Carmageddon for Hyundai, GM, Chrysler, Ford

But not every automaker got crushed.

Every month in 2017, auto industry data providers have given dismal forecasts of auto sales. And every month, these forecasts weren’t nearly dismal enough. On July 27, Kelley Blue Book forecast that total new vehicle sales in July would fall 5.7% year-over-year. It would be the worst year-over-year decline this year. But it wasn’t nearly bad enough.

Instead, what we got…

Oh, if you see words like “plunge,” “plummet,” or “collapse” a lot, it’s because that’s the kind of numbers some automakers reported today.

  • Total new vehicle sales fell 7.0% year-over-year to 1.415 million, according to Autodata. This is the number of vehicles sold and delivered by dealers to their customers, or delivered by automakers directly to large fleet customers.
  • It was the seventh month in a row of year-over-year declines.
  • Year-to-date, total new vehicle sales are down 2.9%.
  • Car sales plunged 13.8% to 525,020 vehicles. They’re down 11.7% year-to-date.
  • Truck sales – which include pickups, SUVs, compact SUVs, and vans – had been booming as Americans are shifting from cars to trucks. They accounted for 63.3% of total retail sales, the highest ever for any July, and the 13th month in a row above 60%. But even these erstwhile booming truck sales fell 2.5% from a year ago to 890,119 vehicles.
  • The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of sales fell to 16.7 million, the fifth month in a row under 17 million, and down from 17.8 million in July 2016.
  • The average new vehicle sold to retail customers had spent 72 days on the lot, according to J. D. Power, the highest since July 2009 during the collapse of the auto industry.
  • Loans of 84 months and longer accounted for more than 6% of retail sales for the first time ever.

No, automakers didn’t “slash” fleet sales

Some automakers like to claim they’re backing off low-margin fleet sales. The media hype this up — “carmakers slash rental fleet sales,” is how Reuters explained the July sales swoon. But automakers are not slashing any kind of sales. They’re trying to get what they can. Otherwise they’d have to close even more plants and lay off even more people.

But rental car companies are over-fleeted. Rideshare companies are eating into their markets and are demolishing them in the business travel segment. Rental car companies are adjusting by whittling down their orders for new vehicles. Fleet sales have dropped not because automakers “slashed” them, but because rental car companies are in a pickle and cut their orders.

General Motors got sucker-punched.

GM’s total sales plunged 15.5% year-over-year to 225,911 vehicles. Kelley Blue Book had courageously forecast a plunge of 9.1%, but it wasn’t nearly dismal enough. They’re now down 3.9% so far this year.

  • By brand: Chevrolet sales plunged -15.3% (151,502 units), GMC -7.3% (47,412 units), Buick a catastrophic -30.5% (15,966 units), and Cadillac -21.7% (11,227 units).
  • Trucks sales plunged 10.5% year-over-year, but remain up 3.0% year-do-date.
  • Car sales collapsed 31.5% to just 43,089 vehicles. They’re down 20.2% year-to-date. Of GM’s total sales, only 19% are car sales. This is why GM is weighing killing six car models, shuttering plants, and laying off more people.
  • Retail sales plunged 14.4% to 202,220 vehicles. GM has already cut production, closed plants, and laid people off to deal with its horrendous inventory levels. Nevertheless, it finished July with 104 days’ supply on dealer lots. For some car models it has well over 200 days’ supply.

Ford didn’t get crushed quite this badly.

Total sales fell 7.4% to 199,318 vehicles and are down 4.3% year to date. By brand: Ford -7.7% (191,337 units) and Lincoln -2.5% (8,875 units).

  • Car sales plunged 19.4% to 48,259 vehicles and are down 20.1% this year.
  • Truck sales fell 2.8% to 151,059, with SUV sales up 2.2% to 71,067 units and pickup sales down 7.1% to 80,886 units. The F-series truck is the best-selling vehicle in the US. That its year-over-year sales are dropping like this is not a propitious sign. Year-to-date, truck sales remain up a dwindling 2.1%.
  • Ford ended the month with 66 days’ supply on dealer lots, just above what is considered the upper limit of healthy (60 days).

Fiat-Chrysler gives up on cars.

FCA total sales dropped 10.5% to 161,477 and are down 7.2% for the year so far.

  • Car sales plunged 17.7% to 19,400 and are down 23.3% year-to-date. FCA’s cars almost don’t matter anymore. As of this year, none of them will be made in the US. Of FCA’s total sales in the US, cars account for only 12%, the lowest of any automaker.
  • Truck sales plunged 9.4% to 142,068 and are down 4.2% for the year.

Winners & mostly losers among other major automakers.

Toyota was the second largest auto seller overall, barely behind GM and comfortably ahead of Ford. Total sales rose 3.6% to 222,057 but remained down 2.5% for the year.

