Category Archive:

“Trucks” to Continue to Outsell Cars – XSUV Segment

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500 wide Car Truck Sales 1987-2021500 wide Car Truck Mix 1987-2021AutoPacific, an automotive specialist research and product planning consultancy, forecasts that trucks, including XSUVs will be about 60% of the market for the foreseeable future.  In fact, reading the crystal ball for the next five years, this percentage of the mix may be low.  The charts above detail how cars and truck sales and market penetration have evolved since 1987 and the forecast for the future.

The hottest product segment in the American light vehicle market is the crossover SUV (XSUV).  A crossover SUV can be as large as a Chevrolet Traverse or as small as a Chevrolet Trax.  There are dozens of XSUVs in between.  And there will be more.

The XSUV segment has become so hot because this type of vehicle corrects the criticisms buyers had of traditional SUVs which sold very well, but were not optimal.  Buyers wanted products that were not hard-core off-roaders, but more civilized and city friendly.  The SUV market exploded in the early 1990s with the introduction of the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee.  It wasn’t until 1996 that the crossover SUV began slipping into the marketplace.  First the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V appeared.  They were followed by the luxury crossover RX300.  Clearly the manufacturers were listening and reacting.

Here are just a few of the things we know about the evolution of the SUV market over the next five years…

Cadillac  Cadillac states that it has too few XSUVs (one, the upcoming XT5) and wants to add two or three more to its lineup while adding one more car as a range topper between now and 2020.

Buick  Buick is adding the small Envision XSUV to its lineup this Spring.  Envision is assembled in China.

FCA Drops Cars to Add XSUV and Pickup Capacity  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is dropping its Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart in favor of more capacity for XSUVs and pickups.  The Ram pickup will take over the FCA Sterling Heights, Michigan Plant when the Chrysler 200 is dropped.  FCA’s huge Belvidere, Ilinois plant will be populated by XSUVs when the Jeep Compass and Patriot plus the Dodge Dart fade away.

Toyota Pushing RAV4  Toyota Motor Sales has stated that they would not be surprised if the RAV4 XSUV overtook the Camry mid-size car as its best selling product.  Camry was the best selling car in the USA in 2015.

Lexus will add a 3-row XSUV above the RX350 in the next few years.500 wide SUV XSUV Sales 1987-2021500 wide SUV XSUV Mix of SUV 1987-2021

 

The charts above show the impact of crossover SUVs on the light truck market.  Huge volume increase and market share increase.

Hyundai Aggressively Adding XSUV Capacity  Hyundai is replacing 50,000 units of car capacity in its Montgomery, Alabama assembly plant with the Santa Fe Sport.  That drops capacity for the Hyundai Sonata and Elantra from 400,000 to 350,000 units per year.  Hyundai admits that they underestimated the demand for XSUVs years ago.  This capacity move reacts to market demand and dealer pressure to get Hyundai dealers more XSUVs that are easier to sell and require less incentives and discounting.

Hyundai will add 45,000 units to its Tucson compact XSUV volume this year.  Built in South Korea, Tucson has been limited because it is popular around the world and the vehicle was capacity constrained.

Hyundai also recognizes there is a hole at the bottom of their XSUV lineup and are adding a sub-compact B-Segment XSUV to fill that hole.  There is a possibility that a smaller A-Segment XSUV will replace the Hyundai Accent hatchback.


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Do Fuel Prices Really Affect Vehicle Purchase Intentions?

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Drivers today are shelling out nearly $4/gallon, on average, to fill up their vehicles, about 25 cents more than this time last year. But this added expense is not persuading consumers to ditch their SUVs for more fuel efficient small cars. Results from AutoPacific’s latest Fuel Price Impact Survey (FPIS) actually show SUVs being the top vehicle replacement choice, with small cars coming in third. In addition, 76% surveyed would replace their current vehicle with a similarly sized one, whereas only 18% say they would go smaller.

