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By William Maley
Luxury automakers have been taking full advantage of the high-demand for SUVs and crossovers and raking in the dough. But as Neuton's third law of physics tells us, "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." In the case of luxury automakers, they have a number of sedans and coupes from lease turn-ins that they cannot sell.
“It’s not necessarily the overwhelming amount of vehicles, it’s the mix of those flood of vehicles. You’re throwing all these cars into the marketplace a couple years after it has evaporated and jumped into SUVs,” said Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America to Bloomberg.
This puts a lot of strain on luxury automakers as there is too much supply and not much demand, causing the value on used cars to fall. In turn, automakers have to raise the prices on leases to make up for the amount of depreciation over the term of the lease. It will cause consumers to be priced out of marketplace or automakers to offer generous incentives on leases. For luxury automakers, this is a big problem as they rely on leasing more than mainstream brands. According to Autodata, most luxury brands have increased incentives on their cars through the first nine months of the year.
Audi: $4,696 (up $314) Lexus: $5,323 (up $296) Mercedes-Benz: $6,732 (up $289) So if you find yourself wanting a luxury sedan or coupe, now might be the best time to score a really good deal.
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By William Maley
Sales of new cars in the U.S. have been dropping in the past three months and analysts believe April's sales results will be much the same. But why are sales falling? It comes down to prices of new cars going up and up.
According to data from ALG True Car, the average new-car price rose two percent when compared to last year. Kelly Blue Book reports that the average transaction price in March increased 1.7 percent to $34,342 when compared to the same time last year. There are a number of factors as to why consumers are balking at larger prices; credit not being as easy to attain, younger buyers being saddled with debt, and inflation.
“It’s not just the price of the cars -- it’s the price of everything else. The price of things like health care, shelter -- all of that is fighting for the budget,” said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst with Cox Automotive.
Automakers are trying to stem this decline by increasing the amount of incentives available. J.D. Power reports incentive spending reached a new high in the first half of April with an average of $3,499.
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By William Maley
The past few years have seen a number of start-ups tackling an issue that has been a thorn in the side of consumers, buying a used car. Companies such as Beepi, Carvana, Shift, and Vroom have their own take on selling used vehicles, but the goal is the same - make it less of a hassle to buy a car by selling directly to a consumer through the internet at a lower price. But one of these companies has folded most of their operations.
Beepi, one of the first companies to launch back in 2014 folded most of its operations last week and announced yesterday that it would be merging Fair.com, a soon to launch online vehicle retail platform. As a result, 180 people lost their jobs while the remaining 80 employees and Beepi CEO Ale Resnik will move over to Fair.com.
"It's disappointing. We were collectively working to make a massive industry better. I was in support of what they were trying to do -- to bring more visibility to us all," said Gaurav Mishra, chief marketing officer for Vroom Inc. to Automotive News.
Beepi's business model worked like this; a consumer would contact Beepi about selling their vehicle. The company would send out a team member to inspect the vehicle. If it meets their criteria, pictures of the vehicle would be taken and would be posted online. If someone decides to buy the vehicle, Beepi will deliver the vehicle with a bow. If the vehicle didn't sell within 30 days, Beepi would offer to buy them.
Seems like a good business plan except for one thing, a buyer couldn't test drive the vehicle. Alan Haig, president of buy-sell advisory firm Haig Partners said one of the big issues for these companies is that a customer cannot kick the tires. A study done by Auto Trader back in 2015 backs this up with 90 percent of shoppers would not buy a vehicle without doing a test drive.
"Eighty-eight percent of consumers say they will not buy a car without test driving it first. (Beepi) spent millions of dollars on TV and radio trying to convince consumers that buying without ever seeing a car is the future. We, on the other hand, provide customers with an amazing test drive delivered to your door experience," said Shift CEO George Arison in an email to employees and obtained by USA Today.
This email also revealed that Beepi reached out to Shift about possibly buying them.
Beepi also lost one of their major backers earlier this year. TechCrunch believes that SAIC which was revealed to be an investor last year decided to pull out. It is unknown as to why SAIC decided to leave.
"There are plenty of companies out there claiming to be on the cusp of 'obsoleting' the traditional car-buying process, but it’s easier said than done, and nobody has accomplished it despite a lot of time and money spent trying," said Karl Brauer, an analyst with Kelly Blue Book.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), TechCrunch, USA Today
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By William Maley
A record number of consumers are finding themselves 'underwater' when it comes time to trade-in their vehicle - the vehicle is worth less than what they owe on their loan.
The Detroit Free Press cites a study done by Edmunds revealing that in the second quarter of this year, 32 percent or nearly one-third of vehicles being traded in fall into the 'underwater' category. This isn't good news for consumers since the difference is tacked on to the new vehicle they had their eye on.
To put this in perspective, the previous high was 29.2% in 2006, around the time where the housing market was reaching its cresting point.
“There’s been a lot of water building behind this dam for some time because of higher transaction prices, lower down payments and long-term loans," said Greg McBride, chief analyst with Bankrate.com.
"It’s problematic for the consumer because there’s no foolproof way to eliminate his financial exposure. If the car gets stolen, is totaled or you get new car envy while you’re upside down then it’s a big problem."
