Newsflash

0

+++ BMW more than doubled its U.S. sales lead over Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz in June with a strong performance from its fresher line of SUVs. Deliveries jumped 7.5 % last month to 31,627, paced by the X3 and the larger X7 SUVs, BMW said in a statement. While BMW sales dipped 1.1 % at the half-year mark, the brand built a lead over Mercedes of more than 9,000 units. Sales for Mercedes, which held the luxury crown the past 3 years, were little changed in June from a year ago at 26,196 units, leaving the Daimler division down 7.2 % in the first half. Deliveries plunged more than 30 % for both the C-class and the old GLS. Tesla could also figure as a luxury sales leader, but it does not break out its results on a monthly basis. For the quarter, Tesla said it delivered 95,200 vehicles, a new quarterly record for the automaker that more than doubled the 40,740 deliveries it reported during the same 3 months of 2018. +++ 

+++ In CHINA , Shanghai-based Buick dealer Ron Li in late April found himself in an unfamiliar quandary: how to sell off almost 80 sedans and SUVs crowding up his dealership lot. The crux of the problem: a June 30 deadline for cars built to so-called China-5 emissions standards to be sold. After that only vehicles meeting new standards could be put up for sale. People were still coming in but weren’t buying the stage-5 cars, Li said. “Customers didn’t know how long they could drive China-5 cars or whether they would be able to resell them in the future. And to be honest, we didn’t know either”. To cope, his dealership in May slashed stage-5 vehicle prices by as much as 30 %, participating in what dealers and industry executives have called unprecedented widespread discounting as China’s auto sales headed for their worst ever monthly drop. Encouraged by a central government eager to combat smog, Shanghai is one of 15 cities and provinces to implement new stage-6 standards ahead of the original July 1, 2020 deadline. Checks with employees at about 20 dealerships in Shanghai, Beijing and the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang, which have also brought forward the implementation of new standards, found that stage-5 cars had been a tough sell. Some offered discounts of more than $2,000 when compared to the same model that meets stage-6 standards. One Peugeot dealership in Shanghai even went so far as to offer a free 301 sedan for customers who bought a 5008. While a slowing economy and the trade war with the United States were initially held responsible for slides in sales since April, most of the blame is now being laid on the poorly managed fast-tracking of new rules by the 15 cities and provinces, which account for more than 60 % of sales in the world’s largest auto market. The sales crisis, which saw May sales plunge 16 % from a year earlier, is prompting downward revisions to forecasts for China’s 2019 auto sales that most analysts had thought would be flat or show mild growth. Now, most expectations are for an annual decline in sales of around 5 %, which would follow a 2.8 % decline in 2018 when sales contracted for the first time since the 1990s. But Yale Zhang, an analyst at Shanghai-based Automotive Foresight, believes the fall could be closer to 10 %. “Those unsold China-5 vehicles in key areas will be sold to other regions and sales in those areas will be hit as well”, he said. In China, smog has become a major source of public discontent and Beijing declared a “war on pollution” 5 years ago, seeking to mitigate the environmental damage done during four decades of breakneck economic growth. To that end, it has aggressively pursued the adoption of the electric cars and its stage-6 emission standards are regarded as the most stringent in the world. The central government ramped up its anti-pollution drive last year, urging local authorities to implement stage-6 standards ahead of time. The southern province of Hainan was the first to jump on the bandwagon, saying it was thinking of doing so as early as November 2018. This set off a round of announcements from other provinces and cities which began bringing their implementation dates forward, though the timing varied from January to March to July. Some, including Hainan, later postponed after local dealers complained they wouldn’t be able to sell off inventories. Confusion ensued and it was not until last month that authorities clarified that buyers of stage-5 cars would be able to resell them. Dealers will also need to bear the cost of shipping unsold stage-5 cars to other cities and provinces where implementation comes later, while automakers have had to contend with headaches related to rolling out stage-6 models to market in time. “Why can’t companies be allowed to arrange production and new product rollouts according to the rules?” Shi Jianhua, a senior official at the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, told a news conference in June. “The implementation date of China-6 rules was fixed, so why has it been accelerated in a way that doesn’t give companies sufficient time?” he added in rare criticism of government moves. While carmakers do not necessarily have to make fundamental changes to engine technology to meet the new standards, they have to add catalysts and come up with better filtering systems that trap exhaust gases and particulate matter. In some cases, such changes might take a few years to design and execute, engineers told. The problem is “the cost and the amount of time it takes to design specific components into the design of a given engine”, said a China-based engineer at General Motors, declining to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to the media. The process to gain regulatory approval for car models can take 6 months to a year and vehicle testing agencies such as the China Automotive Technology and Research Center do not have enough labs to meet the sudden surge in demand, multiple industry sources said. That’s meant carmakers have produced fewer stage-6 compliant vehicles than hoped for. Just 21 % of cars sold in May met stage-6 standards but this has to rise to 50 % if supply is to meet demand, Jefferies said in a research note last month. Volkswagen, the biggest foreign brand in China, said in an emailed statement all its existing model lines will meet stage-6 standards in key regions from July 1. “Currently, we have a reasonable stock of China-5 vehicles and are reducing this, for example by reallocating the models nationwide”, it added. A Ford representative said almost all of its line-up was stage-6 compliant. A representative for Geely said all of its gasoline models met stage-6 standards, while a spokesman for Toyota said the Japanese automaker had the technical reserve to meet the new standards and the switch to stage-6 rules would not have a big impact. Nissan is widely regarded within the industry as the most prepared international car manufacturer, having stated that as of February 90 % of its China car manufacturing met stage-6 standards. By contrast, local carmakers such as GAC and Great Wall Motor still had models waiting to be verified in June, according to the government’s Vehicle Emission Control Center. For some customers, however, the confusion surrounding the switch to new emissions standards was a win for them. “I know cars well. These China-5 vehicles are technologically advanced enough. Why shouldn’t I buy a new car with big discounts?” said Jiang Lingfeng as he checked out a stage-5 Regal sedan at the Buick showroom in Shanghai. +++ 

