October 25, 2021

U.S. Carmakers Post Strongest July Sales Since 2006

General Motors, the nation’s largest automaker, posted the largest increase, of 16 percent, with double-digit sales growth for all four of its brands. Ford Motor Company and the Chrysler Group both said sales rose 11 percent last month, on the strength of pickup trucks and smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

“For G.M., July was the most well-balanced month of the year from a retail sales standpoint; trucks were hot, but so were small cars and family vehicles,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president for United States sales operations. “Our experience shows that the difference between good sales and great sales in a slow-growth economy is how many new products you have to offer, and we are starting to hit our sweet spot.”

Toyota said its sales rose 16.5 percent, while Nissan reported an increase of 10.9 percent for the month. Volkswagen was the only automaker to report a drop in sales, of 3.3 percent.

Over all, the monthly sales rate puts annual industrywide sales at 15.8 million vehicles for the year, up from 14.1 million last year.

As in recent months, pickup trucks were especially popular last month as a recovery in housing and energy, coupled with pent-up demand, drew shoppers into dealerships, the automakers said.

Sales for G.M.’s trucks rose 44 percent. Ford said its F-Series sales rose 23 percent, while Chrysler’s Ram Truck brand reported a 31 percent sales increase.

Shoppers also sought out small cars as they downsized and prioritized fuel efficiency, said Erich Merkle, Ford’s United States sales analyst.

Sales of Ford’s small cars, including the Focus, Fiesta and C-Max, rose 32 percent for the best month since 2000.

The newly redesigned Chevrolet Impala midsize sedan also had strong gains, rising 38 percent, helped by its recent No. 1 ranking in Consumer Reports last week. The ranking was the first time in 20 years that the magazine had given an American sedan the top spot.

“This is the segment I love to watch,” said Michelle Krebs of Edmunds.com. “It is such a vicious battlefield, and an important one, as it is the biggest single segment in the business.”

Chrysler Group said that sales of its Fiat and Jeep brands held steady at 2 percent as the automaker prepared to unveil the new Jeep Cherokee later this year. Dodge sales rose 18 percent, led by the Durango utility vehicle and the Dart sedan, while sales for the Chrysler brand fell 4 percent last month.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/02/business/us-carmakers-post-strongest-july-sales-since-2006.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

When Cars Assume Ethnic Identities

Oh, yes: its name is the Jeep Cherokee.

Hold on — wasn’t that model name retired more than a decade ago? Wasn’t it replaced by the Jeep Liberty for 2002?

Yet now, in a time of heightened sensitivity over stereotypes, years after ethnic, racial and gender labeling has been largely erased from sports teams, products and services, Jeep is reviving an American Indian model name. Why?

“In the automobile business, you constantly have to reinvent yourself, and sometimes it’s best to go back to the future,” said Allen Adamson, managing director of the New York office of Landor Associates, a brand and corporate identity consultancy.

Jeep, a division of the Chrysler Group, explained that its market research revealed a marked fondness for the name. The 2014 version, said Jim Morrison, director of Jeep marketing, “is a new, very capable vehicle that has the Cherokee name and Cherokee heritage. Our challenge was, as a brand, to link the past image to the present.”

The company says it respects changed attitudes toward stereotyping. “We want to be politically correct, and we don’t want to offend anybody,” Mr. Morrison said. Regarding the Cherokee name, he added: “We just haven’t gotten any feedback that was disparaging.”

Well, here’s some: “We are really opposed to stereotypes,” said Amanda Clinton, a spokeswoman for the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. “It would have been nice for them to have consulted us in the very least.”

But, she added, the Cherokee name is not copyrighted, and the tribe has been offered no royalties for the use of the name. “We have encouraged and applauded schools and universities for dropping offensive mascots,” she said, but stopped short of condemning the revived Jeep Cherokee because, “institutionally, the tribe does not have a stance on this.”

So far, marketing materials for the 2014 Cherokee model have eschewed references to, or portrayals of, American Indians and their symbols. That’s a far cry from the excesses of past years, when marketers went beyond embracing stereotyping to reveling in it. Indeed, Chrysler’s restraint seems an indication of just how much things have changed.

For decades, American Indian tribal names have helped to propel automobiles out of showrooms. Return with us now to the era when Pontiac’s sales brochures carried illustrations comparing its 6-cylinder engines to six red-painted, feathered cartoon Indian braves rowing a canoe.

