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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January AuctionNet Prices Move Up Per the Seasonal Norm

Dealer preparation for the spring selling season took AuctionNet wholesale prices over the first half of January in a familiar direction – up. Relative to December, the average price of vehicles up to five years in age grew by 1.1% to match the seasonal bump historically seen over this period of time (mileage and mix adjusted).  This being said, the month’s price growth is slightly back of what we saw last year (1.5%) which may indicate that we’re getting close to a used price plateau after a three year period of expansion.   At a segment and model year level, January’s r ...

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Motor City Impressions – Detroit’s Most Wanted

As I mentioned in my last blog, a few colleagues and I spent the first part of last week attending the North American International Auto Show in Detroit (hopefully you had a chance to catch our show updates on Twitter and Facebook). Maybe the 40+ degree weather had something to do with it, but the atmosphere at this year’s show bore some resemblance to shows held prior to the recession. Unlike the scavenger hunts of the past few years, coffee and finger foods were easy enough to find, and judging by my almost always obstructed view, the show was very well attended by the press corp. ...

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2012 Detroit Auto Show Preview

The annual North American International Auto Show, or NAIAS, is one of the premier auto shows in the world and one that kicks off the auto show season here in the U.S. Although the show’s press days are always well-attended by industry professionals, this year’s profusion of critical unveilings makes an appearance this year mandatory.   To begin with, Ford and Honda will show redesigned versions of their mid-size car combatants, the Fusion and Accord Coupe “concept” (Honda’s concepts are historically close to production spec).  Both brands have something to prove in the h ...

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Chrysler’s Sales are Up but Rental Rate Tops Industry

Last summer we published an account of rental fleet penetration trends in our monthly market update Guidelines. In the July 2010 edition, we discussed the impact that excessive off-rental fleet supply can have on used vehicle values, and we pointed out makes and models that were at the biggest risk of seeing significant used value erosion because of high rental fleet penetration, or “pen”, rates. Back then, the five brands with the highest rental fleet pen rates were (in order) Saturn, Chrysler, Mercury, Dodge, and Isuzu, with each having a rate at or significantly above 30%. Fast fo ...

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