+++ In FRANCE , registrations fell 8.4 % to 230,967 in June, as both the PSA Group and the Renault Group saw significant declines for the month, industry association CCFA reported. Of the brands with significant market presence, only Audi, Mercedes and Seat recorded double-digit sales increases. There were 19 selling days in the month this year, compared with 21 last June. Adjusted for an equal number of selling days, sales were up by 1.25 %. The June sales figures came a few days after ACEA, the European automakers’ association, revised its 2019 sales forecast downward from plus 1 % to minus 1 %. The group cited Brexit uncertainty, a slowdown in GDP growth, and “a natural stabilization of the market”, noting that growth has been slowing since 2015, when the market increased 9.3 %. Growth was 6.8 % in 2016, 3.4 % in 2017 and just 0.1 % in 2018. Sales at the PSA Group fell by 11 % for the month, with the Peugeot brand down 15 %, Opel down 16 % and Citroen down 6.3 %. Group sales at Renault fell by 12 %, with the Renault brand falling 13 % and Dacia down 7.4 %. Volkswagen Group sales rose 4.9 %, led by Audi, with an increase of 18 %, and Seat grew 12 %. That offset a 4.8 % decline at Skoda. Mercedes sales rose by 13 %, BMW sales fell by 27 % and Mini fell 22 %. Among Asian automakers, Toyota sales rose 6.2 %; Hyundai was up by 2.4 % and Kia down 9.9 %. Nissan’s slump continued as sales fell 38 %. Ford sales were up 8 %, reversing a sales trend stretching back to last year; Fiat sales fell by 17 %. For the first 6 months, French sales were down 1.8 % to 1.16 million, although there was one fewer selling day this year; adjusted for that, sales were flat. +++ 

