Market Overview

TrueCar's Eric Lyman: Automotive Industry Is 'Having A Great Time Right Now'


TrueCar Vice President of Industry Insights Eric Lyman told Benzinga that February's lower than expected auto sales were due largely to a "big slow-down that was weather related" in the final week of the month.

"Consumers don't view going to [a] dealership as a positive experience. Anything that creates an obstacle...can be a drag on sales," Lyman said. "When the weather is bad, people don't want to stand [outside] on a dealer's lot."

For brands with a focus on SUVs and trucks, sales were largely in line with expectations, according to Lyman, which may have been helped by low gas prices and adverse weather conditions.

Related Link: Kelley Blue Book Analyst: Gas Prices, Consumer Confidence Affected February Auto Sales

Lyman's firm maintained estimates for sales of 17 million vehicles in 2015 and noted that if a hail storm develops on a day when a consumer decides to purchase a car, the weather only "defers the purchase" for "a month or two."

Comparing Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and General Motors Company (NYSE: GM), Lyman said Ford was lagging in February which was "driven by the complexity associated with their F-150" and its new aluminum architecture along with a plant that is still transitioning to the new model. The disruption was "really hurting Ford" as sales suffered.

GM launched its new pick-up truck and Tahoe/Yukon SUVs in 2014 and "they are absolutely on fire" in terms of sales and transaction prices, said Lyman, "while Ford is struggling to keep pace."

Overall, Lyman felt the industry's health was "very strong" with transaction prices up and incentives down. Auto makers were also seen as being much more disciplined in production and sales strategies.

Auto makers, dealers and finance companies are "all having a great time right now," Lyman concluded.

Kevin Riley and Brianna Valleskey contributed to this report.


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