Putting the power of the Extranet to work for your dealership

Dealer Extranet.

They are two of the most powerful words in making deals with Santander Consumer USA (SC).

From the Rehash Tool, which provides the quickest possible turnaround time on new deal structures, to a customized dashboard that offers daily stats, notifications and reports on your deals with SC, the Dealer Extranet is a competitive tool that should be part of your everyday routine.

IL-BLOG_70918-1 (092617 IL Putting the power of the Extranet to work for your dealership)_Logo_300x300 (1)Those aren’t the only reasons, though, as our fall dealer email series, Tools to Power Sales, will show, starting in October with two of our tips for using the Extranet to your dealership’s advantage. More tips will follow via email, along with other topics that can affect your store’s results.

“One of our greatest assets is our Dealer Extranet, especially for high-volume dealers,” said Stephen Rivelli, an area sales manager in New York.

“The ease of use and the multi-functionality of it, from rehashing an application to funding, allows my dealers a fast, user-friendly experience from application to funded. I stress the importance and use of the Extranet with all my dealers … [and] they usually see the light.”

In fact, thousands of dealership sales associates already have recognized the value of the Extranet and use it to maximize their results with SC and to manage their businesses better.

So you don’t have to wait for the upcoming emails to get started on the SC Dealer Extranet.

You can make the site an integral part of your dealership’s routine by asking your ASM or an inside sales manager (ISM) to set up a new user login – or logins for multiple users at your store. Your ASM/ISM also can help you discover the many features the Extranet provides your activated account.

Your ASM/ISM also is available to answer any questions that might arise or to reset your password.

When you’re set up on the Dealer Extranet, you can log in here and use it whenever you want. And put the power of the Dealer Extranet in your competitive arsenal.

Three ‘remarkable’ vehicles – and the setup for car of the year

Three of a kind.

Truck of the year, performance car of the year and commercial car of the year, winners of Green Car Journal’s 2018 awards, were announced at the San Antonio (TX) Auto and Truck Show.

But manufacturers and dealers of a dozen other vehicles still have something to crow about.

Chosen from among five finalists in each category are:

Commercial Vehicle of the Year

The arresting Responder now available as hybrid.

The arresting Responder now available as hybrid.

  • Ford Police Responder Hybrid, the first pursuit-rated hybrid police car with performance attributes “important if you’re chasing the bad guys,” was selected the top light commercial vehicle in a Ford-dominated category, ahead of the company’s F-250 Super Duty and Transit Connect, as well as Mercedes-Benz Metris and Ram ProMaster City.

Truck of the Year

Earlier model of the truck of the year.

Earlier model of the truck of the year.

  • Chevrolet Colorado, a midsize pickup that offers “nearly the same capacity, functionality and features as this automaker’s full-size pickup,” landed this prize by beating the Ford F-150, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma, trucks “which have not lost their sense of purpose” while competing in one of the industry’s hottest sales categories.

Performance Car of the Year

The MX-5 Miata boldly goes …

The MX-5 Miata boldly goes …

  • Mazda MX-5 Miata, the extensively redesigned, fourth-generation, two-seat sports car introduced in 1990 – called “affordable, efficient and remarkable” – was named Green Car Journal’s first-ever performance car winner in a field that also comprised the Acura NSX, Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and Honda Civic Type R.

Green Car of the Year

The San Antonio announcements tee up Green Car Journal’s 2018 Green Car of the Year award at AutoMobility LA on Nov. 30 in Los Angeles, just prior to the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The magazine and website calls the five finalists – the Honda Accord and Clarity, Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan LEAF and Toyota Camry – “models offering consumers varying ways to drive ‘green’ that fit their unique needs and sensibilities, and are readily available to the mass market.”

During its vetting process, the Green Car Journal jury and editors looked at all vehicles, fuels and technologies before narrowing the field of potential candidates to a final five “for their achievements in raising the bar in environmental performance.” Criteria include efficiency, performance characteristics, “newness,” affordability, availability to the mass market and overall environmental achievement.

So you think used electrics, hybrids sell fast? It’s not your imagination

Here today, gone tomorrow.

If you sell used electric and hybrid vehicles that might apply to your inventory.