+++ GENERAL MOTORS (GM) and Ford announced their quarterly sales in China fell, albeit at a slower pace sequentially, as the U.S. automakers were hit by a slowing economy amid the Sino-U.S. trade war. GM’s vehicle sales in China for the quarter ended June 30 dropped 12.2 %, while Ford’s sales slumped by 21.7 %. While GM also suffered from heightened competition in its key mid-priced SUV segment, Ford was hurt by the limited new models for customers to choose from. For the first quarter of this year, Ford’s sales in China tumbled 35.8 % while GM’s skid 17.5 %. Still, the numbers from GM, the second biggest international automaker in China by sales, and Ford portend more uncertainty for the industry which is trying to rebound from a downward spiral that led to its first annual sales decline last year in more than 2 decades. GM delivered 1.57 million vehicles in China in the January-June period this year, while Ford delivered 290,321 vehicles. China’s factory activity shrank more than expected in June, highlighting the need for more economic stimulus amid higher U.S. tariffs and weaker domestic demand. Annual car sales in China fell last year for the first time since the 1990s, and they are expected to fall this year too. Sales tumbled 16.4 % in May from the same month a year prior, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said. That marked the 11th consecutive month of decline and followed falls of 14.6 % in April and 5.2 % in March. U.S. car companies’ share of total China passenger vehicles sales fell to 9.6 % in the first 5 months of this year from 10.9 % in the year-ago period. Over the same period, German car makers’ share has risen to 23.3 % from 20.9 % and Japanese auto makers’ to 21.3 % from 17.3 %. In China, GM has a joint venture with SAIC Motor, in which the Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac are made. It also has another venture, with SAIC and Guangxi Automobile Group, in which they make no-frills minivans and have started to make higher-end cars. Sales of GM’s affordable brand Baojun dropped 31.8 % for the latest quarter. But luxury brand Cadillac’s sales jumped 36.6 %. GM sold 3.64 million units in China last year, down from 4.04 million units in 2017. Ford makes cars in China through its joint venture with Chongqing Changan Automobile and Jiangling Motors. It has said it would partner with Zotye Automobile to sell lower priced cars. The Dearborn automaker has been struggling to revive sales in China, its second biggest market globally, after its business began slumping in late 2017. Sales sank 37 % in 2018 after a 6 % decline in 2017. GM, Ford and rivals are launching new models or sprucing up older ones to attract customers. GM has laid out plans to introduce around 20 new models or variants of older ones this year. “Around two-thirds of the about 20 new and refreshed models will arrive in the second half with a sharpened focus on luxury vehicles and mid-size to large SUVs”, a GM spokeswoman told, adding that more than half of the new launches will be new models. Ford has said it plans to localize its luxury brand Lincoln in China and would launch more than 30 new models in China over the next 3 years of which over a third will be electric vehicles. It has launched new models such as Focus and Territory to boost volumes in China. +++ 

+++ In GERMANY , registrations fell 4.7 % to 325,231 in June as private sales slumped on 3 fewer working days than in the same month in 2018. Adjusted for selling days, registrations were up 7 %. Sales to private customers dropped 10 % while sales to business fleets rose 1.5 %. Among winners for the month were Tesla, with sales up 469 %, helped by the introduction of the Model 3. Citroën was up 20 %, Kia 18 % and Seat 9.2 %. Ford registrations increased 2.2 %, Renault’s registrations rose 6.8 % and Peugeot gained 2 %. German premium brands had a poor month. Porsche registrations plunged 32 %, Mercedes-Benz sales fell 15 % and Audi was down 13 %. BMW sales rose 1.1 %. The Volkswagen brand, Germany’s market leader, saw its sales fall 6.1 %. Sister brand Skoda’s volume dropped 2.9 %. Opel was down 7.3 %. Toyota was up nearly 1 % while Nissan’s volume dropped by 37 %, Honda sales fell 33 % and Hyundai registrations were down 7 %. Through June, sales in Germany are up 0.5 % to 1.84 million. +++

