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Mercedes loses U.S. sales momentum in March
Sales momentum is fading for Germany’s biggest luxury automakers in the United States just as President Donald Trump threatens trade actions that could make their cars costlier.
Source: Top Auto Group Auto News
International Nameplate Auto Sales Up in March
The spring selling season was in full swing in March, with Americans driving up auto sales at dealerships across the U.S., reports AIADA’s Market Watch.International brands were led last month by Acura (up 15.7 percent from last March), Mitsubishi (up 21.7 percent), and Volkswagen (up 17.8 percent). In contrast, Hyundai’s sales slipped 10.9 percent, due in part to the lack of SUVs and crossovers in its lineup. Throughout the industry, light trucks continued to drive sales demand last month, rising 16.3 percent as a segment, while cars lagged, slipping 9.2 percent. “The spring selling season has started off strong,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “Solid auto sales are the result of a robust economy and a healthy jobs market. Today’s numbers are also driven by the fact that American consumers are finding the products and the deals they want at their local dealership. ” Read more here.
Mercedes Loses U.S. Sales Momentum in Midst of Trump Trade Threats
Sales momentum is fading for Germany’s biggest luxury automakers in the U.S. just as President Donald Trump threatens trade actions that could make their cars costlier, reports Bloomberg. BMW AG’s namesake brand outsold Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz for the first time this year, eking out a 1 percent gain in March. The increase, driven by the 5-Series sedan, was BMW’s smallest gain in five months. Mercedes deliveries slipped 2.4 percent as demand for its top car, the C Class, plunged. Trump threatened to tax German-made cars sold in the U.S. in a stump speech near Pittsburgh last month, escalating a spat with the European Union over steel and aluminum tariffs. The barbs keep coming despite German automakers taking pains to showcase their U.S. production footprint, with BMW inviting the president to its plant in South Carolina last year and Volkswagen AG expanding production in Tennessee. “We’re all concerned that in a market that’s slowing, we’re looking at a significant price increase,” said Marc Cohen, vice president of Priority 1 Automotive Group in Baltimore and a member of the American International Automobile Dealers Association. “It’s gotten enough talk that it’s on our radar screen.” Read more here.
Carmakers Proceed Cautiously After EPA MPG Announcement
Automakers struck muted tones in response to Monday’s announcement that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would revise Obama-era mileage rules that would have required automakers to produce car fleets that averaging more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. New guidelines have not been announced. According to The Detroit News, the restraint on the part of carmakers came despite that fact that industry lobby groups in Washington had pushed the Trump administration to ease Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. And as California officials vowed to fight any attempt to supersede tougher standards in that state, carmakers advocated for a single national standard. California sets its own environmental standards under a waiver included in the 1970 Clean Air Act. A dozen other states have adopted California rules, accounting for a third of the nation’s auto market. Read more here.
BMW Launches Subscription Pilot in Nashville
According to Automotive News, BMW, joining the list of automakers exploring the business case for vehicle subscription services, will launch its first U.S. pilot program this week at a Sonic Automotive store in Nashville. Customers can sign up for the app-based service – dubbed Access by BMW – beginning Wednesday, and vehicle deliveries will start the first week in May. Atlanta-based Clutch Technologies is providing the application, and Sonic Automotive’s BMW of Nashville – the lone BMW dealership in a metro area of nearly 2 million – will manage the vehicle fleet, providing maintenance and delivery service to customers. While there is no set timing, the Nashville pilot will be a longer-term test, said Ian Smith, CEO of BMW Group Financial Services USA and Region Americas. “This is part of developing a sustainable business model,” Smith told Automotive News. “There are many business models over the last couple of years we’ve seen emerge into the marketplace and even some memberships programs. We’ll see whether they’ll be successful or not. We want to make sure that whatever we do here is absolutely viable.” Read more here.
Mazda Puts Consumers First in ‘Feel Alive’ Campaign
Consumers are the centerpiece of Mazda’s new “Feel Alive” advertising campaign as the company tries to reposition itself as a fan-first brand, reports Automotive News. A 60-second spot launched Monday during the NCAA men’s basketball championship game and showed the Vision Coupe, MX-5 Miata roadster and freshened 2018 Mazda6 sedan. The spot features a string of emotionally charged moments – ranging from a sweat-drenched boxing session to two lovers scurrying to the roof of a building for a kiss. “‘Feel Alive’ will be a celebration of human challenge, inspiration, exhilaration and potential and there’s no better moment to reveal it than Championship Monday,” Mazda North American Operations’ Chief Marketing Officer Dino Bernacchi said in a statement. The spot shows a gray Mazda6 driving on loopy roads as a narrator says, “Turn off the highway and soar.” The brand’s approach also marks a new partnership with Amazon, which Mazda plans to use as a social platform, as opposed to an e-commerce tool, Mazda said. Read more here.
Honda U.S. sales rise in March behind trucks, Civic
American Honda posted a 3.8 percent rise in March U.S. sales behind strong truck demand and an assist from the Civic.
Source: Top Auto Group Auto
American Honda Motor Co. posted a 3.8 percent rise in March U.S. sales behind strong truck demand and an assist from the Civic.
The automaker was pulled forward by strong gains from its utility vehicles and the Odyssey minivan.
American Honda’s car sales edged up 0.4 percent while light-truck deliveries rose 7 percent in March.
But the 2018 Accord, the reigning North American Car of the Year, is still stuck in neutral. Dealers say the sedan is struggling to compete because of a lack of enticing lease offers. The company admits the Accord is having a tough time in heavy leasing markets.
While dealers are looking for help, don’t expect the company to throw huge incentives at the Accord. There are rivals spending around $100 million per month on incentives, and that’s simply not the Honda way, says Henio Arcangeli Jr., senior vice president of the automobile division of American Honda.
The company is trimming Accord output to deal with slower demand. Honda plans to freeze production at its Marysville, Ohio, plant for 11 days over the next four months.
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Overall, American Honda’s U.S. sales slipped 0.8 percent in the first quarter, with car demand off 1.9 percent and truck volume up 0.2 percent.
Brands: Honda up 2.6%; Acura up 16%
Notable nameplates: On the Honda side: Accord down 9.9%; Civic up 3.4%; CR-V down 3.1%; HR-V up 1.3%; Odyssey up 28%; Pilot up 42%; On the Acura side; ILX, up 11%; TLX up 43%; RDX up 17%; MDX down 2.9%
Incentives: $1,884 (including Acura), down 13 percent from March 2017, but up 6.9 percent from February, according to ALG.
Average transaction price: $27,784 (including Acura), ALG says.
Quote: “While Honda had a good March, there will no doubt be concern with the Accord’s continued dip in sales. Coming off the heels of an incredibly hot Civic redesign, expectations were high for Accord sales. So far, the Civic and CR-V continue to outpace it handily,” said Akshay Anand, executive analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “On the plus side, there’s time to right the Accord ship and other models continue to perform very well for the brand.”