Category Archive:

Atomization – Sales per New Vehicle Nameplate Will Drop

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 Atomization Continues Unabated  The American car and light truck market is undergoing atomization.  There are 313 car and truck nameplates on sale today in the United States.  By 2022 – just five years in the future – there are going to be 377.  A nameplate is a vehicle name like Ford Explorer, Renge Rover Evoque or Toyota Camry.

Car to Truck Shift Permanent  Manufacturers are adding new products to more tightly appeal to customers with more diverse tastes.  Buyers have shifted to crossover sport utility vehicles (XSUVs) in droves.  Automakers are adding more XSUVs to satisfy every whim.  Trucks began outselling cars in 2001, but since 2012 when cars last had 50% of the market truck sales have boomed.  Today, truck sales are about 61% of the market and AutoPacific forecasts that truck sales will reach 69% of the American light vehicle market by then.  In 2016 there were 178 car nameplates on sale.  Today there are 192.  In 2016, there were 147 truck nameplates on sales; now there are 153.  In 2022, there will be 199 truck nameplates and 178 car nameplates.

Atomization Means Fewer Sales Per Nameplate on Average  In 2016, sales per name were about 54,000 units each on average in a 17 million sales year.  This was up dramatically from the 2009 downturn year when there were 34,500 units sold per nameplate.  But the bad news is that all nameplates are not equal in sales.  Some sell in the thousands while others sell in the hundreds of thousands.

The top ten vehicles, led by the Ford F-Series pickups, accounted for 25% of the sales in 2016.  If you take the top ten sales out, average sales per nameplate in 2016 was 42,000 sales per year.  In 2022 it gets even worse.  AutoPacific is forecasting 16,200,000 sales in 2022, but there are 377 nameplates.  Taking the top ten nameplates out, the remaining 367 nameplates will sell only 32,700 each.  This puts average sales per nameplate in 2022 about the same as the downturn year of 2009.

Auto Marketing Wars to Continue  With so many individual nameplates on the market it will be difficult for auto marketers to support them.  Marketing budgets are not large enough to get this number of new nameplates in the car buyer’s consideration set.  As XSUVs continue to grow in popularity, traditional sedans will be allowed to languish or be dropped altogether.  At best, strong marketing support will be during the vehicle’s launch period and then taper off.  If a vehicle is a hit, it may continue to get TV time, but more and more targeted internet advertising will become the name of the game.  If a vehicle is not a hit, it will quickly become an unloved cash cow.

It’s no surprise that the Chief Marketing Officers at American automotive brands have a target on their back.  Failing to create the magic potion that will keep this huge number of nameplates moving off of dealer lots is hugely challenging.  Creative talent and huge amounts of money are required to continue succeeding in the upcoming more crowded vehicle market.

And… don’t forget the disruptive influence of electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles and the changing driving/vehicle ownership environment of the next ten years.


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Revenue Generator – Which Vehicles Generate the Most Cash?

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New car and light truck owners responding to AutoPacific‘s annual New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey, provide the price they paid for their vehicle.  That price is what the buyer pays the dealer.  A vehicle that is a strong revenue generator is golden to the health of a brand.  Of course the revenue is split into many smaller and smaller pieces.  Simplistically, the dealer buys the vehicle from the manufacturer and sells it at a profit.  And that is about as complicated as we are going to get, because that is not the story we are chasing.

We want to know which vehicles generate the most revenue.  This is analysis is rough.  We use the median price paid from AutoPacific’s research and multiply that times the numbers of vehicles sold in 2016.  Each of the top ten vehicles generated $10 billion or more of revenue.

AutoPacific Revenue Analysis by Vehicle Line

F-Series Top Revenue Generator  The top revenue generator was the Ford F-Series.  Not only is the F-Series the top selling vehicle in the market, about 30% of its sales are of very expensive Super Duty models.  Our rough estimate of the F-Series revenue is about $38.5 billion.  This may be low, because Super Duties may be under-represented because many are commercial use that are not included in the research.

Top Four in Revenue are Pickups  Following the F-Series, the top revenue generators are in order:  Chevrolet Silverado ($27 billion), Ram ($24 billion), GMC Sierra ($11 billion).  Combined, the Silverado and Sierra about equal the overall revenue of the F-Series.

