Ross cautions against carmakers' expanding lineups

AUTOMOTIVE NEWS

Published: January 17, 2013 1:44 pm ET
Updated: January 17, 2013 1:55 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Automotive, Insert molding
Companies & Associations International Automotive Components Group North America LLC

DETROIT -- Automakers' attempts to boost sales and profits by broadening their U.S. lineups could backfire, billionaire private-equity investor Wilbur Ross said Wednesday.

"Everybody seems to be expanding their product line and you wonder if that isn't going to lead to problems," Ross, CEO of private equity firm W.L. Ross & Co., told the Automotive News World Congress. "It may lead to some more volatility in market share, and it may lead to, in effect, overcapacity in particular segments."

That could undo some of the financial benefits the Detroit 3 and other automakers have realized by better matching output with demand in recent years, he said.

Ross did not name any examples, but at the Detroit auto show, several automakers are showing vehicles in segments where they currently do not compete.

Volkswagen AG, which is targeting a big increase in U.S. sales in the years ahead, revealed a family-hauling crossover concept called the CrossBlue. Kia Motors America introduced a premium sedan, the 2014 Cadenza, following its affiliate Hyundai Motor America into the luxury-car segment.

Ross, 75, who also is chairman of the supplier International Automotive Components Group, said he expects U.S. auto sales to reach at least 15 million vehicles this year, which is in line with many projections by analysts and economists. That would represent an increase of roughly 500,000 units.

In contrast, he said sales in Europe would continue their slide, falling perhaps 400,000 units in 2013. Sales last year in Europe totaled 12.05 million, the fewest since 1995.

In other comments, Ross said:

  • Hybrid cars will eventually become "unnecessary" as electric and natural gas-powered vehicles grow in popularity. "Technology eventually will overcome the problems of price, range, weight, bulk and recharging that electric cars are burdened with now," he said.
  • Automakers will only be able to meet the federal government's 2025 fuel-economy standards by eliminating considerable weight from their vehicles while also focusing on electricity and other alternative forms of propulsion. "The most cost-effective solution is likely to be some combination of these changes and downsizing the vehicles," he said.
  • Traffic congestion may curb auto sales in China, India and other emerging markets. But he sees the economy in China growing faster this year after a slowdown in 2012, which he attributed to its government's efforts to control a real-estate building boom.
  • The popularity of short-term car rentals, such as that offered by Zipcar, could provide a new source of revenue for dealers. Residents of many urban areas, particularly younger people who increasingly elect not to own a car, have fueled rapid growth for Zipcar, which is being acquired by Avis. "Dealers have large inventories of vehicles and are open on weekends," he said. "That might provide them with ancillary income at relatively low cost."


Comments

Ross cautions against carmakers' expanding lineups

AUTOMOTIVE NEWS

Published: January 17, 2013 1:44 pm ET
Updated: January 17, 2013 1:55 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Here's a peek behind our 2014 film & sheet ranking

September 15, 2014 1:22 pm ET

Today Plastics News publishes its annual ranking of North American Film and Sheet Manufacturers. Let's look at some interesting numbers behind the...    More

Image

Material Insights: Commerical production of antibacterial polymers begins

September 15, 2014 1:55 pm ET

PET bottle resin prices rise, we talk shale gas and antibacterial polymers.    More

Image

ZF finalizes deal to buy TRW, creating another global auto supply giant

September 15, 2014 1:09 pm ET

TRW Automotive Holdings, in a supply chain megadeal that has been in the works since mid-July, said Sept. 15 it has agreed to be acquired by German...    More

Image

Delphi CEO O'Neal stepping down

September 15, 2014 12:05 pm ET

Delphi Automotive plc announced that Rodney O'Neal will retire as CEO and president on March 1, 2015, ending his 43-year career at the global...    More

Image

Faurecia Seating grows in Kentucky

September 12, 2014 12:00 pm ET

Faurecia Seating LLC, a division of French-based Faurecia SA, will build a new manufacturing facility in Simpsonville, Ky.    More

Market Reports

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events