MARCH AUTO SALES

MARCH AUTO SALES
Japan 3 post gains as Detroit automakers fall
Dale Jewett | Automotive News / April 3, 2007 - 2:02 pm / UPDATED: 4/3/2007 5:37 P.M.
March's U.S. auto sales results have a familiar look: Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. and American Honda Motor Co. posted gains while General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler saw their numbers drop.
Overall, U.S. auto sales in March were up 0.7 percent from a year ago to 1,542,498 units. But for the year to date, sales are down 1.2 percent to 3,889,952 units.
The top six automakers ranked like this for the month:
No. 1: GM, down 4.0 percent to 345,418 units.
No. 2: Ford Motor, down 9.0 percent to 263,582 units.
No. 3: Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., up 11.7 percent to 242,675 units.
No. 4: DaimlerChrysler, down 4.1 percent to 228,066 units.
No. 5: American Honda Motor Co., up 11.3 percent to 143,392 units.
No. 6: Nissan North America, up 7.8 percent to 111,119 units.
After the first three months of this year, those six automakers line up in the same order.
A year ago, for both March sales and the year-to-date total, DaimlerChrysler held the No. 3 spot with Toyota Motor Sales in fourth place.
Both Ford and GM cited a reduction in sales to rental fleets as a factor in their sales declines in March, a strategy they have been pursuing for several months.
Market share shifts
As a group, Toyota Motor Sales, American Honda and Nissan North America took 32.2 percent of U.S. auto sales in March, a gain of 2.9 percentage points compared with March 2006. The combined market share of Ford Motor, GM and DaimlerChrysler for the month totaled 54.3 percent, down 3.6 percentage points from a year earlier.
Rising sales for Japanese automakers weren't confined to Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
Sales at Mazda North America Operations rose 47.9 percent in March compared with a year earlier, to 37,742 units. The increase was propelled by the CX-7 and CX-9 crossovers. March U.S. sales were also up at Mitsubishi Motors North America and American Suzuki Motor Corp. .
Korea's Hyundai Group continues to gain. Combined U.S. sales of the Hyundai and Kia brands were up 2.6 percent in March to 69,551 units -- making it the seventh-ranked automaker for the month. For the year to date, the Hyundai group's U.S. sales are up 4.1 percent to 177,808 units.
American automakers weren't the only losers. Despite a record-setting month for its Audi brand, the Volkswagen group saw its U.S. sales fall 8.6 percent in March to 25,677 units. Sales were down for every model in the VW lineup except the Eos convertible, which was not on sale a year ago.
On an annualized basis, Wall Street forecasts for industrywide U.S. auto sales for March had been projected at 16.2 million to 16.6 million vehicles compared with 16.6 million a year ago.
Incentives down slightly
Last month, sales incentives offered to new-car buyers in the United States fell slightly, according to Edmunds.com, an auto industry tracking Web site.
The average manufacturer incentive on cars and light trucks sold in the United States was $2,512 in March, down 0.4 percent from a year earlier, Edmunds.com said.
Sales incentives are widely tracked as an indication of the relative profitability of various automakers and the pressure they face to move inventory.
On an industrywide basis, the total sales discounts amounted to $3.8 billion for March, with the U.S. automakers accounting for 69 percent of that total, Edmunds.com said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2007/04/03/042379.html has details on Toyota sales by model. It is an interesting read.
Avalon sales are in free fall - down nearly 17% Camry sales are up moderately - 10% The big movers were the Prius (up 133%) and Yaris (up 448.3%). Scion sales are still falling. The "new" Tundra finally had an increase (10.4%)
I think if you look at this I think you can see why Toyota is doing well compared to the Domestics - people are worried about fuel efficiency.
I did see one more disturbing trend - Toyota is building fewer cars in the US and importing more from Japan. This is not a case of Toyota reaching capacity in the US - except for Tundras and Corollas, they built fewer car in the US in March 2007 than in March 2006, and imported more cars from Japan (even Camrys).This has a logical basis - the Japanese auto market is in the toilet. Sales in Toyota's home market were down for the 29th consecutive month. Since Toyota Manufacturing in the US uses a lot of temporary workers, it is easier to reduce production in the US than in Japan where they maintain a full employment policy.
Ed
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They must have opened a second factory. If they did and were clearing a waiting list last month, Prius sales could slow - and prices could cool.
What impresses me is the total volume of hybrids. Between the Camry H, Highlander H and Prius, Toyota sold just shy of 25,000 hybrids last month. They're going to be approaching 300,000 hybrids per year, all by themselves.
And let's not forget Ford. They didn't post/break out hybrid units where I could find them but the Escape/Mariner hybrid is an effective hybrid and Ford did say that sales of that hybrid is up 43% this year, March over March. I admire Ford for the effort and I'd like to see it pay off.
I live in a suburb with very inefficient traffic signals and lots of them. Hybrids in my town will save a LOT of fuel.