Or review Pontiac’s marketing copy, which proclaimed that “among the names of able Indian warriors known to the white race in America, that of Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas and accepted leader of the Algonquin family of tribes, stands pre-eminent.” Of course, the visage of the chief was appropriated as a hood ornament.

Many other tribes were adopted as marketing tools. Long gone is the Jeep Comanche pickup truck, sold in the late 1980s, along with the Jeep Comanche Eliminator.

Certainly, American Indian names are still in the market: consider Indian motorcycles, about to resurface under yet another new owner, Polaris Industries. And Chrysler’s full-sized S.U.V., the Grand Cherokee, introduced in 1992 as a larger version of the Cherokee and still a market leader. In fact, its success was a reason for the revival of the Cherokee name for a midsize S.U.V.

American Indians have hardly been alone in the cavalcade of automobile cultural stereotyping. In the 1950s, advertising for the Studebaker Scotsman didn’t actually use the word cheapskate, but prospective buyers were informed that “when you and your family sit in your thrifty Scotsman…this great Studebaker body cradles you, your family and friends in safety.” It should be noted, though, that the Scotsman featured cardboard door panels and its hubcaps and trim weren’t chrome-plated: they were painted silver.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/23/automobiles/when-cars-assume-ethnic-identities.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Chrysler Group Earnings Rise 68 Percent

(Reuters) – Chrysler Group LLC reported a rise of 68 percent in fourth-quarter net income, to $378 million from $225 million a year ago, driven by higher vehicle sales in its home North American market.

For all of 2012, Chrysler said its net income was $1.67 billion, up from $183 million in 2011.

Chrysler, majority owned by Italy’s Fiat SpA, said its net income would rise to about $2.2 billion in 2013.

Chrysler’s 2012 net revenue was $65.78 billion, up from $54.98 billion in 2011.

The Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company said its 2013 revenue would be between $72 billion and $75 billion.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2013/01/30/business/30reuters-fiat-chrysler-results.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Advertising: Just Asking About J.Lo, ‘Chicago’ and Manning Up

¶ Now that the Chrysler Group has twice had trouble with ads for the Fiat 500 featuring Jennifer Lopez — the first was called “quite possibly the worst automotive spot of the last decade, hands down,” and the second was mocked after a blogger revealed that a body double was in scenes in her old Bronx neighborhood — is it time for Chrysler to give up before it has as many problematic Lopez ads as she has had marriages?

¶ Why do the employees of the Stage and Screen channel at the Music Choice cable music service believe that the slides on screen when Bebe Neuwirth performs “All That Jazz” from the musical “Chicago” ought to include photographs of and facts about the band Chicago?

¶ Did anyone involved in the decision to buy a commercial for Chevrolet trucks during the NBC sitcom “30 Rock” stop to think that there are probably, oh, 30 zillion other programs that are likely to have more truck buyers in the viewing audience than a series set in Manhattan about the female head writer of a television show?

¶ Would Murad be advertising in Teen Vogue magazine a facial scrub from its Clean Scene skin-care line if the product were not named Gaga for Glow?

¶ Will consumers want to buy a line of sandwich meat from Hormel Foods called Hormel Natural Choice after they remember that Hormel also sells the quintessential meat-in-a-can, Spam?

¶ Did it surprise the BET cable channel to find that it had promoted a new season of its series “The Game” in an ad supplement that was wrapped around an issue of the AM New York newspaper carrying the front-page headline “NYC Ain’t Got Game”?

¶ How many English teachers have blown a gasket over ads for the Honda Civic, intended to celebrate the different types of people who adore the car, that carry the headline “To each their own”?

¶ And how many English teachers have fallen ill over ads for the BlueCross BlueShield Association that show three photographs of different families with the surname “Williams,” each labeled “Meet the Williams” rather than “Meet the Williamses” or “Meet the Williams family”?

¶ Did readers of magazines like Whole Living who saw advertorials for the Secret Natural Mineral antiperspirant sold by Procter Gamble, which carried the headline “The nose knows,” recall how the comedian Jimmy Durante loved to use that line, including in commercials for Chock full o’Nuts coffee?

¶ Is it a bad omen for the Paul Mitchell hair care brand that ads for its new Mitch line of men’s grooming products, which carry headlines like “Man Up” and “Man Up for the Holidays,” are appearing in magazines around the time that ABC decided to stop production of a new sitcom, “Man Up,” and remove it from the prime-time schedule?

