Archive for January, 2010

China’s auto sales should hit the 15 million mark

  China’s vehicle sales will likely grow to about 15 million units this year, a Chinese official predicted, reinforcing expectations of a significant deceleration from the nearly 50% growth in 2009 that enabled China to surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest car market. Chang Xiaocun, head of the Ministry of Commerce’s market system development office, said Friday he believes rising incomes and the extension of government support for the auto industry will enable sales to hit the 15 million mark. That would suggest growth of slightly more than 10% from the 13.6 million units sold in 2009. “I believe double-digit growth shouldn’t be difficult, although growth won’t be as high as last year,” Mr. Chang said at a news briefing. The official’s forecast is in line with projections by many global auto makers, who have forecast sales growth of 10% to 15% for …

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Car sales up in January across the board

  For area car dealers, economic recovery lies just around the bend – and over a small mountain. After a year in which sales in the four-county Dallas-Fort Worth region fell an astounding 29.9 percent, dealers are confident that 2010 will be better, particularly in the second half.But most figure that it could take years to recover the huge number of new-vehicle sales they have lost since 2007. Even if the economy regains its health in 2010, some dealers say, the area will probably need another burst in population growth to reach sales levels from just a few years ago. Like other businesses, the auto industry was ripped apart in 2008 and slowly reassembled in ’09 – with fewer parts. The new industry has fewer factories and workers, and it’s learning to live with lower production and sales. Adding to those challenges are …

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New and used cars set to rebound in 2010

  While cognizant of the national auto slowdown, Todd Smith is encouraged by McElveen’s strong sales figures in December and early this month. He believes the local company is well-positioned with franchises in Berkeley County, east of the Cooper and west of the Ashley selling new General Motors cars and trucks, as well as Hyundai sedans, coupes and sport utilities and dozens of used cars a week. Yet Smith is at the same time pragmatic, aware that many potential buyers remain on the fence. So once in a while it takes an attraction or two to get people to come out to the showroom, he said. The place where the company typically debuts its “out-of-the-box” ideas is McElveen Buick Pontiac GMC Hummer in Summerville, he said. Recent promotions there have included on-site auctions, “sign and drive” events where buyers could take home a car right …

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Used Toyotas still strong sellers

  Toyota’s big recall isn’t scaring away some fans of the popular brand of cars. Even with the recall, used Toyotas are still a hot item, according to Jeff Woloszyn from Wally’s Used Cars in Phoenix. He says you can thank the recession and demand for cheap, dependable cars. “The automobile is very well built. It lasts — the mileage they get. And they just last and they hold their value. I wish I had just Toyotas on the lot. “The wholesale market right now on the Toyotas, even with the recall, is just through the roof. I mean, Toyota products at the auctions are just bringing more and more every week.” He says prices of used Toyotas at dealer auctions have gone up 20 percent to 30 percent in the last few months. And with fewer people trading in old …

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Toyota halts sales on eight of its most popular models

  For a brand that prides itself on quality, this could be a crippling blow. In an unprecedented decision, Toyota Motor, the world leader by sales, Tuesday said it was suspending sales of eight of its most popular models in the U.S. due to potential accelerator problems. The extraordinary step follows a recall last week of 2.3 million vehicles in the U.S. and an earlier recall of 4.2 million vehicles — both due to similar issues. These are heavy blows for a company aiming to become profitable again and raise factory operating ratios by bolstering sales. In the past two years, Toyota’s losses totaled $7.1 billion, and its stated aim is to return to profitability in the year that starts in April. That goal is now in doubt. The company will also halt production of the eight models for a week …

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GM Sells Saab to Dutch Automaker Spyker

  GM has been trying to sell Saab since January 2009. Earlier this month, it said it would start to shut down the firm while still looking for a buyer. But GM said wind-down activities would be immediately suspended, “pending the close of the transaction”. Spyker sold 43 cars in 2008, when it posted a loss of $35m.  It has yet to make a profit in six years. Spyker has agreed to pay $74m in cash for Saab, John Smith, GM vice-president for corporate planning and alliances, told reporters. Under the deal, GM would also get $326m worth of preferred shares in Saab. The Swedish government has also agreed to guarantee a $563 million loan Saab had requested from the European Investment Bank, which was seen as key to the sale. “Now the deal between Spyker and GM has been finalised, so the government has today taken the …

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GM may have reached agreement to sell Saab

  Spyker Cars NV, the Dutch sports-car maker that’s in talks to buy General Motors Co.’s Saab unit, jumped the most in more than five years in Amsterdam on speculation that the companies may have reached an agreement. GM considers Spyker’s offer as adequate, and the automakers’ executives met in Stockholm over the weekend to negotiate terms including those related to production plans, people familiar with the matter said on Jan. 22. Swedish state television said today that a deal with Spyker is done. Spyker and GM denied the report. Saab is among four brands, along with Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer, that the Detroit-based carmaker is unloading to focus on Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac in the U.S. after its bankruptcy exit on July 10. European and Swedish authorities may take a week to approve a loan for Trollhaettan-based Saab should GM agree …

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Toyota secures lithium supply for next-generation hybrid and electric car production

  A key supplier of Toyota Motor Corp. has formed a partnership to mine lithium in Argentina, a sign of the importance of the metal which is critical in the production of next-generation hybrids and electric cars. Lithium will play a bigger role in the auto industry in the coming years. The lightest metal on the periodic table, it is a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries — currently found mostly in cell phones, laptops and some high-end electric cars, but expected to see much wider use in next-generation automobile batteries. The global lithium-ion battery market is expected to surge to $21.8 billion by 2015 and to $74.1 billion by 2020, from $31.9 million last year, according to business consulting firm A.T. Kearney. “This generation and the next generation of batteries in automobiles … is going to be lithium,” said Don Hillebrand, director of the …

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Toyota is the hybrid car leader

  This morning, Toyota is to display a small hybrid car priced less than $20,000 that is expected to get more than 50 m.p.g. – and could prove to be the most pivotal vehicle unveiled at this year’s Detroit auto show. It’s unclear whether the new subcompact car will be sold under the Toyota, Scion or even an expanded Prius brand. But it shows that Toyota sees hybrid technology as more marketable than plug-in electric vehicles for the foreseeable future, as do many experts. “This makes a lot of sense. People will only embrace new technology if it is easier to use or cheaper,” said David Champion, director of automotive testing for Consumer Reports. Although Toyota raised its share of the U.S. market to 17% from 16.7% in 2008, the nation’s second-largest automaker has hit its share of speed bumps as it enters 2010. The …

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What happened to Pontiac, Saturn and Saab?

  Pontiac? Goodbye. Saturn? So long. Saab? Off to the old junkyard in the sky. Those are the three brands that General Motors Co. is shutting down as it remakes itself into a smaller, nimbler and — it hopes — profitable automaker. But just because the brands are disappearing doesn’t mean their owners will be left out in the cold, even after the dealerships that sold them their vehicles shut their doors. For owners wondering what the end of the brands means, here’s some answers. Q: What happened to Pontiac, Saturn and Saab? A: Shutting down Pontiac had been part of GM’s restructuring plan since early last year. It had hoped to sell Saturn to the auto dealership chain Penske Automotive Group Inc., but Penske abruptly backed out of the deal last autumn. GM had planned to sell Saab to a Swedish race car manufacturer, but that …

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