January US auto sales up 1 pct., but full-year drop expected

Published: Thursday, February 01, 2018 @ 9:41 AM
Updated: Thursday, February 01, 2018 @ 9:41 AM


            In this Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, photograph, 2017 and 2018 Mini Coopers sit on a dealer's lot in Highlands Ranch, Colo. January 2018 U.S. auto sales are expected to grow just a little as rebates and other deals wane after a December buying spree. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
In this Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, photograph, 2017 and 2018 Mini Coopers sit on a dealer's lot in Highlands Ranch, Colo. January 2018 U.S. auto sales are expected to grow just a little as rebates and other deals wane after a December buying spree. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

January's U.S. auto sales were a little better than a year ago, but most analysts and automakers predict a small full-year decline despite economic factors that favor the industry.

Automakers reported a 1 percent increase last month to 1.15 million vehicles, according to Autodata Corp.

But Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the country's largest dealership group, said late-model used cars coming off leases are pulling buyers from higher-priced new vehicles. Despite tax reform, low unemployment and strong consumer confidence, he sees new-car sales falling to 16.8 million from last year's 17.2 million.

During the past few years, automakers pushed leasing to around 30 percent of sales. Now, Jackson says 4 million well-equipped used cars will be available for an average price of $25,000. "You have to say 'who is going to buy all these things when they come back?'" Jackson said. "Of course there's going to be a cannibalization and a substitution."

Car sales fell nearly 11 percent while truck and SUV sales were up 8 percent. Here are the numbers released by automakers Thursday:

— Honda Motor Co. said sales were down 1.7 percent to 104,542. Truck and SUV sales fell 2.5 percent while cars were off just under 1 percent. The CR-V small SUV, in the hottest part of the market, saw a 16.9 percent sales drop.

— Hyundai Motor Co. sales fell 11.3 percent from last year's record January, to 39,629. The car-heavy Korean automaker saw Sonata midsize sedan sales tumble 23.7 percent.

— Nissan Group sales rose 10 percent to 123,538, a January record. Sales were led by the Rogue small SUV, which was up nearly 26 percent to more than 36,000. Nissan brand sales rose 12 percent but Infiniti luxury sales dropped 8 percent.

— Ford Motor Co. sales fell 6.6 percent to 161,143, due in part to a decline in sales to rental car fleets. But its average vehicle sales price hit a record $37,000, largely due to a 1.6 percent sales increase for the higher priced F-Series pickup. Car sales were down 23.3 percent.

— General Motors Co. sales rose 1 percent to 198,548. Buick and Chevrolet posted gains, but GMC and Cadillac saw lower sales. GM's best-seller, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup, saw a 14.5 percent jump. A new Silverado goes on sale later this year, so GM is discounting the outgoing truck.

— Toyota Motor Corp. posted a 16.8 percent increase to 167,056 vehicles on strong demand for the RAV4, Highlander and 4Runner SUVs, which hit January sales records. Sales of the revamped Camry midsize car rose 21.3 percent, bucking the SUV trend.

— Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sales were down 13 percent due to reduced sales to fleet buyers. The company sold nearly 133,000 vehicles, led by a 2 percent increase in Jeep sales. But the Chrysler brand fell 21 percent while Dodge was off 31 percent and Fiat dropped 43 percent. The Ram truck brand fell 16 percent.

— Subaru posted a 1.1 percent gain to 44,357 vehicles on record January sales of Crosstrek and Outback SUVs.

— Volkswagen sales were up 5.2 percent to 24,744. Combined sales of the new Atlas large SUV and Tiguan small SUV hit 10,640, accounting for 43 percent of VW's sales.

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This story has been corrected to show that last year's auto sales were 17.2 million.

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Woman prevents girl’s kidnapping by pretending to be potential victim’s mother

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 10:53 PM



Pixabay
(Pixabay)

A woman dropping her child off at a Santa Ana, California, middle school is credited with preventing the kidnapping of a young girl walking to school, according to news outlets.

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Amy Martinez was on her way to school Wednesday morning when a strange woman approached her and forced her to begin walking away with her, according to KTLA-TV.

"She just came up to me and went like this," the girl explained to KTLA as she described the woman grabbing her in a hug. “And then she started walking with me away.”

The girl screamed out for help and that’s when a good Samaritan, who wanted to remain anonymous, saw what was happening and quickly jumped into action.

She pretended to be the girl’s mother and demanded the woman release her.

