Author Archives: BEBdata

Up & Down – Which RE Markets Get Hit

A recent UBS report says that housing prices in areas where the economies depend on leisure and hospitality will be under greater pressure than other areas. The report mentions Las Vegas, Miami and Orlando, which were some of the more disastrous markets during the subprime crisis.

Home prices were hot at the start of 2020. As we muster through the pandemic, gains in values will likely slow. However, prices are not expected to fall nationally. There is a severe shortage of homes for sale which is unlike the subprime mortgage crisis. Home values fell as much as 50% in some markets 10-years back. Now, the supply-demand imbalance favors stronger prices.

Although numbers are still rising compared to 2019, (in the first two weeks of March, new listings were up 5% annually on average), slower gains are indicative to the current market, (the second week of April, new listing were down 47%). There has also been a slowdown in asking prices. In early March, median list prices were, on-average, up by 4.4%. The first half of April reported the slowest growth in seven years with an increase of just under 1%.

Consumer Debt Going Up

U.S. consumer debt grew in February by the most in seven months with a rise in non-revolving loans, prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal Reserve figures showed a $22.3 billion increase in total credit from the prior month.  Non-revolving debt, which includes auto and school loans, rose by $18.1 billion — the most since 2015 — while revolving or credit-card debt was up $4.2 billion.

The pandemic has quickly spawned financial hardships for many in the US. Uncertain incomes means that consumers are likely to begin to cut back on purchases and borrow less.

Household credit has been expanding over the past few years at about the same pace as it was prior to the 2007-2009 recession.

Nearly 40 Percent of Americans Plan to Use Stimulus to Pay Debt

720 System Strategies surveyed more than 80,000  students in their credit-score improvement program, many of whom lost thousands of income dollars due to the Corona-virus. 34.95 percent plan to spend their one-time stimulus check and twelve-week unemployment benefits on paying down debt.

In a recent Yahoo! Finance blog, CEO and Founder of 720 System Strategies, Philip Tirone is predicting that the number of 2020 Consumer Bankruptcies will skyrocket past the 2010 high of 1.5 million.

Used Car Market in “Strange Moment”

Click here to check out this excellent recap of the Used Car Market by our friends at Automotive News.

For the week ended April 12, wholesale auction volume totaled just 19,000, an 83 percent drop from the pre-virus weekly average, according to J.D. Power. Retail used-vehicle sales during the first 12 days of April for franchised dealers tumbled 63 percent vs. the same period in 2019. J.D. Power now forecasts used-vehicle prices to fall 7 percent through June before beginning to recover — though Jonathan Banks, vice president of vehicle valuations and analytics, notes the outlook is fluid and contingent on a gradual recovery in the back half of the year.

Auto Dealerships – A Look Ahead

Recently, Dennis Ephlin, Auto CoE: Customer Engagement & Digital Transformation at IBM, wrote a blog for Dealer Marketing Magazine about the Future of auto dealerships. Below is an excerpt. Read the blog in its entirety here.

Future Point-of-View
The future of auto dealerships survival will not be enabled by physical inventory and assets or traditional parts and service. No matter how much these departments are squeezed for cost reduction and profit margins, it will not be enough. The future survival and success of auto dealerships will be enabled by those that can create a customer network platform and deliver new goods, services, and experiences into that ecosystem. The future retailers in the mobility industry will be those that offer and deliver on the following:

New Services: These may include mobile servicing, electric vehicle charging and power utility exchanges, storage, rentals, shopping and concierge services.

Fleet and Fleet Management: Offering and managing a fleet of vehicles for consumers to acquire, borrow, or even serve as the outpost for person-to-person and car sharing platforms (pick-up/drop-off) and servicing needs.

Access Models: Retailers of the future will need to think of “offering mileage and mobility” and not just selling inventory. Enabling all ways for consumers of mobility to buy, lease, borrow, rent, and access mobility and mobility needs will be a major service of the future.

Personal Concierge: Serve and meet the multitude of needs that come with the consumer’s entire mobility journey. This includes vehicle access, usage, flexible servicing, full-service provider or manager of mobility needs that include finding and delivering mobility, vehicle options for use, scheduling, pick-up, delivery, insurance, financing, maintenance, and much more.

Customer Mobility Platform: Successful retailers in the future will operate more as customer mobility platforms—arranging and delivering all of the above possible services. This will help them become an “On Demand” mobility access platform for consumers of all kinds, all needs, and all models.

The China Car Cascade

According to a recent blog published by Electrek*, car buyers in China are coming back in waves.  Personal vehicles have become more desirable  as consumers concern surrounding the safety of public transit rise.

Last month, Ipsos, a global marketing research firm based in France, surveyed first-time car buyers. 41% of new buyers surveyed had a preference for Electric cars. (Approximately half of the respondents wanted Air Conditioning with a germ filter and an interior with antibacterial materials.)

