The auto industry is highly concentrated. The top 10 global
automakers account for roughly 80% of the worldwide production and
nearly 90% of total vehicles sold in the U.S.
In the first five months of 2013,
General Motors Company
) led with a 18.0% market share in the U.S., followed by
Ford Motor Co.
) with a 16.4% market share,
Toyota Motors Corp.
) with a 14.2% market share, Chrysler-Fiat with a 11.7% market
Honda Motor Co.
Nissan Motor Co.
) at the last spots with 9.5% and 8.1% market shares, respectively.
Toyota recaptured the sales crown from General Motors by selling
9.75 million vehicles globally in 2012, which exceeded GM's sales
of 9.29 million vehicles. Germany's
) came third with sales of 9.07 million vehicles for the year.
Zacks Industry Rank
Given the industry's unique attributes that distinguish it from
other industrial groups, we have a dedicated sector for the
industry in our databases. As such, the automobile sector is one of
the 16 Zacks sectors, unlike the S&P classification where autos
are clubbed into the Consumer Discretionary sector (the S&P has
10 sectors vs. 16 for Zacks).
At the expanded classification level, the Zacks auto sector is into
five industries at the expanded level: Auto-Domestic, Auto-Foreign,
Auto/Truck-Original, Auto/Truck-Replacement, and Engines. The level
of sensitivity and exposure to different stages of the economic
cycle vary for each industry. The sector's retail operations are
part of the Zacks Retail sector in two industries -- one for
Automobile/Trucks and the other for Auto Parts.
The current Zacks Industry Rank for Auto-Domestic is #117,
Auto-Foreign is #212, Auto/Truck-Original is #108,
Auto/Truck-Replacement is #85 and Engines is #212, Retail/Wholesale
Auto/Truck is #65 and Retail/Wholesale-Auto Parts is #225. As a
reference point, the outlook for industries with Zacks Industry
Rank of #88 and lower is 'Positive,' between #89 and #176 is
'Neutral' and #177 and higher is 'Negative.'
What this means is that the outlook for dealers -- both new and
second hand -- is positive, while the rest of the auto-related
industries lean neutral to negative. We rank all the 260 plus
industries in the 16 Zacks sectors based on the earnings outlook
and fundamental strength of the constituent companies in each
To remain competitive, the automakers will need to design vehicles
that will cater to consumers in both mature and emerging markets
while manufacturing them at low-cost using the most advanced
For example, Ford has undertaken "One Manufacturing" strategy,
which aims at producing multiple models from plants across the
world in order to save production costs and fast adaptation to
changes in consumer tastes. The automaker anticipates producing 4.5
models at each of its plants by 2015, up from 3.6 models currently.
Further, the automakers are concentrating on offering more optional
features (which will save money on gas), even on the small and less
gas-guzzler vehicles in order to attract buyers. The sale of
optional features is helping them offset lower profit margins for
small cars relative to large trucks.
The automakers continue to shift their production facilities from
high-cost regions such as North America and the European Union to
lower-cost regions such as China, India and South America.
According to a study by CSM Worldwide, China and South America
together will represent more than 50% of growth in global light
vehicle production in the auto industry from 2008 to 2015.
The role of governments is highly significant. Their energy and
environmental policies will be strongly responsible in molding the
auto industry in the coming years. In late 2011, 13 major
automakers, including Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Hyundai,
Jaguar/Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and
Volvo, have signed letters of commitment with the U.S. Government
to upgrade the fuel economy standard of cars and light-duty trucks
to 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025.
U.S. Market Recovery
Strong pent-up demand due to aging vehicles on the U.S. roads along
with falling unemployment rate have been the key factors in driving
the auto sales in the U.S. Average age of vehicles on U.S. roads
increased to 11.3 years in January 2013 from 10.8 years in 2012.
Banks were also friendlier as they offered greater access to loans
with lower interest rates.
Auto sales in the U.S. grew 13.4% to the five-year high of 14.5
million vehicles in 2012. In May 2013, auto sales in the U.S. grew
8.2% to 1.44 million units while it rose 10.9% to 15.3 million
vehicles on a seasonally adjusted rate (SAAR) basis.
GM expects a 7% rise in industry sales in 2013. Meanwhile, Ford
predicted an 8% gain in the year, which reflects more than
threefold rise compared with the overall economic growth of 2%-2.5%
forecasted by the automaker.