"I was basically yelling, 'Let her go,' so as soon as my voice changed, she let her go and Amy walked into my car," the woman said, according to KTRK-TV.

She took the frightened girl to school and called police.

A mugshot of the suspect, Claudia Hernandez Diaz, in the attempted kidnapping of a 12-year-old girl in Santa Ana, Calif., Wednesday morning.(Orange County Sheriff’s Office)

The suspect, identified as Claudia Hernandez Diaz, was arrested and later described as homeless by authorities.

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Amy Martinez said the woman who saved her is a “hero.”

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Hero German shepherd takes bullet for teenager in home invasion

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 8:50 PM

(KIRO7.com)
(KIRO7.com)

When burglars violently broke into a Des Moines, Washington, home mid-afternoon on Wednesday, a teenager hid in a closet and held onto his dog.

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But Rex -- a 2-year-old German shepherd -- ran downstairs to protect the 16-year-old.

The dog confronted the burglars, who beat him until he was bloody. The dog ran back upstairs.

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With the dog out of sight, the home invasion continued as the two burglars trashed the house room by room. When they came into the bedroom where the teen and the dog were hiding in the closet, and the teen was on the phone with 911, the dog stood up to them with the little strength he had left.

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He threw himself at the burglars, the teen's family wrote on a GoFundMe page, and was shot at least three times in the neck, leg and knee.

As the sound of sirens became audible, the burglars ran away.

Officers found smashed sliding door glass when they went into the home to get the teen outside safely. They also found Rex, who at first looked dead.

While SWAT teams looked for the suspects, Rex was taken to the animal hospital. 

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He was eventually taken to BluePearl, where he is in the veterinary intensive care unit, receiving pain medication, antibiotics and wound care, with round-the-clock monitoring of his vital signs.
After making it through the night, the dog is now in stable condition.

As Rex recovers, people on social media have taken to calling him a "hero dog" for intervening between the burglars and the teenager.

"My nephew was protected by his eternal friend until the last bit of strength he had in him to do what his unconditional, loving instinct told him to," family member Susy Cadena said on the GoFundMe page.

The family started crowdfunding after paying large sums of money for X-rays and urgently needed medication for Rex. They hope to raise $10,000 to cover the expenses.

"Our family cannot let Rex the hero dog go without us fighting as hard as he did, to his very last bit of a strength while protecting my nephew," Cadena said.

Meanwhile, officers are still looking for the suspects, and they are trying to figure out why the house was targeted.

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Armed Stoneman Douglas resource officer 'never went in' during Florida shooting

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 5:35 PM

Armed Stoneman Douglas Resource Officer Resigns

The school resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has resigned, according to Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel.

[View the story "Stoneman Douglas resource officer resigns after investigation" on Storify]

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Follow along with our live updates as we learn more

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MO Gov. Eric Greitens indicted, arrested after threat to release nude photo after affair

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 9:39 PM

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens addresses the crowd at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on February 22, 2017 in University City, Missouri. Greitens and Vice President Mike Pence were on hand to speak to over 300 volunteers after an incident of vandalism. 
Michael Thomas/Getty Images
Missouri Governor Eric Greitens addresses the crowd at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on February 22, 2017 in University City, Missouri. Greitens and Vice President Mike Pence were on hand to speak to over 300 volunteers after an incident of vandalism. (Michael Thomas/Getty Images)

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was arrested Thursday and taken into custody after a St. Louis grand jury handed down an indictment against Greitens on a felony charge of invasion of privacy, the Kansas City Star reported.

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The indictment follows Greitens admission in January that he had an affair in 2015 with a hairdresser, according to news reports, and that he threatened to release a nude photo of the woman if she ever publicly admitted to the affair. 

Mugshot of Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens after he was arrested Thursday on an invasion of privacy indictment related to a 2015 affair.(Cole County Sheriff’s Office)

The grand jury determined that the Republican governor took the picture, which showed the woman blindfolded and bound, and that it was taken “in a place where a person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

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Authorities launched an investigation last month after the allegations surfaced.

The woman who accused Greitens reportedly told her ex-husband about the affair and the blackmail threats. He went to the media with a recording and accusations against Greitens, the Star reported.

Lawmakers have called on Greitens to resign in the wake of the scandal, but so far he’s refused.

>> Related: Child psychologist molests pre-teen girl, posts assault online, police say

Now the indictment could prompt impeachment proceedings against him. 

The governor has filed a motion to dismiss the charges.

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