US automotive sales may surpass historic 2015 record
Sales of cars and trucks in the United States increased by 3.7% in November compared to the same period in 2015, indicating this year’s overall sales may eclipse that of last year. The strong sales performance was also fueled by the surge in US stock markets.
Fueled by end-of-the-month holiday sales, November vehicle sales reached 1.38 million units, bringing “annualized” sales this year to 17.9 million. Automakers benefited from two additional selling days in November that somehow thawed predictions of higher interest rates, higher gas prices and lower used-car prices.
“It’s going to come down to December,” said Kelley Blue Book analyst Tim Fleming. “If it’s flat, it will be another record year. But last December was incredibly strong.”
Vehicle sales in the US could even reach another all-time record or exceed 2015 figures as both Ford and General Motors exceeded industry forecasts even as Fiat Chrysler struggled.
Among domestic automakers, sales rose 10.2% for General Motors and 5.2% for Ford, while sales dropped 14% for Fiat Chrysler. For Asian automakers, sales increased 6.5% for Honda, 6.5% for Nissan, 4.3% for Toyota and 4.2% for Hyundai.
“I know that I am breathing a little sigh of relief,” said Bob Carter, Toyota’s senior vice president of automotive operations. “When you look at the strength of November, particularly what took place for us—and I assume the entire industry over the Thanksgiving holiday—consumer confidence is just fine.”
The pace of industry sales was solid at the start of the month and picked up, especially at the end of the month when automakers rolled out big marketing programs over Thanksgiving.
EPA tries to fast-track fuel economy standards under Trump
The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency wants to keep strict gas-mileage targets in place, and is trying to fast-track those standards before President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January next year.
Despite protests from the automotive industry, EPA has proposed that a company’s fleet of new cars and light trucks must have a range between 49.9mpg (21.2km/L) and 53.3mpg (22.7km/L) by 2025, on average, depending on the mix of cars and trucks sold. That amounts to about 40mpg (17km/L) in real-world driving, which is a significant increase from the 24.8mpg (10.5km/L) the cars sold in October logged in.
The EPA has until April 2018 to finalize its fuel economy standards, but its proposal was seen by some automakers as a hasty attempt to get those standards on the books before Trump assumes office next year. The proposal is open for public comments only until the end of the year.
Fuel economy has been a thorny issue between the federal government and automakers. President Barack Obama first introduced the plan in 2012 at a time when gas prices were higher. So carmakers have requested the EPA to reconsider its fuel efficiency targets, and were hoping for a rollback.
But this latest proposal angered several auto groups. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers called the EPA move “an extraordinary and premature rush to judgment.”
“Washington today decided to make new cars and trucks more expensive for America’s working men and women,” said National Automobile Dealers Association president Peter Welch.
Mazda commences production of all-new CX-5 in Japan
Mazda Motor Corporation has started production of the all-new CX-5 crossover SUV at its Ujina Plant No. 2 near the company’s global headquarters in Hiroshima. The model will go on sale in Japan in February before being rolled out to global markets.
The original CX-5, which was built starting in November 2011, introduced a new generation of models featuring the full range of Skyactiv technology and Kodo design. Cumulative production reached one million units in April 2015, making it the second-fastest Mazda to reach the million-unit milestone after the 3 (called Axela in Japan). Total production reached approximately 1.57 million units at the end of October this year. With global sales increasing every year since launch, the CX-5 has grown into a core model that accounts for about a quarter of Mazda’s annual sales volume.
The slogan for development of the all-new CX-5 was “an SUV all customers will enjoy,” and Mazda aimed for a new dimension of driving pleasure that can be shared by everyone on board, not just the driver.
Let’s hope this baby reaches our shores soon.