Six of the 10 vehicles that spend the least amount of time on your lot are electrics and hybrids, according to a study by the shopping website iSeeCars.com.

“These [electric and hybrid] cars are in great demand now,” said Phong Ly, iSeeCars.com’s CEO. Although you might imagine that this sort of demand would mean higher prices for used hybrid and electric vehicles, the website found that isn’t true.

Fiat 500e is the fastest-selling used car, study shows.

Fiat 500e is the fastest-selling used car, study shows.

While the average used vehicle takes almost five weeks (33.4 days) to sell, based on the website’s analysis of more than two million one- to three-year-old cars sold in the first eight months of the year, the average Fiat 500e is gone in about three weeks (22.2 days) and is the fastest-selling used vehicle.

The BMW i3 plug-in hybrid, second-fastest selling, takes only slightly longer (23.2 days), followed by No. 4 Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid (24.7 days), No. 6 Nissan LEAF electric (25 days), and No. 9 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid and No. 10 Tesla Model S electric (both 26.1 days).

“Consumers’ worries about alternative-fuel vehicles’ range, battery life, safety and performance seem to be balanced by falling prices, leading to quick sales of these cars,” reported the website. Four of the six alternative-fuel vehicles – 500e, i3, LEAF and Energi – have experienced double-digit price drops, while the Prius dropped just 1.1 percent and the Model S price actually increased 3.5 percent.

Other quick sellers, all gasoline powered, are No. 3 Lexus IS 200t (24.5 days), No. 5 Hyundai Veloster Turbo (24.9), No. 7 Scion FR-S (25.1) and No. 8 Mercedes-Benz GLC (25.7).

But fast-selling doesn’t necessarily mean most popular.

None of the vehicles on iSeeCar’s fastest-selling list are near the top of the most-popular list, although the Top 10 most popular vehicles still sell faster than the average used vehicle.

The lineup of the 10 most-popular used vehicles is dominated by Honda, Toyota and Nissan with three models each, according to the website’s study. It comprises the Honda Civic (26.8 days); Nissan Sentra (29.5); Toyota Corolla (29.7); Honda CR-V (29.8) and Accord (30.2); Hyundai Elantra (30.2); Toyota Camry and RAV4 (both 30.9), and Nissan Altima (31.3) and Rogue (32.1).

And the popular vehicles that require longer than average to sell?

Dominated by Chevrolet and Ford, the list comprises Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (33.7 days), Ford Explorer (34.4), Jeep Grand Cherokee (34.5), Chevrolet Equinox (35.1), Ford F-150 and Escape (both 35.5), GMC Sierra 1500 (35.7), Ford Fusion (35.9), Chevrolet Malibu (36) and Ram 1500 pickup (37).

“In contrast to the fastest-selling cars, the nation’s most popular cars all sell about as fast as the overall average … [although] interestingly, despite their popularity as segments, SUVs and trucks are largely slower to sell than average,” the website reported.

That, said Ly, illustrates “the effect of price on moving cars off of dealers’ lots.”

First the holidays, and then what? Santander Consumer has the answer

But it’s only November.

The holidays haven’t even come and gone, and December has been a top-three sales month the last two years and six years in the past decade.

And yet it’s a good time to at least start thinking about what comes afterward – tax season 2018.

Despite the anxiety most people feel about filing returns, many start shopping for (and some buying) new vehicles as early as December in anticipation of refunds, making tax season a good time to sell cars.

“Sure, it’s early to be thinking about tax time, with the holidays ahead,” said Nancy Bloom, a Santander Consumer USA (SC) regional sales manager. “But it’s not too early. Tax season will be here before we know it, and the dealers that plan ahead of time will have an edge.”

110917 IL First the holidays, and then what Santander Consumer has the answerThere is no other time many shoppers have an extra $3,000 or so to put down on a new or used vehicle. The numbers appear to bear that out, though it’s a narrower window than some might imagine.

Although the surrounding months of January, February and April typically are not among the best, March has been one of the top three sales months of the year eight times in the past decade, including 2016 and 2017. That means you have an opportunity to get ahead of the year’s sales curve.

Besides getting your sales team prepped and aligning your advertising, marketing and inventory, it’s important to have a relationship with a lender that can help seize that opportunity.

In addition to being a full-spectrum lender, Santander Consumer USA provides two programs your dealership should consider to build tax season traffic, whether that’s strengthening sales in January and February or building up for a strong finish in March and April.

PREAPPROVED DIRECT MAIL

Your dealership can reach up to 12,000 prospects, whose buying interest is hitting a seasonal peak, by planning ahead for a tax-season mailer in which 20 percent of leads buy a car within 90 days. The Deadline to sign up for the monthly mailer typically is early the month before – December for January, for example, or January for February, February for March, etc. You can contact your area sales manager for more details or call program headquarters at 844.596.5575.

ROADLOANS LEAD EXCHANGE

This updated program puts the power of incremental sales in your hands by enabling your dealership to bid online for approved customer leads in a specific geographic area – and it requires no subscription. Active SC dealers can contact their area sales manager for details on how to sign up online.

“We’re really excited to give dealer’s more control in when and how they receive leads,” said Meredith Grossfeld, RoadLoans product marketing manager, “to decide how many leads they want and when they want them.”

And then there are tools like the Dealer Extranet and powerful Rehash Tool to help maximize results whether it’s holiday season, tax season or any other season.

Sure, it’s only November, but it’ll be tax season before you know it.

Personal touch important, even though car shoppers want digital options

Are you giving your customers the experience they want?

Probably not if a healthy portion of digital is missing from the retailing mix, according to Cox Automotive.

“Most consumers want the ability to do a number of automotive shopping/buying activities online, viewing digital retailing as convenient and saving them time,” said Cox’s 2017 Digital Retailing Study.

110717 IL Personal touch important, even though car shoppers want digital optionsAnd that, Cox said, means:

  • Providing a shopper the ability to take a 360-degree tour of a vehicle, reserve a vehicle for a test drive and negotiate vehicle price and financing online.
  • Accounting for consumer preference for a digital negotiation/financing process over the current in-person process, given the option, which would make shoppers more likely to return to a dealer, and more likely to shop for a vehicle farther from home.
  • Ensuring a “personal connection” with shoppers to help facilitate the digital process and overcome digital barriers, including concerns over sharing personal information online and uncertainty over how activities such as negotiating and test drives will work.

The desire of about 98 percent of consumers to do at least some part of car shopping/buying online, suggests dealers “should incorporate at least some aspect of digital retailing into their offerings.”

In fact, the Cox study found that 86 percent of vehicle shoppers – by far the largest percentage – want to be able to take 360-degree vehicle tours online. Other online preferences were: reserving a vehicle for a test drive (59 percent), negotiating online (57 percent), using a chat box to talk with a salesperson (55 percent), and learning about F&I products and applying for financing (52 percent each). Only two percent of shoppers “would not want to do anything digitally,” Cox reported.

Perceived shopping/negotiating/buying advantages and disadvantages provide insights that dealers may be able to use to their advantage in offering a digital experience.

Shoppers believe online options save time, are more convenient, allow for better research and produce less stress, according to the Cox study. Disadvantages include security concerns, misunderstandings, lack of physical inspection/test drive and the fact that it’s “just not that personal.”

As you might suspect in a business that long has relied on relationship-building and face-to-face transactions, the study concluded that “it is important that digital retailing solutions offered provide opportunities for personal connections between consumers and dealers, given that over two in five consumers say personal connections are important.”

In other words, giving vehicle shoppers what they want requires a lot more digital opportunities – without losing the personal touch.

How Santander sales team helped feed hungry families

Take action.

That’s what members of the sales team from Santander Consumer USA (SC) did at Action Ministries in Atlanta, GA.

“We wanted to be able to work with an organization that we knew would benefit the community,” said one SC associate who participated as part of the company’s volunteer paid time off (VPTO) program.

Action Ministries provides food boxes to hungry families in a state with the third-highest poverty rate in the nation and ranked sixth for food insecurity.

110217 IL How Santander sales team helped feed hungry families_IMAGE_1“We prepared boxes of food for local children in need so that they would have something to eat over the weekend and/or during breaks from school,” explained another SC associate who helped box a few of the 27,000 food packages that the Atlanta organization will provide to hungry families this year.

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Calling all volunteers: Santander Consumer associates making a difference

“Many underprivileged kids don’t have decent meals outside of school, so these boxes contain enough food to feed a family of four for several days and gets them through the time when school lunches aren’t available,” the associate said.

“It’s hard to imagine a child going home from school on a Friday and not having enough to eat until they go back to school on Monday.”

It has been one year since the launch of SC’s volunteer program, with SC employees working more than 10,000 hours in the first nine months for charitable organizations across the country.

In fact, the response to the program from employees and charitable organizations has been so positive that the auto lender decided to add a second VPTO day for full-time employees beginning in October 2017.

Giving back more time to help people in need and enrich the lives of associates was a no brainer for SC, especially when employees bring back their experiences to share the positive impact they left on the community.

Even though the Action Ministries session was fairly short, it left a lasting impression as explained by one of the SC volunteers.

“We stood in front of the sign at Action Ministries that read ‘We are Life-Changers,’ and I really feel like for many children – and their families – that would be receiving those boxes of food, we absolutely were.”

SC volunteers at Action Ministries were Barbara Fortune, sales director; Jay Pusser, regional sales manager, and area sales managers Brian Corbett, Ashley Quick, Katrina Hensley and Darby Ross.

To see more SC associates using their volunteer time off, follow us on our social media pages, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter as #SCGivesBack.

Volunteer “Life Changers” at Action Ministries in Atlanta.

Volunteer “Life Changers” at Action Ministries in Atlanta.

 

-Candace Brand

Why the car buying experience still appeals to millennials

There’s something about a shopper getting his hands on the steering wheel of a new car that can’t be replaced. And it apparently doesn’t matter whether he’s a millennial – or an older shopper.

As millennials – people born between 1980 and 1994 — abandon most retail stores in droves, there remains a need to buy a car in person. In a recent survey, 62 percent of American millennials said they plan to buy their next car at a dealership rather than online.

As a millennial, I remember buying my car at a dealership as vividly as my college graduation. Like generations before, car-buying memories define the eras in which we grow up and help shape who we are. Whether you are buying your first or tenth vehicle, visiting the dealership is a rare occurrence for most and still makes each car purchase a milestone event.

 

103117 IL Why the car buying experience still appeals to millennials

 

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In my case, it came down to choosing between two cars, and I had done my research for a few days. Both cars had a great gas mileage and were known to last for a lot of miles. I was torn and did not know which one to choose. I decided I would make my choice based on the test drive.

Stepping into both cars raised more questions: How comfortable is the seating? How sensitive are the brakes and throttle? Do I envision myself driving this on my morning commute?

As I drove, those questions were answered – and the clearer my choice became. By the time we made it back to the lot, I knew without a doubt which car I would choose. When the dotted line was signed and the salesperson put the keys in my hand, I felt like a new era of my life began.

Whether it is the millennial generation or an older shopper, purchasing a car remains one the biggest investments anyone makes along with buying a house or going to college. Just like when customers tour a potential home or university, the best way to know if a car is the right fit is to see for themselves.

While most retail shifts online, the in-person experience remains central to the car buying process. And contrary to expectations that millennials would lose interest in cars, statistics say otherwise.

This past summer, TransUnion conducted a study evaluating the credit trends between millennials and the Gen X generation when they reached age 21 to 34. The study found that millennials have made 21 percent more auto loans and leases than their Gen X counterparts did during the same age window.

Whether a customer is a baby boomer, Gen X, or millennial, one thing remains true across all generations – there’s nothing like when he or she gets their hands on the steering wheel of a new car.

Best practices that make the most of your opportunities to build sales

Selling cars is not a one-size-fits all proposition.

Which means best practices can take a lot of different sizes and shapes – from broad strategy, to operations to sweating the details – and the paperwork – of every deal.

Of course, we think working with your Santander Consumer USA (SC) area sales manager to finance more deals should be a part of every dealer’s repertoire. But we also think it’s better if you get some of the details from other dealers instead of simply hearing it from us.

IL-BLOG_70918-1 (092617 IL Putting the power of the Extranet to work for your dealership)_Logo_300x300 (1)Because every dealer knows there’s a lot more to best practices than having a favorite lender.

We try to share that with you, too, whether it’s through your area sales manager (ASM), through your Extranet connection or the Inside Lane blog.

That starts with The Road to Success infographic that covers a broad strategy for “navigating the twists and turns en route to making (and keeping) customers happy” based on general business best practices. Those range from getting to know your customers’ expectations to showing appreciation and asking for feedback to exceeding expectations in implementing necessary changes to your processes.

Once you have your strategy in place, it’s time to get down to the business of selling and financing cars.

And, again, that’s where hearing from other dealers can be especially helpful, as in What some top dealerships say about best business practices.

For example, one sales manager in Pennsylvania said, “We tend to work our deals backwards, which allows us to put the customer in the best possible situation.”

Backward, forward, whatever gets the deal done right for your customer and business, right?

But there are a lot of details to manage in getting a deal done right – credit application information, documentation, complete contracts, proof of income, etc. – areas where many stores run into trouble. This is where Six reminders to make this your best sales season yet! comes into play. Another infographic, it covers best practices that “result in faster funding.”

And then there also is:

How SC’s ‘full-spectrum’ lending program can benefit your dealership

How your ASM can help you make more deals with Santander

Putting the power of the Extranet to work for your dealership

When you want to boost results … and When you want to drive business …

It’s a lot to digest. But isn’t your business worth it?

How we help your dealership bring the big picture into focus

091316-il-yes-we-can-help-your-dealership-bring-the-big-picture-into-focus

Look at the big picture.

You want to work with a lender that has the programs, platforms and systems in place to meet your customers’ financing needs and the people with whom you can build a long-term working relationship.

The bottom line – our bottom line – is providing your dealership the wherewithal to make more deals.

Here’s what a finance director of one dealership said about working with Santander Consumer USA (SC): “Santander has been a great financing partner of our dealership for quite some time now. We would not be able to sell as many cars as we do without their unique brand of auto finance. While other lenders give you turndowns, Santander always gives you a way to go.”

And here are some reasons you should consider working with Santander Consumer USA:

The big picture

  • Finance programs that cover the full spectrum of credit
  • Strong operating platforms in originations, funding and servicing
  • Executive management with decades of direct dealership experience
  • Incomparable financial backing with billions in assets

Multi-tiered underwriting

  • Consistent approach to deal structuring
  • Every application is processed by our proprietary, risk-based scoring and pricing model
  • Simplified “one stop” approach offering multi-tier programs

Dealer-friendly underwriting

  • Automatic approvals possible with 24/7 decisioning via the Extranet
  • 48- to 72-hour purchasing for clean deal packages
  • Communication with a dedicated buyer and complete deal structuring

Sales & marketing support

  • Lead-generation programs such as direct mail and RoadLoans
  • Dedicated field sales representatives and hands-on problem resolution
  • Expert program education for dealership personnel (F&I, sales and accounting)

Funding support

  • Online tools such as the Dealer Extranet to rehash/review status of deals
  • Electronic funds transfer

SC has relationships with most of the franchised dealers in the United States and two decades of experience in auto lending across the full credit spectrum.

That means our area, regional and inside sales teams, along with experienced buyers, are ready to answer your questions about working with SC and to help you navigate the process in any way they can.

Of course, you need to be part of our franchise dealer network, which you can accomplish easily by requesting a visit from a representative who will contact you promptly. As soon as we have confirmed that your application has been accepted, you can start submitting contracts to us.

It’s when the big picture really comes into focus.

Here are 20 vehicles that will help your customers go ‘green’ in 2018

The 2018 Honda Clarity – one of five finalists for Green Car of the Year.

The 2018 Honda Clarity – one of five finalists for Green Car of the Year.

Five exciting, “fun to drive,” yet sensible cars.

All are finalists for the Green Car Journal 2018 Green Car of the Year Award.

The magazine and website calls the five vehicles – the Honda Accord and Clarity, Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan LEAF and Toyota Camry – “models offering consumers varying ways to drive ‘green’ that fit their unique needs and sensibilities, and are readily available to the mass market.”

“This year’s Green Car of the Year finalists reflect the continuing evolution of the automobile and the drive toward ever-greater environmental compatibility,” said Ron Cogan of Green Car Journal.

The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq – another finalist for Green Car of the Year.

The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq – another finalist for Green Car of the Year.

 

The 2018 Nissan LEAF – also a finalist for Green Car of the Year.

The 2018 Nissan LEAF – also a finalist for Green Car of the Year.

 

Reviews of the five finalists ranged from the new Camry’s “sportier and more dynamic” character to the Clarity’s “appealing design” and luxurious appointments, from the LEAF’s sportiness to the Ioniq’s “unique styling cues and character” and Accord’s “style, efficiency, and performance.”

But it’s not the only Green Car Journal award up for grabs. Vehicle awards also will be given to one of five finalists in each of the following categories:

Truck of the Year

  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • Ford F-150
  • GMC Canyon
  • Honda Ridgeline
  • Toyota Tacoma

Performance Car of the Year

  • Acura NSX
  • Chevrolet Camaro
  • Ford Mustang
  • Honda Civic Type R
  • Mazda MX-5 Miata

Commercial Car of the Year

  • Ford F-250 Super Duty
  • Ford Transit Connect
  • Ford Police Responder Hybrid
  • Mercedes-Benz Metris
  • Ram ProMaster City

“The diversity of this year’s award finalists shows just how aggressively environmental achievement is emerging in all vehicle classes,” said Cogan. “Their common thread is increased efficiency, lower carbon emissions, and greater environmental performance.”

During its vetting process, the Green Car Journal jury and editors look at all vehicles, fuels and technologies before narrowing the field of potential candidates to a final five “for their achievements in raising the bar in environmental performance.” Criteria include efficiency, performance characteristics, “newness,” affordability, availability to the mass market, and overall environmental achievement.

“As we move toward the goal of efficiency in the industry, it is important to bring recognition to these [vehicles] so that more consumers are aware of all that they can do and how they can better impact the environment,” said a spokeswoman for the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show, where winners of the performance car, pickup truck and commercial vehicle categories will be announced Nov. 9.

The Green Car of the Year Award will be announced at AutoMobility LA on Nov. 30 in Los Angeles, just prior to the Los Angeles Auto Show.

The 2018 Honda Accord – a finalist for Green Car of the Year.

The 2018 Honda Accord – a finalist for Green Car of the Year.

 

The 2018 Toyota Camry – another finalist for Green Car of the Year.

The 2018 Toyota Camry – another finalist for Green Car of the Year.

Here’s how this year’s new-vehicle sales still could surpass record 2016

Down to the wire?

That’s how close the race could be for the annual vehicle sales record.

While 2017 has not been as strong as 2016, so far, falling short on sales in eight of nine months, the strongest September in 30 years at least opens a conversation about how the year could finish.

Especially after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which destroyed hundreds of thousands of vehicles in Texas and Florida that will need to be replaced by owners.

101717 IL Here’s how this year’s new-vehicle sales still could surpass record 2016

Of course, not all of those purchases will be new cars and trucks as franchise dealerships generally sell nearly as many used vehicles.

But if sales in October through December are up by about the same percentage as September, the 2016 sales record will fall by a few thousand vehicles – and that would surprise most industry analysts. It also would mean December probably will need to be the strongest of any month on record, based on 40 years of data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

December has been one of the strongest sales months of the year over the past decade.

However, if sales in the last three months just equal the last quarter of 2016, the record of 17.46 million will be secure for another year, at least, with sales falling about a quarter-million short. That also would leave sales for this year below the total of 17.4 million in 2015.

If 2017 sales don’t keep pace with 2016 through the final three months of the year …

“Industry analysts predicted that positive sales would continue through the end of the year fueled by customers whose cars were destroyed by [the hurricanes]. But sales aren’t expected to be strong enough to match last year’s record of more than 17.5 million,” the Associated Press reported.

“While this strong level of demand isn’t expected to be sustained throughout the fourth quarter … short-term supports are not likely to drop off in a meaningful way,” Christopher Hopson of forecasting firm IHS Markit told the AP, referring to hurricane replacement demand, high incentives, rising fleet sales and strong sales of outgoing models, “setting the stage for strong Q4 results.”

In fact, Hopson said in a press release that the surge in light vehicle sales due to the hurricanes “will boost overall U.S. sales levels through the first quarter of 2018.”

We’ll know soon whether these factors are enough to push 2017 sales past last year.