In October, the average transaction price of a new car was $34,663 according to Kelly Blue Book. The average length of a new car loan hovers around 68 months according to Experian Automotive. This rises to 72 months if it's a subprime buyer - someone whose credit score is below the low 600s. Not helping matters is the amount of vehicles being returned from leases, flooding the used car marketplace. This increase is causing dealers not willing to spend a lot of money at auction.
Source: Detroit Free Press
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VW News: As the Diesel Emits: Volkswagen Confirms One TDI Doesn't Have Cheat, Price of Diesel Vehicles DropBy William Maley
Another week has passed and some new information has come to light in the Volkswagen diesel scandal.
First off, Volkswagen has confirmed one of their diesel engines doesn't have the cheat. The EA 288 TDI engine used in vehicles for the European-market has been checked out to see if it had the illegal software. In a statement issued by Volkswagen, the engine did not have “software constituting an improper defeat device as defined in laws is installed in vehicles with EA288 EU5 as well as EU6 engines in the European Union with those engines comply with legal requirements and environmental standards."
Also, one of the questions that have been up in the air is how would the scandal affect the prices of used Volkswagen TDI models. Kelly Blue Book looked at data from auto auctions before and after the scandal broke. According to their research, the average price of diesel models dropped 16 percent. Average prices of gas models dropped 2.9 percent in the same time.
"According to Kelley Blue Book Field Analysts, some auctions are still holding off on selling the affected Volkswagen inventory. While Volkswagen diesel auction prices are in decline, we could see larger fluctuations depending on how this inventory is handled," said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
Source: Volkswagen, Kelly Blue Book
Press Releases are on Page 2
Volkswagen confirms: EA288 engines designed for EU5 and EU6 are not affected
Thorough appraisal of the Diesel emissions issue
Volkswagen confirms today that no software constituting an improper defeat device as defined in law is installed in vehicles with EA 288 EU5 as well as EU6-engines in the European Union. Consequently, new vehicles of the Volkswagen Group offered within the European Union with those engines comply with legal requirements and environmental standards.
Volkswagen AG is systematically reviewing this issue worldwide. The group strives for a holistic solution for complying with the respective valid standards.
After thorough examination it is now confirmed that no software constituting an improper defeat device as defined in law is installed in vehicles with EA 288 EU5-engines. Before, Volkswagen Group has confirmed that new EU6-compliant vehicles offered within the European Union fulfil all legal requirements and environmental standards.
Volkswagen customers can visit the corporate websites such as www.volkswagen.de/info, which was set up on October 2, 2015 and enter the chassis number of their vehicle to find out straight away whether their vehicles are affected. Similar customer websites are active in the other EU countries and for the Audi, SEAT and Škoda brands.
Work on the technical solutions detailed in the plan of measures is currently proceeding at full speed. Remedial action on the vehicles will begin in January 2016 – at no cost to customers. The measures are currently being developed for each affected series and each affected model year and will first be presented to the responsible authorities. Volkswagen will subsequently inform the owners of these vehicles over the next weeks and months.
VOLKSWAGEN DIESEL VEHICLE PRICES DECLINE NEARLY 16 PERCENT, ACCORDING TO KELLEY BLUE BOOK DATA
New-Car Shopping Activity Also Impacted by Recent Emissions Issue
IRVINE, Calif., October 21, 2015 – Kelley Blue Book www.kbb.com, the only vehicle valuation and information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry, today reports that average auction prices, along with new-car shopping activity on KBB.com, for Volkswagen diesel vehicles have declined four weeks after the diesel emissions issue was announced.
The average auction price for Volkswagen diesel models dropped by nearly 16 percent since the news broke of the emissions crisis. The average auction price for the brand's gasoline-powered vehicles declined by 2.9 percent.1 On KBB.com, Volkswagen new-car shopping activity for affected TDI models has decreased on average by 2.4 percent.
"According to Kelley Blue Book Field Analysts, some auctions are still holding off on selling the affected Volkswagen inventory," said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "While Volkswagen diesel auction prices are in decline, we could see larger fluctuations depending on how this inventory is handled."
Volkswagen Site Metrics from Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com*
The Volkswagen Golf SportWagen and Golf have seen the most significant declines in shopping activity, with decreases of 6.2 percent and 3.7 percent respectively. The Audi A3 and Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen are the only TDI models seeing increases in activity, at 1.6 and 3 percent respectively, which is consistent with segment-level traffic on KBB.com. Audi A3 shoppers are increasingly cross-shopping competing luxury models following the announcement. The most highly cross-shopped vehicles are the Lexus NX, BMW 2-Series and Mercedes-Benz CLA. **
* Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com Site Traffic, Comparing September Pre- (Weeks of August 31-September 13) and Post- (Weeks of September 14-October 18) Announcement Data. Please note: Data is compiled weekly (Monday-Sunday).
** Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com Cross-Shopping Data for Week of October 12-18, 2015
"During the past four weeks following the emissions announcement, traffic to KBB.com has generally decreased after an initial surge in interest for Volkswagen diesel models, likely because of the stop-sell and negative press," said Arthur Henry, senior manager of Strategic Insights for Kelley Blue Book. "Interestingly, with regard to cross-shopping data, consumers are not looking at fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicles. For example, shoppers interested in the Jetta TDI are looking to the Honda Civic, Mazda3 and Ford Fusion as alternatives, according to cross-shopping data from KBB.com."
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