Vehicle Supply

Late-model auction volume approaches 2 million

CARY, N.C.  - 

Year-to-date auction volume on late-model vehicles wrapped up August just a shade under 2 million units, with nearly a 22-percent sequential hike for last month alone.

According to the latest Guidelines report from J.D. Power Valuation Services, the late-model auction volume tally of 1.94 million units through August is up 6.67 percent from a year ago.

The 257,831 units of late-model auction volume last month was a 21.8-percent hike over July.

In the report, J.D. Power breaks down some of the year-to-date gains, where trucks and SUVs have led the pack. That includes the luxury compact utility segment (up 55.3 percent) and midsize pickups (up 42.7 percent).

Luxury midsize cars, meanwhile, are off 19.6 percent. There has been a 14.2-percent dip for large cars.

“In terms of volume share, used cars continue to dominate at 54 percent of the market, while truck share lags behind at 46 percent, which is a reversal of what’s occurring on the new-vehicle side of the market,” J.D. Power’s report said.

Of course, the hurricanes in recent weeks have impacted the market in September, driving down supply and bumping demand, according to an analysis from Cox Automotive.

In a note to update used-car trends mid-month, Cox Automotive chief economist Jonathan Smoke said: “As we pass mid-September, early indicators are the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index (UVVI) will reach a fifth straight record high. Prices are on track to be up nearly 3 percent over August and 6 percent compared to September 2016. 

“These are significant increases.  If the pattern holds for the rest of September, we will be seeing the strongest annual price gains since 2010, when the economic recovery was beginning and used car supply was severely limited,” he said.

“All seven light-vehicle segments are seeing price gains month-to-month and year-over-year.  Even lowly midsize sedans, which have been seeing price declines for 10-straight months, are seeing gains this month.”

 


Inside the used-car numbers of Tesla

CARY, N.C.  - 

Tesla has been increasing its used-car sales this year, and based on discussion in its latest quarterly earning filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, that trend will likely continue.

And when looking at Tesla’s volume in the auction lanes, those numbers have increased, as well, albeit from a small base.

According to data that J.D. Power Valuation Services shared with AuSM, Tesla’s year-to-date auction volume is up 160 percent through August, coming in at 670 units.

A year ago, Tesla’s auction volume through eight months was at 258 units, according to the J.D. Power data.

In August alone, Tesla’s auction volume was at 118, increasing dramatically from the 33 units in August 2016.

Used pricing trends

When consumers are shopping for Teslas, they are likely going to be interested in how well these cars hold their value.

For one model in particular, retention appears fairly strong.

Autolist.com projects that the Model 3 will depreciate 29 percent after 50,000 miles and 50 percent at the 100,000-mile mark.

The company said in a post on its website, “Looking at the Model S, its competitors and their in-brand counterparts, if the Model 3’s depreciation tracks analogously to the Model S and its gasoline rivals, the projected trajectory would be best in class.”

For instance, at the 100,000-mile mark, Autolist has the Audi A4 to have 60 percent depreciation, with the BMW 3-Series a couple points under 60 percent and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class hitting around 50- to 55-percent depreciation.

The company based the Model 3 projection on the Model S data. The full data set from Autolist

More on Tesla’s used-car sales

In its SEC filing, Tesla explains that pre-owned car sales are included in a revenue category called “services and other revenue,” along with maintenance services and the sales of electric vehicle powertrain components and systems Tesla makes for other manufacturers.

That slice of Tesla’s business was up 157 percent year-over-year (a $131.9 million spike) in the second quarter.

“This was primarily due to an increase in pre-owned vehicle sales as an organic result of increased automotive sales as well as from expansion of our trade-in program. Additionally, there were increases of $10.4 million from powertrain sales to Daimler, $10.2 million from the inclusion of engineering service revenue from Grohmann, which we acquired on January 3, 2017, and an increase in maintenance services revenue of $9.3 million as our fleet continues to grow,” Tesla shared in the filing.