Five Through Seven are SUVs  The top selling crossover SUV is the Honda CR-V and it is the first non-puckup on the list.  It generates almost $11 billion in revenue.  The sixth top revenue generator is the Toyota RAV4 at about $10.5 billion.  The CR-V and RAV4 are expected to be Honda’s and Toyota’s top sellers for 2017 outselling the Accord and Camry.  The Ford Explorer sells for about $12,000 more per vehicle than the CR-V, but sells 110,000 less vehicles.  Nevertheless it is 7th on the list generating about $10.4 billion.

Camry and Accord are 8th and 9th Top Revenue Generator  The previously top selling non-pickups were the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.  By AutoPacific’s analysis, Accord generated $10.4 billion in revenue in 2018 while the Camry generated $10.2 billion.

Nissan Rogue Caps Off The Top Ten  The Nissan Rogue crossover SUV is tenth top revenue vehicle with about $9.7 billion.  Having shot above Altima in sales, Rogue is Nissan’s top revenue vehicle line.

 


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Envision an Autonomous Car Chase Scene

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Source: George Peterson

Volkswagen XL Diesel Hybrids in Wolfsburg, Germany. Not Autonomous

I was watching “Live Free or Die Hard” recently.  As with most of the Bruce Willis “Die Hard” genre, there were exciting chase scenes where dozens of Crown Victorias get smashed up or full of bullet holes.  That is the name of the game for the “Die Hard” movies.  Chase scenes where the hero invariably gets injured but comes back to battle the bad guys after no recuperation time are the norm.  There were five “Die Hard” movies.  There were 8.5 “Fast and Furious” movies.  Epic chase scenes abound from “Bullitt”, “The French Connection”, Ronin, every James Bond movie, “The Blues Brothers” mall chase scene.  Chase scenes are too numerous to count, but what impact is the autonomous car going to have on screenwriters going forward?

Some films have dealt with that in the past. In 1990’s “Total Recall”, a frustrated Arnold Schwarzenegger rips the robot out of the Johnny Cab he was trying to use as a getaway car.   Speech recognition was not the same in 1990 as it is in 2017.  Siri could have handled Arnold.  “Demolition Man” uses a non-autonomous car to wreak havoc through the self-driving police fleet.  Agent Coulsen, the head guy in Marvel’s “Agents of Shield” franchise carries his 1962 Corvette roadster where ever he goes.  When there is an Electro-Magnetic Pulse that puts modern cars out of commission, the Corvette runs just fine.

Questions for Future Screen Writers – Smart Cars Impact on the Chase  If the mobility world changes the way the prognosticators are prognosticating, what will the films in the future look like?  Will they all be set in the past so Crown Vics can still duel it out with today’s Chargers?  Are they set in the “now” where old vehicles interact with new autonomous vehicles?  Are the bad guys hackers that can control not only their own autonomous car, but also control the surrounding traffic and the vehicle(s) chasing them?  Maybe the government outlaws a person driving a vehicle on public roads at all.  Driving becomes restricted to special tracks.  This will change the face of crime dramatically!

Smart Streets Impact on the Chase  Will the streets be so smart they could defeat the bad guys themselves?  Controlling stop lights and opening and closing lanes will probably be simple tasks for a smart street in the future.  Anti-traffic bollards could be raised from the streets to stop the chase.

Ethics of Vehicle Autonomy  Those are simple questions for the movies.  There are real world ethics questions over vehicle and traffic control.

Autonomous Vehicle MUST Follow the Law, or Must They?  If an autonomous car is programmed to exactly follow the speed limit, you can envision four abreast autonomous cars on a Los Angeles freeway traveling at exactly 55mph.  They may be driving at the speed limit, as per law.  But they are creating an extremely dangerous situation unless every vehicle is autonomous and following the same programming.  During the Jimmy Carter presidency, after implementation of the 55mph federal speed limit, drivers from Ann Arbor to Detroit drove the I-94 freeway two-or-three abreast at exactly 55mph.  This lasted a few days with motorists passing them on the shoulders and giving them the finger.  They were eventually cited by the Michigan State Police for impeding the flow of traffic.

Source: Los Angeles Times

OJ Simpson Slow Speed Chase – Los Angeles 1994

Autonomous vehicle ethics need to accommodate the reality of chaotic traffic flow, different vehicle capabilities, and, until everything is autonomous, different driving styles.