They must have been in limited availability last March to make that increase percentage. It's just 7600 units at this point. Not bad but it's not the same volume class as the Camry or Corolla.

The xB is, let us say, 'an acquired taste.' I guess fewer are making the effort to acquire it...

This really shouldn't be news to Detroit. We've had oil price shocks off and on for decades. And a good chunk of the world's oil comes from politically unstable countries. Sudden supply restrictions are always a possibility.

Or the product mix changed. The Rav is a pretty hot seller and it's still built only in Japan. Is the Prius built here, now? If they're all still built in Japan, that would account for a lot of the shift.
And why go on about this? Is GM increasing employment here? Or in Korea and China? Over the past few years, Toyota has ramped up US employment with good jobs. Why piss and moan about it?
Take a hard look at Wal*Mart. Wal*Mart is responsible for a LOT of jobs going to China. At least the workers in Japan get a say in their government and make decent wages. And, in another thread, you've been whining about Toyota's ads being "deceptive" (they're not, they're just trying to illustrate something, people can do the physics themselves, if they like), where Wal*Mart was actually caught hanging "Made in the USA" signs on stuff that was made overseas. "Aww, gee, did we do that?"
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Toyota has been providing incentives to dealers to move the current Prius for the last few months. In April the incentives are as much as $2000. I've seen it speculated that Prius sales started to fall off at the end of last year and weren't going to match the forecast. Toyota was concerned that they would be stuck with a bunch of downlevel parts when the new model was introduced next year, so they are doing whatever it takes to move the current model. But that is just speculation; well except for the part about the incentives - they are real. The following is from a recent Automotive News commentary:
"EDWARD LAPHAM COMMENTARY 4/4/2007 "The high cost of lower emissions
"It's no surprise that Toyota is paying as much as $2,000 in retail incentives on the Prius in the United States this month. Although Toyota has cleverly tied the incentives to April's being Earth Month, you know that if it weren't needed, or if it didn't work, the offer wouldn't be made. In February and March, Toyota used other types of incentives to goose Prius sales...."

Prius is still 100% sourced in Japan.

And GM and Ford and Chrysler have cut more jobs that Toyota and Honda have added. And although Toyota pays a decent salary, the total package is far less than GM workers. So, the net is less money to the US economy and more to the Japanese economy.

I try to stay out of Wal*Mart. I can't stay away 100% of the time, but I usually use them as a last resort. As for the deceptive nature of the Tundra ads - I'll stand by my opinion - They are deliberately constructed so as to be deceptive and far more so than the run of the mill auto ad.
Ed
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Then that's most of the increase. Between that and the Rav, that's an extra 12K to 15K vehicles per month. Toyota continues to build facilities here and, long run, their US build has ramped up considerably. I'm not feeling any angst over their sourcing.
Oh, yes, and Lexus. Those are still built in Japan and their numbers increased significantly, too.

