U.S. Auto Sales in November Rose

U.S. auto sales in November 2011 rose. Also, November sales were buoyed by brisk pickup truck sales spurred by lower fuel prices and greater demand from business owners. The improved performance comes as the industry recovers from the March earthquake in Japan, which triggered vehicle shortages that hollowed out dealer inventories and depressed sales during the summer. However, analysts cautioned that the recent performance of U.S. auto sales, which comes amid mounting concerns about the health of the U.S. economy, may be a function of so-called deferred demand. Deferred demand for Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Co., vehicles may have boosted sales for the month by 200,000 analysts estimated. Without this boost, the U.S. auto sales rate would hover around 13.1 million, he added. Honda and Toyota could capture a combined 23.5 percent of the U.S. market in November, up from 20 percent in October. Analysts expect Toyota’s U.S. market share to be 13.5 percent, the highest since April, before the earthquake effected supply. U.S. automakers General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. automakers are expected to sell around 12.7 million vehicles this year, according to J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive. Incentives offered by the Detroit automakers rose $241 largely due to deals on pickup trucks. These deals, coupled with a drop in fuel prices, helped boost demand for pickup trucks, which have sold well this fall. Click to See More Auto Info

Toyota Automaker Is Recalling 550,000 Vehicles

Toyota automaker is recalling about 550,000 vehicles worldwide including of the United States, for steering problems. The recall affects 447,000 vehicles in North America, as well as 38,000 in Japan and another 25,000 in Australia and New Zealand. In Europe some 14,000 vehicles are being recalled along with 10,000 in the Middle East and 14,000 in Asia outside Japan. Toyota’s reputation has taken a hit over the last two years due to a string of huge recalls that have ballooned to 14 million vehicles over that time, including millions recalled last year for acceleration problems. It faces damage lawsuits and lingering doubts in the U.S. about whether it had been transparent enough about the recall woes. Japan’s largest automaker has been trying to communicate better with customers and empower regional operations outside Japan to make safety decisions. The news comes a day after Toyota said its July-September profit slid 18.5 percent to 80.4 billion yen ($1 billion) on plunging sales caused by parts shortages from the tsunami disaster in northeastern Japan. The latest recall is due to the possibility that the outer ring of the engine’s crankshaft pulley may become misaligned with the inner ring, causing noise or a warning signal to light up, the company’s U.S. sales unit said in a press release. If the problem isn’t corrected, the belt for the power steering pump may become detached from the pulley, making it suddenly more difficult to turn the steering wheel. In the United States, the automaker is recalling 283,200 Toyota brand cars, including the 2004 and 2005 Camry, Highlander, Sienna and Solara, the 2004 Avalon and the 2006 Highlander HV. Its recall of 137,000 Lexus vehicles includes the 2004 and 2005 ES330 and RX330 and 2006 RX400h. The recall notification process varies from country to country. Click To See More Auto Info

Bright Automotive Car Company Plan To Build Hybrid Trucks With AM General

Indiana car company Bright Automotive announced its plan to build plug-in hybrid work trucks at AM General. This plan could to bring 300 jobs to St. Joseph County by early 2013. But it’s not a done deal. Bright Automotive wants a local work force to build the hybrid work truck that plugs in and uses electricity for the first 40 miles, then changes over to a gasoline engine after that. There is a demand for it, citing a 900,000 cars for a vehicle market for service companies, repairmen, delivery drivers and others. However, Bright has to overcome a big hurdle before production can begin. The company applied for a loan for hundreds of millions of dollars from the Department of Energy months ago, and that application has neither been approved nor denied. There is a great confidence in this business plan and certainly expect the Department of Energy will recognize that and ultimately push this through. In 2009, Electric Motors Corporation announced it would bring at least 1,600 jobs to Elkhart County to build a hybrid pick-up truck. Now the building along State Road 19 in Wakarusa where all that hype happened sits empty. Neither AM General nor leaders with the county’s Project Future program are saying much about the partnership.

Chrysler Group LLC Reported Profit Of $212 Million

Chrysler Group LLC reported Thursday that its net income was $212 million for the July-September period, its second quarterly profit this year and only the second since 2006. Under is new Italian management, vehicle sales worldwide rose 24 percent, and revenue rose 19 percent to $13.1 billion. Chrysler also got good news on the labor front this week. On Wednesday, the United Auto Workers announced that 55 percent of the Chrysler workers voting on their new contract approved the agreement. The contract, which covers 23,000 U.S. factory workers, will hold down the company’s costs by giving workers profit-sharing and other bonuses instead of annual raises. In last year’s third quarter, the privately held company lost $84 million, but Chrysler, now run by Italy’s Fiat SpA, said its fortunes have improved because of increased demand for its new or revamped Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram cars and trucks. For the first three quarters of the year, Chrysler has lost $42 million. But that’s mainly due to a $551 million accounting charge for refinancing its government debt in the second quarter. Excluding the debt charge, the company expects to earn $200 million to $500 million for the full year. Chrysler hasn’t made an annual profit since 2005, but it’s getting closer to profitability with a mix of strong new products. Under Marchionne, the company has changed factory procedures and is doing more rigorous quality testing, raising the reliability of its vehicles. Chrysler’s Jeep brand was the top brand from a U.S. automaker in Consumer Reports’ latest reliability rankings, which were released Tuesday. Chrysler was also the most improved brand, moving up to 15th place from 27th. The Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler 200 and Dodge Durango have been among the company’s recent successes. Click To See More Auto Info

Kia Motors Co. Expects To Increase Sales

Kia Motors Co. expects to sell 470,000 new cars this year, up from 356,268 of sales in 2010. Through September, U.S. auto sales surged 37 percent to 367,405, topping the brand’s full-year car sales record set last year. Company sales in the USA will surpass 500,000 cars next year and the dealer network will grow to 800 stores in 2012. This company is attracting new auto dealers in the U.S., while replacing poor-performing stores and improving existing dealerships. Also, this company will increase the number of dealers from 760 to about 800 by next year. But Kia’s main focus is strengthening dealers in 20 key U.S. markets. In the first half of 2011, company replaced about 50 to 60 small, old, low-performing dealers with interesting new ones who are willing to invest into the brand. Kia Motors Corporation will add points when opportunities arise in markets where the brand is underrepresented. Click To See More Automotive Info

Kia Expects To Increase Sales Of New Cars

Kia Expects More Sales This Year