Remote Vehicle Control  Over the past twenty years in automotive research, AutoPacific has been asked by automakers and suppliers to research all sorts of autonomous car and autonomous-like features.  In Europe, a discussion of driver opinions of GPS systems with vehicle tracking capabilities results in,  “Sacre bleu!  I don’t want my boss to know where I am!  I don’t want my wife to know where I am!”  While drivers might not want vehicle tracking in their car or on their body, they may be too late in resisting.  After the Boston Marathon bombing, Mercedes-Benz USA located the Mercedes ML the bombers car-jacked.  So, today, vehicles with a navigation system can probably be tracked.  Most action thrillers on TV have the authorities or the bad guys locating folks on their smartphones. No problem.  It’s tough to hide anymore.

Another scenario is when the police are chasing the bad guys.  Think about OJ Simpson and his famous slow speed chase.  Today, if he had a fully up-to-date SUV, could the authorities put it into limp mode, and then into stop mode?

The certainty is that driving in the United States is going to dramatically evolve over the next ten years as technology, communications, regulations and consumer sentiment all converge on the idea of autonomous driving and its impact on our lives and culture.


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Mid-Year Review of Fuel Price Impact on American Drivers

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Fuel Price Impact on American Drivers Has Changed

Every two months, AutoPacific surveys drivers to determine the fuel price impact on their lives, their driving styles and their consideration for vehicle types in the future.  The fuel price impact today is dramatically different from the surprise price spike to $4.15 per gallon in June 2008.  Drivers reacted dramatically.  They abandoned large SUVs and bought high fuel economy small cars and hybrids instead.  Hybrid consideration peaked at 29% in September 2008.

Drivers took huge financial losses getting rid of their gas guzzlers, but they quickly rued that decision.  By December 2008 the price of gasoline had dropped to $1.67 per gallon.  (The value of $1.67 in 2008 is $1.94 in today’s dollars).  This began a roller coaster ride of gas prices.  By January 2011, gas prices had risen to over $3 per gallon and stayed there until December 2014.  Today, the national price of a gallon of gasoline is about $2.50.

American Driver Know Fuel Prices Will Change  The result is that American drivers do not trust the stability of gasoline prices.  In 2008, fuel price was among the top ten attributes people considered important when they bought a new car.  Now, fuel price is twentieth.  In fact, fuel price is considered less important now than power and acceleration and fun to drive.

At the last peak in 2011, almost 60% said gas prices had a (negative) impact on their standard of living.  Today, that number has halved to 30%.  More people are feeling they can afford a more expensive, less fuel efficient vehicle.  Of course, longer financing terms and increases in leasing also has stimulated their buying behavior.

Honda CR-V Top Selling Crossover SUV

Cars Losing, Crossover SUVs Winning  Consequently, trucks rule. Based on the results of the Fuel Price Impact Survey, consideration for cars has been steadily slipping since 2005. In December 2005, 67% of drivers would consider a car next time they bought.  In 2017, that number has fallen to  49%.  The vehicle segment with the strongest consideration is, surprise, SUVs and Crossover SUVs with 37% of drivers saying they would consider one next time they buy.  That is up from 21% in 2005.  Mid-Size Car consideration has dropped from 27% in 2005 to 12% today.  Hybrid, the fuel efficiency darling, has fallen from 29% consideration in 2008 to 13% today.

This change in vehicle type consideration has caught some automakers by surprise.  Hyundai is a notable example where sales are off substantially.  They simply don’t have enough SUVs to sell even though they have added extra capacity for the Hyundai Santa Fe Sport to their plant in Alabama.  Like Porsche when that German brand added the Cayenne SUV, Jaguar has seen its sales double after adding the F-Pace SUV to their lineup.

Regulations Forcing Automakers to Produce Vehicles That May Be Tough to Sell  Even though fuel price is lower on the importance list and buyers are flocking to Crossover SUVs, more and more hybrids and electric vehicles are being introduced every year.  The introduction of these new fuel efficient cars and trucks has been to meet the stringent government fuel economy regulations established by the Obama Administration.  As good and as fuel efficient as these new vehicles are, they will need a marketing push to sell them.  Automakers cannot expect “consumer pull” to get these vehicles on the road.  With the price of fuel staying relatively low, American new vehicle buyers are going to buy what they want.  This means continuing popularity for Crossover SUVs at the expense of Mid-Size Cars and Small Cars.