+++ JAGUAR LAND ROVER (JLR) sought to crank up the drama surrounding the first public outing of its revamped Defender, keeping the car in disguise on a hill climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The successor to the iconic model, produced almost unchanged through 7 decades, will go on sale next year with an official unveil planned in the coming months. At Goodwood, it remained in heavy camouflage to hide its design and help maximize the impact of a vehicle that will be more closely pored over than any other in JLR’s range. While the company has moved upmarket with its most luxurious Range Rovers selling for more than €200,000, the go-anywhere ability of a model traditionally favored by farmers and explorers is still a key attraction for customers who will never leave the highway. The vehicle will establish itself as the world’s most capable off-road performer while offering “engaging on-road dynamics”, Land Rover chief engineer Mike Cross said at the event near England’s south coast, suggesting it may offer a smoother ride than the sometimes bone-shaking original. No price has yet been revealed for the 2020 launch but the car will likely retail from around €65,000 euro in The Netherlands, according to Autointernationaal.nl, significantly more than the old model. It will come in 3 versions, seating between 5 and 8 people. JLR has said that all of its models will have some form of hybrid assistance. JLR has clocked up 1.5 million in test kilometers for the Defender and recently completed what it called a “real-world” trial in Kenya that saw the SUV wade rivers, climb steeply sloping hillsides and pull heavily loaded trailers while tracking lions in the Borana game reserve. First glimpses confirmed the new car features the same boxy silhouette as the original British legend that ceased production in 2016. The vehicle counted Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth II among its fans, and shuttled soldiers in the Korean War and Red Cross volunteers to crisis zones. That model stayed remarkably unchanged until tougher carbon-dioxide emission standards and pedestrian safety concerns eventually made an overhaul unavoidable. Of the more than 2 million built, around 70 % are thought to survive today. Putting the new Defender on the road is a bright spot for JLR as it struggles with fallout from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and slumping sales in China. JLR (now owned by India’s Tata Motors) said in January it would cut 10 % of its workers globally. The new car was developed in Gaydon, England, and will be produced at Land Rover’s new, lower-cost plant in Slovakia. +++ 

+++ Well before the LAMBORGHINI Urus was launched, the Italian company knew it would be its best-selling vehicle and year-to-date sales figures released by Lamborghini have confirmed this to be the case. Between January 1, 2019 and June 30, 2019, Lamborghini sold a total of 4.553 vehicles around the world. By comparison, the company sold 2.327 vehicles in the first half of 2018 prior to the Urus hitting showroom floors; 96 % fewer cars than it has shifted in the first half of this year. This year, sales of the Lamborghini Urus topped 2.693 examples or 59 % of sales from the brand. Interestingly, sales of the Lamborghini Aventador and Huracan slipped to 1.860 units from the 2.327 sold in the first half of 2018. Lamborghini hasn’t said why demand for the Aventador and Huracan has dropped but I suspect it has something to do with the former inching towards the end of its lifecycle and reports of a V12 hybrid replacement for it coming soon. The strongest market for Lamborghini is the U.S. (surprise, surprise) followed by China, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany. Lamborghini reports its strongest growth in America with a 128 % sales increase over last year. Sales in Asia Pacific also jumped by more than double to 1.184 units while sales in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) rose by 67 % to 1.826 units delivered. Shortly after the Urus was launched last year, Lamborghini chief executive Stefano Domenicali said about 70 % of Urus buyers are new to the brand. +++