What's your source on that? I read that it was on the order of $5/hour. Considering that many of their facilities are located in what have been lower-wage areas, this is not an impressive difference.

Did they import Japanese workers to build those plants?

But you didn't answer the question, why piss and moan about it?
Seriously, we are shifting ALL KINDS of economic activity to China and India. Japan is, relatively speaking, a high-wage Western country. This shift has less to do with my choices as a consumer than with our boss' choices as short-sighted fools.
There's more money in a new product or a new industry than an old one. We should focus on developing something new (like GM should actually build a Volt - or something similar, and we should be heavily invested in new green technologies, which will improve our balance of trade through exports and a reduction of oil imports).
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I believe Scion sales are low because there are few cars available to sell while Scion transitions to new models.
Are Prius made in US yet? I don't think so and that would also explain import increase from Japan factories.

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Check the reference - All the Priuses and Yarises come from Japan. But even the number of Camrys coming from Japan are up and the number made in the US is down (5.4% fewer built in the US).
The local Toyota dealers have Scions on their lots - escpecially xCs but I think you are correct, the xAs and xBs are all 2006 models. What is the hold up with 2007 Models?
Ed
Ed
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They must have opened a second factory. If they did and were clearing a waiting list last month, Prius sales could slow - and prices could cool.
What impresses me is the total volume of hybrids. Between the Camry H, Highlander H and Prius, Toyota sold just shy of 25,000 hybrids last month. They're going to be approaching 300,000 hybrids per year, all by themselves.
And let's not forget Ford. They didn't post/break out hybrid units where I could find them but the Escape/Mariner hybrid is an effective hybrid and Ford did say that sales of that hybrid is up 43% this year, March over March. I admire Ford for the effort and I'd like to see it pay off.
I live in a suburb with very inefficient traffic signals and lots of them. Hybrids in my town will save a LOT of fuel.

They must have been in limited availability last March to make that increase percentage. It's just 7600 units at this point. Not bad but it's not the same volume class as the Camry or Corolla.

The xB is, let us say, 'an acquired taste.' I guess fewer are making the effort to acquire it...

This really shouldn't be news to Detroit. We've had oil price shocks off and on for decades. And a good chunk of the world's oil comes from politically unstable countries. Sudden supply restrictions are always a possibility.

Or the product mix changed. The Rav is a pretty hot seller and it's still built only in Japan. Is the Prius built here, now? If they're all still built in Japan, that would account for a lot of the shift.
Glancing at the chart, many of the vehicles sourced in Japan simply sold better this month.
And maybe they're just not paying overtime in Kentucky or wherever this year. The domestic Toyota plants were, if I remember correctly, running at 109% of capacity for a time. The article I read mentioned that Toyota does not like to do that (they'd rather the workers rest regularly and then put the cars together correctly, I suppose).
And why go on about this? What difference does it make? Who cares?
Is GM increasing employment here? Or in Korea and China? Over the past few years, Toyota has ramped up US employment with good jobs. Why piss and moan about it?
Take a hard look at Wal*Mart. Wal*Mart is responsible for a LOT of jobs going to China. At least the workers in Japan get a say in their government and make decent wages. And, in another thread, you've been whining about Toyota's ads being "deceptive" (they're not, they're just trying to illustrate something, people can do the physics themselves, if they like), where Wal*Mart was actually caught hanging "Made in the USA" signs on stuff that was made overseas. "Aww, gee, did we do that?"
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The Teranews Experience:
Post. Wait. Look. Wait Some More. Look. Wait Some More. Look. Give up and post it again. Wait. Look. Wait some more. Look. Wait some more. Look. Oh, crap, there's repost AND the original.
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"DH" ... *snip*

LOL you may have to actually *pay* for a newsserver...
Natalie
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Actually, I did. This service involves a one-time fee. It's not "free," although they call it that. There is no recurring charge.
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