+++ BMW ‘s namesake brand remained ahead in U.S. premium sales last month by a mere 34 vehicles. BMW posted a 6 % gain in September with 27,467 cars and SUVs. Sales of the 3 series rose 19 % and the X5 more than doubled volume from a year ago. Mercedes-Benz registrations rose 4.8 % to 27,433, paced by demand for the GLC and GLE, which jumped 13 % and 28 % respectively. Mercedes figures exclude the Sprinter and other non-luxury vehicles. BMW has a lead of more than 8,200 vehicles over Mercedes through September. But the Daimler unit is regaining some momentum after supplier bottlenecks at its assembly plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, left dealers with inventory shortages earlier this year. Lexus, which outsold the German luxury leaders in both July and August, reported a 17 % plunge in U.S. sales last month. Demand for the ES, the brand’s most popular sedan, tumbled 36 %, while the RX, its most popular SUV, fell 12 %. Audi also slumped in September, with a 17 % slide. Registrations of its best-selling SUV, the Q5, fell 41 %. +++ 

+++ The United Auto Workers union said it has made “significant progress” in contract talks with FORD , even as a strike at General Motors (GM) is in its third week. The UAW agreed to extend contracts with Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) as it focused first on GM. About 48,000 UAW members at GM went on strike on Sept. 16 seeking higher pay, greater job security, a bigger share of the leading U.S. automaker’s profit and protection of healthcare benefits. JP Morgan auto analyst Ryan Brinkman estimated in a research note this week the strike has cost GM over $1 billion but it may be able to recover some lost profit in the 4th quarter. He said GM is losing $82 million a day. LMC automotive estimated GM has lost production of 118,000 vehicles. But GM has 81 days’ supply of vehicles in stock for the United States and 90 days’ worth of Chevrolet Silverado pickups. GM said earlier this week the strike by U.S. workers forced it to halt production at its pickup and transmission plants in Silao, Mexico, resulting in temporary layoffs of 6,000 workers. The UAW rejected a new comprehensive offer from GM and the sides have been exchanging counterproposals over the last few days. The statements on “comprehensive proposals” indicate the talks have shifted into a higher gear as the dispute is taking a toll on both the automaker and striking UAW workers, whose individual compensation of $250 a week from the union strike fund is a fraction of their normal pay. Both sides face broader risks should the U.S. economy slow down. Data released on Tuesday showed the U.S. manufacturing sector contracted in September to its weakest level in more than a decade. The strike had previously forced GM to lay off at least 2,000 Canadian workers and temporarily close an engine plant in Mexico. Many suppliers have halted or scaled back some operations. The UAW said 18 out of 20 Ford subcommittees have reached tentative agreements or made significant progress. Ford said it is focused on “reaching a fair agreement with the UAW that allows the company to be more competitive so we can continue to preserve and protect good-paying manufacturing jobs”. +++ 