“In future periods, we do not anticipate meaningful revenue from sales of powertrain or other vehicle systems and components to third parties,” it continued. “However, we anticipate that revenue from sales of pre-owned vehicles will continue to increase as the volume of pre-owned vehicle sales increases and that revenue from services by Grohmann will decrease as we primarily consume internally its services.”

Year-to-date, the increase in the “services and other revenue” component is at 124 percent (a $226.4 million increase).  Again, used vehicles were the driving factor.

“This was primarily due to an increase in pre-owned vehicle sales as an organic result of increased automotive sales as well as from expansion of our trade-in program,” Tesla leaders explained. “Additionally, there were increases of $32.6 million from the inclusion of engineering service revenue from Grohmann, an increase in maintenance service revenue of $23.0 million as our fleet continues to grow, and $16.7 million from powertrain sales to Daimler.”

Tesla production

Tesla also noted in the filing that it has ramped up production. In fact, the second quarter was a quarterly record for production; Tesla built 25,708 vehicles.

This occurred even with a lack of 100 kWh battery packs for the Model S and Model X as well as “disruptions from extensive installation of Model 3 manufacturing equipment,” the company said in the filing.

“For Model 3, as is inherent in the production ramp of each all-new product, we expect production to begin slowly, grow exponentially, and then tail off at full production. Accordingly, we expect to achieve a rate of 5,000 Model 3 vehicles per week by the end of 2017,” it said.

“We expect to further ramp to a rate of 10,000 Model 3 vehicles per week, and an annual Tesla vehicle production rate in excess of 500,000, at some point in 2018. We have designed Model 3 to facilitate a ramp to volume production, including through production facilities that are highly dense and automated, resulting in costs of materials and labor for Model 3 that are expected to be significantly lower than those of Model S and Model X,” the Tesla filling stated. “We also expect to make additional investments and preparations as we make milestone-based payments for Model 3 equipment and continue with Gigafactory 1 construction, in addition to expanding our Supercharger, store, delivery hub and service networks.”


Kontos’ 4-point assessment of Harvey fallout

CARMEL, Ind. - 

KAR Auction Services chief economist Tom Kontos spent the past few days poring over data and information that he’s encountered in connection with Hurricane Harvey; a storm meteorologists are calling a 1,000-year flood event.

Kontos explained in a special edition of the Kontos Kommentary there are four primary considerations for the automotive industry to understand as gasoline prices climb and the full macroeconomic impact likely taking months to unfold.

Kontos began with looking at total loss units versus damaged vehicles.

“Historically, we know that many of the vehicles damaged in a hurricane are not total losses. For example, in 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, of the 250,000 vehicles damaged only about 160,000 were total losses,” Kontos said.

“For the non-flood damaged vehicles, a total loss is only declared if the cost of repairs exceeds a certain threshold versus the vehicle’s value. So the same storm damage — dents, scratches, shattered glass — on one vehicle may be a total loss, but not on another, depending on their relative values,” he went on to say.

As KAR chairman and chief executive officer Jim Hallett referenced during an earlier conversation with AuSM, Kontos reiterated that commercial consigners — including the company’s rental, fleet and captive finance customers — are coordinating with KAR to push more units toward Houston and the Gulf region.

Both Hallett and Kontos emphasized that the 13 ADESA auctions in the area are operational and well-positioned to take on this additional inventory.

“But keep in mind, sellers don’t necessarily have to move inventory into the market pre-sale,” Kontos said. “As we’ve seen over the past few years, the volume of vehicles sold at online auctions is growing.

“Our online capabilities can match buyers with sellers and help them find the specific car or cars they are seeking — and then transport them after the sale,” he continued. “And our analytical capabilities can help advise remarketers on the economic desirability of moving inventory versus selling online.”

Next, Kontos touched on what he’s heard from the client roster held by Insurance Auto Auctions. He explained many insured individuals receive checks for the actual cash value, or the current value, of their vehicle — not the cost of a new model.