Only Minor Vehicle Segment Shifts: In general, US drivers would not shift to a different vehicle segment when time to replace their current vehicle. Differences from replacement vehicle segment choice and what respondents currently own range between 0-2 percentage points, according to survey results. For example, 28% of respondents own an SUV, and that same percent would choose one for their replacement as well. About 19% would choose a small car, which is two percentage-points higher than current respondent ownership. This is a stark contrast to the July 2008 fuel price spike when the top replacement choice was small cars at 32% of the sample, 12 percentage points higher than current ownership at that time.


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Toyota Prius c: PC Car for the Masses

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Conspicuous conservation is for the rich. Or at least that’s what the data show. In general, AutoPacific research shows that buyers of hybrids make more money than buyers of comparable vehicles. Not surprising, since hybrids are more expensive than single engine vehicles and generally do not reap the economic rewards of their fuel efficiency before they have been traded in.

But now that there are more than 2.5 million Prius’ on the road worldwide (1.1 million in the US), economies of scale might help make having a PC ride possible for the masses. In fact, by the end of the decade, the Prius family of vehicles may be the leading nameplate for Toyota sales in the US. At least that’s what’s Toyota is betting on with the Prius c.


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Cadillac Launches Premium Care 2011 Model Year

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Cadillac Adds Premium Care  Cadillac is adding standard scheduled maintenance – Premium Care – to its 2011 Model Year products. Providing scheduled maintenance is a way to demonstrate commitment to the customer, reduce ownership costs and increase customer loyalty. BMW has been offering scheduled maintenance for years and has effectively shed its “Break My Wallet” image that existed prior to the scheduled maintenance program.

Premium Brands Abandoned Standard Scheduled Maintenance  In the past, most of the European luxury brands included standard scheduled maintenance – BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Land Rover. As costs went up and belts had to be tightened all with the exception of BMW dropped out. Surprising because consumer input to AutoPacific has indicated that standard scheduled maintenance is a strong enticement in selecting one brand over another.  BMW was winning the battle with no competition.

Standard Scheduled Maintenance Returning as Customer Satisfaction and Marketing Tool  Brands have begun to slowly return to standard scheduled maintenance as a customer satisfaction enhancer and sales enticement… Volvo, Volkswagen are now on board.  Jaguar has added its Platimum Coverage for 2011 that provides all scheduled maintenance for 5-years or 50,000 miles.  2010MY Land Rover models include scheduled maintenance for a short period after
purchase. Perhaps they will follow Jag’s lead.

In any event, standard scheduled maintenance appears to again gain traction in the marketing wars at the top of the market.  That VW has adopted it may indicate adding standard scheduled maintenance even to popular high volume brands.

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Autopacific Announces 2010 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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AutoPacVSAlogo10.jpgNational Survey Reveals Cadillac as Top Premium Brand, Buick as Top Popular Brand, Ford Motor Company Has Most Awards with Seven, Suzuki Kizashi as Top Car and Lincoln MKT as Top Truck
TUSTIN, Calif. (May 20, 2010) — AutoPacific today announced its 14th Annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards (VSA) to help consumers make informed vehicle purchase decisions.
“While the auto industry is showing signs of improvement, more than ever before, manufacturers need to be able to differentiate themselves. Proof of satisfied customers is as good as gold,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “We’ve found that more than 25% of new car buyers are positively influenced by owner-based awards like the VSA when deciding on a new car or truck.”
AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award is an industry benchmark for measuring how satisfied an owner is with his/her new car or light truck. This study by the Southern California-based automotive research firm summarizes the results of over 42,000 new vehicle owners.
“Vehicles that score highest in the Vehicle Satisfaction Awards are delivering value and satisfaction across a wide range of attributes,” says Peterson. “The winners perform well in 48 separate categories that objectively measure the ownership experience.”


