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Hyundai Santa Fe Wins AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Mid-Size Sport Utility Vehicles

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In its last year before being replaced, the Hyundai Santa Fe continues its string of category-leading performances in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. Santa Fe has won or tied in its category for five of the six years it has been on the market. In fact, Santa Fe was the first Korean brand vehicle to win one of the coveted AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. This is a testament to Santa Fe’s strong combination of product competence, value and warranty. Santa Fe satisfies its owners and continues to help Hyundai build its brand image in the United States.


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Volkswagen Passat Wins AutoPacific 2006 Premium Mid-Size Car Vehicle Satisfaction Award

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In its first year out, the all-new Volkswagen Passat has established itself as an extremely satisfying Premium Mid-Size sedan winning the AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Award. Passat handily beat segment volume leaders Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Hyundai Sonata. Passat wins by virtue of its outstanding interior design, use of high touch materials and European driving dynamics.


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Honda Odyssey Wins AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Minivans

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The Honda Odyssey Minivan wins top satisfying Minivan honors in AutoPacific’s 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. The Odyssey, in a three-way tie with other Japanese brand Minivans in 2005, moves into the lead for 2006. Odyssey’s relatively sporty performance, ride and handling combined with traditional Minivan styling and innovative interior features nudge Odyssey ahead of the Nissan Quest for 2006. Honda’s perceived product quality was the deciding factor.


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Cadillac CTS Wins AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Entry Luxury Cars:

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Cadillac CTS moves to the top of the Entry Luxury Car category in the AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. The European ambience of the CTS makes it a clear alternative to the Japanese and European brand entries in this segment. The fact CTS comes from an American brand is a testament to Cadillac understanding what buyers in this product category really want.


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Suzuki Grand Vitara Wins AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Compact Sport Utility Vehicles

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In Suzuki’s first win ever, owners of the all-new Grand Vitara rate it best in the Compact SUV class in AutoPacific‘s 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. New styling, larger, up-graded interior, up-graded powertrain, affordable pricing and a more-than-competitive warranty, make Grand Vitara a satisfying value proposition. With the introduction of the new Grand Vitara Suzuki proves they can achieve impressive satisfaction results with their customers.


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AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards

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AutoPacific has released the results of its 2006 model year owner satisfaction research. AutoPacific’s VSA (Vehicle Satisfaction Award) study is an industry benchmark for objectively measuring how satisfied an owner is with their new car or light truck. VehicleVoice automotive Internet panel members also contributed to this research.
The vehicle registering highest overall satisfaction in 2006 is the Lincoln Navigator Luxury SUV. The highest rated car is the new-for-2006 Hyundai flagship – Hyundai Azera.
Unlike 2005, when Nissan North America had seven winners, the 2006 results are distributed across the industry. There are eighteen Vehicle Satisfaction Award categories. Honda won four categories, General Motors won three categories, Ford won three categories, Nissan won two categories, Hyundai won two categories, Mitsubishi won two categories.
Top 2006 model year performers are:
TOP VEHICLE: Lincoln Navigator
TOP PASSENGER CAR: Hyundai Azera
TOP TRUCK: Lincoln Navigator
PASSENGER CARS:
Premium Luxury Car: Lexus LS
Entry Luxury Car: Cadillac CTS
Luxury/Large Car: Hyundai Azera
Premium Mid-Size Car: Volkswagen Passat
Mid-Size Car: Mercury Milan
Image Compact Car: MINI Cooper
Compact Car: Honda Civic
Sports Car: Chevrolet Corvette
Sporty Car: Acura RSX
LIGHT TRUCKS:
Large Light-Duty Pickup: Nissan Titan
Large Heavy-Duty Pickup : Chevrolet Silverado HD
Sport Utility Truck: Honda Ridgeline
Compact Pickup: Mitsubishi Raider
Luxury Sport Utility: Lincoln Navigator
Large Sport Utility: Nissan Armada
Premium Mid-Size Sport Utility: Mitsubishi Endeavor
Mid-Size Sport Utility: Hyundai Santa Fe
Compact Sport Utility: Suzuki Grand Vitara
Minivan: Honda Odyssey


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VehicleVoice Fuel Price Impact Survey – April 2006

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The Fuel Price Impact Survey conducted monthly by AutoPacific‘s VehicleVoice indicates that the median fuel price paid by U.S. motorists increased from a September 2005 peak of $2.90 per gallon to a new peak of $2.94 a gallon in April 2006. This was up from $2.42 in March. April’s spike is the largest month-over-month spike since September 2005.

SUV Loyalty Deteriorates – Small Cars Set to Boom?

In September respondents reacted to the price shock with about 27% of SUV owners saying they would consider buying another type vehicle when they replaced their SUV. As fuel prices moderated in the months following September, loyalty to SUVs rebounded. By March, only 13% would consider shifting away from SUVs. But, given the new April peak, about 25% of SUV owners say they may buy something different next time. Similarly, interest in Small Cars, up 41% in September, and up only 17% in February, was up 40% in April. Clearly, there is a direct relationship between fuel prices and the type of vehicle a person wants to drive.

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Source: AutoPacific – VehicleVoice Fuel Price Impact Study – April 2006


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Fuel Price Increases Spur Changes in American Drivers

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The Fuel Price Impact Survey conducted monthly by AutoPacific’s VehicleVoice indicates that the median fuel price paid by U.S. motorists increased by 12 cents, to $2.42 per gallon, the highest level since $2.83 in October, 2005. The March data are based on the results of an Internet survey with 1,060 VehicleVoice panel members completing the survey between March 14 and March 21, 2006.