+++ New-car registrations in FRANCE rose by 17 % in September compared with the same month last year, according to industry association CCFA. However, sales in September 2018 were down by 13 % after a summertime surge as many automakers sought to sell vehicles that were not certified by Sept. 1 under the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicle Testing Procedure (WLTP). Some uncertified models were pulled from the market after that date. Therefore, car buyers who might normally have waited for September, traditionally a strong sales month, were persuaded to act earlier by generous incentives offered in the summer of 2018. The sales volume in France last month was 173.444 cars, CCFA said. That figure is similar to September 2017, when there were 170.652 sales. There were 21 selling days this September, compared with 20 last year. On an adjusted basis, sales were up 11 %. The biggest sales increases were recorded by Nissan (+88 %) and Land Rover (+85 %). Sales of brands at Volkswagen Group, which had well-publicized difficulties getting models certified in time for the switch to WLTP standards, rose by 49 % overall. Sales at Seat were up 72 %, Skoda sales increased by 56 % and VW brand by 47 %. Audi sales increased by 27 %. Other brands with large increases included Jeep (+37 %), DS (+31 %) and Renault (+30 %). PSA Group sales were up 8.4 %, with Citroen sales increasing by 20 %, Peugeot up 2.3 % and Opel up 1.3 %. Renault Group sales rose 22 %, with Renault’s strong showing offsetting a 2.3 % decline at Dacia. Ford’s sales increased 16 %. BMW Group sales grew slightly, up 0.5 %, as BMW brand sales shrunk by 5.6 % and Mini sales rose 15 %. Daimler’s sales fell 8.3 %, with a drop of 60 % at Smart and 2.9 % at Mercedes-Benz. Among Asian brands, Hyundai sales rose 17 % and Kia grew 11 %. Toyota sales were up 12 % and a resurgent Lexus saw a sales increase of 25 %, although with low volumes. By powertrain, diesel sales achieved a market share of 34.1 %, compared with 40 % last year. Electric vehicle sales rose to 1.9 %, compared with 1.2 % last year. Overall CO2 emissions fell to just under 110 grams per kilometer, the lowest level since 2016. Through September, sales fell 1.3 % to 1.64 million, in line with most analysts’ estimates. +++ 

+++ In GERMANY , new car registrations rose by more than 20 % year-on-year in September to about 245,000 vehicles, a source familiar with the numbers told, pointing to last year’s slump when a new emissions testing regime was being implemented. “This is an aberration”, the source said. New car registrations had slumped by 30 % in September last year as big carmakers like Volkswagen could not offer enough models that complied with the new WLTP testing standards. Volkswagen Group’s brands were big winners in a German market up 22 % in September. Registrations rose to 244,622 last month, the KBA motor transport authority said in a statement. Sales had slumped by 30 % in September last year as automakers including VW Group could not offer enough models that complied with the new WLTP testing standards introduced on Sept. 1. Among VW Group brands, Porsche’s registrations rose by 431 % and Audi’s sales were up 148 % last month. Both brands were severely affected by supply disruptions caused by WLTP last year. VW brand was up 96 %, Seat sales rose 79 % and Skoda’s registrations increased by 28 %. Other automakers that had a good month were Honda, up 118 %; Renault, up 51 %; Hyundai, up 36 %; Dacia, up 32 %; Fiat up 27 %; Ford, up 26 %; and Mercedes up 20 %. Brands which saw sales decline steeply were Jaguar, down 47 %; Peugeot, down 27 %; BMW, down 19 %; and Opel down 9 %. Sales to business fleets increased by 24 % while sales to private customers rose 19 %. Sales of gasoline cars increased 14 % for a 59.9 % market share. Diesel-car registrations rose 24 % for 29.6 % share. German registrations in the first 9 months increased 2.5 % to 2.74 million. +++ 