Potential changes to fuel economy regulations will impact how the auto industry reacts, but stopping or slowing the surge of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles is not in the cards.  Too many sunk costs and resources already.


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Tesla Tops Consideration and Vehicle Satisfaction Results

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Each year there are several surveys of Vehicle Satisfaction in the United States marketplace.  Two of the most respected are from Consumer Reports, the widely read consumer buyer guide and automotive-specialist research company AutoPacific.  Consumer Reports results were released on December 22, 2016.  AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction results were released on June 1, 2016.

The results are similar in some ways.  The differences between AutoPacific’s “Future Consideration” results and Consumer Reports “Would Buy Again” results can be dramatic.  AutoPacific’s “Future Consideration” measures owner loyalty.  That is what percentage of the brand’s present owners would consider the brand again?  AutoPacific also assumes vehicle buyers may be considering more than one brand in the future.  This makes the percentage of consumers considering any one brand usually higher than the more definite “will buy” results from Consumer Reports.

brand-consideration-comparison-vvTesla is tops in all three measurements from Consumer Reports and AutoPacific.  Then the comparisons diverge dramatically.  In AutoPacific’s consideration results, popular domestic brands Ford (4) and Chevrolet (6) are in the top ten.  In CR’s “will buy again” results Chevrolet is 9th and Ford is 15th separated by one percentage point.   Second ranked in CR’s results, Porsche is 8th in AutoPacific’s consideration.  Cadillac is second in AutoPacific’s consideration results but 22nd in CR’s rankings.

An interesting result in AutoPacific’s two measurements is that Ford and Chevrolet are very strongly considered while scoring below the industry average in their vehicle satisfaction scores.  This is testament to the strength of their brand image.

So how can consumers use these divergent messages?  Compare the brands at the top and the bottom of the list and see where there are similarities.  In both Consumer Reports and AutoPacific results, Fiat is at the bottom.  Ram, Fiat Chrysler’s truck-only brand has OK results from CR, but is on the bottom of the AutoPacific future consideration results.  Hot-selling Jeep is towards the bottom in all the measurements.  Should the buyer consider buying a Jeep a risk if owners are hesitant to buy another one?  Would a new Jeep get lower satisfaction scores?  Infiniti gets a pretty good satisfaction score from AutoPacific, but both CR “will buy” and AutoPacific consideration scores are very low.  Something is going on there.

For each brand there is a story.  Data compiled by organizations like Consumer Reports and AutoPacific can go a long way in helping consumers fine tune their consideration set when they are in the market for a new car or light truck.


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Auto Industry is Ahead of Fuel Economy Technology

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The Midterm Evaluation of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards report issued in July 2016 by the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) set the stage for comments on 2022-2025 CAFE standards.  The comment period ends on September 30, 2016 and some congressional leaders have asked for a further 60 day extension to receive comment.  Reading the details of the report is very enlightening and has largely been overlooked by the media.

Fuel Economy to Double from 2012 to 2025  In the rules established in 2012, fuel economy is to double by 2025 and green house gas emissions are to be cut in half.  This would save 12 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of 2012-2025 model year cars and light trucks and save consumers billions of dollars in fuel costs.

Report Under-Estimates Truck Percentage of Light Vehicle Market  At the time the initial rules were set, the truck mix was assumed to be 33% of the light vehicle fleet.  Given today’s low gas prices and the popularity of crossover SUVs, the light truck mix is over 60% of the market today and is projected to grow to over two thirds of the market by 2020.  In the Midterm Evaluation the government agencies show the highest truck mix to be 52% with low fuel prices continuing.  If fuel prices return to peak levels seen during the last decade (not projected), the light truck mix is assumed to be 38%.  Given the reality of the market, both of these estimates are conservative and very low.

Automakers Ahead of Schedule in Meeting Future CAFE Requirements  To date, the Midterm Evaluation concludes “auto manufacturers have over-complied with the program”.  This is a surprising statement from agencies that often accuse the industry with foot dragging in fuel efficiency and safety technologies.  They note that “fuel economy technologies are entering the market at rapid rates” and that the costs of adding these technologies have not been as high as estimated back in 2012.