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Recalls and Used-Car Shopping: GM and Carfax Team Up

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Being a company focused firmly forward, we don’t talk used cars much. But a program like this deserves some virtual ink.
Recalls have been in the news this year like rarely before. The depth and scope of Toyota’s problems has increased sensitivity to any manufacturer’s recalls–and make no mistake, there are many issued. Most not so severe as Toyota’s problems with accelerator shims, but out there all the same.
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Half of the equation for ensuring cars on the road have had any recall work performed is in the owner’s hands. Often, owners ignore recall notices, particularly for minor issues, or figure it’ll get handled with the next oil change, to have it fall off today’s crowded to-do lists.
GM and Carfax announced a measure of help for anyone looking to purchase a used vehicle, making it easier to find out if the car was affected by a recall and if the work was done. GM is providing VINs to Carfax of millions of Buicks, Cadillacs, Chevrolets, GMCs, Saabs, Saturns, Pontiacs, and Hummers with open recalls.


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Do Green Cars Really Add Up?

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AutoPacific_VV.jpgReconciling Consumer Expectations with Reality Won’t be Easy
TUSTIN, Calif. (December 2, 2009) — A study released today by automotive research firm AutoPacific shows that while consideration for alternative fueled vehicles is on the rise, it is often driven by economic forces, rather than consumer desire to help the planet. “We have witnessed that hybrid consideration increased with fuel price, until people became used to higher fuel prices,” says Jim Hossack, Vice President of AutoPacific. “Fuel prices have settled down in 2009 and so has demand for hybrid vehicles”
Going green will not be a walk in the park. Hybrid considerers are 10 percentage points more likely than gasoline considerers to agree with the statement, “I am prepared to pay a higher price for an environmentally friendly vehicle.” This is even truer for plug-in hybrid considerers (+17 percentage points) and pure electric considerers (+ 19 percentage points). However, they plan to pay between $2,000 and $5,000 less on their next vehicle than gasoline considerers. “Clearly, there is a disconnect here. While green car considerers indicate that are willing to pay more, they are actually budgeting less for their next car. This needs to be reconciled, or alternative fueled vehicles may stall in the marketplace,” said Hossack.


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Impact of Cash for Clunkers Program

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The Cash for Clunkers Program Ended at 8PM EDT on Monday August 24.  According to government statistics, 680,114 Cash for Clunkers deals were made using $2.88 billion of the $3 billion authorized for the program..  The average clunker received a $4,235 rebate.  Reimbursements are coming very slowly to dealerships and the government is putting more processors on staff to handle the backlog.  Overall, a rare successful stimulus program.

On July 24, 2009 new car dealers in the United States began accepting trade-ins of older vehicles not worth much for new cars. Based on their fuel economy and the fuel economy of the new vehicle purchased, customers received a voucher for $3,500 or $4,500 to apply to the purchase of a new car or light truck.

Ultimately, the results of this program may be the sale of slightly over 700,000 new cars and light trucks with about 250,000 incremental to what would otherwise have been sold. But the impact goes deeper. There will have been substantial sales tax revenue from each sale going to states and cities that sorely need the income. Additional income taxes will be generated from the additional commissions and salaries dealership personnel otherwise would not have earned. The list goes on.

A brief synopsis of the impact of the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) is shown below the fold…

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Americans Keeping Their Cars Longer

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Untitled1.jpgThose Intending to Keep Car More than Four Years Up Over 12 Percent
TUSTIN, Calif. (July 14, 2009) — An annual survey of new vehicle buyers shows a significant increase in the number of people planning to hold onto their cars and trucks. In 2005, just over 46 percent of new car acquirers indicated they would not be shopping for a new vehicle for four years or more; in the just completed survey that number has risen to about 59 percent — an increase of almost 13 percent. At the same time, the number of people intending to replace their vehicle within the next 2 years has fallen.


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AutoPacific Rising Star Winner – Hyundai

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Hyundai is the winner of the first Rising Star Award from AutoPacific. The Rising Star Award is given to the brand climbing the most positions in AutoPacific’s Vehcile Satisfaction Award research. Hyundai climbed eleven positions year-to-year. This is testament to Hyundai Motor America and Hyundai dealers selling vehicles that satisfy their customers and good customer handling at the dealerships.
Hyundai had two category winning vehicles – the Hyundai Genesis won the Aspirational Luxury Car Category and the Sonata won the Premium Mid-Size Car Category.
Other Rising Stars were Infiniti climbing ten positions and Mercury climbing nine.


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