Bailout Fund Repayments
General Motors Company and Chrysler received $62 billion under the
Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). Of the total amount, a
significant amount has been repaid by General Motors (more than
61%) out of its $49.5 billion loan and by Chrysler (nearly 90%) out
of its $12.5 billion loan.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) also lent more than $8.5
billion to a few automakers in the name of reducing dependence on
oil, curbing greenhouse gas emissions and creating new jobs.
Ford utilized the DOE loan for retooling two plants for small-car
production and developing fuel-efficient vehicles like the Ford
Focus EV and C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. The automaker revealed
that $577 million of the loan is due in 2013, and the full amount
will be repaid by Jun 15, 2022.
Tesla Motors Inc.
) became the first DOE loan recipient ($465 million) to repay the
full amount much earlier than expected. The electric vehicle maker
paid off the remaining $451.8 million loan using the near-$1
billion proceeds from the common stock and convertible senior note
offering made last week. The company reported its first-ever
quarterly profit of $15.4 million or 12 cents per share (on an
adjusted basis) in the first quarter of 2013.
Asia Promises High Growth
The Asian countries, especially China and India, are expected to
account for 40% of growth in the auto industry over the next five
to seven years being the rapidly growing economies.
Ford anticipates global sales to expand by 50% to 8 million
vehicles by 2015 given the potential growth in Asia, mainly China
and India; and rising demand for small cars. The automaker
anticipates small cars to account for 55% of the total sales by
2020 compared with 48% presently. One third of the small car sales
are expected to come from Asia.
In late 2012, Ford announced plans to boost exports of its engine
production from India by shipping them for the first time to
Europe. Currently, the automaker exports 40% of its Indian-made
engines and 25% of its Indian-made cars to 35 countries. The
company expects to manufacture 450,000 cars and 600,000 engines in
India by 2015. It already pumped in $2 billion to build
manufacturing facilities in India.
In April this year, General Motors revealed plans to build four new
plants in China in order to boost annual production capacity to 5
million vehicles and triple its exports from Chinese plants by
2015. GM and its joint venture partners in China plan to invest $11
billion in the country by 2016 as part of their major expansion
Last year, GM built two plants in China, increasing the production
capacity by 20%. With the addition of four new plants, the
production capacity will increase further by 30% and vehicle
exports are expected to go up to 300,000 units from 100,000 units
projected for this year. Currently, the company owns 13 assembly
plants in China.
In 2009, China overtook the U.S. as the biggest auto market in the
world by sales volumes when the Beijing government introduced a
stimulus package, including tax incentives for small cars. China
accounted for a third of light vehicle sales growth in the last
However, the incentives were scrapped in 2011 and the Beijing
government imposed quotas on new car registrations in order to
control the traffic congestions. In 2012, sales in China grew 4.3%
to 19.3 million units, which is lower than the 8% growth projected
by China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) as well as
the double-digit growth in 2009 and 2010.
Auto sales in the country are expected to improve if the government
renews some of its policy incentives that helped the country
overtake the U.S. as the biggest auto market. According to the
Chinese government, total vehicle sales in China are expected to
rise 7.8% to 20.8 million vehicles in 2013 from 19.3 million last
year, led by strong demand for passenger vehicles and economic
recovery. The CAAM believes SUVs will remain the fastest-growing
segment in the year while commercial vehicles will record a
moderate gain in sales.
Although automakers continue to focus on shifting their production
facilities to new regions driven by cost and demand factors,
developing the supplier networks remains one of their greatest
challenges. Existing suppliers to automakers often lack the
financial strength to expand capacity in new markets. On the other
hand, auto parts suppliers are sensitive to technology transfers to
local third parties, which can give rise to low-cost competitors.
High dependence on automakers makes the auto market suppliers
vulnerable to several maladies, primarily pricing pressure and
production cuts. Pricing pressure from automakers constricts parts
suppliers' margins. On the other hand, production cuts by
automakers driven by frequent market adjustments negatively affect
Some of the auto industry suppliers who have a high reliance on a
few automakers such as General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and
American Axle and Manufacturing
Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.
Future of Green Cars Looks Bleak
Rising fuel prices and global warming have turned attention to the
auto industry that either rely less on traditional fossil fuels or
use cheaper renewable sources of energy. Despite the U.S.
Government's continued effort to promote "green" alternatives such
as fuel-efficient electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid vehicles,
things look bleak, at least in the near future.
Globally, the hybrid market is ruled by Toyota (which includes the
Prius) and Honda (includes Civic and Insight hybrids). Meanwhile,
other automakers such as Ford, General Motors and Nissan are also
aggressively pursuing a plan to push hybrid sales. Some of the
well-recognized "green" cars include the Ford Focus, GM Volt,
Nissan Leaf and
) smart USA micro EV. U.S. is the largest hybrid car market in the
world with sales accounting for 60%-70% of global hybrid sales.