  • Toyota car sales plunged 11.5% to 90,257. But note: Toyota sold over twice as many cars as GM and nearly twice as many as Ford.
  • Toyota truck sales jumped 17.4% to 131,800 and are a up 7.7% year to date. Doing something right in a tough climate.

Honda total sales inched down 1.2% for the month to 150,980 and 0.2% for the year.

  • Car sales rose 1.9% for the month to 76,468. That was down 5.4% for the year. But it was the second highest total behind Toyota, and 77% ahead of GM’s car sales.
  • Truck sales fell 4.2% for the month to 74,512 but are up 5.3% for the year.

Nissan total sales fell 3.2% for the month to 128,295, but are up 1.9% for the year.

  • Car sales plunged 11.2% to 60,496 and are down 11.5% year-to-date, behind Toyota and Honda but 40% ahead of GM.
  • Truck sales rose 5.3% to 67,799 and are up 18.3% year-to-date. Not everything is getting crushed. But wait…

Hyundai Motor Group, oh my!

The conglomerate includes Hyundai and Kia. While Kia is experiencing a decline near industry average, Hyundai is spiraling down in an amazing manner.

Hyundai total sales plummeted 27.9% in July to 54,063, by far the steepest crash of the major automakers. Year-to-date, sales are down 10.8%, also the worst of any major automaker.

  • Car sales collapsed an apocalyptic 43.2% to just 30,057. They better come out with some great new models and lower price points ASAP.
  • Truck sales – all SUVs – rose 8.8% to 24,000. A small consolation.

It has gotten so bad at Hyundai that Kia, the smaller sister of Hyundai, outsold it, with total sales dropping only 5.9% to 56,403, beating Hyundai’s total sales by 2,340 vehicles. They’re down 9.3% so far this year.

Kia’s car sales rose 2.3% to 37,800, but its truck sales plunged an eye-popping 19.2% to 18,600 vehicles and are down 18.8% year-to-date – in truck-loving America!

The Germans are going cold:

Volkswagen Group sales (Audi, Volkswagen, Bentley, and Lamborghini) fell 2.6% to 46,148 vehicles. The only brand with sales gains was Audi, up 2.5%. But the group’s year-to-date sales rose 5.6%.

Daimler sales plunged 10.7% to 28,849 vehicles and are down 2.3% year-to-date.

BMW sales (includes BMW, Mini, Rolls Royce) plunged 13.6% to 26,463 and are down 5.3% year-to-date. In July, only Rolls was up (yup, soaring 33% to a whopping 100 cars).

A special note about Tesla.

Tesla’s numbers don’t matter because they’re too small. In July, according to Autodata estimates, Tesla sold 3,130 vehicles in the US, down 5.2% from a year ago.

Tesla has a market share of 0.2% in the US, below Porsche (0.3%) and way below GM (16.0%). Yet Tesla, which burns with blinding speed the cash investors feed it during its capital-raising efforts, has a market capitalization of $52.5 billion, higher than GM’s ($50.6 billion) and Ford’s ($43.6 billion). Which tells you just how nuts this stock market has gotten.

It’s not like automakers didn’t try.

They doused the market with the highest incentives for any July ever. According to J. D. Power, average incentive spending through July 27 reached $3,876 per new vehicle sold, up 7.8% from the prior record set in July 2016. For cars, it jumped to $4,174! And incentives as a percentage of MSRP reached 10.8%.

It’s a sign of tougher times to come when sales drop 7% despite record incentive spending – a combination that has been going on all year – and when car sales plunge nearly 14% despite even higher incentive spending.

Some automakers and car production are sinking deeper into Carmageddon. But no one does it faster Hyundai, not only in the US, its second largest market, but also in China, its largest market. In how much trouble is it? Read…  Hyundai-Kia Brutally Crushed in China, Mauled in the US

Enjoy reading WOLF STREET and want to support it? You can donate. I appreciate it immensely. Click on the beer and iced-tea mug to find out how:

Would you like to be notified via email when WOLF STREET publishes a new article? Sign up here.

  76 comments for “Carmageddon for Hyundai, GM, Chrysler, Ford

  1. David Calder says:

    Interest rates are as low as they can get and the unemployment rate is as low as that’s probably going to get so the only answer to this seems that the paychecks the working classes including the middle classes can’t keep up with prices. It was always a truism that if you couldn’t pay off a new car loan in 36 months you couldn’t afford the car because beyond that time frame you’d always be underwater on the loan.. If 84 months is 6% of all loans what percentage is the traditional 36 months?

    • NoEasyDay says:

      I see large numbers of five year old pickups for sale on Craigslist with a rough average of 60,000-miles and asking prices above $25k. This won’t end well.