+++ In ITALY , an extra selling day and the hangover effects of the EU’s new WLPT tests boosted new-car sales last month. Registrations rose 13 % in September to 142,136 units. The main factor behind the increase was a favorable year-over-year comparison. Sales increased 5 % in September 2018 because in the months before automakers discounted vehicles not homologated to meet tougher WLTP emissions standards that went into effect on Sept. 1, 2018. Sales to business fleets helped to boost demand last month. Sales to long-term rental companies rose 38 % while registrations by companies grew 11 %. Demand from private customers rose 14 %. Deliveries to short-term rental fleets slipped 4.6 %. Some automakers inflated their sales through self-registrations while dealers held back on the tactic. Self-registrations by automakers were up 79 % to 2,034 while those by dealers declined by 2.3 % to 21,221. Sales of electrified cars saw significant sales growth with the Tesla Model 3 becoming the most popular battery electric vehicle with 325 units sold. Full-electric vehicle sales rose 157 % to 1,253 with a 0.9 % share, up from 0.4 % in September 2018. Plug-in hybrid registrations jumped 324 % to 1,436 for a 1 % market share. Full hybrids saw their share increase to 6.7 % from 5.9 %. The market share for cars powered by liquefied petroleum gas grew to 7.8 %, up from 5.9 % last year, while sales of vehicles powered by compressed natural gas jumped 186 % to 3.505, and their share increased to 2.5 % from 1 %. Sales of diesel-powered cars fell 14 % for a 36.6 % market share, the lowest in 2019 and 11.3 % lower than the same month of 2018. Sales of gasoline cars jumped 30 % for a 44.7 % market share, compared with 38.7 % in September 2018. At Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, registrations for the market leader in Italy increased 11 % in September. Sales of the Fiat brand were up 3.4 %, Jeep gained 28 %, Alfa Romeo jumped by 34 % and Lancia increased deliveries by 24 %. Maserati sales declined 41 %. At the PSA Group, Peugeot brand sales were flat, while both Opel and Citroen increased deliveries by 21 %; DS gained 163 %. At the Volkswagen Groupm sales across the group rose 47 %. VW brand registrations jumped 44 % on the success of its T-Cross. The T-Cross was the third most popular model in September with 3,560 units sold, after Fiat Panda (9,183) and Lancia Ypsilon (4,156). Audi registrations increased 41 %, while Porsche sales jumped 364 %. Seat deliveries more than doubled, while Skoda gained 4.3 %. The VW group leveraged the success of its range of CNG powered models: VW Golf and Up, Skoda Octavia, Seat Ibiza and Arona were the 5 most popular vehicles with that type of powertrain in September. At the Renault Group: Dacia posted an 85 % jump and Renault saw sales grow 11 %. Ford’s deliveries were up 3.9 %. Hyundai and Kia were up less than 1 %. Nissan’s registrations declined 9.3 %, while rival Toyota was down 5.1 %. BMW sales were down 2.7 %, while deliveries by rival Mercedes-Benz were flat. Sales in Italy through the first 9 months are down 1.6 % to 1.46 million. +++ 

+++ Tesla’s Model 3 has moved past the Volkswagen Polo to become the best-selling model in THE NETHERLANDS . The company sold 5,768 units of its most affordable sedan during September, an almost four-fold jump from August. Demand for the Model 3 also made Tesla the most popular car brand in the country for the month. Tesla’s sales have rocketed in Europe since the automaker introduced the Model 3 in key markets such as the Netherlands, Norway and Germany, beginning in February. The car has left competitors trailing with a range of 386 km on a single charge. Deliveries of Volkswagen’s ID.3, which is set to retail for €30,000 with a range of 330 km, are due to start next year. In the Netherlands, uptake of full-electric vehicles has been spurred by tax incentives that can save drivers several hundred euros a month on leased vehicles. Government plans to roll back some of those incentives as of next year have prompted buyers to order cars now, an ALD spokeswoman said, while the Model 3’s competitive driving range and pricing have also attracted demand. Despite declining sales, Tesla’s Model 3 is still clinging to the top spot in Norway. The EV remained Norway’s top-selling vehicle in the third quarter even as registrations declined from earlier in the year. Tesla sold 3,300 Model 3s in Norway in the July-September period, beating the VW Golf by about 900 cars, but was down from sales of 6,123 in the first quarter and 4,438 in the second. +++ 

+++ PEUGEOT is unlikely to revive its iconic GTi badge for the forthcoming 208 hot hatchback. The performance version of the recently launched 208 supermini looks set to ditch petrol power and go all-electric when it arrives next year. However, the French firm is now considering ditching the GTi badge in favour of a Peugeot Sport Engineered moniker, despite the heritage associated with the performance sub-brand. Peugeot bosses in France have gone cold on the idea of calling the next 208 a GTi because of its electric powertrain. Executives have revealed that ‘Peugeot Sport Engineered’ is currently the favoured name for the firm’s rebranded performance arm; the name was first hinted at with the 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered concept car from this year’s Geneva Motor Show. Bosses says it shows the company’s future direction for new performance models. Bosses at Peugeot UK, however, are fighting to retain the GTi name such is the heritage it has over here. Bosses cite the recently launched all-electric Porsche Taycan Turbo as an example of the power of a brand name. A Peugeot insider told me the GTi name has “great resonance and heritage and the GTi name would be a perfect fit for the hot 208”. +++ 