“As a result, we anticipate an uptick in demand for quality used cars once claims begin to be paid,” Kontos said. “Timing is an important factor here, given the current oversupply of used vehicles stemming from a surge of off-lease units hitting the market.

“While the number of total loss units is still unknown, IAA expects that number to be significant, and could help mitigate some of the downward pressure on used vehicle values by helping absorb this oversupply,” he continued.

Furthermore, Kontos mentioned the regional dynamics likely in play as Houston and the surrounding areas in Texas and Louisiana try to bounce back from Harvey.

“At the micro-level, trucks are very popular in Texas and have resisted the price softening we’ve seen with cars,” Kontos said. “Trucks are holding value better, in part, because gas prices have been low and the supply has been tighter compared to cars.

“The net impact is there will be an increased demand in this region for trucks and SUVs as people seek to replace their total loss trucks and SUVs. Compared to cars, sellers may find more price justification to move truck inventory to Texas,” he went on to say.

Kontos closed with a message to dealers, especially franchised operations that saw vehicles submerged by Harvey’s record rainfall.

“For Houston-area franchise dealers trying to replace damaged inventory, obtaining used car inventory at a time like this may be their best immediate option and value,” Kontos said. “Floor-planning quality used cars is more affordable than new cars, and the current oversupply of off-lease used vehicles means these vehicles are quickly and readily obtainable.

“And a stable of quality used cars will ready-match dealer supply to demand as consumers seek to affordably replace their total loss vehicles,” he continued.

“In summary, Hurricane Harvey is a devastating event for which the whole-car and salvage auction industry stands ready to respond through efficient vehicle disposal and replacement with an abundance of supply,” Kontos concluded.


Cox Automotive: Value of Harvey-damaged vehicles could reach nearly $5 billion

ATLANTA - 

Cox Automotive chief economist Jonathan Smoke on Friday estimated vehicle losses caused by Hurricane Harvey to come in between $2.7 billion and $4.9 billion in the Houston market alone.

While that projected figure includes dealerships’ used-vehicle inventory since those units are classified as vehicles in operation, Smoke indicated that loss figure could swell even more once the damage toll of new vehicles flooded at franchised dealerships is tabulated, too.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Houston and everyone impacted by the weather,” Smoke said to open a conference call Cox Automotive hosted for the media before delving into the loss estimates.

Smoke reiterated his previous assessment that 300,000 to 500,000 vehicles are likely damaged just in Houston; the seventh market largest by population and eighth largest for vehicles in operation consisting of 5.6 million units.

“We reviewed damages numbers in both (Hurricane) Katrina and (Superstorm) Sandy, which were the most comparable storms. We looked at the reporting of wide-spread flooding, which more resembled Katrina than Sandy. We took into account the high vehicle density and the dependency on vehicles in Houston,” Smoke said.

“Therefore we concluded that 500,000 (units) was entirely possible,” he continued. “If we’re correct, it would be the worst in terms of vehicle damage in history. Sandy impacted a bigger market, but the damage was not as severe, and the vehicle density was lower. Katrina had even more severe damage but in less populated, less vehicle dense and smaller area.”

With so much damage likely to be recorded, Smoke delved into the wholesale volume and price ramifications likely ahead.

The record-setting streak for the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index already reached three months in a row when Cox Automotive shared the latest reading on Aug. 7.

The report indicated wholesale used-vehicle prices (on a mix-, mileage- and seasonally adjusted basis) increased 0.75 percent month-over-month in July. This rise brought the index reading to 130.3, which was a record high for the third consecutive month and a 2.6-percent increase from a year ago.

The new high mark is more than 30 points above the index’s low point of 98.0 registered in December 2008.

To project what might happen, Smoke explained that he and the Cox Automotive team went back to Manheim data recorded at the time of both Katrina and Sandy.