    • TJ Martin says:

      Do not make the common mistake of misinterpreting ‘ official ‘ Unemployment numbers as they do not reflect the actual number of people unemployed but rather only those still eligible for > unemployment benefits < meaning the actual unemployment numbers are much higher than the ' official ' proclamations . Such as it has ever been . Such as it will always be regardless of who's running the ' show ' .

      Also .. those low interest rates ? Sure for folks like myself as low as Zero Interest are readily available … but for the average working to middle class man/woman ? Unobtainable is putting it mildly .. unless of course one is willing to deal with one of the subprime auto lenders . in which case … the pain inflicted over the long run will well exceed the momentary joy of new car ownership

      So when its all tallied … much as they were in 1928 the automakers are in the financial cluster____ of the century .. much of it ( again as in 1928 ) self inflicted for which there is no reasonable exit

    • RangerOne says:

      Meh, low interest and longer payment durations are just a tool, much like credit cards often abused. At sub 1.7% my car loan is trivial. I picked the longest date they would give me at that low rate to keep my payment down.

      Now I am just accumlation cash so I have options. I can pay off the car when I feel like it. Until then I can just sit in the $9k I owe on it in case I need it to say buy a home over the next few years.

      The overall cost to me in interest is fairly trivial.

      • David Calder says:

        What you are doing makes perfect sense only if your job is totally secure or you’re retired with a secure pension because if people are forced to sell on an 84 month loan they’ll be so far underwater that they’ll have to sell for less than they owe..

  2. Suzie Alcatrez says:

    ‘Loans of 84 month’

    Wow – that is just plain amazing. How long until defaults start raising?

  3. Wilbur58 says:

    Isn’t Porsche in the VW/Audi family? Doesn’t it go back to that crazy short squeeze when VW had the largest market cap of any company on the planet for roughly one hour?

    • TJ Martin says:

      First of yes Porsche was ( unfortunately ) acquired by VW-Audi after the Porsche financial debacle / con job .. but

      If may … you’ve got the roles reversed . It was Porsche in a moment of absolute financial ‘ grifter ‘ brilliance that out played the market at their own game .. making fools of investors and financial experts / pundits across the globe by manipulating the numbers in one of the most creative financial con jobs of the century that had their moment of Number One

      Suffice it to say I do not approve or countenance such actions in the slightest … but then again there was that moment of schadenfreude knowing a little company like Porsche was able … at least for a little while to sucker punch every so called expert , pundit and investor across the globe . Excepting that is the the few like myself and the CH banker cousins who saw exactly what was going on ( minus any ‘ insider ‘ information ‘ ) because it was that obvious to anyone with ” Eyes Wide Open ” grabbing a ton of Porsche stock on the upswing , dumping it at a profit just before the rest of the financial world came to grips with the reality of the situation . Damn … that was fun ! And profitable And damn people can be so gullible when it comes to trying to acquire .. ” Easy Money ”

      PS; In case you have any further interest if memory serves me correct there is at least one book if not more available that fully document Porsche AG’s moment of financial con job brilliance .

  4. BradK says:

    In July, only Rolls was up (yup, soaring 33% to a whopping 100 cars).

    As close as you can come to a concise distillation of the Global economy in the 21st Century. A perfect analog for the flow of wealth.

    Or as the sorely missed George Carlin once elucidated, “They’ve got a club. You’re not in it.”

  5. michael says:

    It must be serious problem at Chevrolet, I am seeing large discounts on their large Trucks of $10,000. Of course, that is little consolation if the asking price is $80000.

    • billo says:

      That’s the problem. The last car I bought (a Suburban) cost over $50K new. For my family, we buy a car and drive it into the ground — we will keep that car for 20 years unless there’s something disruptive that happens in the market. When a car costs almost as much as a house, then you are going to buy a new car about as often as you buy a house — once a generation.

      I don’t know if it’s the regulation or what, but there’s no reason why a safe car with room has to cost 50 grand. I can remember when a lot of people I knew traded in their cars every two or three years. You can do that if the cars don’t require a mortgage. But if they do, you can’t do that.

  6. Truth Always says:

    The skeptic in me sees this as a good thing. America has less than 5% of the world’s population but at some point consumed 25% of its oil. I am sure with the rise of China the latter has changed.

    Nonetheless car ownership is such an environmentally wasteful exercise. The US would do well to have better public transport. To those who counter argue that this is a Yuge country; yes while that is true most d the population is concentrated around the metropolitan areas. Except farmers and industries tied to them I don’t know what economic output is produced using autos.

    From another perspective a lot of American prosperity that allows high cost auto ownership is due to legacy of the past when there was actual production of goods in America. Now Americans can afford autos only due to the strong dollar that the rest of the world wants.