¶ Was J. C. Penney chagrined that it ran an ad in New York subways that carried the headline “We make style the perfect price. You budget better than Albany” after the State Legislature passed a budget described as “one of the leanest budgets in recent years,” which was also the first on-time budget in five years?

¶ Will consumers with long memories respond to ads from the Kellogg Company for its new Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle cereal — which carry the headline “Fruit in the middle? Thought you’d never ask” — by declaring: “Oh, but we did ask. And you once gave us Kellogg’s Raisin Squares cereal with a jingle that proclaimed ‘Raisin in the middle.’ But then you stopped making it.”?

¶ Wouldn’t a television commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines in which an announcer declared, “Tell us what you’ve always wanted to do, on Facebook,” have been clearer if the announcer had said, “Tell us, on Facebook, what you’ve always wanted to do”?

¶ After RedLaser, a bar code-scanning mobile app from eBay, participated in a promotion with the rapper Lupe Fiasco, were executives able to answer reporters who asked, “Was Fiasco a success?” without sounding like the “Who’s on First?” routine from Abbott and Costello?

¶ Was it a coincidence that a biography of the actor Eric McCormack distributed by the cable channel TNT after it approved the production of “Perception,” a new series featuring him and Rachel Leigh Cook, omitted from his credits the TNT series “Trust Me,” which the channel canceled after its first season?

¶ Does an ad for the Pepperidge Farm Milano chocolate cookies sold by the Campbell Soup Company, which runs in women’s magazines and carries the headline “Some relationships are meant to be,” reinforce stereotypes about lonely women who substitute chocolate cookies for human interaction?

¶ Have the executives at the Sofitel chain of luxury hotels heard of a brand of toilet tissue, made by Royal Paper Converting and sold at Dollar Tree stores, that is named Sofitelle?

¶Will consumers seeking a cold drink confuse the Coke Zero soft drink sold by the Coca-Cola Company and the Café Zero coffee-based ice cream drink sold by Unilever?

¶ Does a line of kitchen appliances named after Better Homes and Gardens magazine, which is sold at Wal-Mart stores under the BHG brand, run the risk of being dissed or dismissed by shoppers who will utter three initials that sound like “BHG” but cannot be printed in a family newspaper?

¶ Would a singer, whose difficulties as a star of automotive ads are likely to cost her the chance to be nicknamed Jenny From the Engine Block, tell a reporter, “You ask a lot of questions for someone from Brooklyn”?

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: November 28, 2011

An earlier version of this column incorrectly identified the cruise line whose commercial asked, “Tell us what you’ve always wanted to do, on Facebook.” It was Carnival Cruise Lines, not Royal Caribeean.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=522be0bf2102d2b3d14033036d213d5a

Chrysler Pays Back Loans From the U.S. and Canada

Chrysler said it made payments of $5.9 billion to the United States Treasury and $1.7 billion to Export Development Canada in a series of transactions completed Tuesday morning. The payments retired outstanding loans and covered interest on the debt.

Chrysler’s chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, planned to formally announce the move at a ceremony Tuesday afternoon at an assembly plant in Sterling Heights, Mich.

He was scheduled to be joined by Ron Bloom and Brian Deese, two members of the auto task force that was assembled by President Obama to shepherd Chrysler and General Motors through bankruptcy reorganization in 2009 with the aid of the United States taxpayers.

“The loans gave us a rare second chance to demonstrate what the people of this company can deliver,” Mr. Marchionne said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to those whose intervention allowed Chrysler Group to re-establish itself as a strong and viable carmaker.”

Chrysler had been struggling with high interest costs on the debt, which prevented it from reporting a profit until the first quarter of this year. The company said it recently reached agreement on new financing from a consortium of investment banks that includes a term loan of $3 billion, debt securities totaling $3.2 billion, and a revolving credit facility of $1.3 billion.

The new financing package allowed Chrysler to shed the government loans, which did not mature until 2017 but were hurting the company’s image in the marketplace.

Chrysler estimated that the new financing would save the company $350 million a year in interest expenses.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner hailed the repayment as further proof of the effectiveness of the Obama administration’s efforts to bail out the struggling American auto industry.

“Because President Obama made the tough decision to stand behind and restructure the auto industry, America’s automakers are growing stronger, making new investments, and creating new jobs today throughout our nation’s industrial heartland.” Mr. Geithner said in a statement.