“Basically it behaved as you would expect,” Smoke said. “If you take a step back and think, ‘OK the disaster does two things simultaneously.’ It decreases supply both in terms of what might have been on dealer lots in those locations, but also in terms of what would have been potential supply; cars that people might have been trading in or otherwise selling. And at the same time, it increases demand because people are needing to replace their vehicles in a very short period of time that otherwise would not have been remotely considering a vehicle purchase.

“What we’ve observed is you see a break in the pattern in terms if there had been continued growth in supply in the wholesale channel, sudden in the non-salvage you see flat or declining volumes for a couple of months. And related to that you typically see price strength, which makes complete sense. If there is tighter supply and stronger demand, that would amplify prices for a two to three months following the storm,” he continued.

“Wholesale prices have been really strong for the last three months,” Smoke went on to say. “The indicator in August was that trend was continuing so that means wholesale prices are very likely to be strong through the end of the year. Before I was sort of on the fence about whether or not that trend could continue indefinitely or whether it would reach a place and plateau. Now this effect on supply, it’s likely to remain at least as strong as we’ve been seeing through the end of the year.”

And as dealers look for inventory to meet rising consumer demand, the salvage space is likely to become even busier as Harvey-damaged units make their way into that wholesale segment.

“No question this is the biggest event in history in terms of the total volume of vehicles damaged,” Smoke said. “This is going to have lingering effects on the wholesale market for some period of time in terms of increased volumes that should be going to salvage and working their way through the system. But also in terms of the industry and consumers having to deal with their own due diligence in tracking vehicles that could have been damaged but didn’t get properly identified as damaged, and therefore, salvage.”

Editor’s note: Watch for a future report from AuSM that will highlight analysis from experts at Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book about how the damage from Hurricane Harvey will impact retail sales.


UPDATED: Harvey damage estimate approaches 1M vehicles

CARY, N.C. - 

As auctions in the region continue to modify their businesses in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Black Book shared an estimation on Thursday morning that 500,000 to 1 million damaged vehicles will have to be replaced in the city of Houston and surrounding regions.

The National Weather Service said on Wednesday that the storm dumped 51.88 inches of rain in Cedar Bayou, Texas, establishing a new record within the continental U.S.

“Black Book expects the impact of the hurricane to have far-reaching effects, not only on Houston-area automotive businesses such as dealerships and wholesale auctions, but also throughout the South and Midwest,” the company said in a message to AuSM.

“In fact, the storm continues to actively affect parts of Louisiana, moving northeast toward Tennessee,” Black Book continued.

According to an announcement posted on LinkedIn by Casey Allison, who is operations manager at America’s Auto Auction Houston, both of the company’s facilities in the Bayou City cancelled their weekly sales.

“Taking into consideration the safety of our America’s Auto Auction employees and dealers, we have decided to cancel this week’s sales,” the announcement said. “Both North Houston and South Houston America’s Auto Auction locations will resume next week.

“Our main priority is to focus on the well-being of those effected by the hurricane,” the announcement added.

Earlier this week, Cox Automotive officials explained how its Manheim facilities in the region initially would be handling challenges presented by Harvey.

According to an updated message sent to AuSM late on Thursday afternoon, the company said no sales will be held at Manheim Houston, Manheim Texas Hobby and Manheim South Houston during the week of Sept. 4.

In Louisiana, the team at Lake Charles Auto Auction sustained the impact when Harvey circled back into the Gulf of Mexico and struck near the three-lane facility this week.

“We have experienced tremendous volumes of rain and experienced some flooding,” Lake Charles Auto Auction owner Matt Pedersen said in a release sent to AuSM, “but nothing like our neighbors in Texas.”

Lake Charles AA delayed its usual Wednesday sale with plans to host it on Friday. The auction serves dealers from Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and New Orleans and throughout Louisiana, and because of its proximity to southeast Texas, regularly welcomes dealers from Port Arthur, Beaumont and Houston, as well.

“This delay has given us time to begin the logistic preparations that will occur in coming weeks,” Pedersen said. “Vehicles will be moved across the country to begin replacing the thousands of vehicles flooded and destroyed throughout southeastern Texas and in pockets of Louisiana.”