    At some point in the next 30 or so years i when China has increased domestic consumption to allow as full an employment; they may not be willing to accept the dollar. Of course it may never happen. Or even when it does there are still a lot of poor people in the world to work in factories. Then again the machines may make most labor redundant. point being Americans would never be wealthy again to be able to afford expensive cars as they have historically.
    I use the term ‘expensive ‘ comparatively compared to other industrial countries like the U.K. where average cars are much smaller and sparsely equipped.

    And self driving cars, combined with the Uner like models would mean we are very likely past PEAK CAR.

    Our grandchildren would marvel at what a wasteful society the 20th century America was. Cars being the top symbol.

    Aluminum soda cans- does anyone care to answer how wasteful they are even with recycling!

    • Montana says:

      I try to buy aluminum canned beer. Much better for environment than glass. They store longer, you can take them to the water, less mess to clean up if dropped, and I don’t have to find a bottle opener.

    • Flying Monkey says:

      I was curious so I calculated it.

      Aluminum might have 2700 MJ/KG in it to produce it, there might be 64 cans to a kg, recycling supposedly saves 95% of the energy.

      2700MJ/kg /64 cans/kg x .05 = 2.1 MJ

      1 MJ = .277 kwhr = 277 Whr
      2.1 MJ = 583 Whr

      An electric car consumes between 120 and 190 Whr/km

      So you can drive an electric car about 3-4.8 km on the power needed to recycle 1 can.

      You could drive a small EV maybe 96 km on the power need to produce the Aluminum.

    • Pat McKim says:

      I get tired hearing people say what other people should do to reduce energy consumption. This encourages the gov’t to step in, and of course the gov’t — liberal or RINO — screws it up.

      If the Fed / government didn’t lower interest rate abnormally, we wouldn’t be able to consume so much and the energy footrprint much smaller. If you want to conserve then conserve your own stuff, and maybe even conserve your fingers from making inane comments on this site about what other people should do.

    • TJ Martin says:

      ” And self driving cars, combined with the Uner like models would mean we are very likely past PEAK CAR ”

      According to far too many experts that no one is listening to in the blind rush to maintain the concept of the privately owned car be it self drive or autonomous rather than increasing public transpiration as well as reorienting our infrastructure / work and living spaces etc ..

      We’re well beyond PEAK CAR having gone over the reverse ( its all down from here ) ” Tipping Point ” as long as ten years ago .

      Sad fact is … even the so called futurist and virtual economy/companies in Silicon Valley etc have yet to realize this simple reality as companies such as Apple , Google , Amazon etc continue to build car dependent work campuses .. doing little if nothing at all to locate places of work where people live , promote teleworking etc .

      So … yeah … so much for the TechHead Wonks … they having such a grip and clear vision of the future … pursuing dead ends such as Autonomous , EV’s etc while shooting themselves – the environment – and their employees in the foot maintaining a very 1950’s agenda in an extremely tumultuous 21st century

      Good lord this is gonna get ugly .

      • RangerOne says:

        If or when private car ownership dies, the US will be the last place it happens. Until you see countries like France, UK and Norway divorce themselves fully from car ownership in favor of ride sharing and autonomous vehicles you can bet our ownership rates will remain high. I say that not because it is the best course but because car ownership in the US is cheap relative to every other country and it is cultural.

        I agree though that long term ownership has no where to go but down and at best is likely to remain stable or slightly declining for the foreseeable future. Anyone who can afford a car already has 2 or more.

        Autonomous cars have a bright future either way and may one day finally solve the contradiction of urban sprawl and affordable public transit. Though it is still entirely unclear how intelligent cars will have to be before they are truly effective and consider safe enough to fill this role.

        • TJ Martin says:

          Reality Check 101 ;

          A car is a car is a car be it Autonomous or Self Drive therefore an Autonomous future would be riddled with the exact same problems to the same level if not worse created by Self Drive cars with the additional consequences of technology and its persistent insistence to fail to function as advertised not to mention the increased ability for unfriendly entities to hack into the system completely disrupting both transportation and the economy

      • James Levy says:

        As has been pointed out by others before me, Tech people can’t wrap their heads around the truth that technology and energy are not the same thing. Cars run on energy, and we are facing huge issues globally with access to cheap and ubiquitous energy. Our modern economy was built on cheap energy inputs. Those inputs are going away. The entire economy will have to be retooled to deal with the fact that oil prices over $70 a barrel crush economies and oil prices under $50 a barrel destroy oil companies. Only a massive inflow of cheap capital is keeping the whole house of cards from collapsing. There are too many balls in the air (climate change, energy extraction costs, return on energy invested to energy extracted, vast amounts of leverage, artificial interest rates, etc.) for the sorry asses who run the world to keep it all in the air much longer.