+++ Almost half of new cars sold in NORWAY in the first 6 months of 2019 were powered by fully electric engines, up from just over a quarter in the same period last year, ensuring the Nordic nation retains its top global ranking in electric vehicle sales. Tesla’s Model 3 was Norway’s topselling vehicle, the Norwegian Road Federation (NRF) said when announcing the latest sales data on Monday. In total, 48.4 % of all new cars sold from January to June were electric, surpassing the 31.2 % seen for the full year 2018, and making oil-producing Norway the global leader in per-capita electric car sales by a wide margin. Seeking to end the sale of diesel and petrol engines by the middle of the next decade, Norway exempts battery-driven cars from the heavy taxes imposed on vehicles powered by fossil fuel. It also offers benefits such as discounts on road tolls. The policy has boosted brands such as Tesla, Nissan, Hyundai and BMW, which all offer fully electric vehicles, rather than hybrids that use electric motors to drive the car but also have a combustion engine. Brands without fully electric offerings, such as Ford and Mercedes-Benz, have seen sales drop, although Ford and Mercedes are among several auto makers that have promised to offer electric cars in Norway from 2020. California-based Tesla sold 3,760 vehicles in Norway in June, for a 24.5 % share of all cars during the month, and was also the topselling brand for the first 6 months. Most of its sales were of the midsized Model 3, while the bigger Model S and Model X have seen lower year-on-year volumes. The International Energy Agency (IEA), which includes the more widely-sold plug-in hybrids when counting electric cars, measured Norway’s share at 39 % of sales in 2017, far ahead of second-placed Iceland on 12 % and Sweden on 6 %. +++ 

+++ In RUSSIA , car dealer Rolf has said it is business as usual despite a criminal case against the founder Sergey Petrov and several managers over the transfer of 4 billion rubles ($63.4 million) abroad. Rolf is Russia’s largest dealer group with 62 showrooms across Moscow and St Petersburg, according to the company’s website. It is also the official importer of Mitsubishi vehicles into Russia. Petrov and four senior Rolf managers were arrested following the initiation of a criminal case by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, which said a Cyprus-based company controlled by Petrov bought shares in a Rolf subsidiary company in 2014 at a price far above their real worth. The Committee accused Petrov of then directing this money to himself, the Tass Russian News Agency reported. In a statement on its website, Rolf said that the case “is not related to the current work of the company. The current situation will be resolved in the very near future in favor of our company, since we conduct our business honestly, openly, observing all the laws of the Russian Federation”. Rolf dealerships sold 96,670 vehicles in Russia last year, breaking its previous record of 91,693 cars set in 2014, prior to the country’s most recent economic crisis. The company sells vehicles from 22 brands and employs over 8,000 people. Dealerships in Moscow and St Petersburg owned by Rolf were raided by agents working for the Investigative Committee on June 28, the company reported. It said that it complied with all demands. In a separate statement, Rolf denied the price paid for shares in Rolf Estate was inflated. “The transaction price was 3.93 million rubles and was determined as the market value of the shares sold on the basis of the report of an independent appraiser”, it said. “The deal was real, so we do not understand how it was possible to commit forgery of documents”, it said. +++

+++ New-vehicle sales in SPAIN declined 8.3 % in June to 130,519. More than 1 in 4 registrations occurred in the final 2 days of the month. Demand from private customers fell 18 % to 50,408 units, while registrations by companies declined 6.8 % to 39,139. Sales to rental companies were up 5 % to 40,972. Last month had one less selling day than June 2018. “Approximately 35.000 registrations, more than 25 % of the total, took place in the last 2 days of the month”, said Marta Blazquez, executive vice president of the dealer association. “Many of them were self-registrations by dealers, who resorted to this unusual self-registration level to counter the market fall”. Sales of diesel vehicles dropped 33 % to 33,792 with a 25.9 % market share; the lowest in 2019. The diesel share was 35.5 % in June 2018 and 28.3 % in May 2019. Sales of gasoline cars were up 3.1 % to 82,728 for a 63.4 % share, up from 56.4 % a year ago. Sales of all electrified cars (full electric and hybrid) plus vehicles powered by liquefied petroleum gas and compressed natural gas grew 20 % to 13,999 units and claimed a 10.7 % market share; up from 6.6 % in June 2018. Sales of full-electric cars jumped 217 % to 1,174 and took a 0.9 % share. First-half sales in Spain are down 5.7 % to 692,472. The Volkswagen brand suffered a 19 % drop in June, while the Spanish brand Seat grew 10 %. Skoda registrations declined 17 %, Audi deliveries plunged 27 % and Porsche fell 13 %. Peugeot sales were down 3.6 %, while Citroën deliveries declined 10 %. Opel sales were up 3.3 %. Renault brand sales declined 4.2 %, while sister brand Dacia posted an 8.4 % increase. The Sandero was the most popular vehicle in Spain in June with 3,759 deliveries. Fiat brand registrations were down 18 % and Alfa Romeo dropped by 28 %. Jeep deliveries rose 3.1 %, spurred by a 47 % jump in sales of the Renegade. At Ford, sales were down 19 %. Toyota deliveries were down 14 %, while Nissan’s declined 25 %. Hyundai increased sales 10 %, while sister brand Kia slipped 12 %. Both BMW and Mercedes-Benz deliveries were down 10 %. +++

