Report: Honda to gain market share, Big 3 to stay level

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

American Honda Motor Co. Inc. will gain market share while Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles should hold steady over the next four years as automakers ramp up the number of new model launches, according to a forecast in the annual Car Wars report released today.

John Murphy, senior auto analyst for Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research, told the Automotive Press Association on Wednesday in Detroit that a recovering auto industry is the leading cause in an "extreme acceleration" in the number of new cars and trucks — excluding major mid-cycle refreshes — through the 2019 model year. And most of them will be crossovers.

The report forecasts average of 48 new models each of the next four years, with a peak of 57 new vehicles in model year 2019. From model year 1996-2015, carmakers averaged 38 new models a year.

"It's very consistent with the cyclical upturn in the industry," Murphy said. "As the industry gets healthier and has more money to invest in product, it does so."

Crossover utility vehicles will represent 32 percent of new volume over the next four years, the report says. From 2006-2015, CUVs accounted for 20 percent of new models.

As the number of new model introductions goes up, the average length of time between significant model updates decreases. Murphy predicts competitive pressure will lead to a drop in the number of years on the market for the average model in showrooms from 3 years for model-year 2015, to an expected 2.1 years by model-year 2019.

Murphy says GM is the only automaker to speed the pace of its model launches, pushing up the Silverado and Sierra trucks two years to the 2019 model-year under pressure to respond to Ford's aluminum-bodied F-150. Murphy also said GM is the only automaker to fill a portfolio hole with new products — the Colorado and Canyon midsize trucks launched this year — over the next four years.

The Detroit automaker's product lineup should allow it to maintain market share and pricing, Murphy said.

Ford will also maintain share and pricing, and the report calls for three new Lincoln models: a MKM coupe, an MKA sedan and an Aviator large crossover.

This year, FCA faced a lull in the rate at which it introduced new models, but Murphy expects it to pick up over the next four years with vehicles like the Wrangler and Ram truck. It should be able to hold its current market share, but Murphy said achieving ambitious goals laid out in the company's five-year plan may be unlikely.

Honda is set to gain the most share over the next four years as nearly its entire product portfolio will be re-launched over the next four years, and most of its new models will be CUVs. New models include the Pilot in model-year 2016, CR-V in model-year 2017, Acura RDX and Accord in model-year 2018, and the Acura MDX in model-year 2019.

"Honda's a definitive winner in the market," Murphy said.

Japanese automakers including Nissan are most likely to lose market share, the report predicts.

Murphy also calls for new vehicle sales to reach a peak of 20 million vehicles in 2018, a number Murphy says there's "a chance we could be too low." Automakers sold 16.5 million cars and trucks in the United States last year.

In May, new vehicle sales reached their fastest pace in a decade.

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