Ford Focus Electric – A No-Nonsense Technological Marvel

The future of electric vehicles is uncertain; however, the current product offerings provide a clear picture of the capabilities of this nascent powertrain.  The Ford Focus Electric vehicle is a definitive example of this.  I was able to drive the Focus last week in Santa Monica, California along with the only other full electric vehicle currently in the market, the Nissan Leaf.  Both vehicles offered the expected capabilities of a daily driver by exhibiting excellent performance in a variety of everyday situations like high speed passing, off the line performance and good ...

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How Much Are Fleet Sales Inflating New Sales Figures?

Since the beginning of the year, new vehicles sales have been booming for both import and domestic manufacturers alike.  More than 3.46M new units were sold in the first quarter, which is a result that has many analysts raising their full year forecasts. Some analysts and industry executives are cautioning against being overly optimistic however, arguing that the unseasonably warm winter and higher volumes of fleet sales helped to inflate new vehicle growth over the past three months. Exactly how many new vehicle sales can be chalked up as non-retail fleet deals?  The simpl ...

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2012 New York Auto Show Preview

We’re eagerly gearing up this week to attend the annual New York International Auto Show which kicks off April 4th at the Jacob Javits Center.  Lots of exciting new product introductions are scheduled which should make for a great event.  Looking across the press conference schedule, two models in particular stand apart in terms of their importance to their respective companies - the 2013 Nissan Altima and the 2014 Chevrolet Impala.  Let’s start with the Altima.  The importance of Nissan’s mid-size car competitor to the company’s fortunes in the States can’t be over ...

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Luxury Brand Incentive Skirmish is Developing into a Battle

February marked the fourth month in a row of an increasingly heated incentive skirmish currently being fought by luxury automakers in the U.S. Autodata data shows that beginning back in November, average luxury incentive spending across all brands surpassed the $3,900 mark, up 16.2% over the previous year.  Escalating even higher in December, incentive spending grew to almost $4,000 per vehicle, up a bloated 18.7% year-over-year.  January-February average incentive spending leveled off a bit compared to the November-December time period, but the period’s average of just over $ ...

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High Gas Prices & Spiffs Heat Up Fiat 500 Sales

While escalating fuel prices helped new compact car sales outperform the market as a whole last month (31% v. 16% respectively), sales really took off for Fiat’s subcompact 500 model. As we mentioned in this month’s edition of Guidelines, February marked Fiat’s best sales month since the brand’s U.S. launch in March of last year.  The Italian marque sold 3,227 500s which equated to a 69% boost over the prior month and exceeded the brand’s previous high recorded in August ’11 (although the margin was a narrow 100 units).  The drivers behind the recent ignition in Fiat sales are ...

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Gasoline Prices Expected to Peak at $4 per Gallon; Impact on Used Vehicle Prices Mild

In last week’s blog I discussed the factors (in a word, Iran) that are contributing the run-up in gasoline prices and offered up that NADA believed prices would reach $4 per gallon sometime in May.  Data collected over the past week has made us more resolute in our prediction.  Although President Obama stated this week that all options including military ones are on the table to address the Iranian nuclear issue, he’s repeatedly stressed the point to political foes and Israel alike that diplomacy and sanctions are the preferred mechanisms for resolving the conflict. In add ...

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It’s Déjà vu All Over Again: Geopolitical Forces Push Gas Prices up Again

Here we go again. Escalating tensions in the Middle East are once again wreaking havoc on global oil prices and as a result, American consumers are paying more at the pump than they probably should be otherwise. Unlike last year however, popular uprisings and real supply disruptions are not the driving force at work here.  Sure, events in Syria have the makings for another protracted civil war, but the country is a small player on the world oil stage (pre-revolution Libyan production was about 4.5 times that of Syria).    Instead, this year’s price spike is the ...

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Gas Prices Pose a Challenge for GM Truck Inventory

We mentioned in this month’s edition of Guidelines that new vehicle inventory moved predictably higher last month, as overall days’ supply for the industry increased by 16 days to reach 67.  We also pointed out that burgeoning domestic brand supply – particularly for large pickups – was the primary catalyst behind this growth.   A dramatic change in supply on a month-to-month basis isn’t necessarily something to be alarmed about because the numbers of units on the ground can be dictated by things like seasonal buying patterns and new model changeovers.    W ...

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NADA’s 2012 Convention: Palpable Optimism

There was a different feeling in the air at last week’s NADA convention in Las Vegas, something that hadn’t been felt in such a long time that it seemed almost foreign.    For the first time in years, optimism undeniably strode through the doors of the convention center on opening day and stayed until the last attendee had cleared out.  Everyone could sense it.  From dealers heartened by January’s nearly four-year high in new vehicle sales, to exhibitors whose booth traffic and takeaway business was radically improved from the past few years. There’s legiti ...

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And we're off to VEGAS!

Seemingly half the company and I are getting ready to leave the unseasonably warm Washington DC area and fly off to Las Vegas to attend NADA’s annual convention & expo over the weekend. From what I’ve been hearing, attendance is way up from years’ past both in terms of the dealer body and exhibitors, which when combined with the fact that it is Super Bowl weekend (in Las Vegas!) should make for a show full of energy and crisp ideas. I’m really looking forward to spending more time our dealer body and sharing our thoughts on how we believe the used market will play out over ...

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