May Auto Sales Seen Soft
May auto sales for 2003 are running flat as opposed to sales in May 2002, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing J.D. Power & Associates.
Bob Schnorbus, Power's chief economist told the WSJ that consumers may be sitting on the sidelines waiting for "higher incentives."
Based on data from 5,000 dealerships, Schnorbus said industry sales so far in May were at about the same pace as they were in May 2002, a month in which the industry recorded a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 15.6 million units, one of the slowest rates of the year.
Ford Forecasts Falling Vehicle Prices
Ford said it would miss its goal of keeping vehicle prices steady this year due to escalating incentives, Reuters reported.
Ford's Chairman and Chief Executive, Bill Ford Jr., told a meeting of industry analysts that the company expects prices in the United States to fall this year by an unspecified amount, attributing the uncertainty to intense competition in the form of rebates, interest-free loans and other incentives.
For example, Ford's average incentive rose to $3,198 per vehicle in April, up 13 percent from March and 45 percent from April 2002, Reuters notes, citing statistics from industry research firm Autodata.
Ford CFO Allan Gilmour also said that Ford's second-quarter pricing performance in the United States would be "unfavorable" because it had no new vehicles coming along which could command higher prices.
Chrysler Links up With Big Brown Truck
UPS, the package delivery company, has announced a collaboration with DaimlerChrysler to test package delivery vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
The deployment of the zero-emission vehicles, in two different sizes, will begin late this year and continue in 2004 and will be the first use of fuel-cell technology in a commercial delivery fleet in North America, UPS said in a statement.
"It's time to deploy this technology in a commercial fleet and learn exactly what's needed to make it broadly available," said Tom Weidemeyer, chief operating officer of UPS and president of UPS Airlines. "These vehicles are going to be rolling laboratories. Environmental improvements like this and the needs of business are not incompatible."
DaimlerChrysler will supply the fuel-cell vehicles for UPS, while the EPA will supply a hydrogen refueling station at its Ann Arbor facility. The fueling station will be operational by the end of 2003 and will provide compressed hydrogen fuel to the UPS vehicles as well as other fuel-cell cars in the area.
The first fuel-cell vehicle to be tested by UPS will be a DaimlerChrysler "F-Cell," which will be used for early-morning deliveries by late 2003.
In 2004, UPS says it will add one or more fuel-cell-powered Sprinter delivery vans to its fleet. There are currently 2,500 Sprinter vehicles in UPS's domestic and international fleets. Sprinters normally are powered by a highly fuel-efficient diesel engine and are certified as ultra low emission vehicles under EPA guidelines.
Fuel cells convert chemical energy — in this case, hydrogen's reaction with oxygen — into electricity without combustion. The reaction of hydrogen and oxygen produce water vapor and heat as its only by-products, or emissions. The lack of any exhaust emissions makes fuel-cell technology the ultimate alternative fuel, the statement said.
World's First Fuel-Cell Car Recall
Toyota is recalling all six of its hydrogen-powered vehicles after it found a leak in the fuel tank of one of the cars, Reuters reported.
Toyota started leasing the million-dollar- cars to four Japanese government ministries and two California university campuses last December, the story said.
Toyota said the leak occurred in the vehicle leased to Japan's Environment Ministry while the high-pressure hydrogen tank was being refilled, Reuters added.
In addition to recalling the vehicles, Toyota said will postpone the lease of six more to two local governments and four private companies in Japan.