody mad at me, because I offered them a little help or some suggestions, than have to attend their funeral,” he said.

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments (0)

Page 4 of 10« First...23456...10...Last »
css.php