Toyota nips at Ford for No. 2; high 5's for VW
John K. Teahen Jr. is senior editor of Automotive News
Another month is in the bin, and it's time for the industry's "experts" to trot out their latest sales predictions for all of 2012.
It seems to happen every month, this revision of earlier predictions. You would think the experts -- both bona-fide and self-styled -- would realize the folly of projecting full-year sales on the basis of January or January-February numbers. It simply cannot be done.
General Motors recently issued a new guess. It is now saying 14 million to 14.5 million, up from an earlier estimate of 13.5 million to 14 million.
Even Automotive News got into that act, at least partway. A Page One headline in our April 16 issue shouted, "Roaring back toward sweet 16." We didn't make a prediction, but we told of others who are predicting sales of16 million new cars and light trucks in 2014.
We quoted a cockeyed optimist from Morgan Stanley who said he "would not rule out 17 million" in three years. Good grief! The all-time high, incidentally, is 17.4 million in 2000. The only other year to reach 17 million was 2001.
This year, 14.5 million is quite possible, though it will be a stretch. The January-April total was 4,651,956, which means that monthly sales must average 1,231,006 for the rest of the year. In 2011, only March and December met that challenge.
Last year's sales were 12,778,885, so sales must rise 13.4 percent to reach 14.5 million. In the first three months of this year, sales rose 13 percent. Right on target for a14.5 million year. But April was a bummer. Sales of 1,184,567 were only 2 percent better than last year's. That cut this year's edge to 10 percent.
So there's some catching up to do. Will it be done? Don't switch that channel.
Fighting for No. 2
You think Alan Mulally and his Ford friends are jumping for joy over their 5 percent sales increase for the first four months of this year? Ha! Guess again.
Look at the April numbers. Ford Motor (Ford-Lincoln) outsold Toyota Motor Sales (Toyota-Scion-Lexus) by a measly 1,614 units. Last April, Ford beat earthquake-smashed Toyota by 29,744 vehicles in the United States.
We're told that Toyota executives are rehearsing a new sales song. It goes, "We try harder, and now we're No. 2."
Avis Rent A Car might complain, but, hey, if Toyota can steal Packard's immortal "Ask the man who owns one" line, how can Avis object?
Hear VW Group crow
Who's crowing the loudest about April sales? Volkswagen Group of America!
The group, which consists of Volkswagen, Audi and Bentley, rang up a 27 percent sales increase in April. Daimler AG was up 28 percent, but VW Group's volume is about twice that of Daimler's.
VW Group chalked up 41,941 car sales and 7,308 truck sales for a total of 49,249. For four months, it's 146,553 cars and 26,989 trucks totaling 173,542, up 32 percent from last year.
John K. Teahen Jr.'s e-mail address is jteahen@Crain.com
You can reach John K. Teahen Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.