NewsDesk: US Auto Sales: Best in 7 Years
US consumers headed back into dealerships in droves to buy new cars and trucks in July, lifting auto sales to their best selling month in seven years.
In all, consumers purchased 1.3 million cars and trucks in July, a 14% gain over the same month a year ago. Year-to-date, 9.1 million light vehicles have been sold, up 8.5% from a year ago.
That puts the industry on track to hit nearly 16 million car and truck sales, which would be the best year since 2007, or right before the Great Recession.
In July, auto sales were up 20.9% at Honda, 17.3% at Toyota, 16.3% at GM, 11.3% at Ford, 11.1% at Chrysler, and 10.9% at Nissan.
While the year-to-date split between car and truck sales is nearly even—50.9% for cars and 49.1% for light trucks— the pickup market is showing considerable strength.
Pickup sales, considered to be an economic indicator given their use in construction and by other business sectors, are up 16.2% for the year, including a 23.2% gain in July. In all, 1.2 million pickups have been sold through July. Most of the pickup strength is coming from the full-size segment, too, with sales up 22.8% for the year.
The growth in sales is being driven by several factors.
For one, the US fleet has gotten very old as consumers have been postponing major spending during the recession and drawn-out recovery. The average vehicle on the road is now 11 years old, according to auto research firm Polk. In 1995, by contrast, it was 8.4 years old.
Improving consumer sentiment, driven by improvements in the housing and jobs market, is also a driver. Consumer confidence dipped slightly in July but remained well above year-ago levels, according to the Consumer Confidence Survey conducted by The Conference Board, a New York-based private research group.
“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions continues to gain ground and expectations remain in expansionary territory despite the July retreat,” the Conference Board said. “Overall, indications are that the economy is strengthening and may even gain some momentum in the months ahead. Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions continues to improve.”
What’s more, automakers have become very aggressive with lease deals in recent months, enticing consumers back into the market. For example, Toyota has been offering a $199-a-month lease on its popular Camry model.
The Gene Haas Foundation has donated $1 million to the SME Education Foundation. The donation funds scholarships for students pursuing careers in manufacturing and machining throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and South America.
The application process is online and opens on Sept. 1. SME-EF, which administers the fund for the Gene Haas Foundation, expects to award 950–1000 scholarships this year, to exhaust the $1 million grant.
An event to celebrate the Haas donation was slated for Aug. 19 at Glendale Community College in Glendale, CA. According to SME, about 600,000 jobs have gone unfilled because of a lack of qualified workers.
Founded by Gene Haas, the foundation has awarded more than $15 million to deserving charities. The foundation provides scholarship funds to community colleges and vocational schools for students entering technical training programs, especially machinist-based certificate and degree programs. Of special importance to the foundation are children’s charities and organizations that feed the poor, especially within the community of Ventura County, Calif.
For more information, visit www.smeef.org/scholarships.
US Manufacturing: New Orders, Production and Employment Growing
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in July for the second consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 50th consecutive month, according to the Manufacturing ISM Report on Business.
The PMI registered 55.4% in July, an increase of 4.5 percentage points over June and the highest reading of the year, according to the Aug. 1 report from the Institute for Supply Management. Readings below 50 indicate contraction, while those above 50 indicate expansion.
Six of the 10 indices that make up the PMI showed growth. Noteably, the production index gained 11.6 percentage points to 65% and the new orders index gained 6.4 percentage points to 58.3%. The employment index also registered 54.4%. Imports (57.5%), exports (53.5%) and supplier deliveres (52.1%) also showed growth.
Indices that showed contraction include inventories, customer inventories, prices and backlog of orders.
For comparison, the PMI registered 50.8% in June, 49% in May, 50.7% April, 51.3% in March, 54.2% in February and 53.1% in January.
Expansions and Openings
Grainger (Minooka, IL), the leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products serving businesses and institutions, on July 18 hosted a grand opening to celebrate its new distribution center in Minooka, IL. The 1 million ft² (92,900 m2) facility serves as the company’s new center stocking distribution center and runs a state-of-the-art automated system. The distribution center helps enable Grainger to deliver products same-day or next-day to its customers nationwide.