+++ TESLA has reported record production and delivery figures for the second quarter of 2019. Over the past couple of weeks, chief executive Elon Musk has been feverously touting the possibility of April-June 2019 being its most prolific quarter to date. That’s exactly what it was. During the 3 months ending June 30, Tesla delivered a total of 95.200 vehicles; a 51.1 % increase over its first quarter and a touch above the previous record of 90.700 vehicle deliveries which it made in the fourth quarter of 2018. Tesla says it expects a strong third quarter of 2019 and has a solid backlog of orders. There were also 7.400 vehicles in transit by the end of Q2 2019 and once these vehicles are delivered, they will be included in Q3 results. “In addition, we made significant progress streamlining our global logistics and delivery operations at higher volumes, enabling cost efficiencies and improvements to our working capital position”, Tesla said in a statement. The Model 3 continues to lead the way as the electric automaker’s most popular model. Last quarter, a total of 77,550 Model 3s were delivered worldwide. By comparison, combined deliveries for the older and more expensive Model S and Model X hit 17,650. “Challenges remain, but this is a step in the right direction”, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said. “The numbers were above even the bull estimates and shows a clear rebound for the company. This is a feather in the cap for Tesla”. In response to the news, Tesla’s stock jumped about 7 % in after-market trading. The company also says it has made significant progress streamlining its global logistics and delivery operations at higher volumes, setting the stage for improved cost efficiencies and increased working capital going forward. Tesla’s push to deliver more cars in June appears to have had an impact in Europe, with a sharp rise in registrations over the previous month. Data on last month’s European car sales is trickling in, and the first countries reporting numbers point to Tesla gaining further ground in key markets such as Norway, where booming sales of the Model 3 meant that 45 % of all cars sold in the country in the first half were electric, and the Netherlands, where Tesla registrations in June surpassed 2,500. In Denmark, 426 Teslas were registered in June, more than quadruple the total for all of 2018. It was a late dash with more than a third of registrations coming in the last week of the month. Tesla’s global sales were 95,200 cars in the three months that ended in June, exceeding the previous best mark set in the last quarter of 2018. It was Tesla’s first full quarter in which Model 3s made their way to buyers in Europe and China. Overseas demand contributed to deliveries of the Model 3 jumping to 77,550 units. Combined deliveries of the Model S and Model X dropped to 17,650 in the quarter, down more than 20 percent from a year ago. Investors are concerned the cheaper Model 3 is cannibalizing the company’s more lucrative vehicles. With the U.S. federal tax credit shrinking for the second half of the year and ending in 2020, Tesla also may have to lean more on overseas markets to buoy sales. That will test the company’s ability to keep shipping and logistics costs contained. Tesla is building a car and battery assembly plant near Shanghai and Musk has said he hopes to pick a location for a similar factory in Europe by the end of the year. “Tesla’s global push will deliver expansion as the U.S. stalls, but at great expense to margin. And dominance of the battery-electric vehicle market may not come as easily in China and Europe, as the company faces established hometown (and government) favorites there”, said Bloomberg Intelligence global autos analyst Kevin Tynan. +++