Consumers Have Accepted Enhanced Powertrains  The report also notes that consumer acceptance of advanced fuel efficiency technology has largely been positive.  Ford’s EcoBoost turbocharged powertrain technologies have been well accepted (and strongly advertised).  Stop/Start technology is becoming more accepted according to AutoPacific’s consumer research.  Stop/Start shuts the engine off when stopped and then restarts the engine immediately when the accelerator is applied.  Some Stop/Start systems are seamless.  Others are rough on start-up. As the systems improve acceptance will improve.

Enhanced Gasoline Powertrains Can Meet 2025 CAFE Standards  To meet 2025 CAFE requirements, the agencies identify several technologies that will play an important part.  Most are enhancements to gasoline powertrains.  Tops on the list are transmissions with 8-speeds or more (70%) .  General Motors and Ford are working together to develop multi-speed transmissions.  More engines will be turbocharged (54%).  Stop/Start will become more commonplace (38%).  The most interesting fact is the report assumes less than 2% of the vehicle fleet will be full electric vehicles and less than 1% will be a plug-in hybrid.  Mild hybrids are estimated to be 14% and full hybrids will be 14% to meet 2025 CAFE.  There is only passing mention of fuel cell vehicles.

Substantial Cost Increases to Meet Future CAFE Standards  Improving fuel economy is not free.  Back in 2012, cost increases of over $3,000 per vehicle were estimated to meet 2025 standards. The cost is now estimated by the agencies to be around $1,250 (over a 2021MY vehicle).  Nowhere in the report does it mention how much the cost to get from 2012 to 2021 is.  The report estimates that meeting the 2022 to 2025 standards will increase lifetime vehicle costs by $87 billion.  This is estimated to be offset by fuel savings of $120 billion and other benefits of $55 billion.  The net benefit is estimated to be $88 billion.  Like many government reports, the arithmetic is vague and the conclusions are shaky.

AutoPacific’s bi-monthly Fuel Price Impact Study shows that consumers are not particularly willing to spend more for a vehicle that is more environmentally friendly.  Consumers also say that their present vehicle is clean enough and the focus should be on cleaning up other sources of pollution.  The Midterm Evaluation does not mention that there has been any research conducted to determine consumers’ willingness to pay substantially more for higher fuel economy vehicles.

Plug-In Electric Vehicles Not Needed to Meet Federal CAFE  Perhaps the most interesting conclusion in the report is that plug-in electric vehicles are not needed to meet the Federal 2025 CAFE standards.  This is not welcome news to Tesla’s Elon Musk or Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn.  The primary reason electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) will impact the overall vehicle fleet are to satisfy California’s mandate for zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) in the fleet.  California’s regulations also are shared with northeastern states.

Even Tougher Standards in the Future?  The report is very complimentary of the auto industry’s progress in adopting enhanced technologies to meet future fuel economy requirements.  While some might hope that this would lead to a reduction in future standards, it might result in even tougher fuel economy goals.


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Iconic Stutz Still Exists – Warren Liu Wants to Resurrect It

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There have been over 1,800 car brands in the United States auto industry since 1896.  Entrepreneurs and enthusiasts saw the American auto industry as a way to make a name for themselves and, hopefully, a lot of money.  This set off a wave of industrial Darwinism that continues today.  Car brands came and went with startling regularity.  Some brands launched and died quickly and are now just a faint memory if remembered at all.  It would take a real automotive history buff to remember the Adria, or the Carhartt, or the Hackett.  Some more recent brands are still fresh in our memory like Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Mercury, Plymouth, Hummer and Saturn.  Today, there are 40 car brands on sale in the United States.  Some names are so strong that they keep coming back in one form or another.

Logo Credit:  Stutz Motor Car of America

Logo Credit: Stutz Motor Car of America

Stutz Sold 35,000 Cars Until Falling to the Great Depression

A once-storied name in the American luxury auto industry still exists – Stutz.  Stutz would be 104 years old today if it were still producing cars. They were famous for the Stutz Bearcat and Stutz Blackhawk. Stutz made fast cars for racing and luxury cars for the wealthy. While they were known as “The King of Cars” in the late teens, the company could not make it through the Depression and stopped production at its Indianapolis, Indiana factory in 1935. While Stutz was in business it sold about 35,000 cars.