+++ After roughly 6 months on the job, ROLLS-ROYCE ‘s head of design, Jozef Kaban, has left the British ultraluxury brand and BMW Group. Kaban is the second design chief at Rolls-Royce to depart in the past 16 months. Kaban’s predecessor, Giles Taylor, left Rolls-Royce in June 2018 and was later named to oversee design at the Hongqi luxury division of Chinese automaker FAW. “Although Jozef has been with Rolls-Royce for a very short period, we thank him for his input during his tenure”, said Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Ötvös in a statement. “We wish him the best for the future”. Rolls-Royce said Kaban, who was named to his position in late March, had left to “pursue other interests”. Prior to his position at Rolls-Royce, Kaban had been head of BMW’s design studio, working under BMW Group design chief Adrian van Hooydonk. Before joining BMW, Kaban was design chief at Volkswagen Group’s Skoda unit. He was credited with rejuvenating the Czech brand’s design with cars such as the third-generation Superb. Kaban, a Slovakian, started his design career in 1999 at VW Group, where he created the exterior design for the Bugatti Veyron supercar. He became Audi’s head of exterior design in 2003 before moving to Skoda in 2008. Because of the new Cullinan, which launched in 2018, and the redesigned Phantom, which launched in 2017, Rolls-Royce’s lineup remains fresh. A redesigned Ghost, the smaller sedan in the brand’s lineup, is expected to debut in 2020. Rolls-Royce said an announcement on Kaban’s replacement will be “made in due course”. +++

+++ Popular SMALL CARS such as the Peugeot 108 and Seat Mii could disappear from showrooms in coming years, according to many of the bosses of Europe’s biggest car makers. They explained how CO2 regulations will mean a whole generation of popular small cars could die; pushing the entry price of a new car up in the process and making it more difficult for many new drivers to get a foothold into car ownership. With the EU demanding that every car maker hits a target of 95 g/km of CO2 as an average for all the cars it sells from 2020, or risk punitive fines, the work required to reduce emissions from the smallest cars makes many unviable. PSA boss Carlos Tavares explained: “If you see the way that the CO2 regulations are set, the smaller the car the more demanding the regulation is”, he said. “This means that when you make a small car you will have to meet the CO2 objective and it will be tougher than if you make a big car. All the A-segment cars will disappear because there are no profits. It’s not sustainable. Putting the price up makes it sustainable, but then the younger generations cannot afford it”. That view was backed up by Seat CEO Luca de Meo. “It’s absurd”, he told. “It’s easier to lower emissions on a big sedan from 96 to 85 g/km of CO2 than on a small car; you’d have to use hybrid, but the price goes up”. He went on: “We have decided to move out of the A-segment, because such combustion engines will be very difficult to make profitable”. Some popular cars will disappear from showrooms, sooner than you might think, as a high ranking manager at Opel revealed. “We’ll have nothing below Corsa post-January”, he told. “Karl and Adam are running out”. Sadly, the prices of superminis are unlikely to drop to pick up eager city-car buyers: “There’s just no room for Corsa to move down on price due to the level of profitability that we’d be left with”. Renault sees some life left in its Twingo, but not for long, as CEO Thierry Bolloré explained: “We continue with Twingo. The A-segment is not the segment that is getting developed the most; that’s a fact”. However, while many car makers were predicting the death of the city car, Hyundai was using Frankfurt to launch its latest i10. Its future seems secure, as a spokesman told. “The i10 is fundamental to our business. It’s one of our main volume pillars and has been incredibly successful”, he said. However, the new model’s entry price is likely to jump up by more than 20 %. There is some hope for city cars, though, as Luca de Meo revealed. “I think there will be a blackout for a while”, he said. “At least until the cost of batteries comes down so that a small electric car with 100 km range will be cheaper than a combustion engine. Battery cost is the thing”. Skoda CEO Bernhard Maier also hopes there will be a future for cars such as the Skoda Citigo. “We can’t be without that segment. It provides an entry into the world of Skoda”, he told. “We’re now offering a purely electric version and we hopefully can decide in due time that we are also prolonging the combustion-engined version of the Citigo”. +++ 