    • T.J., not the real TJ says:

      I think you are right about Peak Car. Car ownership might become a privilege of the top 25% of the urban/suburban population, and top 75% of the rural population.
      I won’t give one up. I imagine most families with children will not easily give them up – Children are too messy.
      The big caveat – once cars are self-driving they will get much cheaper to manufacture, people might be inclined to own even more. I will
      Another possibility. Once cars get automated we might be inclined to turn them over lass often. They will become like an appliance or a big comfortable chair. I’m willing to buy high quality on both of those, but I don’t replace them until they are really busted.

  7. Jim White says:

    But the DOW is about to hit 22000 all the markets around the world are marching upwards. Is there a new normal that the rest of us have missed. Watching CNBC one would think the world economies are the strongest they have been for years. They talk of the great surplus of liquidity out there that will prevent any down turn.
    House prices keep rising, food prices are rising but wait there is no inflation. How about some one check out the size of packages of cookies, candy etc and notice that they are getting smaller but the price stays the same.
    Inflation by stealth and not included in official inflation figures.

    What have I missed. How long can this go on for. Is it the new norm that nothing ever crashes any more. I am currently in Edmonton Canada, a city that should be hit hard by the oil price drop. However it is booming and development is continuing as though there has been no slow down. I was last here 2 years ago and it is business as usual.
    Houses still selling, everyone driving big new F150 or chev 1500. Lots of people in the shops.

    Who is keeping this nightmare alive and how and how long can they keep it going.
    I know that in my home country of NZ we are seeing record house prices and lots of construction. Now I see it here in Canada. Have we all miss read the economy and was I correct in a previous post where I said that Yellen, Draghi etc can not let it fail as they will be discussed in a hundred years from now ,at universities, as the ones who failed. Im sure they dont want that to happen.

    • Frederick says:

      Lots of people in the shops? That conflicts with the report on The Retail Apocalypse They may be in the shops but evidently they aren’t buying all that much Housing is a bubble and totally unsustainable and when crude spikes because of a black swan all those big pickups will be up on blocks in the side yards without plates Count on it The American consumer is extremely short sighted with a very short memory

      • Daniel Reich says:

        It never fails to surprise me. Reading the two comments above illustrates how there seems to be two different realities, existing at the same time. I see it again and again. Blows my mind.

    • I still have some houses and townhouses in Edmonton. The problem is there’s no renters as everyone has left the city of Edmonton and the entire province of Alberta. Resale real estate has fallen over fifty percent since the summer of 2007 (townhouses and condos down 50 to 60 percent, single detached houses are down about 25 percent). I don’t even live there and I seem to have a better grasp of what goes on in the city of Edmonton.

    • Ken Barrows says:

      It is all good as long as debt rises faster than income.

  8. Montana says:

    Toyota’s truck sales are up because a normal American can afford it with a normal paycheck. They are easily $10km less than a similarly equipped Ford or Chevy. It might be an old design, but gets the job done with reliability and without a lot of bloated electronics and tech to inflate the price. And they are built in Texas. ( Disclosure – I drive 2012 Chevy truck I think is, about the perfect amount of safety and right amount technology).

    Cars are dead for now. I have a colleague in serious need for an updated vehicle. He keeps looking at trucks and SUV’s. I keep encouraging him to look at midsize or full size cars for his family. He says No Thanks. ” I want a truck or SUV.” He would rather buy a 10 year old truck or SUV over buying a new car with warranty. Jeez, you can buy a new Chevy Malibu for $13k right now after incentives. It’s a great buyers market for cars.

  9. Wilbur58 says:

    I’ll tell you the biggest problem for Hyundai… it’s Kia. Why get a Sonata (ugly) when you can get an Optima (attractive) for less? Same 10 yr/100k warranty.

    No other automaker has this issue. Anyone would take a Lexus/Acura/Infiniti/Audi over their Toyota/Honda/Nissan/VW counterparts.

    • Old Farmer says:

      Part of Hyundai’s problem is that they make cars that are comfortable for people who weigh less than 200 pounds. That eliminates half the potential American buyers.

      • will says:

        “Korean cars, for Korean-sized people!” – is probably not a winning tagline here in America after all..

    • Mendy says:

      I bought an Elantra 2008 new. Hands down best in its class vs corolla and civic and cheaper by several k. A great little car good gas mileage, swept windshield, had pep for 1.5 litre. Sold AT A PROFIT over the loan when i inherited a Subaru. I cannot understand its plight. A great value.

      • RangerOne says:

        I agree I really like the 2017 elantra aND my 2002 went strong for 220k miles. Good cars for the money. Styling and driving have vastly improved.

