While the U.S. and Japan continue to hash out the details for a new trade deal, American customers showed just how much they love Japanese automobiles. Both Honda America and Subaru of America exceeded expectations in August and set all-time sales records for units moved in a single month. The booming business was led, in part, by the Honda CR-V and Subaru Crosstrek, both of which posted their best sales months ever. For Subaru, August 2019 marked the best sales month in company history and a claimed 93 straight months of yearly, month-over-month growth. Subaru sold 70,039 vehicles, which beats the December 2018 record of 64,541 vehicles. Top sellers were the Outback (17,110), the Forester (17,076), and the Crosstrek (15,860). The Ascent notably saw a 72.8 percent increase in sales compared to August 2018 with 7,319 sold. Honda America, which includes Honda and Acura, sold 173,993 total vehicles, 158,804 of which were Hondas. That's up from 147,903 total sales in August 2018. Honda achieved these numbers with strong sales across its lineup, despite the less consumer interest in sedans in general. In August 2019, Honda sold 44,235 CR-Vs (the most ever in a single month) 14,381 Pilots, 10,190 Odysseys, 34,808 Civics, and 30,558 Accords. Acura's SUVs continue to be the company's best-sellers with 5,976 MDXs sold and 5,459 RDXs moved.
TOKYO — Subaru reported a 48% increase in first-quarter operating profit on Monday as global sales grew, led by demand for the Ascent and Forester SUVs in the United States. The smallest of Japan's major automakers posted an operating income of 92.2 billion yen ($870 million) for April-June, versus 62.1 billion yen a year earlier and an average estimate of 65.6 billion yen from eight analysts polled by Refinitiv. Sales in the United States, by far Subaru's biggest market, rose 20%. It accounts for about 60% of Subaru's overall sales. The maker of Legacy sedans and Forester SUV crossovers maintained its forecast for operating income at 260 billion yen for the year to March 2020, up 45% from a year earlier. The previous fiscal year was marred by a string of recalls, production stoppages and inspection improprieties that cut the automaker's earnings in half. Subaru reiterated its annual forecast for global sales of 1.06 million vehicles. It also left unchanged its assumption that the yen will average 110 against the dollar over the course of the fiscal year, versus 111 last year. A stronger currency eats into profits because cars exported from Japan become more expensive and the value of earnings made overseas decreases.
South Korean plaintiffs seeking damages for wartime labor plan to soon begin court procedures to sell assets seized from Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
The plaintiffs include women who say they were forced to work for the Japanese firm during World War Two. Last November, South Korea's Supreme Court finalized lower court rulings awarding them compensation.
A hydrogen station in Norway experienced an explosion on Monday, and the company who runs the station has since shut down 10 other hydrogen stations, according to several local sources. The station was in a suburb of the country's capital of Oslo. As of now, Nel Hydrogen (company who supplied the hydrogen and equipment) doesn't have an official explanation for the cause of the explosion. Reports from Norwegian outlets still don't specify or speculate as to the reasoning. There were no injuries or deaths that were a direct result of the explosion, but two people were taken to the hospital after the force of the blast caused the airbags to deploy in their car nearby.
In response to the incident, both Toyota and Hyundai have halted sales of their hydrogen-powered cars in Norway. The stations that Nel Hydrogen shut down are located across both Norway and other countries in Europe. For some context on the ownership of this station, Nel Hydrogen and Uno X (traditional fueling station company) have a joint agreement in operating that particular location. Due to some of the few stations being shut down across several countries, folks with hydrogen cars don't have many options for filling their cars at the moment.
Toyota has decided to halt sales of fuel cell vehicles in Norway after a hydrogen refueling station exploded earlier this week. The company that operated the station has also suspended operations at all of its other locations after the explosion. Hyundai has had a similar response to Toyota, it has temporarily stopped selling its fuel cell vehicles as well.
Even before electric cars become widely known as the one true alternative to combustion vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell technology has been regarded as one of the possible alternatives. However, such vehicles aren’t all that popular, largely due to the efficiency of the powertrain itself and longstanding concerns about the potential safety risks of using liquid hydrogen.
Major automakers on Monday posted higher U.S. new vehicle sales for May, the first increase for 2019 as a strong economy and upbeat consumer sentiment fueled demand. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV,, Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co Ltd all posted sales gains for May compared with the same month in 2018. U.S. new vehicle sales through April had fallen 3%, fueling expectations of a weaker year for automakers in 2019 than last year. Concerns of a downturn have been further heightened by recent threats from U.S. President Donald Trump that he will impose new tariffs on all Mexican imports. Fiat Chrysler (FCA) reported a 2.1% rise in sales, as demand for both light- and heavy-duty pickup trucks remained strong. The Ram pickup, a major profit-driver for FCA, had a 33% gain in sales versus May 2018. FCA and General Motors Co have both launched redesigned pickup trucks. Ford Motor Co has for decades built the single best-selling truck brand in its F-Series trucks, with the Chevy brand a solid No. 2 and Ram a distant third. But in the first quarter of this year, Ram brand trucks outsold Chevrolet-brand trucks. Both GM and Ford report sales quarterly instead of on a monthly basis. Japanese automaker Toyota posted a 3.2% sales increase, boosted by strong demand for its Camry sedans. Nissan said its sales rose 0.1%, driven by SUV and truck sales. The Japanese automaker's sales in the first fourth months of the year had fallen more than the industry average. Nissan has been heavily reliant on consumer discounts and low-margin fleet sales to boost U.S. demand, but has seen its market share drop since 2016. Honda Motor Co Ltd reported a 4.9% drop in sales for May, driven by declining sedan sales. Passenger car sales in the United States have fallen steadily in the last few years as Americans abandon sedans in favor of larger, more comfortable pickup trucks and SUVs, which are also far more profitable for automakers. U.S. auto sales are expected to be about 16.9 million units in 2019, a 2.5% fall from 2018, according to industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.