Haig Stoddard

Industry Analyst,
January U.S. Light-Vehicle Inventory Spikes to 9-Year High 
WardsAuto estimates inventory is about 300,000 to 400,000 units higher than the optimum level to meet current market demand, but much of the excess appears related to January’s weather-dampened sales and to model changeovers.
Bad Weather Dumps on January U.S. Sales 
Sales of all luxury segments increased 3.7% from year-ago. Among luxury brands, only Cadillac, Porsche and Volvo posted declines.
North American Plants Zero in on 18 Million Available Production 
Forecast 2014 available production of 17.8 million is 900,000 units above 2013’s 16.9 million, and a major increase from the recession year of 2009 when the total bottomed out at 13.8 million.
U.S. Light-Vehicle Inventory Ends 2013 at 7-Year High  1
Middle CUVs are expected to buck history for the second straight year in first-quarter 2014 by meeting or surpassing the prior quarter’s market penetration.
U.S. Sales Post 4th Straight Annual Increase Despite Sluggish Growth in December  2
Incentive activity from November to December did not increase as much as in past years, and average transaction prices remained at long-time, if not all-time highs for most manufacturers.
November U.S. Light-Vehicle Inventory Surges From Prior Month  1
Assuming increased incentive spending at the end of the month, stock levels heading into December easily can support another 16-million-plus SAAR.
North American Suppliers Investing in Additional Capacity  2
Some suppliers are investing in additional facilities because they are confident current production levels will be sustained and because they have exhausted most of their avenues to stretch available capacity.
November U.S. LV Sales Surge to 6-Year-High SAAR 
November’s results returned light-vehicle sales close to the upward trend underway prior to hitting temporary bumps in September and October, putting the year on track for 15.6 million units.
Global Engines of Choice to Have 1.0L-1.9L Displacements
Ironically, the trend to smaller engines will not come as much in downsized cars as it will in light trucks. The majority of growth by segment will be in B- and C-size cross/utility vehicles.
October Inventory Spikes to 9-Year High 
October’s days’ supply is comparable to the totals from 2002 through 2005, a period when U.S. sales averaged 16.8 million units.
October U.S. Light-Vehicle Sales Rough Out 6.4% Gain 
The government shutdown affected sales early in October, but volume picked up enough in the second half to capture most of the lost units.
North American Third-Quarter Capacity Utilization 93%
Ford was the only major automaker to reach 100% capacity utilization in the period and is forecast to top that mark in the fourth quarter.
Ford Spearheading Global Production Growth
Leading the automaker’s volume expansion will be small LVs, including A-, B- and C-size cars, car-based compact vans and small CUVs. Its production mix of small LVs will climb to 56% in 2020 from 48.5% in 2013.
September U.S. Inventory Set to Meet Fourth-Quarter Demand 3
Ford and Chrysler are the only automakers with more large pickups in inventory than a year ago, which is significant because large pickups are undergoing the fastest growth right now among all major segments.
September U.S. Sales Struggle to 37th Straight Increase
September’s 15.2 million SAAR was a 5-month low, but July-September paced at the highest for any quarter since 2007 and sales for the entire year are forecast at 15.6 million.
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