Replacement Vehicle Interest Shifts Towards Small/Mid-Size Cars

As reported in prior months, respondents indicate that if they were to replace their current vehicle at this time, they would be more likely to buy a more fuel efficient Small or Mid-Size Car, and less likely to buy a less fuel efficient Large/Luxury Car or an SUV. The interest in more discretionary Sports/Sporty Cars and in Pickup Trucks, which often meet a specific functional need, remains close to current levels. The interest in a Hybrid powered vehicle remains very high relative to their current small share of vehicles in operation, but appears to be moderating somewhat. In October, 2005, 14.8% of respondents indicated that they would like a Hybrid engine if they were to replace their current vehicle, but in March, the percentage indicating an interest in a Hybrid powered vehicle had declined to 11.5%.

Most Check Fuel Prices, but Many Have Not Changed Driving Habits

We were wondering if people actually check the price of fuel before they fill up. One fellow in the office contends he never checks. He contends that he cannot do anything about it, so just pay up and drive off. Well, he certainly is not in the majority. Seventy percent of respondents indicated that they “always” check fuel prices, while only 5% say they “never” check fuel prices… and while 43% say they “always” shop for the lowest fuel price, 47% “sometimes” do so, and only 10% say they “never” shop for the lowest fuel price.

When asked if higher fuel prices would cause you to change the type of vehicle you drive, a surprisingly high 65% said “no”. They like what they have, and are reluctant to change. When asked at what fuel price they would change their vehicle type, the median answer was $3.28 per gallon, up 86 cents per gallon or 35% from the March survey median fuel price of $2.42.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents indicated that higher fuel prices had caused them to combine trips to save fuel, and 31% say they drive slower and smoother than they used to. On the other hand, fully 29% say that higher fuel prices have not caused them to change their driving habits at all.

The median price respondents expect to be paying for fuel a year from now was $2.74 per gallon in March, significantly less than the price at which most say they would be willing to change vehicle type.

When you become a VehicleVoice Panel Member, you too can contribute to this important monthly tracking study. Just go to VehicleVoice.com to join. It’s free and you can win cash and prizes.


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Zoom Shop for iPod – Auto Integration a Must

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We decided to roll off the hill Saturday morning and drive overland the ten miles or so to Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach. Wandered through the neighborhoods looking at nosebleed priced homes of the fabulously wealthy (where do they get all the $$$$$$?) and even rode the Balboa ferry from Balboa Peninsula to Balboa Island (truly funky in spots – for multi-jillion dollar postage stamp sized abodes).
On the way back, we stopped by a Von’s Pavilion (big supermarket) on Newport Coast Drive and lo and behold, she who must be obeyed saw a Zoom Shop for Apple iPods. Here, just by inserting your credit card, this machine will dispense iPod accessories, iPod nanos, video iPods. Interesting concept that just reinforces the contention that cars today need to have iPod integration available if not standard.
As AutoPacific and VehicleVoice research continues to confirm, iPods are one of the fastest rising personal technology items a person owns. The car company that is not planning on some integration path for iPods is failing in its planning function.

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Migod! If they are dispensing the things from vending machines now, what’s going to stop them?


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Vehicle Voice February 2006 Survey – Americans Getting Over Fuel Price Shock

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The Fuel Price Impact Survey (FPIS) conducted monthly by AutoPacific’s VehicleVoice indicates that the median fuel price paid by U.S. motorists declined from a September 2005 peak of $2.90 per gallon to about $2.30 in February 2006. The February data are based on the results of an Internet survey with 1,079 VehicleVoice panel members completing the survey between February 20 and February 28, 2006.
Vehicle Segment Shifts Moderating — SUV Loyalty Rebounds
In September respondents reacted to the price shock with about 27% of SUV owners saying they would consider buying another type vehicle when they replaced their SUV. Loyalty to SUVs rebounded by February 2006. Only 15% would consider shifting away from SUVs to another type vehicle. Similarly, interest in Small Cars, up by 41% in September, was up only 17% in February.
Powertrain Preference Shifting — 6-Cylinders Preferred
Fuel price declines have also affected respondent’s engine choices. VehicleVoice panel members are now much less likely to abandon 6 and 8-cylinder gasoline engines than they were six months ago. Interest in economical 4-cylinder engines remains at about 20% for their next vehicle; down by about 25% from the percentage of 4-cylinders they are now driving. Interest in hybrid-powered vehicles remains around 10%; substantially higher than the mix of hybrids presently on the road. The 6-cylinder engine remains the engine of choice for the highest percentage (40%) of panelists. Diesel fuel prices have increased relative to gasoline. Last September, diesel fuel was about 10-cents per gallon less than regular gasoline. In February diesel was about 25-cents per gallon more than regular gasoline nationally. Interest in diesel engines, primarily available in heavy-duty pickup trucks, has declined.

Ethanol Issues

President Bush’s State of the Union address in late January focused on ethanol fuels, and both Ford Motor Company and General Motors have aggressively promoted ethanol over the last few weeks. Two thirds of February’s respondents believe that auto manufacturers should offer more vehicles with ethanol (E85) compatibility, and the same percentage say that more gas stations should offer E85. In February, fully 93% of respondents agreed that America needs to be less dependent on imported oil — but only one-in-three was willing to pay more per gallon or accept increased fuel consumption to achieve that goal.


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