This Week in Car Buying: Ford F-150 production stops; Cadillac to ax ATS; Honda Clarity EV leased for $199; Luxury SUV consideration slips
Perennial sales leader, the Ford F-Series pickup, faces a production shutdown after a key supplier suffered a fire at its factory. Michigan-based Meridian Magnesium, which makes parts for the F-150 and Super Duty pickups, as well as the Expedition and Navigator full-size SUVs, halted its output because of the fire. Ford said it had enough parts on hand for the SUVs, but a shortage of components for its pickups led to a week-long shutdown of its Kansas City plant.
The temporary shutdown isn’t expected to greatly affect sales of the popular pickup. Through the first four months of 2018, Ford has retailed more than 287,000 of the trucks and has more than 280,000 units in stock, which equates to an 82 days’ supply of vehicles. It also shouldn’t affect incentives. The company currently is offering discounts of up to $2,250 on F-150 models and as much as $4,000 on 2017 models.
Cadillac to ax ATS
General Motors luxury division will ax the 2018 Cadillac ATS sedan after the current model year, while the coupe version will continue through the 2019 model year. The entry level sedan and coupe will be cut as part of a larger plan to restructure Cadillac’s car lineup. In the place of the ATS, midsize CTS and full-size XTS sedan, the brand will launch two cars starting with the CT4 positioned beneath the current CT6.
Originally designed to take on European rivals like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the ATS has not been a big seller. Currently, Cadillac has incentives of up to $2,000 on the ATS. Currently, there are about 3,000 of the vehicles in inventory.
Meanwhile, as GM announced the end of the Cadillac ATS, Ford halted production the same week of the Focus and C-Max Plug-in Hybrid at the Wayne, Mich., assembly plant. Earlier, Ford announced that it was dropping the Taurus and Fusion sedans, as well as all Focus models except a wagon version dubbed the Active. The ATS announcement and Ford’s move are part of a larger industry shift away from traditional sedans to more crossover SUVs and trucks.
Honda Clarity EV leased for $199
Honda is kicking off the availability of its 2018 Clarity EV with a special $199 per month lease, but the deal is limited to California and Oregon, the first two markets that will get the pure electric. The hydrogen fuel cell version of the Clarity is available only in California, while the plug-in hybrid version is on sale nationally. See KBB’s Plug-In Comparison Test here.
The $199 per month deal is for three years with $1,499 down. The mileage cap is set at 20,000 miles annually and lessees also receive 24/7 roadside assistance. The lease rate builds in the $7,500 federal tax credit, while customers may also be eligible for state rebates of up to $2,500. And in California, the EV is eligible for car HOV stickers that allow single occupant access to the carpool lanes. While the Clarity EV has a range of 89 miles, it does come with fast charging as standard equipment, which according to Honda, allows it to receive up to an 80 percent charge in 30 minutes and can receive a full Level 2 recharge at home in just 3.5 hours.
In announcing the deal, Steven Center, vice president of Connected and Environmental Business development at American Honda said “We're upping the ante on both premium appeal and affordability with the 2018 Honda Clarity Electric. At $199 a month, Clarity Electric consumers will not only get a very affordable zero-emissions driving experience, they'll also enjoy a level of premium quality and driving refinement that really no other electric car in the segment can match."
Luxury SUV consideration slips
While sedans continue to lose ground to crossover SUVs in the marketplace, a Brand Watch study by Kelley Blue Book also shows a slight drop in consideration among luxury SUV shoppers. Compared to previous quarters, shopping consideration for this segment is down 3 percent, but still overshadow consideration of sedans. But unlike in the mainstream segment, where the gap between crossover and sedan shoppers is a whopping 22 percent in favor of the former, among luxury vehicles, that gap is only 4 percent. Which means that many luxury sedans are still very much on the shopping lists of these upscale buyers. Among the sedan movers on this scale is the 2018 Genesis G80 going from ninth to fifth in consideration.
Another interesting finding is that while the all-new 2018 Acura RDX has been shown to the public and is slated to go on sale this summer, it remains fifth on the consideration list in that category. Meanwhile, the addition of a 3-row version of the Lexus RX has helped that model retain the top spot in consideration over the Acura MDX. It is the most shopped vehicle among luxury buyers.
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