As auctions and dealers look to reorganize, Black Book projected that the rental industry will be impacted first with the supply challenge as thousands of residents will need to find immediate replacement of personal transportation.

“This entails not only a large quantity, but also the right mix of vehicles. Work trucks and service vehicles will be in extremely high demand immediately,” Black Book said.

Black Book recapped that early estimates say more than 500 dealerships have been impacted in the greater Houston area alone.

“We believe there is enough new inventory in the U.S. to supply the consumers’ needs, and the timing may actually be good with new-car stores looking to deplete the 2017 models at model-year changeover,” Black Book said.

“New-vehicle SAAR that has been on a decline this year will see a lift in the coming months as residents start replacing their damaged vehicles,” editors continued.

Pedersen noted how commercial consignors likely will be steering volume toward the region to meet upcoming demand. He added that his operation in Lake Charles could be a prime place for dealers to find the inventory they need. recently broke ground on a new 6,500 square-foot office facility, which will open in next fall.

“We have heard from consignors around the tri-state area who want to be able to market their vehicles to dealers who must fill this important need quickly and efficiently,” Pedersen said. “The transportation companies like the logistics of our location to facilitate the movement of vehicles from around the state.

“Given the extent of this disaster,” Pedersen said, “we expect the need for slightly older and late-model used cars, trucks and SUVs to last for months. We will be doing all we can to help facilitate this recovery. The first thing people will need to begin the process of their homes and businesses back in order is a vehicle.”


Late-model auction volume down in July, but still up from 2016

CARY, N.C. - 

There was a double-digit slide in the auction volume of late-model vehicles from June to July — but that’s typical for summer, J.D. Power said in a report this week.

And what’s more, late-model auction volume was up more than 7 percent year-to-date through July.

According to the latest Guidelines report from J.D. Power Valuation Services, auction volume was at 208,736 for vehicles 3 years old or newer in July. That was down 16.4 percent month-over-month, a decline that J.D. Power called “common for this time of year.”

In seven months, late-model auction volume has amassed 1.68 million units, compared to 1.57 million in the same time frame of 2016, J.D. Power shared.

Trucks and SUVs are leading the auction volume gains, with luxury compact utility vehicles climbing 55 percent to top the list and midsize pickups jumping 35.7 percent.

The most significant decreases have been among the luxury midsize cars (down 22.6 percent) and large cars (down 12.5 percent).

Cars have a 54 percent share of auction volume, with trucks at 46 percent. J.D. Power points out this is the opposite of new-car sales, where trucks are dominating.

Looking at the overall auction market, sales were up 2 percent in the first half of the year, according to KAR Auction Services and AuctionNet analysis cited by AuSM correspondent Arlena Sawyers in this story.

National Auto Auction Association chief economist Ira Silver is forecasting more than 10 million auction sales this year, which would be a new record, the same story indicates.

 


Overall wholesale prices sag as truck supply tightens

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - 

While it appears dealers are having trouble fulfilling one specific segment on their inventory shopping lists, Black Book’s latest price update indicated dealers aren’t paying quite as much when they do find the units they want.

The newest Black Book Market Insights report showed an increase in wholesale vehicle depreciation, especially in the car segments. Although cars had a higher depreciation percentage overall, editors noticed the compact van category for trucks saw the highest depreciation out of all vehicle categories with a 1.74 percent decline in value.

“The wholesale vehicle market experienced broad declines last week across most vehicle segments,” said Anil Goyal, Black Book’s senior vice president of automotive valuation and analytics, one of the many experts set to be a part of this year’s , which runs from Nov. 13 through 17 in Palm Springs, Calif.

According to volume-weighted data, editors determined overall car segment values decreased by 0.58 percent last week, higher than the average weekly decrease of 0.43 percent in values spotted during the previous four weeks.

Black Book found that the prestige luxury car, sporty car and sub-compact car segments declined the most by 1.03 percent, 0.89 percent and 0.78 percent, respectively.