        I am one who absolutely hates kia designs, especially on the interior.

        Then again hyundai designs have really only started to come together in 2016-2017. But they are in the most competative segment of cars and crossovers so it’s bound to be tough.

    • Enquiring Mind says:

      Glad to see Hyundai sliding. They had a faulty airbag problem that they refused to acknowledge and were investigated by the NHTSA. My daughter’s car had the front end ripped off in an accident and the airbag didn’t deploy (she’s okay). They said that they were sure that everything was functioning normally. Who was I to believe, them or my lyin’ eyes?

      • Ethan in NoVA says:

        Hello. Airbags I believe are triggered by MEMS accelerometers that require a sharp de-acceleration (hit something) to fire airbag. So if somehow a vehicle came across the front and took off the bumper, but the car didn’t hit anything solid at like 25mph+ then it makes sense that the airbags didn’t deploy. Obviously side curtain airbags operate on a different axis.

  10. Jack says:

    Seems to be different here in Canada for June 2017 vs June 2016:
    I think the home equity loans and/or public servants are doing all the buying.

  11. Bonzai says:

    “They doused the market with the highest incentives for any July ever.”

    They’ve been incentivizing for years, hence everyone who wants a new car already has one. This drop in sales appears less about organic demand and more about oversaturation of the market.

    Got a pulse? You can have an new car!

    • Leslie Berlan says:

      When I worked at Ford Credit back in the late 80’s, we called the incentives “buy a bum”. Its only gotten worse.

  12. Pavel says:

    Granted I’m out of the loop on these matters (don’t own a car) but I didn’t even know Buick was still in operation! When was the last time anyone saw one in the wild?

    That said, Wolf’s comment re Tesla’s valuation vs market share is one of the best parts of the post. Wall St has gone insane. There is a huge house of cards and one day it will all collapse.

    • Kent says:

      My father-in-law only buys Buicks. His preference for vehicles is that it can comfortably seat 5 people, the seats are as comfortable as any household couch, and the suspension system has to be so loose that you can run directly over a pothole and not notice a thing.

      That is luxury and class to his crowd. Of course he’s 80.

      • wkevinw says:

        Buick survived the GM bankruptcy for good reason. The technology of the drive trains for GM non-truck-based vehicles have mostly originated in that make. The last Indy class American racing engine was a Buick (last I checked). Buick has many firsts in the history of automotive engineering.

        Their family of v6 engines made an engineering hall of fame for all around performance, manufacturing efficiency, etc.

        I own two: a 2001, and 2003, v6, 30+ mpg on the freeway, comfortable, nice audio, safe…boring…

        You see lots of old Buicks around. The styling isn’t anything memorable, for sure.

        • Ace Bragg says:

          Close. I believe the last production based American Indy engine was the Oldsmobile Aurora V8. Ran in IndyCar from 1997-2001.

        • will says:

          Actually, GM kept it principally because it was one of the strongest automotive brands in China – which used to be the future (just like Al Gore used to be the next president).

          I’m really not sure why this was the case, but granted – this was before Tiger Woods got caught sleeping with everything that moved (and probably some people that didn’t), and he was the Buick poster-boy..

  13. Molly says:

    I have a 2014 Silverado and just got a phone call from a salesman telling me I have “equity” in my truck to enable me to buy a new one…..Chev is in trouble.

  14. The sooner the stock market bubble burst the better! The more time it remains, these bogus companies like Uber, Tesla etc will be killing others who usually have a decent business strategy (meaning money making strategy). If it last for some more time; then it burst there won’t be anythingleft!

    • Quade says:

      You say that but if it happens, it also means our retirement accounts will pop along with the market. Honestly, my only fear in life is that the market craters and there’s not enough time for it to recover before I retire.

      Sites like this have been predicting a crash for a couple years now. I’ve been riding it out so far but the fear of it tanking and taking my retirement with it is always there.

      • Nonya says:

        I would much prefer it happened sooner rather than later. I don’t want it to happen AFTER I’ve been retired a year or 2. I’m just as worried, but for about 5 years now I’ve stopped investing in financial assets and diversified into other tangible assets. Scares me to death to think we’ve all been duped into believing ‘diversification’ means diversification only WITHIN financial assets.

        That being said, I don’t have any interest at all in a new car because there’s so much bloat in them. Why would I need a GPS system, when my cell phone has one? And why would I need OnStar (or whatever today’s equivalent is) when I have a cell phone with me at all times? Why would I want to pay for automatic sensing windshield wipers, when intermittent wipers are lower cost/lower tech and work better? Do I really need 80 different possible seat positions? No: I don’t want it and I don’t need it. Give me a lower price or better quality build rather than gadgetry most people don’t want.