+++ New-car sales in SPAIN rose 18 % to 81,751 in September, inflated by an extra selling day and a poor month in 2018 due to new emissions rules. Higher sales to business fleets boosted the Spanish market. Sales to companies increased 31 % and sales to rental companies more than doubled. Registrations by private customers rose 3.3 %. Demand by private customers remains weak, with 9 month registrations down 13 %. Sales of diesel vehicles were down 9.1 % for a 28.2 % market share, higher than the 3 previous months but 8.5 percentage points lower than September 2018. Sales of gasoline cars were up 29 % for a 57.2 % share, up from 54.2 % a year ago. Sales of all electrified cars (full-electric and hybrid), plus vehicles powered by liquefied petroleum gas and compressed natural gas, jumped 62 % and claimed a 14.5 % market share, up from 9.1 % in September 2018. Registrations of full-electric cars increased 46 % for a 1.1 % share. The Renault Clio was the most popular model in Spain in September with 2,284 units delivered, beating the Nissan Qashqai with 2,132 units sold and the Seat Leon with 1,955. Among automakers, Volkswagen Group, Renault and Fiat Chrysler brands had a good month. VW Group’s Porsche brand saw its volume rise 423 % while Audi’s registrations rose 92 % and VW brand sales rose 62 %. All 3 brands had problems getting their cars ready for the new WLTP tests in September 2018. Skoda gained 21 % and Seat sales grew 12 %. Renault brand sales jumped 92 %, while sister brand Dacia posted a 6.7 % increase. Fiat Chrysler’s Fiat brand gained 62 % and Alfa Romeo’s volume doubled. Jeep deliveries were up 4.5 %. PSA Group has a mixed month. Citroen’s registrations increased 2.4 % while Opel sales fell 5.8 % and Peugeot sales were down 1.4 %. Asian brands also had a good month, except Kia. Nissan’s registrations rose 47 %, Hyundai’s sales increased 19 % and Toyota gained 5.3 %. Kia’s registrations fell 5.9 %. Among other brands, Mercedes-Benz sales grew by 9.2 %, BMW deliveries were down 8.7 %. Ford sales increased 7.3 %. Spanish registrations fell 17 % in September 2018 after the EU’s new WLTP tests became compulsory for all vehicles sold. The September increase did not compensate the drop from last year, however. Spanish dealer association Ganvam expects registrations to drop more than 5 % for the full year unless the government introduces incentives to stimulate demand, said spokesperson Tania Puche. Through September, Spanish registrations are down 7.4 % to 965,339 units. +++ 