Again considering volume-weighted information, editors reported that overall truck segment values — including pickups, SUVs and vans — softened by 0.40 percent last week; a figure more than than the average weekly decrease of 0.28 percent in values registered in the previous four weeks.

As previously noted, compact vans declined the most at 1.74 percent, while the small pickup segment wasn’t far off with a drop of 1.46 percent.

So now that we know the movements associated with what dealers are paying, what about what they’re seeing coming down the lanes and how they want to stock their lots? The anecdotes Black Book’s representatives at the auctions provided gave a pretty clear picture of what’s happening nowadays.

Starting in Tennessee, Black Book’s observer said, “Used-vehicle retail remains OK, but dealers are struggling to get nice trades. They are all in need of quality used pickup trucks, which are especially difficult to find.”

Down in Florida, the truck story continued with the lane watcher saying, “We had a good auction this week. There were more no-sales on trucks as consignors were holding out for ‘home run’ money due to the low supply.”

While not specifically mentioning trucks, Black Book’s personnel stationed in Colorado reported, “Inventory is low at the auctions so, in turn, the conversion percentages are good.”

Continuing out West, the story in California was, “The no-sales here were mostly due to over-valued higher mileage units.”

Wrapping up in Michigan, lane observers heard from dealers about another segment in the sales calendar as the recap indicated, “We are starting to see the annual back-to-school activity in the lower-priced units. This typically lasts for three or four weeks here.”


‘Mixed bag’ summarizes latest lane activity

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - 

Editors turned a phrase for this week’s Black Book Market Insights report, highlighting that “a mixed bag of vehicle valuation strength” summarized the activity in the lanes.

Black Book noticed that some cars and trucks produced a “widening” gap in strength with compact vans and luxury cars generating price gains. But editors also found that several other segments saw “larger-than-normal” depreciation on the week.

“Sales reports from various auto auctions were generally positive as buyers showed interest in clean vehicles from commercial consignors,” said Anil Goyal, Black Book’s senior vice president of automotive valuation and analytics.

According to volume-weighted data, Black Book reported overall car segment values decreased by 0.36 percent last week, higher than the average weekly decrease of 0.27 percent in values seen over the previous four weeks.

Editors indicated the compact car, midsize car and full-size car segments declined the most by 0.87 percent, 0.45 percent and 0.37 percent, respectively.

Looking again at that volume-weighted data, Black Book determined overall truck segment values — including pickups, SUVs and vans — softened by 0.23 percent last week, a bit above the average weekly decrease of 0.14 percent in values over the previous four weeks.

Compact van was the best performing truck segment while the full-size luxury crossover/SUV segment declined the most.

Moving over to the anecdotes Black Book’s representatives collected from the lanes, the theme of “mixed bag” continued as activity picked up a bit coming out of Fourth of July.

One busy place was not far from Black Book’s headquarters in Georgia, where the observer shared, “Volume was higher than normal. Dealers were positive about the market even though there were more ‘if’ sales than normal.”

Nearby in North Carolina, a similar scene unfolded as the story went like this: “A good crowd today that came prepared to buy. They sold more than they have been with an average amount of no-sales.”

Meanwhile, the three other lane watchers who reported back to Black Book described softer action.

From Pennsylvania: “Based on the fewer dealers in the lanes, this should have been a poor sale but the online bidders saved the day with their purchases.”

From Michigan: “The market needle didn’t move either way today. It was a smaller consignment so the sale was short with an average sales percentage.”

And finally out West in California: “A below normal sale today even though there were cleaner vehicles in inventory, bringing really strong money.”


Auction sales volume up 6% in June

McLEAN, Va.  - 

Auction sales volume wasn’t quite as heavy in June as it was in May, but there was still a good bit more units pumping through the lanes this June than last.

And through the first half of the year, the late-model segment, in particular, is up close to 8 percent. 

According to the latest Guidelines report from J.D. Power Valuation Services, there were 373,188 sales of cars up to 8 years old at auction last month. This is down 4.7 percent from May, but beats year-ago figures by 6.4 percent, J.D. Power said.