However, the industry has witnessed some notable adverse
developments in the drive for green technology. In January 2013,
the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) backed off President Barack
Obama's stated goal of putting 1 million electric cars on the road
by 2015 due to weaker than expected demand for plug-ins/EVs.
According to Hybridcars.com, plug-in/EV sales constituted a meager
3.3% of the overall sales in the U.S. in 2012.
The weak demand for plug-ins/EVs has led some lithium-ion battery
makers file for bankruptcy protection in 2012. They include
MA-based A123 Systems Inc. and NY-based EnerDel, despite both being
DOE grant recipients (A123 - $249.1 million; EnerDel - $118.5
million). It also led another DOE grant recipient (in fact, the
third largest with $161.0 million), Dow Kokam, to be written down
by chemical behemoth
), who jointly operated the entity with TK Advanced Battery LLC
Since November 2009, Toyota recalled about 20 million vehicles
globally, surpassing all other automakers. In Oct 2012, the
automaker had announced a major worldwide recall of 7.43 million
vehicles that included more than a dozen models manufactured
between 2005 and 2010.
In 2012, the Transportation Department of U.S. slapped a fine of
$17.35 million on Toyota due to late response regarding a defect in
its vehicles to safety regulators as well as late recall of those
vehicles. According to the department, it was the maximum allowable
fine under the law for not initiating a recall in a timely manner.
The latest fine added to $48.4 million imposed by the U.S.
government on the company in 2010 due to late recall of millions of
Toyota would also need to pay $1.1 billion to settle a class-action
lawsuit related to complaints of unintended acceleration in its
vehicles. According to a plaintiff lawyer, the settlement is one of
the largest in a lawsuit in the history of automotive industry.
In the spate of recalls following Toyota's, other automakers'
recalls also came into the limelight. They included Chrysler, Ford,
GM, Honda and Nissan.
Economic Crisis in Europe
The present Eurozone financial crisis has adversely affected the
operations of many global automakers, especially GM and Ford, who
have a significant exposure to the market. Car sales in Europe
continued to be low owing to weak consumer confidence on the back
of a weak economy triggered by the crisis.
According to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association
(ACEA), car sales in Europe reached its lowest level of 12.05
million units in 2012 since 1995, indicating a year-over-year
decline of 8.2% due to the sagging demand for cars, as highly
indebted banks were reluctant to finance new car purchases for
customers. The decline was the steepest in the highly troubled
Eurozone, where car sales dipped 11.3% to roughly 9 million units,
according to Reuters.
Most of the major automakers in Europe are resorting to job cuts
and plant closures, as it became no longer feasible for them to
undertake full-fledged operations in the continent. Unemployment in
the EU reached 26.5 million in Mar 2013, while the unemployment
rate increased to 10.9% in the same month from 10.3% in Mar 2012.
Among the U.S. automakers, Ford plans to shut vehicle and component
plants in the U.K. and Belgium in the next two years while General
Motors would suspend car production at its Bochum plant in Germany
-- which employs 3,100 workers -- in 2016.
Among the European automakers, Renault plans to retrench 7,500 jobs
in France by 2016 while each of Fiat and Peugeot has decided to
eliminate 1,500 jobs. Among the Japanese automakers, Honda
announced plans to terminate 800 jobs at its South Marston plant
near Swindon, southwest England in the second quarter of 2013.
AMER AXLE & MFG (AXL): Free Stock Analysis
DAIMLER AG (DDAIF): Get Free Report
FORD MOTOR CO (F): Free Stock Analysis Report
GENERAL MOTORS (GM): Free Stock Analysis Report
GOODYEAR TIRE (GT): Free Stock Analysis Report
HONDA MOTOR (HMC): Free Stock Analysis Report
MAGNA INTL CL A (MGA): Free Stock Analysis
MERITOR INC (MTOR): Free Stock Analysis Report
NISSAN ADR (NSANY): Get Free Report
SUPERIOR INDS (SUP): Free Stock Analysis Report
TENNECO INC (TEN): Free Stock Analysis Report
TOYOTA MOTOR CP (TM): Free Stock Analysis
TRW AUTOMTV HLD (TRW): Free Stock Analysis
TESLA MOTORS (TSLA): Free Stock Analysis Report
VOLKSWAGEN-ADR (VLKAY): Get Free Report
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.