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , car registrations declined by 4.9 % in June 2019 to 223,421 units, with registrations of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) halved. The 4th consecutive month of decline for the market saw alternatively fuelled vehicle sales fall for the first time in 26 months, with the number of PHEVs leaving dealer forecourts dropping by 50.4 %, which the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders chief executive Mike Hawes said was a “grave concern” and caused by “confusing policies and the premature removal of purchase incentives”. Although the limited supply of plug-in hybrid models from manufacturers was also a factor. The total number of new cars registered in the first half of 2019 was 1.269.245; 3.4 % less than in the first half of 2018. The fall has been blamed on an overall decline in consumer confidence. Private registrations saw a 4.8 % loss and fleet dropped 2.5 %, but it was business that saw the biggest fall of 37.1 %. There were declines across all vehicle segments but one, with dual purpose vehicles (pick-up trucks and vans with additional seating) managing a 9.1 % boost year-on-year. Registrations of petrol cars saw an improvement of 3.0 % on June last year, while all-electric car registrations encouragingly grew 61.7 %. Diesel, however, experienced its 27th consecutive month of decline, dropping 20.5 %. Along with the 50.4 % drop in PHEV sales, registrations of non-plug-in hybrids were also down 4.7 %. Commenting on the figures, Hawes said: “Another month of decline is worrying but the fact that sales of alternatively fuelled cars are going into reverse is a grave concern. Manufacturers have invested billions to bring these vehicles to market but their efforts are now being undermined by confusing policies and the premature removal of purchase incentives. If we are to see widespread uptake of these vehicles, which are an essential part of a smooth transition to zero emission transport, we need world-class, long-term incentives and substantial investment in infrastructure. Fleet renewal remains the quickest way to address environmental concerns today and consumers should have the confidence (and support) to choose the new car that best meets their driving needs, whatever the technology, secure in the knowledge that it is safer and cleaner than ever before”. +++ 