The loan repayment was made possible partly by funds from Chrysler’s Italian partner, Fiat.

Fiat paid Chrysler $1.3 billion to increase its stake in the Detroit automaker to 46 percent from 30 percent. Some of that cash was then used to reimburse the United States government.

Many auto analysts considered Chrysler a long shot to recover after it emerged from bankruptcy. Its truck-heavy product lineup was out of step with more fuel-conscious consumers, and it had few new models to attract buyers to its showrooms.

But with the aid of Fiat, which is also headed by Mr. Marchionne, Chrysler is re-emerging as a healthy competitor in the United States market.

Chrysler’s sales rose 22.5 percent through the first four months of the year, compared to a 19.6-percent increase for the overall U.S. market. The company’s new Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and Chrysler 300 sedan are leading the comeback.

Earlier this month, Chrysler announced that it had earned $116 million in the first quarter of this year — its first quarterly profit since 2006. Mr. Marchionne predicted better times ahead as Chrysler continues to introduce new vehicles. “There is more work to be done,” he said.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=66882bb6bbf404057871881dc9cd6584

Gold and Oil Dip on News of Bin Laden’s Death

Investors also took in a couple of strong earnings reports, some big corporate mergers and the latest economic report, which showed that manufacturing in the United States continued to expand in April, but at a slower pace.

The Dow Jones industrial average was 54.04 points, or 0.4 percent, higher while the broader Standard Poor’s 500-stock index added 6.20 points or 0.5 percent. The technology heavy Nasdaq gained 12.68 points or 0.4 percent.

Markets in Asia and Europe also were generally higher. The Euro Stoxx 50 index, a barometer of euro zone blue chips, rose 0.3 percent. The CAC 40 in Paris rose 0.2 percent and the DAX in Frankfurt rose 0.5 percent. London markets were closed for a bank holiday.

The dollar was mixed. The euro rose to $1.4834 from $1.4806 late Friday, while the British pound slipped to $1.6671 from $1.6706. The dollar rose to 81.29 yen from 81.20 yen

The Japanese and South Korean markets were already 1 percent higher before President Obama announced that American forces had killed Bin Laden in Pakistan.

By the close the Nikkei 225 index had gained 1.6 percent and the Kospi by 1.7 percent. This took the Nikkei to 10,004,20 points, the first time it closed above 10,000 points since the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the country on March 11.

Still, compared to the enormous political and psychological significance of Bin Laden’s death, the stock market reaction was relatively muted.

“News of the death of Osama Bin Laden has had a limited impact on regional asset prices,” analysts at Royal Bank of Canada summed up in a note on Monday.

The news about Bin Laden comes at the start of a week that culminates with the release of the latest retail sales numbers on Thursday and April’s employment report on Friday. Before the markets opened, the Chrysler Group reported its first quarterly profit since going through bankruptcy reorganization in 2009, as the company sold more cars at higher prices. Chrysler said it earned $116 million in the quarter, after losing $197 million in the period a year ago. Revenue grew 35 percent, to $13.1 billion, while sales were up 18 percent.

On the economic front, the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing executives, said its index of manufacturing activity dipped to 60.4 points in April but remained above 60 for a fourth month. That was down from 61.2 in March and 61.4 in February, the fastest expansion in nearly seven years. A reading above 50 signals growth.

Investors also took in a couple of significant acquisitions on Monday. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries said on Monday that it had agreed to buy the biopharmaceutical company Cephalon for $6.8 billion, a deal unanimously approved by the boards of the two companies. And Arch Coal said that it would buy International Coal Group in a cash deal worth $3.4 billion that would create one of the world’s largest coal producers.

Some of the sharpest reactions to the news of Bin Laden’s death were in the commodities markets.

Oil prices initially fell but turned higher after trading opened in New York. Benchmark crude for June delivery rose 46 cents to $114.39 a barrel.

Many analysts cautioned, however, that Bin Laden’s death could stoke, rather than ease, worries about oil supplies and global security in the longer run if it leads to retaliatory attacks.

“This is a positive development in the campaign against terrorism,” Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at Banco de Oro Unibank in Manila told Bloomberg News. “In the last 10 years, Bin Laden’s presence has been a serious threat to global stability. The flip side is this could be followed by retaliation activities from his supporters.”

