April 3rd, 2012 at 12:00pm
Lincoln reveals its future with the introduction of the 2013 MKZ at the New York Auto Show. The U.S. EPA is pushing ahead with plans to introduce E15 fuel despite protests from automakers. If a report from CLSA turns out to be true, Toyota will be ridin’ the gravy train very soon. All that and more, plus guest host Michelle Krebs from Edmunds.com talks about March sales in the American market.
Welcome back if you’re a repeat viewer of Autoline Daily, or hello if this is your first episode. It’s Tuesday the 3rd of April, 2012 – a beautiful spring day here in Motown. I’m Michelle Krebs of Edmunds.com filling in for my friend John McElroy who is in Manhattan right now covering the all-important New York Auto Show. With a report on the latest from the Big Apple, heeeeeeere’s Johnny!
(Today’s feature on the 2013 Lincoln MKZ is only available in the video-version of Autoline Daily)
And we look forward to more reports, John! Say, what do you think of that new MKZ? Is it a transformative product for Lincoln? Let us know in the comments section below.
Hey, speaking of New York, make sure you check out Autoline After Hours THIS Thursday evening starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. McElroy and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo will be broadcasting from Katz’s Deli, a Manhattan institution. Don’t miss it! Anyway, here’s what else is going on in the automotive world.
U.S. EPA “DRUNK” WITH POWER
The push to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline took another step forward yesterday. The Environmental Protection Agency approved the first applications for registration of ethanol to produce E15 or gas with 15 percent ethanol. Automakers have fought the increase, claiming it will damage engines, but the EPA has already done tests and has approved use of E15 in vehicles built in the 2001 model year and after.
Last week we reported Fisker Automotive was scrambling to find more money after the U.S. Department of Energy refused to give it more funds. The company was also embarrassed by the Karma Consumer Reports was testing. If you remember, it broke down during their check-in process! But apparently neither of these incidents have scared investors away. Bloomberg reports the company just raised 129 million dollars, which puts its total private investment at more than a billion dollars.
SHARING IS CARING
If you can get past its alien looks the Nissan Juke is a hoot to drive. With a spunky turbocharged engine and an available manual transmission, it feels more like a sports car than a crossover. Spreading the fun around, Renault may get a restyled version of the Juke. According to AutoExpress, the yet-unnamed model will replace its slow-selling Koleos CUV, at least in the UK market. The Renault variant is expected to have a much less polarizing design.
RIDIN’ THE GRAVY TRAIN (subscription required)
From the devastating Tsunami, to floods in Thailand, to unintended acceleration, Toyota has faced its share of problems over the past year. But if a report from CLSA turns out to be true, the Japanese automaker will be riding the gravy train very soon . . . and I don’t mean the dog food! Year-over-year the company’s operating profit is expected to grow by 215 percent, hitting $14 billion! Two reasons for the jump: the Japanese government is expected to restore subsidies, which should get sales moving again, AND Toyota’s market share in North America is forecast to grow from 12.7 percent to 15 percent in the 2013 fiscal year. It’s great to finally see the industry recovering.
Speaking of improvements, let’s take a peek at some of last month’s sales numbers. Sit tight; we’ll be right back . . .
NEW-VEHICLE SALES SOAR
Today, automakers will report March car sales, and we, at Edmunds.com, forecast another terrific month.
We’re looking at March car sales of almost 1.5 million vehicles. That would be a 17-percent gain from March a year ago and a 26-percent hike from February, bringing the all-important Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate of sales – or SAAR– to 14.9 million vehicles.
Yes, we’re about the highest forecast around this month as we were last month. But even thought we were the highest forecast for February, we were still low when the final tally put the February SAAR at a stunning 15 million vehicles.
March is always an important industry bellwether since March traditionally sees the second highest level of sales for the year behind May. What’s even more important about this March is it confirms February’s robust sales weren’t a fluke or just the beneficiary of mild winter weather. Instead, it makes clear we are in a full-blow recovery in auto sales.
Pent-up demand caused by years of car owners holding onto their old vehicles at last is being unleashed. More readily available credit to a wider group of buyers also helps. Edmunds’ data shows the age of vehicle trade-in is higher than we’ve ever seen while average credit scores for new car buyers are at their lowest levels since the first half of 2008.
So now we can safely say it out loud: auto sales are in full recovery.
And with that we have a show! Again, I’m Michelle Krebs, Senior Analyst for Edmunds.com. Thank you for watching Autoline Daily. I’ll see you next time!