I probably was the last person to ride with Patrick Paternie on a new vehicle evaluation. Patrick passed away on March 10 following a race in his classic Porsche.
Patrick Paternie: Volvo Chili Cook-Off, Scottsdale, March 8, 2010
I spent two days riding in Volvos with Patrick. He had sought me out to be his co-driver and I looked forward to his commentary and stories. I knew he was a good driver and would never take risks that so many of the hot-shots on these press previews sometimes take.
Patrick regaled me with stories of how he and his wife Linda towed a big trailer behind a Suburban in Arizona and there just wasn’t enough oomph in the big SUV to keep up with traffic with the trailer following behind. He talked about how Linda had come to like riding in his Ford pickup because of all the room in the cab. He was especially complimentary about a drive with the Aston Martin Rapide in Alaska. He said the Rapide was much more capable than he would ever have thought. The folks at Aston Martin admit the car has been “placed at a considerable discount”. He travelled widely for his passion. I was jealous.
We talked about heart surgery I had undergone last November. “How did you know you had a problem,” he asked. “Sprained ankle,” I replied. That got me to the doctor’s office and to get a physical my medical insurance provides every year. Surgery followed a few weeks later.
Patrick never alluded to having a heart problem. He looked fit and healthy. He raced. He finished. He was 65. We miss him.
We have always liked the General Motors Lambda Platform crossover SUVs (XSUVs). The Buick Enclave is the most elegant and chrome laden. The GMC Acadia picks up sheetmetal from the now-dead Saturn Outlook for 2013. That’s OK. The Outlook wasn’t bad looking and GM likely saved bundles by using /modifying tooling for the “fresh” Acadia. The Chevrolet Traverse was the last Lambda launched and was arguably the better looking of the three “mainstream” Lambdas – Traverse-Acadia-Outlook. It carried the bold crossbar in its grille that has come to clearly identify a Chevrolet when seen in the rearview mirror.
Now they’ve gone and ruined it. For the 2013 mild freshening, Chevrolet has abandoned its bold and distinctive front end appearance for a milquetoast “car” front end look for its crossover. This fits into the VehicleVoice category of “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?”
An annual pilgrimage for the auto industry is to attend the press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit each January. Unfortunately, this year I cannot attend because my physicians caution that I should not be heaving carry-ons into and out of overhead bins and baggage carousels.
So, I’m jealous.
One of the primary businesses of AutoPacific is to keep on top of what is the latest in the auto industry worldwide, so AutoPacific will still be well represented at Detroit.
I asked each of our staff members to remind me why I should or should not be jealous of them attending instead of me. Read below the break for their input.
Think Audi A3, BMW 1-Series and Volvo C30 and you can better understand the competitive set Lexus is targeting with its all new CT200h 5-door hatchback to be launched in February 2011. Also think of the CT200h as a product really designed for the European market where it is right-sized and right-styled.
The competitive set in the USA sells less than 1,500 units per month now – or about 18,000 per year – small potatoes in a 12,000,000 unit industry. Lexus is going after 1,000 units per month – immediately intending capturing 40% of this small segment. Can they do it?
Given pricing in the low $30,0oo range, the CT will undercut the IS 250, but Lexus management tells us it won’t squeak in under the $30K barrier which could prove to be a psychological threshhold.
Women owning HUMMERs have a strong affinity for ten consumer brands in the USA.
AutoPacific’s Research Suite database that annually collects the opinions of over 30,000 buyers of new cars and light trucks asked which of 27 brands a new owner would buy from. The results from AutoPacific’s Consumer Brands Study clearly show the interrelationship between owners of auto brands and buyers of twenty-seven consumer brands like Walmart, Lowe’s, Apple, Sony, Hugo Boss, Costco, McDonalds and more.
What the study shows is that you likely won’t find a Porsche driven by a woman in a Walmart parking lot, but you are likely to find a Land Rover driven by a woman at an Apple Store. Using these data AutoPacific can develop clear profiles of the dynamics between these auto brands and consumer brands.