Gold, which also initially fell, also turned high in New York trading, rising $3.60 to $1,560 an ounce. The precious metal, which is seen as a safer investment and tends to rise during times of rising inflation and global unrest, has been hitting successive record highs in recent weeks.

Silver prices dropped more than 10 percent on Monday, a declined attributed to a decision by the CME Group, which is the parent of the Chicago Board of Trade, to increase the margins for futures trading on silver.

A commodities analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt, Carsten Fritsch, said the rule change, which took effect after business Friday, had made speculating in silver less attractive by requiring investors to tie up more capital while chasing potential gains.

The price fell because with the higher margin requirement and a widespread sense that silver was overvalued, investors who bought early were selling to lock in gains while those who bought recently were selling to limit losses, Mr. Fritsch said. Silver is still up 45 percent on the spot market this year, the best performance of any commodity, he said.

In India, the Sensex index closed 0.7 percent lower amid widespread expectations that the Indian central bank will once again raise interest rates on Tuesday in a bid to tame rising inflation. Most other stock markets in the region, including Singapore, Hong Kong and mainland China, were closed for a public holiday.

David Jolly contributed reporting.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=be029322f43a9991048134741f1c45c0

DealBook: Fiat to Raise Chrysler Stake to 46 Percent

10:57 a.m. | Updated Fiat said Thursday that it would spend $1.3 billion to add to its controlling stake in Chrysler Group, and aims to have a majority shareholding this year.

Fiat, which had already increased its stake to 30 percent this month, is exercising its right to acquire another 16 percent once Chrysler pays off the roughly $7 billion it owes the American and Canadian governments.

Fiat, based in Turin, and Chrysler, based in Auburn Hills, Michigan, are working with their banks to refinance that debt before the end of June. The Italian company will then exercise a $1.3 billion equity call option for the 16 percent stake, with the funds adding to Chrysler’s capital. Fiat will draw on its cash reserves of more than 14 billion euros, or $20.4 billion, to purchase the stake.

Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of both companies, said in a conference call with analysts that Fiat expected to obtain another 5 percent of Chrysler this year, raising its total to 51 percent and giving Fiat “effective legal control.” Fiat has had management control of Chrysler since a 2009 deal with the Obama administration gave Fiat a 20 percent stake in the foundering American company in exchange for technology and aid.

In the meantime, Mr. Marchionne said, raising Fiat’s shareholding to 46 percent will allow the two companies to consolidate their results for accounting purposes and will ‘‘provide a much needed base for a fuller operational integration of these businesses.”

Asked if he was talking about a full merger, Mr. Marchionne said: ‘‘I’ve always said from a governance stance that it doesn’t make sense to have two separate companies.’’ He cautioned that he could not predict ‘‘how we might get there,’’ stressing that integration at the business level was more important than legal integration.

Mr. Marchionne had been saying for some time that he hoped to hold an initial public offering of Chrysler shares as early as this year, but he has been more cautious recently. Speaking on that subject in the call Thursday, he said, “I think a lot of it depends on market conditions and the performance of Chrysler.”

And he noted that any I.P.O. was subject to discussions with Chrysler’s Voluntary Employee Benefit Association, or VEBA, which received a majority of the near-worthless stock in Chrysler at the time of the government rescue in exchange for the money it was owed by the company.

As part of the 2009 deal with the Obama administration, the Italian company agreed to a series of performance targets, which, once met, would allow it to increase its holdings. On Jan. 10 this year, it increased its stake to 25 percent, after meeting the first target, laying the groundwork for U.S. production of an engine based on Fiat’s FIRE family.

On April 12, Fiat said it had met the second target, producing Chrysler sales of at least $1.5 billion outside of North America, and raised its stake to 30 percent. It said it expected to meet the last of the three targets — U.S. sales of a Fiat platform car that gets 40 miles per gallon, or 5.88 liters per 100 kilometers — by the end of the year.

Shares of Fiat, which trade in Milan, were up 3.4 percent in afternoon trading.

On Wednesday, Fiat said first quarter revenue rose 7.1 percent from a year earlier, to 7.0 billion euros, or $10.2 billion, on shipments of 518,600 passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, down 2.6 percent from the same period last year. Net profit rose 24 percent to 37 million euros. It will break out Chrysler earnings early next month.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/04/21/fiat-to-raise-chrysler-stake-to-46-percent/?partner=rss&emc=rss