+++ TESLA ‘s deliveries rose less than 2 % in the third quarter, missing Wall Street estimates and sending its shares down nearly 6 % in trading after the bell. Total deliveries came in at a record 97,000 during the latest quarter, but below analysts’ estimates of 97,477 vehicles. The company is under pressure to ramp up production, while proving that there is sustainable demand for its vehicles and that it can turn a profit, even as traditional luxury automakers begin to roll out their own electric models. The company has set a target to deliver 360,000 to 400,000 vehicles in 2019, which means that it needs to deliver at least 104,800 vehicles in the final quarter to meet the low end of its full-year forecast. “Looks like the 360,000 bottom end of 2019 forecast is starting to look a bit iffy”, Roth Capital Partners analyst Craig Irwin said. The company’s Model S and X vehicles are also facing challenges from the recently launched all-electric SUVs from Audi (e-Tron) and Jaguar (I-Pace). Deliveries of the 2 high-priced models fell 1.4 % to 17,400 from the second quarter and came in below analysts’ estimates of 18,829 vehicles. The company also delivered 79,600 Model 3 sedans in the third quarter, beating estimates of 79,470, but the pace of growth was just 2.6 % from the previous quarter. The Model 3 is the linchpin of Tesla’s growth strategy and Musk is under pressure to deliver the vehicle to new international markets efficiently, while guarding working capital. Tesla’s sales have rocketed in Europe since the automaker introduced the Model 3 in key markets such as the Netherlands, Norway and Germany, beginning in February, but the model will soon face stiff competition from Volkswagen’s ID3, which launches next year. Tesla said its orders in the third quarter exceeded deliveries and that it was therefore entering the 4th quarter with a backlog. China is emerging as a major market for Tesla and the company plans to start production this month at its new Shanghai plant. The California-based company is aiming to produce at least 1,000 Model 3s a week from the factory by the end of this year, the centerpiece of its ambitions to boost sales in the world’s biggest auto market and avoid higher import tariffs imposed on U.S. cars. The plant’s mass production schedule is crucial for Tesla’s hopes of reaching its total production rate at an annualized 500,000 vehicles by the end of this year. It was, however, unclear when it would meet its year-end production targets due to uncertainties around orders, labor and suppliers. As the company strives to improve margins and post profit for the second half of 2019, Musk has been trying to cut spending. Musk had previously said that Tesla aims to be profitable in the 4th quarter, with the third quarter to be break-even. The company said it was focusing less on profit and more on volume growth, capacity expansion and cash generation. Under pressure to meet his repeated promises to make Tesla sustainably profitable, Musk is trying to contain costs while still spending on major initiatives from a Shanghai factory and assembly-line to upcoming models such as the Model Y and a Semi commercial truck. Tesla also announced that it had entered into a debt facility agreement of up to 5 billion yuan ($700 million) to finance vehicles-in-transit to China. Separately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Wednesday that U.S. regulators are looking into parking lot crashes involving Tesla cars driving themselves to their owners using the company’s Smart Summon feature. While supporters view Tesla as a growth stock, analysts on average expect the company to report a 7 % drop in revenue and a loss of $82 million for the September quarter. Full-year revenue is seen increasing 15 %, far less than Tesla’s revenue growth of over 80 % in 2018. “Given the decelerating revenue growth in 2019 and ongoing gross margin pressure, we expect net losses to exceed the losses in 2018, placing more pressure on what we see as an already expensive valuation”, Needham analyst Rajvindra Gill wrote. The Model 3 sedan was meant to propel Tesla to sustainable profitability, but that has yet to happen during the car’s 2 years on the market. While production problems initially hampered sales, some investors now worry about soft demand for the vehicle, as well as waning sales of its higher-end vehicles that are more profitable for Tesla. Musk has pushed back his target of turning a profit a number of times, most recently targeting the fourth quarter of 2019, with the September quarter to be break-even. Many on Wall Street have grown skeptical of Musk’s pronouncements, such as his prediction last April that self-driving Tesla taxis would be available in some U.S. markets next year. +++ 

