Tag: Gwen

US auto sales fall in Sept but companies predict rebound despite government

DETROIT – Automakers expect little impact from the federal government shutdown, and they predict a fourth-quarter rebound after a rare sales decline in September.Auto sales dropped 4 per cent from a year ago to just over 1.1 million, mainly due to a calendar quirk that pulled Labor Day weekend transactions into August’s numbers. The drop ended a 27-month streak of gains for the industry.General Motors, Honda and Volkswagen reported double-digit declines for last month. Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai posted smaller decreases. Only Ford and Chrysler reported gains among the bigger automakers.GM’s 11 per cent drop was its first since July of last year. It allowed Ford to get within 2,049 vehicles of unseating GM as the top U.S. automaker for the first time since May of 2011.Most industry officials viewed September as an anomaly. They also downplayed the impact of the government shutdown, assuming it’s a short one.Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. sales chief, said the fundamentals are still in place for GM and the industry to rebound in the coming months. Jobless claims are falling, home prices continue to recover, gas prices are down, household wealth is rising and the Federal Reserve has postponed the end of a bond-buying program that kept interest rates low, he said.“As long as the underlying economic factors are supporting the business, which we believe they will through the end of this year and into 2014, we’ll get through this turbulence,” said Ken Czubay, Ford’s U.S. sales manager.Jim Lentz, Toyota’s North American CEO, told The Associated Press in an interview that people have grown used to dysfunction in Washington.Earlier this year, when the government failed to avoid automatic spending cuts known as sequestration, there were predictions that the economy would melt down, Lentz said.“Basically they were told that when you wake up tomorrow, the Earth is going to stop spinning,” Lentz said. “For the most part the Earth didn’t stop. And I think that’s how they view this again.”The shutdown will only affect sales if it causes credit markets to tighten, Lentz said. That will be a problem, he said, because low interest rates and abundant credit have helped fuel the auto sales recovery.There was concern among executives and analysts that a long shutdown — and a looming confrontation over raising the government’s debt ceiling — could eventually cause sales to fall. McNeil said anything over two weeks could cut into consumer confidence.“Consumers don’t like to make big-ticket item purchases when there’s a lot of uncertainty in the economy,” said Jesse Toprak, senior analyst for the TrueCar.com auto pricing site.One reason GM’s sales fell last month was a reversal in pickup trucks, which have been hot-sellers. Sales of GM’s full-sized pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, fell 8 per cent even though the company is selling redesigned trucks.Some versions of the trucks were slow to reach showrooms. At the same time, Ford’s F-Series pickup, the top-selling vehicle in the nation, posted nearly a 10 per cent increase, and sales of Chrysler’s Ram truck rose 8 per cent.Ford and Chrysler offered more than $4,000 in discounts as they sold down 2013 models, according to the Edmunds.com auto site. But GM reduced its incentive spending almost 30 per cent compared with last year to about $3,900.While touting its incentive discipline in September, GM announced increased discounts starting Tuesday, including $1,000 cash on a 2014 Silverado and up to $4,500 on a 2013 model.Pickup trucks are traditionally the top-selling vehicles in the U.S., and they’re key to automakers’ profits. Companies make around $10,000 per truck.McNeil said GM’s sales should return to normal levels for the rest of the year. Through September, the company’s sales are up almost 8 per cent from a year ago.At Honda, sales dropped 10 per cent as two of its most popular models, the Accord midsize car and the CR-V small crossover SUV, posted declines. Sales of the Accord, which have been hot all year, fell nearly 14 per cent, while CR-V sales were off almost 4 per cent.Other automakers reporting sales included:—Ford Motor Co. bucked the industry trend with a 6 per cent sales increase. It was led by sales of the Fusion midsize sedan, which jumped 62 per cent over last September. The subcompact Fiesta posted nearly a 29 per cent gain. But sales of the Escape SUV — one of Ford’s bestsellers — dropped 2 per cent, and Explorer SUV sales were up just 1.5 per cent.—Chrysler Group LLC, with a 1 per cent increase aided by the Ram and the ever-popular Jeep Grand Cherokee with sales up 19 per cent.—Toyota Motor Corp., which posted a 4 per cent sales drop. Sales of the midsize Camry, the top-selling car in the U.S., fell 7 per cent, but the redesigned Corolla compact posted a 1 per cent increase.—Nissan Motor Co. reported a sales drop of nearly 6 per cent. The company’s top-selling Altima midsize car, posted a 13 per cent sales decline.—Volkswagen AG, which has struggled all year against strong 2012 numbers, had a poor month. Its top-seller, the Jetta small car, posted a nearly 10 per cent sales decline.—Hyundai Motor Co., which also has struggled this year, posted an 8 per cent decline. Sales of its Sonata midsize car were down 20 per cent. by Tom Krisher And Dee-Ann Durbin, The Associated Press Posted Oct 1, 2013 8:06 am MDT US auto sales fall in Sept., but companies predict rebound despite government shutdown AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email read more

Researchers examining what luxury means to modern society

Depending where you are in the world, luxury can mean many things to many people.Critical luxury is an emerging field of study in Europe that examines the relations between historical and contemporary ideas of luxury. Now, two Brock University professors are helping to bring it to Canada.History Professor Jessica Clark and Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures Professor Nigel Lezama are co-organizers of the Nouveau Reach: Past, Present and Future of Luxury conference being held this week at Ryerson University.The conference has brought together more than 30 scholars and industry professionals from around the world to examine the idea of what we consider luxury and why. They’re discussing the rapidly evolving global luxury market and how it impacts Canada.“I think that we all live with an idea of what luxury is,” says Lezama. “It ranges from a bit of fancy chocolate to an expensive indulgence to time spent with close friends.”“Critical luxury studies gives us a large box of tools to analyse the things and experiences that we consider luxuries. It allows us to determine where value lies, whether it’s in the thing or experience itself, or whether it’s imposed by systems like capitalism, or an internal system like psychology.”The critical luxury field crosses a range of disciplines.“Whether you look at language and signifiers, as Nigel does, or history, as I do, by relating our research back to the theme of ‘luxury,’ we can have dynamic conversations across disciplines,” Clark says.Participants in the conference include anthropologists, historians, philosophers, media studies experts, fashion scholars, designers, businesspeople and others.The field of critical luxury studies is a new one. In the past two years, a book by authors Joanne Roberts and John Armitage on the subject, “Critical Luxury Studies: Art, Design, and Media” was published and the Victorian and Albert Museum mounted an exhibit curated by Jana Scholze called “What is Luxury?”Last May, the two Brock professors represented the University at a conference in New York, which connected them with other groups of scholars in this emerging field.Much of the research in the critical luxury field is based in the United Kingdom, but the conference in Toronto this week is a way to bring the conversation to Canada and involve scholars from this country.“Seeing the international interest in luxury as a field of study first-hand made us wonder what luxury looks like in Canada,” says Lezama. “We realized Canadian scholars and makers had a lot to say on this issue, and we wanted to bring them together, along with the international community of critical luxury scholars.”The discussion won’t end when the conference is over, says Lezama, as they will be creating the Canadian Luxury Consortium, a group of scholars and industry players invested in continuing the conversation.The four-day Nouveau Reach conference is organized by Clark and Lezama along with Alison Matthews David, Robert Ott and Dylan Kwacz from Ryerson University. Scholze, Roberts and Armitage will also be in attendance. read more