June 18th, 2012 at 11:10am
Lexus is gunning to reclaim the title of No. 1 luxury automaker in the U.S. and is boosting incentives to reach its goal. The Obama Administration is considering filing a World Trade Organization claim against what it sees as Chinese auto part dumping in the United States. Last week Hyundai announced pricing for the hatchback version of the Elantra, now pricing for the coupe is out. All that and more, plus a test drive of the all-new Acura ILX.
Hello again and welcome to Autoline Daily. It’s Monday, June 18, 2012 – the start of another work week. I’m Rod Meloni, WDIV Local 4 News, Detroit filling in for John who should be back tomorrow. Anyway, here’s the latest news.
LEXUS BOOSTS INCENTIVES
Last week we reported Lexus is gunning to reclaim the title of No. 1 luxury automaker in the U.S. It lost the sales crown to BMW last year. New and refreshed product will be a big help, but that’s not the only weapon in the company’s arsenal. Bloomberg reports Lexus has increased incentives, and by quite a bit. Discounts on cars are up around 54 percent, while SUVs grew by about 60 percent. Spending is increasing at a greater rate than its rivals. Mercedes-Benz is up by 11 percent while BMW has increased its discounts by about 7 points. Still, this may not be enough. Even if the brand reaches its goal of selling 250,000 vehicles in the U.S. this year, BMW is gaining ground. So far its sales are up 14 percent this year.
FORD U.K. WORKERS ON 1 DAY STRIKE
Ford is facing a strike! No, the UAW is not causing trouble for the automaker; this time it’s the UK’s largest union, called Unite. According to the Detroit Free Press around 2,500 white-collar workers will voice their displeasure with the company’s decision to close a pension plan to new entrants, among other things. The 24-hour strike is expected to affect seven facilities across the country. Members of Unite are concerned Ford will expand pension and wage changes across the UK.
U.S. FIGHTS CHINESE CAR PARTS
The Obama Administration is considering a move against what it sees as Chinese auto-parts dumping in the United States. Reuters reports this morning the administration is seriously considering filing a World Trade Organization claim against China. The claim would decry a vast array of policies to give its auto parts producers an unfair trade advantage. The U.S. Steel industry first went to the administration earlier this year complaining about the flood of auto parts coming into the U.S. from China. Also, nearly 200 members of Congress, many from Midwest industrial states like Michigan and Ohio… that employ a lot of auto parts workers… appealed to President Obama to do something about the problem.
NISSAN EXPECTS LEAF SALES TO DOUBLE
Some optimistic sales projections this morning for the new, all electric Nissan Leaf. Bloomberg is reporting Nissan’s North American Vice Chairman Bill Krueger expects to move 20,000 Leaves this year, which doubles last year’s number. Right now Nissan only builds the Leaf in Japan, but Krueger expects to start turning out “Leaves” in the United States by year’s end when its new plant in Smyrna, Tennessee goes online. Right now Nissan is only selling the Leaf in seven states, but once the new plant comes online it will begin national distribution. Leaf sales have dropped dramatically over the past couple of months while GM’s Plug in Volt has finally taken off tripling its sales in May.
HYUNDAI ELANTRA COUPE PRICING
Last week Hyundai announced pricing for the hatchback version of the Elantra, now pricing for the coupe is out. It starts at $18,220, including destination charges and is standard with features like heated front seats, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth, and remote keyless entry. Powering the Coupe is the same 1.8-liter four-cylinder that’s in the sedan. It can be mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Elantra Coupe will arrive at dealerships later this month.
SAAR EXPECTED TO STAY STRONG (subscription required)
Despite the dip in last month’s SAAR, or Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, to 13.7 million units, WardsAuto is sticking with its forecast of a 14.5 million SAAR for 2012. Car sales in the U.S. should remain strong this year due to an improving economy and growing consumer confidence. Also, a number of new or redesigned models are coming out this year that could draw more people into the showroom.
Coming up next, John test drives Acura’s latest small-car offering.
2013 ACURA ILX
(The Acura ILX review is only available in the video version of today’s program.)
It will be interesting to see if the new ILX will help boost Acura’s sales and get this troubled luxury brand back on track.
And that’s it for today’s show. I’m Rod Meloni from WDIV Local 4 News, Detroit. Thanks for watching, John should be back tomorrow.