If you are a reader of Clive Cussler adventure novels, Isaac Bell one of Cussler’s protagonists frequently drives a Bearcat while working as an early 1900s private detective. Cussler, an avid car collector, usually features iconic cars from the past in his books.

Kings of Bling – Excalibur, Stutz, Clenet

In the 1960s and 1970s three of the most flamboyant personal cars were produced – the Excalibur from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the resurrected Stutz fabricated near Turin, Italy and the Clenet from Santa Barbara, California. These were highly styled and high priced personal cars sold to celebrities, royalty and the filthy rich. The word bling had not been coined the way we use it today, but these cars were over-the-top with bling.

Stutz Motor Car of America

Seeing the Excalibur have reasonable success in the late ‘60s (Excalibur sold 3,200 cars from 1965 through 1989), and wanting a strong American name from the past that still resonated among luxury car marques, Stutz Motor Car of America resurrected the name in 1968.

Photo Credit:  Stutz Motor Car of America

Photo Credit: Stutz Motor Car of America

Renowned Chrysler stylist Virgil Exner designed a new Blackhawk coupe in 1970 based on the Pontiac Grand Prix. In an age where styling excess was de rigeur, Exner’s flamboyant design attracted buyers like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Lucille Ball. At one point, a Stutz model was the highest priced car in the world. From 1970 through 1995 over 600 cars were produced.

Another flamboyant car that should not be ignored was the Clenet. Clenet made about 430 cars from 1977 through 1982.


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Car Owners Select Trump Over Other Candidates

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Vote ImageThis article was posted in Forbes.com blog, Friday, February 19, 2016 (http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgepeterson1/2016/02/19/car-owners-select-trump/#6e8407941b81).

“Just the facts, ma’am”, said Joe Friday.  Here are the results from a 1,100 respondent AutoPacific national internet survey asking vehicle owners what their political leanings are and who they would prefer for President come November.

The poll is not overwhelmingly scientific.  It does not look at preferences based on political affiliation or likelihood to vote.  It simply asks who they would prefer for President and does show some very interesting results.

Political Leanings  What are the political leanings of car (and truck) owners?  About 36% describe themselves as Independent with Ford (33%), Toyota (30%), Honda (24%), Chevrolet (20%) and Subaru (20%) the brands most likely to identify as Independent.  About 34% describe themselves as Republican with Ford (27%), Toyota (23%), Chevrolet (19%) the top three.  About 25% describe themselves as Democrat with Toyota (30%), Honda (23%) and Subaru (17%) the top three.  Libertarians account for about 5% of the sample with Toyota (35%), Ford (31%), Honda (23%), Chevrolet (23%) as their top four brands.

The most “Republican” brands are Lexus (45%), GMC (43%), Infiniti (39%), Jeep (36%), and Audi (36%).  The most “Democrat” brands are Tesla (37%), Fiat (35%), and Land Rover (32%)

Trump Wins Overall  Among the presidential candidates of any party, Donald Trump is the top preference (24%), followed by Hillary Clinton (18%), Bernie Sanders (17%), Ted Cruz (9%), and Marco Rubio (7%).  The remaining candidates are all under 5% with Chris Christie, and Carly Fiorina having pulled out of the race after the New Hampshire primary.

Brand Owners Most Likely to Select…  The owners of brands most likely to select Donald Trump are GMC (31%), Mitsubishi (31%), Scion (30%), Ford (25%), Jeep (25%), Buick (25%), and Cadillac (25%).  No FIAT owners would prefer Trump.  The brands most likely to select Hillary Clinton are Mercedes-Benz (25%), Infiniti (25%), Tesla (25%), BMW (24%), Cadillac (24%).  The brands most likely to select Bernie Sanders are Fiat (44%), MINI (41%), Tesla (35%), Volvo (32%), Mazda (28%), Volkswagen (28%), Scion (27%), Subaru (27%), Toyota (25%).

Trump Profile  Those vehicle owners who prefer Donald Trump are likely to own domestic mainstream brands.  About 57% have a college education and about 36% have a household income over $100,000.  Contrary to other surveys Trump does well among the youngest vehicle owners capturing about 33% aged 18-29 years old.   The lowest preference for Trump is among vehicle owners in their 30s at 15%.  All other age groups prefer Trump in the 22%-28% range.