And this trend is even more pronounced (in either direction) for late-model vehicles, or cars that are 3 years old or younger.

J.D. Power found that there were 244,116 auction sales of late-model units last month, which is down 5.7 percent month-over-month.

While the report did not provide a year-over-year comparison for June, it did note that year-to-date auction sales volume for late-model units —  which came in at a staggering 1.46 million — is up 7.9 percent compared to the opening half of 2016.

The segment leading the late-model surge is the midsize car, J.D. Power said.  Its year-to-date auction sales volume through June is up 4.5 percent at 297,291 units.  The firm said these cars “accounted for the lion’s share of industry volume.”

Another high-riser is the late-model compact utility vehicle, whose volume is up 28.2 percent at 218,094 units. 


Consulting firm discusses ‘used-car time bomb’

DETROIT - 

The newest report from AlixPartners — whose client roster includes corporate boards and management, law firms, investment banks and other kinds of investors — cautioned the industry that a “used-car time bomb” is about to explode.

AlixPartners explained that it arrived at that dire assertion through a project that began two years ago through what the firm identified as the “CASE” trends that are “completely revolutionizing” the automotive industry — the connected, autonomous, shared and electric vehicles of the not-too-distant future.

AlixPartners released this analysis detailing how automakers, suppliers and other industry players need to evolve their organizations and their partnering approaches to successfully transition to a “new automotive ecosystem.” 

Using several examples, the firm detailed where companies, often relying on traditional auto-industry approaches, are falling behind and why they should consider revamping their operating models. 

The report projected a significant downturn in U.S. new-vehicle sales ahead, to 16.9 million light-vehicle units this year and to a cyclical trough of 15.2 million units in 2019 — partly driven by a “used-car time bomb” of 500,000 more off-lease vehicle-returns in 2017 versus 2016, on top of the 500,000 more units in 2016 versus 2015.

The reports noted these trends will likely be a “double-whammy” to new-vehicle sales, displacing turns to cheaper used vehicles while increasing lease payments on new vehicles as leases get written with anticipated higher residual rates and tighter credit standards.

While dealerships might be turn more used vehicles, AlixPartners also mentioned that as more off-lease vehicles fill the wholesale market, firm analysts are projecting that used-vehicle prices will soften at a rate double the 13-percent drop they believe already has happened since 2014, costing captive finance companies up to $5 billion. 

Beyond just the growth in off-lease volume, AlixPartners spent much effort on looking at how vehicle technology is going to impact which models might roll over the curb more quickly and which ones might need a spiff to get delivered.

On the connectivity front, the AlixPartners analysis pointed to the example of Tesla’s “high-spec” center-stack display, featuring over-the-air upgrades from the company and iPad-like features. Though this feature has been on the market since the 2012 model year, and has garnered strong reviews from consumers, AlixPartners noted that no other major automaker has moved to match the system.

On the autonomous-vehicle front, the AlixPartners analysis found there are now more than 50 major companies now working on autonomous vehicles or full autonomous-vehicle systems, as well as a plethora of smaller companies and start-ups. This “Wild-West” environment will likely result in a handful of big winners, according to the study, but on the other hand, also many disappointed investors. 

The report also mentioned that many of the newer high-tech entrants have completely different “DNAs” than traditional automotive companies, including being used to high returns on capital. Given the “white-hot” competition brewing, the analysis predicts that AV systems-costs could drop 78 percent by 2025. 

On the shared-mobility front, the analysis included a survey of a total of 2,000 U.S. adult consumers that showed just how fast things are changing in today’s automotive world.

The survey polled 1,000 consumers across 10 large markets where both car-sharing and ride-sharing are popular (the metro areas of Austin, Texas, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Portland, Ore., Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., and Washington, D.C.) and, as a control group, 1,000 respondents across the entire U.S. This effort mirrored a consumer survey by AlixPartners in November 2013.