  15. Julian says:

    There’s no doubt things aren’t booming, but they are hardly that bad.

    GM’s inventory lag reduced to 104 days in July – down from 105!

    Less than 940,000 cars on lots in July, down from over 980,000 in June! Things are already moving in the right direction and rebalancing.

  16. alex in san jose says:

    Another “otto” thread, love it.

    I was riding my bike by the local hydrogen station and I heard the characteristic sound of gas going into something (like the sound of filling a propane tank) and I rode over to the station and a guy was filling up his blue Mirai. Just a Joe Blow Ordinary looking guy, with some sort of an accent that could be from some European country, Middle-East, somewhere. He fumbled with the pump the say every “Oscar Grope” fumbles with every gas pump, told me it’s “More expensive than gas” and drove off. I looked at the readout and he’d spent $60.

    Here’s a pretty picture:

  17. David Kitching says:

    Are these numbers just for the US? I don’t know what proportion of Tesla’s 500000 deposits for the new Tesla 3 are American, but this must account for some of the drops in sales of conventional cars.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      David, yes, the Tesla sales numbers are just US.

      “Deposits” for the Model 3 are not “sales.” These deposits are just free money for Tesla. The sales numbers in the article are actual deliveries to customers.

      So over the weekend, a few handmade Model 3’s were given to Tesla employees, including Musk, to test. Those aren’t really sales either. Those are beta versions of the Model 3 handed out for testing purposes with great fanfare. Eventually, mass-produced Model 3’s will enter the equation. Musk spoke of the coming 6 months of “manufacturing hell.” So we’ll eventually see “deliveries” to real customers. The initial numbers are going to be very small.

      • will says:


        I think the OP was maybe suggesting that some of these 500,000 depositors aren’t buying that BMW because they’re really disciplining themselves (hard and fast) by waiting for that pimp Model 3 that may perpetually be 3 months away.

        Just a thought.. although I think your implicit assumption in overlooking this suggestion is correct – ie Model 3 deposits aren’t really eating into Kia or Fiat/Chrysler sales. But 500k /is/ a lot of deposits..

  18. nick kelly says:

    Piece in the Globe and Mail about a marketing break through for hydrogen: Fork lifts. Amazon just ordered a bunch and some other big outfit but can’t remember.
    Odd thing: the idea didn’t come from H industry it came from a warehouse manager.
    The main competitor right now is still lead acid! That is one resilient tech in its niches. Tech is at least 120 years old.

    Prob with H car is few filling stations but the H forklift doesn’t go off site so the H filler tank can be on site.
    And it can be refueled quick instead of charging for hours.
    Higher initial cost but supposed to be 10% cheaper over 10 years.

    • alex in san jose says:

      The thing with H is, it’s not like oil, where you’re digging up millennia of stored sunlight. We get H by chemical methods, I believe by hydrolizing water but there are other methods too.

      Hydrolizing water is easy in theory, but it takes ‘lectricity to do it.

      Sooooooo …. the oil comes up, the oil powers the power plant, which makes electricity, which hydrolizes water to get the H, which has to be cooled/compressed to go in the tank in the big truck that goes – in 90F weather – to the hydrogen fill station, where Oscar Grope buys $60 worth of it for his shiny new blue Mirai.

      Whereas, a low-performance diesel like a Mercedes 240D can run on just about any old oil, from fryer grease to sunflower seed squeezings.

      • nick kelly says:

        Good point. I think that H2 + O2 however should have zero pollutants. just water vapor.
        In warehouse this might be advantage.

        Other thought: why are there are no solar powered animals?
        Answer: the power source isn’t dense enough to permit movement, etc. Even reptiles depend on a narrow temp range, and have limited mobility.

        When a horse walks for ten minutes, it is consuming the power stored by the plants it ate, which stored solar power.
        Don’t have numbers at hand but at a guess, it takes days of plant-stored solar power to power a horse for minutes.

        • Kent says:

          Isn’t that more a function of God’s inefficient way of converting solar power to usable energy than the actual wattage of solar radiation? Photosynthesis, really?

          He had to know that when he created the world 4,000 years ago that we would need to be able to cruise at 80 mph for very long distances. Honestly, I’m more than a little disappointed in His engineering.

        • WorldBLee says:

          Kent: Very salty, I like it.

  19. Stavros H says:

    Is Tesla one of the biggest bubbles ever?

    • Kent says:

      Tesla is a gamble that through the creation of large scale manufacturing efficiencies, you can reduce the cost of electric vehicles to a point to make them highly competitive with ICE powered cars.

      If you can, you change the world and everyone gets rich. If you can’t, you lose everything you invested. It’s a good thing if it works out. But I can’t afford that risk of loss myself.