+++ In the UNITED KINGDOM , new-car registrations increased by a weak 1.3 % in the important sales month of September as demand picked up only slightly from a 20.5 % drop in the same month last year when stricter emissions rules hit the market. A total of 343,255 vehicles were sold in September, 1 of 2 months each year when license plate series changes typically prompt high demand. Analysts expected to see a more significant increase in September, similar to those seen in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Instead, consumer confidence was being undermined by political and economic uncertainty. In September 2018, demand slumped by more than 20 percent as tougher emissions rules came into force in the European Union, disrupting the availability of certain vehicles and prompting some automakers to offer sales incentives ahead of the change. New car registrations have declined 2.5 % in the first 3 quarters of the year, falling from 1.910.820 in 2018 to 1.862.271 in 2019. Registrations of new diesel-engined cars fell again in September, dropping 20.3 % from 97,308 to 77,510. The fuel type is now down 20.6 % for the year-to-date, from 605,355 to 480,388. Petrol registrations have remained fairly stable, rising 4.5 % in September and 2.6 % in the first 3 quarters of 2019 as a whole. It’s sales of fully electric cars that have surged, though: they jumped 236.4 % year-on-year last month and are up 122.1 % in the year-to-date. However, the figure for 2019 so far of 25,097 still only represents 1.3 % of the market. Although registrations of new plug-in hybrids rose 22.6 % in September, overall they’re down 29.2 % so far this year; a decline that can partly be attributed to limited supply. Meanwhile, conventional hybrid registrations were up 15.3 % in the first 3 quarters of the year. For 2019 so far, private and business registrations are down 2.4 % and 37.4 % respectively, while the fleet sector is up 0.1 %. The outgoing Vauxhall Corsa was the best-selling car in the UK last month, with 12,921 examples registered. The perennially popular Ford Fiesta was second in the sales chart, with 11,643 sold, and remains the best-selling car of 2019 so far, with a total of 64,564 registrations. The Corsa is second in the yearly charts, with a total of 47,547 registrations. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class was the third most popular car in September, ahead of the Mini hatchback, Nissan Qashqai and Ford Focus. The Tesla Model 3 was the third best-selling car in the UK in August but didn’t feature in September’s top 10. +++

+++ In the UNITED STATES , General Motors (GM), Ford and Fiat Chrysler (FCA) reported higher pick-up sales for the third quarter in the United States, as lower interest rates helped boost demand in a market that has seen car sales decline. Automakers in the U.S. are focusing on selling larger SUVs and trucks that are more profitable, as passenger cars fall out of favor. While higher vehicle prices and rising interest rates earlier in the year kept car shoppers on the sidelines, recent interest rate cuts helped sales in the third quarter. “Gas prices and interest rates remain at historically low levels and support our industry to 17 million plus level for what is now the fifth straight year”, Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service said on a call. There were concerns that GM’s sales could be hit as 48,000 hourly employees at the top U.S. automaker walked out for the first time in 12 years on Sept. 16, and remain on strike. GM did not face a severe inventory crunch in the third quarter, as most dealers showed healthy supply levels heading into October. However, the company risks facing parts shortages from the strike that could possibly affect sales in the current quarter, likely benefiting smaller rivals including Ford. When analysts asked if Ford might want to capitalize on its rival’s disadvantage, the No.2 automaker said it was keeping an eye on the talks between GM and its union, and will remain “competitive”. GM’s sales of its Silverado pick-up jumped 16.6 % to 155,482 vehicles, boosting the its total U.S. quarterly sales by 6.3 % to 738,638 vehicles. Ford said sales of its pick-ups rose 5% to 240,387, its best third-quarter performance in 14 years, even as overall sales fell 4.9 % to 580,251 automobiles, hurt by lower demand for its passenger cars including the Taurus sedan. FCA’s sales of its Ram pick-up surged 14% to 161,635, marginally lifting overall sales by 0.1 % to 565,034 vehicles. GM’s sales fell slightly short of forecasts of 748,746 vehicles, while Ford and FCA beat expectations (Ford at 570,179 vehicles and Fiat Chrysler’s at 558,302). +++ 

+++ The Prague City Court ruled to invalidate an order for the VOLKSWAGEN GROUP to pay Czech customers more than 500 million crowns ($21.3 million) in damages related to the automaker’s diesel-emissions cheating scandal. It said the court invalidated a lower court decision on procedural grounds and sent the case back to the lower court for a new consideration, the report said. +++

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