In this year’s survey, consumers in the 10 trend-setting markets said their awareness for virtually all major car-sharing brands (names such as Zipcar, Car2Go and Enterprise CarShare) has decreased, and 21 percent of respondents were unable to name any brands at all. 

By contrast, this year’s survey also asked users of ride-sharing (brands like Uber and Lyft) in those same 10 markets about their intended usage in the next 12 months versus their past usage, and 24 percent said their usage would be more than in the past, versus just 5 percent who said less — an 18-percentage-point difference.

Meanwhile, AlixPartners said just 17 percent of car-sharing users surveyed in those markets said they would employ car-sharing more in the coming 12 months than in the past — versus 16 percent who said they would use that mobility service less in the year ahead.

Moreover, among respondents in the 10 markets, the survey found that ride-sharing was five times more likely to be a top-three transportation mode than was car-sharing (11.6 percent versus 2.5 percent), and three times more likely than traditional taxis (11.6 percent versus 4.2 percent).

In addition, among millennials surveyed in the key markets, 9 percent said ride-sharing has allowed them to postpone or avoid getting a driver’s license — what AlixPartners contends is another indicator of today’s fast-changing times.

Another key finding of the survey, coupled with AlixPartners analysis, is that in the 10 key markets each vehicle used in car-sharing is likely replacing the need for 19 personal vehicles — a decrease from 32 vehicles based on the results from AlixPartners’ 2013 survey.

Meanwhile, according to the same analysis, one vehicle used in ride-sharing is likely displacing four personal vehicles. The report went on to note that both ride- and car-sharing vehicles are typically replacing vehicles driven less than 5,000 miles per year, not typical commuting vehicles.

On the electrification front, the AlixPartners study reveals that China is investing heavily to take a leadership role in electric vehicles. In an example of that, the report noted that Chinese automakers commanded 96 percent of the 2016 market in China for full electric vehicles (not including hybrids), more than double their share (43 percent) for all types of light vehicles. It also finds that of the 103 EVs to be launched globally by 2020, 49 of them will come from China-based automakers.

The report additionally predicts that China is targeting to have two-thirds of the world’s manufacturing capacity for lithium-ion batteries by 2021 (175 GWh of power, or the equivalent of five Tesla “giga-factories”).

Meanwhile, the report recapped that hybrid sales in the U.S. have slowed, from 3.2 percent of the market in 2013 to just 2.1 percent so far in 2017, while plug-in and battery-electrics sales, while increasing, still represent only 1.0 percent of the market. This, says the study, underscores the need for maximum flexibility in both organizations and partnerships to handle the expected, but bumpy, shift to the new automotive ecosystem that’s coming.

Finally, and also in a way on the partnership front, the AlixPartners study determined that private-equity firms have switched, in droves, from being buyers to sellers — most often to “strategics” (companies in the auto industry already), as private-equity-to-strategics deals skyrocketed from 6 percent of total auto-M&A transaction values in 2013 to 84 percent in 2016.

John Hoffecker, global vice chairman at AlixPartners and a 30-year automotive veteran, said, “There’s an all-new automotive ecosystem developing, and I fear that many players really aren’t prepared for it. The changes coming are the biggest since the internal-combustion engine pushed aside horses and buggies, yet what the exact changes will be are as unpredictable as trying to guess which app is going to be most popular on next year’s smartphones.

“Leading players will be those that both study hard and are fast on their feet,” Hoffecker continued.

Mark Wakefield, global co-head of the automotive and industrial practice at AlixPartners, added, ”With the rapid but uncertain developments in connectivity, autonomy, shared mobility and electrification, traditional approaches to partnering and running organizations could well be setting up the auto industry to be disrupted. 

“Fast and savvy organizations that build their own agile ecosystems and create smart partnerships, but without locking themselves into technologies that may become quickly outdated, will be best positioned to afford the needed ‘CASE’ investments of the future and to prosper from the coming industry changes rather than being rolled over by them,” Wakefield went on to say.


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