      Tesla’s biggest problem is probably not the technology, but that they are going to be competing with Chinese manufacturers who will have much greater resources and economies of scale. IMHO of course.

      • nick kelly says:

        Using basic physics, you can convert the watts available to a hypothetical solar panel at 100 % efficiency and will find it is a low- density source of power.
        Because I don’t believe that God created photosynthesis 4000 years ago, but rather that it evolved over millions of years, I think it is probably pretty good, and that if a viable way to enable this low- power source to enable rapid, long- duration movement of animal life DIRECTLY solar powered it would have evolved.

        But the physics or math don’t permit the possibility, even on as an many parallel universes as one can imagine ( with this level of solar power)

        • Kent says:

          I was mostly joking, but a couple of thoughts:

          1. Solar energy gives about 150 watts/sq meter IIRC (average over a day). That’s actually a decent amount of power. It wouldn’t provide for the movement of a horse, but that is certainly enough for much smaller animals (your lizard is a good example). Cock roaches would be nice with a relatively large surface area to volume.

          2. Evolution doesn’t happen because of what is possible. You have a finite set of genes and therefore a finite set of possible mutations. And of that finite set, the vast majority of the mutations will kill the offspring. Therefore, solar powered animals would have to have been a subset of possible mutations that didn’t kill the offspring. Since we all evolved from the first animal, if the “solar power” gene wasn’t in the list of possible mutations, it could never happen.

        • RangerOne says:

          The problems with solar energy is mostly not efficiency.

          The big barrier to renewable energy being the prime choice is storage. The beautiful thing about fuel based energy is that rain or shine regardless of the environment you can produce energy on demand in proportion to how much is needed.

          No renewable works this way, you overproduce when you don’t need it and under-produce when you do and end up throwing away the rest.

          If we ever have a battery technology revolution our energy choices will literally change over night. We could have homes and buildings run 100% off grid. We could have solar power plants storing enough energy in the summer to make up for the winter. We could have cars that can go cross country on a single charge.

          Actual efficiency of light to energy conversion is simple a matter of cost optimization not viability as a prime energy source.

        • RangerOne says:

          Consequently this is why one of Tesla’s largest investments is in battery tech for homes and cars.

        • alex in san jose says:

          The closest thing to a “solar powered animal” you’re gonna get, defining “animal” as something capable of motion at any real speed at all, will be plants that have various methods of spreading their seeds kinetically. There are tons of plants that have seed pots that basically explode, spring apart, etc. and shoot their seeds pretty far distances.

          They’re fascinating and even fun, but they’re not necessarily any more successful than plants that spread their seeds by making them float in the air, hitch a ride on animals, or get eaten by animals and shat out, thus getting a fair amount of travel and a nice bonus of fertilizer.

  20. Drango says:

    The Euro is getting stronger, not sure why, but that will decrease the profit on each European brand car sold here. The Yen should be much stronger, but Japans central bank is doing whatever it takes to keep it weak, up to and including bankrupting the nation. If Trump would do something about the currency manipulators, mostly Japan and Korea, American auto workers wouldn’t be facing the layoffs they are because the competition wouldn’t be able to compete. But apparently Trump is too busy tweeting to actually do anything. That’s what happens when you elect someone with the social media habits of a 12 year old girl.

    • Frederick says:

      Drango Really I’ve been expecting this for awhile The dollar was way too strong for too long Trump wants a weaker dollar as well if he ever actually intends to create jobs in the US

    • Mike says:

      Thats is not his job, thats the job of the deadbeat congress you have had for 80 years…..

  21. david says:

    60-84 month loans. Some Americans are dopes.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      Not necessarily.

      Automakers are now financing at 0% interest. You can pay the loan back out of an existing savings account and effectively earn the inflation rate minus the tiny interest banks are paying on your savings.

  22. walter map says:

    “. . . Rolls was up (yup, soaring 33% to a whopping 100 cars).”

    ‘Ford, and the world Fords with you. Rolls, and you Rolls alone.’

    -Lord Birkenhead

  23. Roman T. says:

    Tesla has all those deposits (half a billion $) but does not have the capacity to build half a million cars. Now the other car makers have idle plants. Hmmm. For Tesla it’s a perfect storm maybe.

    As far as solar goes, Toyota has a new Prius with solar panel on the roof. It gives you about 6km/day now if the model 3 had that we’d have 3 million km/day. So ICE just keeps looking dumber and dumber. Plus electric you a frunk and regenerative breaking reduces wear/tear. Electric always looking better. Autonomous cars will be electric due to low maintenance regimes.

    And how many charging stations is Tesla adding?

  24. mushroom says:

    GM big SUV’s no longer have rear window wipers/washers.

    …what next?

Comments are closed.