Clinton Profile  Brands with stronger preference for Hillary Clinton tend to be luxury brands.  About 76% have a college degree and about 45% have a household income over $100,000.  Preference for Clinton by age group is strongest among the 60-69 age group with 22% preferring Clinton – about equal to Trump in that age group.  Lowest preference for Clinton is among the youngest with just 9% of the 18-29 year old group preferring her.

Sanders Profile  Bernie Sanders attracts both mainstream and luxury brands.  The owner profile of these brands suggest a more liberal mindset. About 60% have a college degree and about 35% have a household income over $100,000.  Strongest preference for Sanders is among 30-39 year olds (26%), among 18-29 year olds (21%) and among 40-49 year olds (21%).  This confirms Sanders preference among younger vehicle owners.

There are many polls being cited during these early weeks of a long, long election cycle.  Results are all over the map with Trump generally on top for the Republican nomination followed by Ted Cruz.  In the race for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders is putting up a surprisingly strong anti-establishment fight.  It will be interesting to refer back to these results in November to see who will be our next President.  If the vote were held today among owners of cars and trucks, the winner would be Trump by a narrow margin.


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Lincoln Continental Over the Years

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2017 Lincoln Continental

2017 Lincoln Continental


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Manual Transmission RIP – Let ’em Die

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We keep watching the hand wringing of automotive enthusiasts (of which we are a member) about the manual transmission fading from the American vehicle fleet.  In fact, in 2010 our friends at Car and Driver created a Facebook page entitled “Save the Manuals” moaning about the “paucity” of manual transmissions offered in new vehicles.  The latest issue of Car and Driver continues to advertise the site.  At a recent new model introduction, a wizened old auto journalist railed on about how the car maker was killing the manual transmission.  They were not offering one on the higher priced models of the car.  Well, as experienced as he may be, he is out of touch.

Over the years, we have been proponents of automatics especially since they have become so efficient.  Based on AutoPacific research we have the data.  Here are the tidbits from the latest year’s survey (the data have changed only slightly year over year):Manual Transmission Shifter

81% of New Vehicle Acquirers Can Drive a Vehicle With a Manual Transmission  Frankly, we thought this number would be much smaller.  For the sake of their ego maybe these respondents claim they can drive a manual when they actually cannot or do so very poorly.  About 89% of men and 68% of women claim they can drive a vehicle with a manual transmission.  By age group, 52% of respondents in their 20s and 71% of those in their 30s say they can drive a vehicle with a manual transmission.  Over 40 years of age, over 85% say they can drive a manual.  We are surprised that so many in their 20s and 30s claim they can drive a manual.

94% Want an Automatic in Their Next Vehicle  81% of the respondents say they want an automatic transmission in their next vehicle.  About 14% say they want an automatic with paddle shifters.  Only 5% want a manual transmission.Automatic Transmission Shifter

Highest Preference for Manual Transmissions are in Sports and Compact Cars  About 20% of sporty car (Camaro/Mustang) owners want a manual in their next vehicle.  About 13% of sports car owners (Porsche 911, Corvette) want a manual transmission.  About 11% of compact car owners want a manual transmission.  The sports and sporty car owners want a manual because they perceive the manual gives them a more sporty driving experience and better control over the car.  Compact car owners perceive that a manual will give them better fuel economy and also a lower price.  We might have thought pickup truck owners would want a manual transmission but this is not the case.  Only 5% of pickup owners want a manual transmission in their next vehicle.

Manuals to Fade Away  In many press events AutoPacific attends, members of the automotive press continue to argue for more manual transmissions to be added to newly introduced vehicles.  This is contrary to what the people who actually buy cars want.  While there will be some bitching and moaning from the media, automakers should save their resources and concentrate on making outstanding automatics and dropping manuals in the future.Paddle Shifter

Sidenote on Paddle Shifters  Manufacturers have been adding paddle shifters to automatics to give a sportier ambiance.  In AutoPacific research over the years, we have found that drivers might use this feature for the first couple of weeks they have their vehicle.  Then they never use paddle shifters again.  While implementing paddle shifters is now an inexpensive proposition, it still might not be worth the trip.


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