Toyota Slump Stumps; Chrysler In Line
After "months and months" of increasing auto sales, Toyota Motor threw analysts for a loop when it posted U.S. August results, says Phil LeBeau.
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The Japanese automaker reported a sales drop of 2.8 percent from the year-ago period -- a "bit of a head-scratcher" for Wall Street.
Chrysler's U.S. sales for August slipped 6.1 percent, "pretty much as expected," with analysts calling for a 6.4 percent drop.
LeBeau believes the two companies' results will contribute to an overall sales pace of 15.7 million to 15.8 million -- "not great, but not as bad as July, when the pace was 15.2 million," he says.
GM's Pleasant 'Surprise'
Phil LeBeau reported that General Motors beat Wall street expectations, thanks to the automaker's core truck line.
GM's total U.S. August sales were 5.3 percent higher than the same month last year; analysts had expected a drop of 4.3 percent. And truck sales "carried the day," climbing 14 percent.
"GM is answering the challenge from Toyota, which has been throwing huge amounts of money on the Tundra," the Japanese firm's pickup brand, says LeBeau. "GM saw [the threat] and came up with greater incentives for its truck lineup."
Ford's Bread & Butter Stale
Ford Motor posted August sales that were 14 percent lower than the year-ago period -- and CNBC's Phil LeBeau says the news could be even worse than it looks.
"The most important number may be retail sales," which are down 13 percent, says LeBeau. Stripping out fleet sales, the Ford retail drop is why "people are expecting [the industry's] August numbers...to come up flat."
BMW: Full Throttle
BMW North America on Tuesday reported that U.S. sales are up 7.4 percent year-to-date.
Tom Purves, chief executive of BMW North America, is not worried about a consumer pullback: He told CNBC's Phil LeBeau that he had been expecting some reduction in demand -- "But I'm delighted to see that we're not seeing it at BMW," Purves declared.
Solid U.S. sales for his firm, including "extremely good" results for its Mini brand, added up to a record August.
The CEO drew a parallel between the housing and automobile markets: "Classically, property foretells the story of the car business," he said. But despite the general weakness in the housing sector, "we still have some very strong markets."
"I think anybody who's got great new products is doing well, in essentially a flat market," Purves said.
Those products include new motor designs that not only produce more power, but greater fuel efficiency; and there are diesel and hydrogen-fueled models on their way. Thus, BMW has no need to reposition itself, he said.