Car sales in China were reportedly down over 95% during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. In March, sales were only 40% below a year earlier representing a significant climb in a short period of time. The China Passenger Car Association believes sales in the overall vehicle market will rebound to last year’s level by the end of April and reported  approximately 47,000 sales of electric cars in March 2020.

In June, Tesla will offer a Chinese-built electric vehicle with a longer range and only a slight increase in price.  Tesla sales jumped from 3,900 cars in February to more than 10,000 vehicles in March, the company’s best results in a single month and plans on pushing deeper into the Chinese market with a greater variety of products and services.

Volkswagen dealerships in China are reporting customers are once again returning to the showroom floors. There are many signs of recovery, with a good chance that the Chinese car market could reach last year’s level by early summer.

There are a plethora of creative tactics being used to re-start post COVID-19 sales. The Chinese government has launched incentives to increase sales which include extended Electric Vehicle subsidies, in some regions, license plate restrictions are being loosened, and some cities are deploying a program similar to cash-for-clunkers.  Automakers are  offering zero contact  test drives, and GM, which just unveiled its new Baojun electric vehicle, launched a no-questions-asked return policy within 30 days. Even Tesla is providing free charging in China.

It’s clear that Chinese buyers are switching from public transit to personal vehicles. If global auto sales rebound, the shift to electric vehicles could be faster than initially predicted. 


*Electrek is a news and commentary site that is tracking, analyzing, and breaking news on the transition from fossil-fuel transport to electric transport.

AI is Listening

BEBDATA BLOG AI IS LISTENINGArtificial Intelligence (AI) is able to measure tone, tempo and other voice characteristics. Some systems compare those sounds to stored speech pattern libraries that define a plethora of human emotions to determine an individual’s emotional, mental or even physical health.

When this sound technology is used in conjunction with computer vision, the science that allows computers to gain a high-level understanding from digital images or videos, the applications become even more powerful. For example, imagine a vehicle that is able to hear a driver yawning and see the driving dozing off.

Research firm Gartner Inc predicts that within three years, 10% of personal devices will have emotion AI capabilities that include wearables (similar to a Fit Bit) that is able to monitor an individual’s mental health or video games that adapt to the players mood.

USPS Driverless Test Rest Run

BEBDATA USPS DRIVERLESS TEST RUNLast year, the US Postal Service entered into a contract with self-driving truck startup TuSimple to haul mail between Dallas and Phoenix. Founder, Xiaodi Hou says that this USPS pilot gives them fuel to help validate their system and expedite the technological development and commercialization progress.

TuSimple completed five round trips between May 28 and June 10 of 2019 while a safety engineer and licensed driver ride along in the cab. Its Level 4 self-driving system (see below for self-driving categories defined), uses 8 cameras to detect cars, pedestrians, and other obstacles over one-half a mile away, even in inclement weather.

TuSimple’s camera-based system allows it to achieve three centimeter (1.18 inch) precision for truck positioning even in inclement weather and tunnels with real-time decision making. By keeping aware of traffic flow ahead, trucks are able to maintain a given speed more consistently than human drivers which can cut fuel consumption by as much as 15%.

The USPS has been interested in self-driving technology for a long time. In 2017, a report published by the Inspector General detailed plans to add semi-autonomous mail trucks to its fleet as early as 2025. Placed into service on 28,000 rural routes, they would free up about 310,000 postal workers to sort and deliver packages.

TuSimple has R&D labs in San Diego and test facilities in Tuscon. It expected to close out 2019 with a 200-truck fleet in the US and a 300-truck fleet in China, making it the largest self-driving truck solutions company in the world.

Later the same year, TuSimple operated several self-driving trucks for 22 hours each along the I-10, I-20, and I-30 corridors through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. It says freight along the I-10 corridor accounts for 60% of the US’s total economic activity. It expects its semi-autonomous trucks to be a frequent sight along that route in the months ahead.

Self-Driving Systems are categorized by five-levels:

Level 1- Driver Assistance-Under specific conditions, the car controls either the steering or the vehicle speed, but not both simultaneously. The driver performs all other aspects of driving and has full responsibility for monitoring the road and taking over if the assistance system fails to act appropriately. Cruise control is Level 1

Level 2- Partial Automation- The car can steer, accelerate, and brake only in certain circumstances. Maneuvers such as responding to traffic signals or changing lanes largely fall to the driver, as well as scanning for hazards.

Level 3- Conditional Automation-The car is able to manage most aspects of driving, including monitoring the environment. The system prompts the driver to intervene when it encounters a scenario it can’t navigate. The driver must be available to take over at any time.

Level 4 -High Automation-The vehicle can operate without human input or oversight but only under select conditions defined by factors such as road type or geographic area. In a shared car restricted to a defined area, there may not be any. But in a privately owned Level 4 car, the driver might manage all driving duties on surface streets then become a passenger as the car enters a highway.

Level 5- Full Automation-The vehicle can operate on any road and in any conditions a human driver could negotiate.