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The government shutdown is eroding consumer confidence in the auto market, says John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai's US sales unit, and could lower October sales by as much as 10 percent, Automotive News reports. "It's that anxiety that keeps customers, potential buyers, on the sidelines when making a big purchase like an automobile," Krafcik says, adding that industry sales could be off by five to 10 percent in October compared to September.
The fourth quarter, which started October 1, usually consists of increased auto sales as dealerships clear their lots to make room for the next year's models. Leading up to the fourth quarter this year, the auto industry was doing well in the fragile, recovering US economy, although September deliveries decreased by 4.2 percent, due in part to this year's Labor Day sales being recorded for August.
To help its customers, Hyundai announced it is deferring new-car loan and lease payments for furloughed federal workers until they're called back to work and also offering them a three-month payment deferral if they buy a new Hyundai in October. "We have already had requests from over a thousand people to have their payments deferred," Krafcik says.
Midsize crossovers like the Toyota Highlander tend to play a thankless role in the life of today's modern family.
That's really too bad. With the ability to hold several hyperactive kids and tons of cargo while keeping everyone safe and comfortable in all kinds of climate conditions day in and day out, they're true heroes in the lives of hundreds of thousands of families across the country. Yet their car-apathetic owners often immediately forget about them as soon as their work is done. And nearly all midsize crossovers are thoroughly ignored by enthusiasts whose eyes begin to glaze over at first mention of the phrase "third row."
Toyota is looking to soften the blow somewhat by giving its midsize crossover, the Highlander, a big redesign for the 2014 model year. With a bold new look, updated suspension and a refreshed interior focused on comfort and convenience, Toyota aims to make the Highlander sportier to drive and more striking in appearance, because, as the marketing team explains, "families are going places and they want to get there in style."
Over the past two years, Toyota has invested more than $2 billion at its North American production facilities, and it apparently doesn't plan on stopping there. To keep up with recent strong sales, Toyota is investing an additional $200 million at its engine plants in the Southern US to increase production capacity of its V6 engines.
The bulk of this money ($150 million) will go to expand Toyota's engine plant in Huntsville, AL, which is currently responsible for supplying engines - four-cylinder, V6 and V8 - to eight of Toyota's 12 domestically produced vehicles. That includes the best-selling Toyota Camry (shown above).
Toyota didn't say exactly what improvements are being made to the plant, but this follows last year's $80 million investment in the plant that is set to be completed by next year raising the engine capacity to 750,000 annual units including 362,000 V6s. The remaining $50 million will go to the casting plants of Toyota-owned Bodine Aluminum in Missouri and Tennessee, which supply engine blocks and cylinder heads to the Huntsville engine plant as well as others in Kentucky and West Virginia. Scroll down below for the official press release.