Looking only at female buyers, HUMMER buyers were most likely to shop at Lowe’s, Old Navy, The Gap, Walmart and to buy Coca Cola, Levi’s, Axe, LG, HP and Hugo Boss.
The only other brand that came close to HUMMER gals was Land Rover. They were tops in Polo, Methoc, Sony, Gucci, Hugo Boss and HP. They were also in the top five among Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Apple, Starbucks, Costco and Louis Vuitton shoppers.
Gradual Recovery Over the Next Five Years, But No Return to 17-Million Unit Years Anytime Soon
TUSTIN, Calif. (December 21, 2009) — 2009 will be a memorable year for the automotive industry — unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. The U.S. light vehicle market is expected to close out 2009 at a disastrous 10.3 million sales, down from 16.1 million sales just two years prior and the lowest industry volume since AutoPacific began forecasting automotive sales in 1988. Naturally, the national economic collapse had a profound impact on retail sales of light vehicles.
The industry can look forward to year-on-year recovery over AutoPacific’s five-year forecast period, but at a relatively gradual pace. In the near term, AutoPacific forecasts industry volume of 11.4 million units in 2010 as the economy slowly heals but also as unemployment hampers faster industry sales recovery. 2015 will see industry sales of 15.4 million, a significant improvement from 2009 volumes but still a far cry from the near-17 million unit years seen through much of the past decade.
Survey Shows Generation Y Frequently Multitasking While Driving
TUSTIN, Calif. (October 21, 2009) — Willing to embrace new brands, new technology and alternative powertrains, Generation Y will redefine the automotive market. A just released study on Generation Y new vehicle buyers in the United States shows Generation Y consumers are more likely than the generations before them to consider purchasing a Chinese or Indian branded vehicle, more willing to accept hybrid powertrains, and more likely to want the latest entertainment technology in their vehicle. As the largest generation since the Baby Boomers continues to gain spending power and enter the new-car market, which automakers will win their confidence? AutoPacific’s study underscores the opportunities for automakers to reach Generation Y consumers as they move through their Teen, Young Adult and Young Family life-stages.
“Growing up with continuously evolving technology and electronics has given Generation Y a unique ability to adapt easily to change, a willingness to accept new brands, and an expectation that their vehicle provide the best of what is available,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, the research firm that conducted the study. Though many Generation Y consumers would choose a trip around the world over a luxury vehicle, Generation Y does expect that the vehicle they buy will be more than just basic transportation. “Generation Y is more likely than older generations to own portable electronics, more likely to research their vehicle options on the Internet, and an astonishing 29%points more likely to frequently multi-task while driving. They know what’s out there, they know the economical and environmental problems we face, and their vehicle expectations reflect that knowledge.”
Survey Shows What Buyers Want – And Their Hesitation to Think Small
TUSTIN, Calif. (Sept. 9, 2009) – A just released study on the future of small cars in the United States shows American consumers are increasingly interested in smaller cars, but with reservations about size and features. The study underscores the challenge automakers face in trying to meet government mandated improvements in fuel economy while still delivering what consumers want and will buy. Many carmakers have recently introduced new, smaller cars to the market and are launching more in the future.
“Our research indicates that American car buyers are definitely willing to buy a more fuel-efficient car, but that they don’t want it to be much smaller than what they are driving today,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, the research firm that conducted the study. “Tomorrow’s successful small car won’t be tiny. It will be reasonably sized, have increased fuel economy, adequate performance and a full load of customer features.”
General Motors’ June 1 bankruptcy declaration was quickly followed by the announced sale of HUMMER to China’s Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company (June 2) and Saturn to Roger Penske’s Penske Automotive Group (June 5). Having the futures of both of these brands out from under the General Motors umbrella can give many American dealerships and their communities cause for celebration.