DATRON Dynamics Inc. (Milford, NH), the North American representative of DATRON AG, a manufacturer of German-engineered high-speed machining centers, dental milling machines and fluid-dispensing machines, on July 10 celebrated the opening of its new technology center in Livermore, CA. Similar to DATRON Dynamics’ East Coast Technology Center, the location in Livermore showcases their popular machine models and allows the company to demonstrate the advanced capabilities of this equipment by milling “benchmark” parts for prospective customers.
American Roll Form Products (ARFP; Painesville, OH), a manufacturer of custom roll-formed products, recently installed a new rolling mill designed for high speed and flexibility at their 53,200 ft² (4942 m2) newly opened satellite manufacturing facility located in North Las Vegas, NV. This new rolling mill is a robust piece of equipment built to withstand the rigorous demands of forming complex profiles while still allowing increased production throughput. The rolling mill is geared to manufacture heavy gage sections utilizing heavy-duty 3" (76-mm) gearboxes.
On July 24, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST; Gaithersburg, MD) announced a competition for grants to address high-priority challenges impeding the growth of advanced manufacturing in the US. NIST’s new Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) Program anticipates awarding $4 million in two-year planning grants in fiscal year 2013. Grants will range between about $250,000 and $500,000, subject to the availability of funds. To find out more, visit: http://tinyurl.com/NISTmfg.
Mergers & Acquisitions
On July 29, Fives (Paris) completed the acquisition of MAG Americas. With the strategic acquisition, Fives becomes one of the global leaders in high-precision machine tools, used to manufacture large complex equipment and high-performance composite processing machines. Fives achieves the global leadership position, in part, as a result of the acquisition of the three world-renowned MAG brands: Cincinnati, Giddings & Lewis and Forest-Liné. The acquisition of these brands is in line with Fives’ ambitious strategy to further strengthen its position in high-growth sectors—such as the aerospace, renewable energy, mining and special equipment sectors.
ABB (Zurich), the leading power and automation technology group, and Power-One Inc., a leading provider of renewable energy and of energy-efficient power conversion and power management solutions, confirmed that ABB has completed its previously announced acquisition of Power-One. The transaction positions ABB as a leading global supplier of solar inverters, which play a critical role in converting the sun’s energy into electric current and controlling its flow into the power system. Power-One has one of the market’s most comprehensive offerings of solar inverters, ranging from residential to utility applications, and a broad global manufacturing footprint.
September is EMO time. Thousands of production experts from all over the world will be setting off for Hannover in Germany to visit the world’s premier trade fair for the metalworking sector. EMO Hannover 2013 will run from Sept. 16-21. It will showcase the entire world of metalworking under the motto of “Intelligence in Production”. “It’s the top-ranking event for international experts from the production sector”, said Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, Executive Director of the EMO’s organiser VDW (German Machine Tool Builders’ Association) in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Gear Expo, the only trade show dedicated to the complete gear manufacturing process, is slated to be held Sept. 17–19 at the Indianapolis Convention Center.
More at www.gearexpo.com.
Honeywell (Morris Township, NJ) announced that Chief Executive Magazine named Chairman and CEO Dave Cote “2013 CEO of the Year,” an honor that recognizes an outstanding corporate leader nominated and selected by peers. The award was featured on the cover of Chief Executive Magazine’s July issue.
Miller Electric Mfg. Co. (Appleton, WI) President Mike Weller received the Technical Education Champion Award from the Wisconsin Technical College District Boards Association at its summer meeting, recently held in Rice Lake, WI. The annual award, granted for outstanding service to a member institution of the Wisconsin Technical College System, recognizes business leaders for their support of area technical schools and partnership in addressing key industry issues.
NewsDesk is edited by Editor-in-Chief Sarah A. Webster. Please email NewsDesk submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was first published in the September 2013 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF.