Asbury Automotive exits its used-only operations

Asbury Automotive Group is leaving the stand-alone used-car store business.

The auto retailer was unable to earn a return on its investment in Q auto and is closing its last two used-only stores. It will now focus its investments on “alternative routes to market” that will deliver higher profits, Asbury COO David Hult said during the company’s second-quarter conference call.

But, Hult said, Asbury is still committed to aggressively growing used-vehicle sales at its franchised dealerships.

An Asbury spokeswoman confirmed the company began closing its last two Q auto stores, both in Florida, on Monday. Those stores were Q auto Brandon and Q auto Tampa. The properties will likely be sold and the inventory will be distributed to other Asbury locations, she said. Asbury will try to move employees elsewhere within the company, the spokeswoman said.

Asbury’s move comes as its peers expand into used-only dealerships. Penske Automotive Group has bought two used-only platforms, CarSense in the U.S. and CarShop in the U.K., AutoNation Inc. plans to open several AutoNation USA used-only stores this year, including one already open in Houston, and Sonic Automotive Inc. operates six EchoPark stores in Colorado. It plans to build about two dozen more in Texas and the Carolinas this year. It bought AutoMatch USA, which has four used-only stores in Georgia and Florida, that it plans to convert to EchoPark stores by the end of 2017.

Asbury closed its largest Q auto store, in Jacksonville, Fla., last year because it was losing money. At that time, CEO Craig Monaghan told Automotive News that 2016 was the year the Q auto used-vehicle venture must prove itself.

In its second-quarter earnings call Tuesday, Monaghan said the financial impact of shuttering the stores was “immaterial” to Asbury’s results, and it will have a minimum impact on future results. He characterized the venture as an experiment.

“We made an investment in an initiative to see if we could attract additional income and it was unsuccessful,” said Monaghan.

But, he said, Q auto did offer some lessons.

“It’s all about where you source your inventory,” Monaghan said. “If you’re going to an auction to buy a car, you’re the last one with your hand up. That’s not a situation we wanted to be in,” Monaghan said.

Asbury can move its trade-in vehicles to its stores more efficiently than shuffling them to off-site locations, he said.

The second lesson was that many used-car buyers were subprime borrowers, so without a captive lender, Q auto was at a disadvantage and it did not want to lend money to used-car buyers.

Asbury launched Q auto in mid-2014 to go after used-car sales in a targeted way. Its first store opened in June 2014 in Brandon.

Q auto stores used product specialists to handle sales from beginning to end to make for quick, no-hassle experiences. Customers scanned a code on the car with an electric device to get the car’s features and price. Prices were monitored and changed based on market conditions.

Asbury, of Duluth, Ga., ranks No. 7 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 U.S. dealership groups with new-vehicle retail sales of 102,360 in 2016.

Mary Barra: GM launching over-the-air updates ‘before 2020’

DETROIT — General Motors plans to launch a new electrical vehicle architecture and infotainment system capable of over-the-air updates “before 2020,” CEO Mary Barra said.

The company has remotely updated its in-vehicle OnStar services, but it has not used over-the-air, or OTA, updates for infotainment and mechanical software systems like some competitors — most notably, Tesla Inc.

“We are in the process of deploying a new electrical architecture, which is a pretty comprehensive undertaking, and that’s well under way … as well as a whole new generation of infotainment systems,” Barra said during an analyst conference call Tuesday to discuss its second-quarter earnings of $1.66 billion. “You’ll see us have that capability as we move forward.”

GM spokesman Vijay Iyer confirmed the company is “looking at additional opportunities” that would allow it to “upgrade vehicles post-purchase to create more value to our existing customers.”

The Chevrolet Bolt has a connected infotainment system capable of OTA updates, however Iyer said “at this point” GM has not activated that capability beyond OnStar.

Iyer, in a separate email to Automotive News, said the plans outlined by Barra are separate from a partnership with Globetouch Inc. The connectivity service provider on Monday said it is working with GM and Verizon Telematics to integrate its “open platform GControl” with OnStar.

Embracing OTA

After Tesla’s launch of OTA updates roughly five years ago on the Model S, traditional automakers are slowly embracing the technology.

Ford, most recently, announced plans to add Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to its Sync 3-equipped 2016 vehicles via a wireless software update.

OTA updates are seen as a key part of connected and autonomous vehicles, as they allow companies to remotely update systems and provide real-time updates when needed. OTA updates are expected to save automakers billions of dollars and could fundamentally alter the relationship among drivers, automakers and dealerships.

In 2015, IHS estimated 160 million vehicles globally will have the capability to upgrade their telematics systems over the air by 2022, up from 14.5 million in 2015.

In addition to being able to instantly download new infotainment system and map features, the frequency of trips to the dealership for repairs could be cut down for the average driver. For instance, a driver who would have had to go to the local dealership for a software-related repair might soon be able to have the fix wirelessly installed on the vehicle without leaving home.

Data officer

Meanwhile, GM earlier this month hired A. Charles Thomas to the newly created position of chief data officer. The appointment was effective July 18, according to a GM spokesman.

Barra mentioned the new position during the earnings call to underscore GM’s growing concentration on using data analytics to create value for the automaker and its customers.

GM, Barra said, already is “seeing monetization through OnStar” and is in the initial steps of “leveraging the data” for customer experience and business-to-business opportunities, which she declined to elaborate upon.

“The opportunity is there,” she said. Later adding, “we’ve got to seize it.”

Thomas will be responsible for strengthening data science and analytics, including strategic management of customer, corporate and business data. He will report to Alan Batey, president of GM North America.

Thomas most recently served as executive vice president, chief data officer, head of enterprise data and analytics at Wells Fargo.

According to his LinkedIn profile, he’s also held senior-level data and analytics roles with Hewlett-Packard, data mining and research company Harte-Hanks Inc. and USAA.

Tesla Model S regains top safety rating with software update, Consumer Reports says

Tesla Inc.’s Model S sedan regained Consumer Reports’ top safety rating in its segment, the magazine said on Tuesday, after the automaker updated the emergency braking system on the vehicle.

Tesla provided an over-the-air update in July to its software on the Model S to include automatic emergency braking at highway speeds, Consumer Reports said.

In April, the magazine, which provides an annual rating of vehicles sold in the United States, lowered its rating on the Model S, noting that Tesla’s last software update for the emergency braking system was not adequate.

The previous update activated automatic emergency braking on vehicles on speeds up to 28 miles per hour, far lower than the 90 mph limit for the prior AEB system included on older vehicles.

Consumer Reports said at the time the sedan lost its top ranking in the ultra-luxury car category for failing to install the feature that it had promised to owners as standard equipment.

The magazine awards extra points to the overall score to vehicles that provide automatic braking as a standard feature across all trims.

Google releases the final Android O developer preview

Google today launched the fourth and final developer preview of Android O, the latest version of its mobile operating system. As expected, there are no major changes in this release and, according to Google, the launch of Android O remains on track for later this summer. There’s still some time left before the official end of the summer (that’s September 22, in case you wondered), but given that Android Nougat was on a very similar schedule, I expect we’ll see a final release in August.

The final APIs for Android O arrived with the third preview release, so today’s update is all about incremental updates and stability. All of the major Android SDKs, tools and the Android Emulator will get minor version bumps in the next few days and the Android Support Library (version 26.0.0) is now considered stable, but, like before, the focus here is on making sure that developers can test their apps before the final version rolls out to users.

For users and developers, the new version of Android brings better notifications support across the OS, picture-in-picture support, autofill and more. There also are new features that are meant to optimize your phone’s battery. While none of the changes are revolutionary, Android developers should probably test their apps on Android O as soon as possible (even if they don’t plan to support the new features). To do so, they also should update to the latest version of Android Studio, Google’s IDE for writing Android apps.

The Google Play store is now also open for apps that are compiled against the latest API.

The Android O developer preview is available as an over-the-air update for regular users, too (assuming you are brave enough to run pre-release software on your phone). It’s available for Google’s Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P and the Nexus Player. To get it, you can enroll here.

Last year’s update, Android Nougat, now has around 11.5 percent market share in the Android ecosystem. It’s no secret that it takes the Android ecosystem quite a while to adapt new OS versions, but with a considerable number of Google’s own Pixel phones in the market now, it’s probably a good idea for developers to jump on the Android O bandwagon soon.

South African child ‘virtually cured’ of HIV

HIV virus

A nine-year-old infected with HIV at birth has spent most of their life without needing any treatment, say doctors in South Africa.

The child, whose identity is being protected, was given a burst of treatment shortly after birth.

They have since been off drugs for eight-and-a-half years without symptoms or signs of active virus.

The family is said to be “really delighted”.

Most people need treatment every day to prevent HIV destroying the immune system and causing Aids.

Understanding how the child is protected could lead to new drugs or a vaccine for stopping HIV.

The child caught the infection from their mother around the time of birth in 2007. They had very high levels of HIV in the blood.

Early antiretroviral therapy was not standard practice at the time, but was given to the child from nine weeks old as part of a clinical trial.

Levels of the virus became undetectable, treatment was stopped after 40 weeks and unlike anybody else on the study – the virus has not returned.

Early therapy which attacks the virus before it has a chance to fully establish itself has been implicated in child “cure” cases twice before.

within 30 hours of birth and went 27 months without treatment before HIV re-emerged in her blood.

There was also a case in France with a patient who has now gone more than 11 years without drugs.

Dr Avy Violari, the head of paediatric research at the Perinal HIV Research Unit in Johannesburg, said: “We don’t believe that antiretroviral therapy alone can lead to remission.

“We don’t really know what’s the reason why this child has achieved remission – we believe it’s either genetic or immune system-related.”

Some people are naturally better at dealing with an HIV infection – so-called “elite controllers”. However, whatever the child has is different to anything that has been seen before.

Replicating it as a new form of therapy – a drug, antibody or vaccine – would have the potential to help other patients.

It is worth noting that while there is no active HIV in the child’s body, the virus has been detected in the child’s immune cells.

HIV can hide inside them – called latent HIV – for long periods of time, so there is still a danger the child could need drug treatment in the future.

The team in Johannesburg performed the study alongside the UK’s MRC Clinical Trials Unit.

Prof Diana Gibbs, who is based in London, told the BBC News website: “It captures the imagination because you’ve got a virtual cure and it is exciting to see cases like this.

“But it is important to remember it is one child.

“HIV is still a massive problem around the world and we mustn’t put all our eyes on to one phenomenon like this, as opposed to looking at the bigger issues for Africa.”

Worldwide, 36.7 million people are living with HIV and only 53% of them are receiving antiretroviral therapy.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said: “Further study is needed to learn how to induce long-term HIV remission in infected babies.

“However, this new case strengthens our hope that by treating HIV-infected children for a brief period beginning in infancy, we may be able to spare them the burden of lifelong therapy and the health consequences of long-term immune activation typically associated with HIV disease.”

The results are being presented at the

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Injections ‘next revolution’ in HIV – study

Injection

The “next revolution” in HIV could see daily drugs replaced with just six doses a year, say scientists.

Injections that slowly and continuously release HIV medication into the blood are being tested.

Early trial data from 309 patients showed jabs every one or even two months worked as well as daily pills – which is how antiretroviral medication is currently taken.

The results are being presented at the .

Daily antiretroviral medication holds the virus back, prevents HIV destroying the immune system and stops the development of Aids.

The success of therapy has led to deaths related to Aids halving since 2005 to around one million a year.

But the medication is a burden – someone diagnosed aged 20 could end up taking more than 20,000 HIV tablets in a lifetime – and some people struggle, leading to HIV coming back and the virus resisting the effects of treatment.

The trial was conducted at 50 centres in the US, Canada, Germany, France and Spain.

When people were diagnosed with HIV they were initially given oral therapy to bring the virus under control.

Then they spent 96 weeks getting either traditional daily pills, monthly injections or injections every two months.

The results, published in medical journal, showed that by the end of the study:

  • 84% of patients on daily doses were still suppressing the virus
  • 87% with injections every four weeks
  • and 94% with injections every eight weeks.

Side effects – including diarrhoea and headache – were similar in all groups.

However, this is still a relatively small and a larger and longer-term one is already underway to try to confirm the results.

The work was funded by the companies making the drugs: ViiV Healthcare, which is mostly owned by GSK, and Janssen, which is part of Johnson & Johnson.

Dr David Margolis, one of the researchers from ViiV Healthcare, said: “Adherence to medication remains an important challenge in HIV treatment.

“The introduction of single tablet medication represented a leap forward in antiretroviral therapy.

“Long-acting antiretroviral injections may represent the next revolution in HIV therapy by providing an option that circumvents the burden of daily dosing.”

The drugs companies are packaging two of their medicines (cabotegravir and rilpivirine) into tiny nanoparticles, which can be injected into muscle.

This gives long-lasting protection as the nanoparticles break down and release their medicinal contents into the body.

There are 36.7 million people living with HIV around the world and only 53% have access to the current medication.

In a review of the research, professors Mark Boyd and David Cooper from the universities of Adelaide and New South Wales, commented: “[The] study marks yet another remarkable milestone in the evolution of HIV therapeutics.”

However, they warned some people may find it easier to have daily pills than having to see a doctor for an injection every one or two months.

“There will inevitably be a trade-off between the convenience of not having to adhere to oral therapy and the inconvenience and discomfort associated with injectable long-acting antiretroviral therapy.

“It is possible that injectable antiretroviral therapy will be more attractive the less one must be injected.”

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Hunt for HIV cure turns to cancer drugs

HIV

The outstanding progress in boosting the immune system to treat cancer may help unlock a cure for HIV, according to scientists meeting in Paris.

The body’s normal defences struggle to clear the body of HIV and cancer.

But the rapidly emerging field of immunotherapy has seen some patients with terminal cancer go into complete remission.

The hope is that a similar approach could clear someone of HIV, although some experts have urged caution.

HIV treatment requires daily antiretroviral drugs to kill any active virus. Left unchecked, HIV can destroy the immune system, causing Aids.

A cure is currently impossible because drugs and the immune system fail to detect the sleeping or “latent” HIV hiding in the body’s cells.

Nobel Prize winner and co-discoverer of HIV, Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, told the BBC: “One of the mechanisms why [latently infected cells] persist is the fact they are proliferating very similar to tumour cells.

“Those cells are expressing molecules that are the same molecules that are expressed on tumour cells.

“So that raises the question whether we could develop a strategy for HIV-cure similar to the novel treatment in the field of cancer.”

She is one of the scientists attending the HIV and Cancer Cure Forum in Paris.

Prof Sharon Lewin, the director of the Doherty Institute in Australia, agrees there is much to learn from cancer.

She said: “There are a lot of parallels… I think it’s huge.”

Cancers evolve tricks to survive an assault by the immune system.

They can produce proteins on their surface, such as PD-L1, which disable immune cells attacking the tumour.

A new class of immunotherapy drugs called “checkpoint inhibitors” allow the immune system to keep on fighting and the results have been remarkable.

In one trial, a fifth of patients with terminal melanoma had no sign of the disease after immunotherapy.

However, only about 50 people with HIV have been given immunotherapy to treat their cancer.

So there is little evidence of immunotherapy drugs and their effect on HIV.

Prof Lewin has started doing the research in the laboratory and thinks immunotherapy drugs could reinvigorate an immune system that has become tired of fighting HIV.

She said: “The parts of the immune system that recognise HIV are often exhausted T-cells, they express immune checkpoint markers.

“In the laboratory, if you then put those cells in with an immune checkpoint blocker, the T-cells do regain function.”


She said there was emerging evidence that the drugs also activated HIV lying dormant inside immune cells.

Prof Lewin said: “We want the virus to wake up, any virus that wakes up gets killed [by antiretroviral drugs].”

However this is a new concept in HIV that has so far delivered nothing for patients.

And there are important differences between the challenges of cancer and HIV immunology.

In cancer, the immune system can recognise the threat but is not powerful enough to do anything about it, but the immune system does not recognise latently infected HIV cells at all.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the area is “very hot” right now in cancer.

But he cautioned: “We have to be careful we don’t assume that things that work in cancer are going to work in HIV.

“HIV is so different, that even though it’s worth exploring, I wouldn’t want people to think this is going to be equally successful in HIV.”

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Women ‘unsure how much to eat while pregnant’ – survey

Pregnant woman

Most women do not know how much they should be eating while pregnant, a survey has suggested.

The National Charity Partnership found only a third of the expectant mothers questioned got the correct answer.

Health watchdog NICE advises that in the first six months of pregnancy women do not need any extra calories.

But in the last trimester they require 200 extra calories a day – equivalent to two pieces of wholegrain toast with olive oil spread.

The National Charity Partnership (NCP), made up of Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation and Tesco, says information on what pregnant women can eat is not reaching them.

Its research of 2,100 UK women suggests more than one in three expectant mothers think they have to eat 300 or more extra calories every day.

Meanwhile, 61% of the 140 women who were pregnant when questioned believed they should start taking on extra calories in the first or second trimester.

The NCP is working with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to debunk the myth of “eating for two” and make dietary requirements for pregnant women easier to understand.

Eating for two is the idea that women need to eat for both them and their unborn child when they are pregnant.

Over a quarter of pregnant women admitted they used “eating for two” as an excuse to eat unhealthy food all the time.

Alex Davis, head of prevention for the NCP, said the myth was “very unhelpful” for getting the right information out to mums.

“Eating healthily and consuming healthy portion sizes are important before, during and after pregnancy to increase the chances of conceiving naturally, reduce the risk of pregnancy and birth-related complications and stave off health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease in the long-term.”


A woman normally needs to have 2,000 calories a day – this includes food and drink. But when you are in the last trimester of your pregnancy, you should eat 200 extra calories a day.

There is no need for any additional calories in the first six months.

  • Have a balanced diet – this is eating a variety of food from the five main groups of fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates such as pasta and potatoes, protein like pulses, fish, eggs and meat, dairy such as milk and yoghurt and fats
  • Have a healthy breakfast every day to avoid snacking on high fat and sugar foods
  • Get at least your five-a-day of fruit and vegetables
  • Get fibre from wholegrain foods and nuts
  • Make carbs just over a third of the food you eat. Carbohydrates, including bread, potatoes, rice, pasta and oats, are an important source of energy
  • Have protein every day which can include fish, eggs and pulses
  • Eat two portions of fish a week, only one should be oily fish like salmon or mackerel
  • For dairy – try and choose low-fat options of milk, yoghurt and hard cheese
  • Limit food and drinks high in fat and sugar like fizzy drinks and biscuits
  • Choose healthy snacks such as salad vegetables, hummus, and vegetable soup

Source:


Professor Janice Rymer, vice president of education for the RCOG, said eating too much while pregnant “can be detrimental” to mother and baby.

“Women who are overweight during pregnancy are at an increased risk of having a miscarriage and developing conditions such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia.

“They are also more likely to have a premature baby, require a Caesarean section, experience a haemorrhage after birth or develop a clot which can be life-threatening.

“In addition, overweight women have bigger babies who are themselves more likely to become obese and have significant health problems as a result.”

Blood donation rules relaxed for gay men and sex workers

Donating blood

Blood donation rules for sex workers and gay men are being relaxed in England and Scotland after improvements in the accuracy of testing procedures.

Men who have sex with men can now give blood three months after their last sexual activity instead of 12.

And sex workers, who were previously barred from donating, now can, subject to the same three-month rule.

Experts said the move would give more people the opportunity to donate blood without affecting blood supply safety.

The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs – which advises UK health departments – recommended the changes after concluding that new testing systems were accurate and donors were good at complying with the rules.

All blood that is donated in the UK undergoes a mandatory test for Hepatitis B and C, and HIV, plus a couple of other viruses.

Scientists agree that three months is a comfortably long window for a virus or infection to appear and be picked up in the blood.

Prof James Neuberger, from the committee, said: “Technologies to pick up the presence of the virus have greatly improved, so we can now pick up viruses at a much earlier stage in the infection, and therefore it’s much easier to tell if a blood donor has the virus.”

The rule changes will come into force at blood donation centres in Scotland in November, and in early 2018 in England.

The changes affect groups including:

  • men who have sex with other men
  • people who have sex with high-risk partners – for example, those who have been in areas where HIV is common
  • commercial sex workers.

They will now all be able to donate blood after abstaining from sex for three months.

The UK government is also considering relaxing the rules for people who have undergone acupuncture, piercing, tattooing and endoscopies, and for those with a history of non-prescribed injecting drug use.

But these also need changes to current EU legislation.

Alex Phillips, blood donations policy lead at the Terrence Higgins Trust, said the changes were a “victory for science over stigmatising assumptions”, adding: “The evidence suggests three months is the right amount of time.”

She told BBC One’s Breakfast that the lifetime donation ban for sex industry workers was based on “preconceptions rather than evidence”.

Deborah Gold, chief executive of National Aids Trust, said the new rules were a “huge advance” for gay and bisexual men – who can now donate three months from their last sexual activity.

Ms Gold said: “We are also delighted that NHS Blood and Transplant have said they will now investigate how possible it is for some gay men, depending on degree of risk, to donate without even the three-month deferral.”

NHS Blood and Transplant said there was not currently a shortage of blood in the UK but 200,000 new donors were needed every year to replenish supplies.

It said there was a particular need for more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities to give blood.

FCA’s restated sales show some big swings

DETROIT — A review of restated Fiat Chrysler sales at the model level points to a company that either didn’t accurately know what it was selling month to month or was playing fast and loose with its fleet sales.

In its unprecedented restatement a year ago, which revealed that its then-vaunted streak of year-over-year sales gains actually had ended in 2013, FCA USdownplayed the differences between what it had historically reported as its monthly sales and what a new reporting methodology showed was actually occurring.

To take a deeper look at the figures, the Automotive News Data Center rebuilt the model-level data from the sales totals reported starting in July 2016, comparing figures from the old methodology to the new accounting.

The total cumulative deviations were small — less than 1 percent. But at the model level, which FCA did not disclose at the time, some of the variations were quite large.

For example: FCA and its dealers reported more than 15,000 sales of the Chrysler 200 sedan from July 2015 to June 2016 that the automaker now says didn’t occur. It also originally underreported the sales of almost 6,200 Dodge Grand Caravans and about 5,800 Jeep Compasses — sales that appeared only after the switch to its new reporting methodology.

The three vehicles come from different FCA brands, but they have one thing in common: a high percentage of fleet sales.

A year ago and in subsequent statements, FCA said the new counting method provides “the best available estimate of the number of FCA US vehicles sold to end users through the end of a particular month applying a consistent and transparent methodology.”

Most of the model-level differences between FCA’s originally reported sales totals and its restated sales totals were small, with deviations of less than 1 percent of total sales over the 12-month period for each model. But why was the original reporting for FCA’s three fleet queens — the 200, Grand Caravan and Compass — so far off?

An FCA spokesman declined to comment. But a source within FCA with knowledge of the system told Automotive News the issue had to do with the way FCA used fleet sales to daily rental companies as a type of “slush fund” to hit monthly sales goals.

Daily rental fleet vehicle sales can be booked at any time, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. There was “no need to deliver or invoice” a daily rental fleet vehicle in order for it to be counted as a sale, the source said, so sales to daily rental fleet operators could be reported as needed.

Indeed, in a lengthy note explaining its switch to the new reporting methodology a year ago, FCA admitted that it had been a “historical practice” at the company and its corporate predecessors to maintain a reserve of fleet vehicles “that had been shipped but not been reported as ‘sold’ in the monthly sales reports.”

FCA said that “while the origin of this practice is unclear and is being looked into, FCA US believes that it was probably originally designed to exclude from the reported sales number vehicles that were in transit to fleet customers, as well as vehicles that were not yet deployed in the field.” The company said that the reserve pool ranged in size “and resulted from a subjective assessment at month-end,” though FCA maintained that it had always reported fewer sales than the aggregate number of shipped vehicles.

The company’s new methodology, started in July 2016, reports U.S. sales totals based on dealer-reported sales minus all unwound transactions recorded through the month, retail “other” sales, including those by dealers in Puerto Rico, and fleet sales that are delivered directly by FCA to the customer or end user.

Monthly sales reporting, though traditional in the industry, “obviously is something that is a bit broken,” said Dave Sullivan, senior analyst with AutoPacific. Sullivan says the monthly sales totals are gathered from thousands of sources each month, compiled and reported, and as such have plenty of room for error.

Monthly auto sales are not a useful indicator of a company’s health, he said, because they measure dealer and fleet sales for which the automaker already has been paid.

“Production numbers and days supply are the real indicators of company health,” Sullivan said.