Cars were too expensive during the pandemic years because there were simply not enough of them, and the ones that were built tended to be higher trim levels. With inventory inching up toward normal levels, consumers are suddenly facing higher interest rates. Will relief ever come? Potentially, and just in time for the holidays.
That’s right folks, get out your biggest bows because there’s a chance maybe it won’t be a terrible time to buy a car in the next few weeks.
You know what also wasn’t a terrible time, at least for President Joe Biden? Last night’s elections in which Democrats outperformed expectations pretty much everywhere that wasn’t a New Jersey train town (due, in large part, to NIMBYism). I mention this for a bit of context: Amtrak Joe should be in a good mood when he parks his motorcade at the shuttered Stellantis plant in Illinois tomorrow to celebrate the tentative union deal with UAW members and President Shawn Fain.
And, finally, I’ll close this installment of The Morning Dump with some strong Rivian earnings and a little reconciliation on the part of Renault.
Happy Honda Days To All Who Celebrate
Tentatively, it seems like the pieces are all coming into place for this year’s holiday car-selling season to not be entirely awful for consumers. There are a few factors here contributing to the potentially decent conditions.
As you can see in the chart above, the supply of new vehicles is starting to accelerate (in spite of the strike) and even used cars are pretty close to where they were this time of year in 2019, which was the last normal year in the car market. More supply generally means better pricing and more incentives.
Dealers have long complained about the squeeze put on them by higher interest rates, so news that the bond market is moving in a direction that’s more favorable for borrowers is good for consumers and dealers. Plus, consumer spending is up year-over-year across most segments.
“[On the new car side] there’s no question that incentives will be growing again this holiday season, just in time for a season to remember,” said Cox Automotive’s senior economist Jonathan Smoke in his weekly presentation. “And on the used vehicle side we continue to see above-average depreciation for this time of year, and that means we’ll see consumers who have been sitting on the sidelines finding price-points that encourage them to get back into the market and to me that spells stronger momentum as we close out the year.”
Obviously, this won’t be felt evenly across the board. Some models will continue to be popular and hard to get. On the other hand, almost every Stellantis vehicle that isn’t a Last Call Challenger is going to be a good deal based on what CarDealershipGuy is sharing online:
Stellantis is in deep doo-doo ????
Their cars are not selling. Heard this from countless dealers over the past couple of weeks.
Here’s one message in my DMs: pic.twitter.com/sgUfBnEAep
— CarDealershipGuy (@GuyDealership) November 8, 2023
While good deals are starting to creep into the market now, the general sentiment in the automotive space is that the best deals will probably come in December. Obviously, a huge increase in oil prices, a war in the Middle East, or any number of other factors could turn that around.
So, get the bow ready if you’ve been on the sidelines, but don’t let anyone in your family see it.
President Biden To Do A Victory Lap In Illinois
Can you feel the Illinoise, folks? President Joe Biden will be heading to the Stellantis plant in Belvidere, Illinois. Why there?
It’s a fairly large symbolic victory for the UAW as the plant was shuttered by Stellantis but will reopen in 2025 to support both a battery facility and the construction of a new mid-sized RAM truck.
For President Biden, it’s also safe ground as he’ll be welcomed by Governor JB Pritzker, one of his supporters, and UAW President Shawn Fain.
From the AP:
Biden will “highlight his commitment to delivering for working families and creating good-paying union jobs, as well as the UAW’s historic agreement that includes bringing thousands of UAW jobs back to Belvidere and reopening a plant,” the White House said.
Though Biden visited the picket line and publicly encouraged a deal for workers, it’s not clear how much the President’s support ultimately mattered in the negotiations. For Biden, the key piece might be the UAW’s endorsement which, though not necessarily persuasive to all UAW members, unlocks a lot of ground support in the key battleground state of Michigan. The UAW hasn’t agreed to endorse anyone yet, though it did say it wouldn’t endorse President Trump.
Rivian Doing Not So Bad
There’s a little bit of grading on a curve you’ve got to do with startup electric automakers, few of which see profitability quickly. Rivian, in its latest quarterly filing, seems to be in pretty good spirits.
The electric truckmaker upgraded its guidance to 54,000 units, and it’s only losing $30,600 per vehicle produced (as Automotive News points out, that’s an improvement over the $139,300 it lost per vehicle produced in Q3 2022).
Listen to how good things are from their report:
We generated negative gross profit of $(477) million for the third quarter of 2023 as compared to $(917) million for the third quarter of 2022. Gross profit improvement was primarily driven by ramping production and our continued efforts to drive material cost reductions through commercial negotiations and engineering design changes.
That’s how it is with startups. Ask me how I know.
Renault Now Owns Less Nissan, Making Everyone Happier
The original marriage of Nissan and Renault was a desperate and hopeful move for both parties, with the relatively stronger Renault grabbing a lot of control over the Japanese automaker. Other than a brief honeymoon period when then-CEO Carlos Ghosn helped turn Nissan around, it turned into a Mrs. Casaubon situation really fast and neither the execs in Yokohama nor the Japanese government particularly loved this arrangement.
As the two companies worked together to try and find a way to live in a post-Ghosn world, this unequal merger is finally being healed with the Renault Group’s transferring of shares to a new trust, meaning that both Nissan and Renault have equal voting rights in the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance.
Here’s the press release from the Alliance laying it all out:
As a result, Renault Group and Nissan now have a cross-shareholding of 15% with lock-up and standstill obligations. Each of the partners is able to exercise the 15% voting rights attached to its own shareholding. The voting rights of Renault Group and Nissan are capped at 15% of the exercisable voting rights, and both companies are able to freely exercise their voting rights within such limit.
Renault has transferred 28.4% (out of 43.4%) of Nissan shares into a French trust, where the entrusted shares will be voted neutrally, subject to limited exceptions. Renault Group continues to fully benefit from the economic rights (dividends and proceeds of share sales) from the entrusted Nissan shares until such shares are sold. From now, Renault Group may instruct the trustee to sell the entrusted Nissan shares, but it has no obligation to do so within a specific pre-determined period of time. Renault Group has all flexibility to sell the Nissan shares held in the trust, within a coordinated and orderly process with Nissan, in which Nissan or a designated third party benefits from a right of first offer.
In addition to chilling everyone out, Nissan (and to a lesser extent Mitsubishi) will invest in Renaut’s EV unit Ampere.
The Big Question
Growing up did you celebrate A December To Remember, Toyotathon, Happy Honda Days or something else? Being a Texan, I primarily grew up celebrating Truck Month, which somehow started in February and lasted until November.