+++ In the UNITED STATES , new car sales have been falling and the country may have just experienced its worst half year for new-vehicle retail sales since 2013. While total sales for the first 6 months of the year have yet to be calculated, analysts from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive believe retail sales likely fell by 2.9 % to 3.3 % in the first half compared to the same time period 12 months ago. Consequently, the seasonally adjusted annualized rate of total sales is tipped to slow to around 17 million vehicles, down from the 17.3 million estimated in June 2018. Interestingly, while new car sales are slowing, the average price for new vehicles sold across the country is rising and on pace to reach $33,346 in the first half, the highest ever and a jump of almost 4 % from a year ago. The love American consumers have for SUVs and pickups is helping car manufacturers to preserve profits and retain generous incentives. Additionally, there is strong consumer confidence across the market as well as low employment; 2 important factors which go some way to explain why people are now spending more on their new cars. One surprising tidbit from the report is that despite the slowdown on new car sales, rental-car companies and commercial buyers are actually purchasing more vehicles than previously. J.D. Power and LMC Automotive predict sales of fleet vehicles rose by 3.9 % in June and that the segment is on pace for a record year. Major automakers posted mixed U.S. sales results for June and the second quarter, with demand still fairly strong for SUVs and pickups while passenger car sales continued a long-running decline. In a significant development for the pickup segment, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA) Ram pickup outsold General Motors’ (GM) Chevrolet Silverado in the second quarter. GM reports sales on a quarterly basis instead of each month. The Silverado has long held second place behind Ford’s F-Series pickups, with Ram often a distant third. But for the first 6 months of 2019, FCA’s sales of Ram pickups outpaced Chevrolet Silverado sales by more than 40,000 vehicles. FCA, GM and Ford escalated a price war in June over pickups; one of the few vehicle market segments that offers substantial profits, which matters at a time when overall U.S. new vehicle sales are expected to fall this year. High interest rates, plus competition from millions of nearly new, off-lease vehicles have translated into fewer consumers splurging on new cars. After a weak start to the year, sales in the last couple of months have been largely flat versus 2018. “The market is not as down as it was to start off the year, which says a lot about market stability”, said George Augustaitis, director of industry analysis at CarGurus, an online marketplace for new and used cars. “At this point, a Fed interest rate cut could be the thing that sparks the industry”. FCA said its sales rose 2 % in June, driven by a 56 % jump in Ram sales. GM said second-quarter sales fell 1.5 %, with strong SUV sales offset by a poor performance for its pickups. The No. 1 U.S. automaker said sales of its trucks would pick up in the third quarter as both its most popular and most affordable versions of the Silverado will hit dealer showrooms. Toyota reported a 3.5 % drop in sales for June, led by falling sedan sales. In the last few years, Americans have increasingly shunned passenger cars in favor of larger, more comfortable SUVs and pickups. Nissan sales plunged nearly 15 %, with huge drops for much of its lineup including the best-selling Rogue (X-Trail). After years of relying on steep discounts to increase U.S. market share, Nissan is trying to pull back so it can sell vehicles more profitably. Billy Hayes, Nissan’s North American vice president for sales, said many of the automaker’s models will be revamped in the next year or two, which will help lift sales. “We’re bullish on the market and we see positive conditions for our all-new models”, he said. “We’re working to win in the long term”. Hyundai reported a 1.5 % rise in U.S. sales for June, lifted by strong demand for SUVs. GMC is the only brand under the GM umbrella currently ahead of its 2018 performance. Sierra 1500 is pretty much flat (up only half a percent compared to last year) while Sierra HD, still likely in production ramp-up, is off more than 14 %. Both were down slightly in Q2. Elsewhere, GM’s sales are fairly stagnant. SUV and crossover models were the highlights, which should be no surprise. Buick Enclave and Envision both had strong upticks this quarter, as did Chevrolet Equinox, Suburban and Tahoe. Spark looked quite good on paper (up 62 %), but its bump was largely thanks to is comparatively low volume. The big story is Silverado, which continues to slump. While Q2 was kinder to all 3 variants (the new medium-duty commercial model is now on sale) than Q1, it was still a down quarter. At 256.777 units, it’s still lagging the competition significantly. Even adding in GMC’s full-size truck volume only gets the figure up to just under 355.000. Which brings me to FCA. I mentioned above that June was kind to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ram was the reason why. The lineup was up a whopping 45 % in June. The full-size pickup lineup has accounted for just a tick under 300,000 sales so far in 2019; a 28 % bump. For context, given GM’s slips and Ram’s ascendancy, Ram could finish within 40,000 units of GM’s total combined full-size sales. Ford’s sales figures are generally unsurprising. The volume brand is down just over 3 % so far for the year, while Lincoln is up just a bit (1.3 %). F-Series sales landed just below 450,000 units at the end of Q2, which puts Ford comfortably ahead of GM and FCA in the full-size department for the time being, however despite a strong Q2, the F-Series is actually off slightly compared to 2018 volumes. On the midsize side of the truck scene, Toyota still comfortably leads the pack, with more than 120,000 Tacomas sold so far in 2019. Chevrolet has sold roughly half as many Colorados, keeping GM comfortably in second place (Canyon’s contribution is far less significant). Ranger’s numbers remain uninspiring, with just over 30,000 units sold so far. While Q2 numbers were double that of Q1, that’s not saying much. Nissan still shows no sign of a serious recovery with another double-digit slide in June. Toyota was off slightly (as was Lexus, at basically the same pace). We now have Honda, Hyundai/ Kia and Subaru numbers. It should come as no surprise that Subaru kept on trucking in June and is still up more than 5 % for the year. Hyundai posted a bump (as did Genesis, a big one in fact, as its dealer network has started to come on-line) and Kia’s sales are flat. Telluride is stemming the flow of buyers who would otherwise have looked at other showrooms. Honda had an uncharacteristically bad June; there’s no other way to put it. Acura, which had been chugging along nigh-unstoppable this year, seems to have finally hit a wall. Honda likewise took a pretty big hit, especially as volume brands go. Accord continues to take a beating (down 18 % in June) and on the Acura side, RDX had its first lukewarm month in quite some time (down 30 %). Moving further upmarket, Audi finally seems to have stopped the bleeding. While the VW subsidiary wasn’t up, its numbers were nearly dead-flat against last June’s (down only 0.3 %). +++

Reageren is niet mogelijk.