Interest in Small Cars, Hybrids
Declines Despite Fuel Price Increase
TUSTIN, Calif. (February 11, 2010) – AutoPacific regularly tracks the impact of fuel prices on the type of vehicles Americans will consider buying. The results for the just-completed Fuel Price Impact Survey show very surprising results.
Governmental mandates and consumer desires appear to be moving at cross-purposes. At a time when Congress and the Obama Administration are mandating more fuel efficiency, fuel price increases have moderated. Consumer preferences are swinging in the direction opposite what the government desires. Consideration for small cars and hybrids, the most fuel efficient vehicles, is down dramatically, while consideration for pickups and SUVs is up dramatically. Over 1,000 respondents completed AutoPacific’s January 2010 wave of its Fuel Price Impact Study.
The Toyota recalls over sticking accelerator pedals are causing quite a stir this week, one which has grown in volume, really, over months and years. The fallout may be severe for Toyota, depending on how long it takes to fully resolve the issues and whether or not an additional recall regarding the Prius brake system is also required–voluntary or not. The situation is particularly bad for a company that had built a personality based on reliability and safety. No doubt, they will be taken to task. No doubt, mistakes were made. Also no doubt, the media frenzy is turning an already difficult and serious recall situation into recall fever.
But, while the drama plays out on local and national news, and our hard-working Congresspeople ensure they publicly flog Toyota and get their two cents in and “keep us safe,” there are real people with real questions. Toyota has some answers for customers, and we’d like to share them with you.
Follow the jump for Toyota’s relatively thorough and clear FAQs, including information on both the accelerator pedal and floor mat recalls, and what to do in an emergency.
AutoPacific’s Ed Kim appeared on Fox Business News today to discuss what lies ahead in the near future for the auto industry. Yes, 2009 was a real bummer, so what can we expect in the years ahead?
See the interview after the jump.
PickupTucks.com and AutoPacific have taken a look at all the new trucks sold in the past 10 years and made their picks for the most significant trucks of the decade. The trucks that made the list introduced cutting edge technologies and pushed the segment into new territory.
“Despite the economic challenges of the past two years, it’s hard not to look back at the last ten years without calling it the decade of the pickup truck,” said PickupTrucks.com editor Mike Levine. “Sales of full-size pickups hit 2.56 million units in 2004 and Ford’s F-Series trucks remain the nation’s best-selling vehicles, 33 years in a row.”
Though there are many trucks that had a significant impact in the last decade, it’s clear that the 2009 Ford F-150 earned the title of “Most Significant”.
“On balance, we thought the 2009 Ford F-150 was the most significant pickup of the last decade,” said Jim Hossack, vice president of consulting for AutoPacific. “It sells in high volume, owners like it and its body, chassis and powertrain are all first rate. Features abound, and there are more models, series and options than can be counted. It’s a good looking truck and suitable for the widest possible range of tasks and uses.”
After the jump are those trucks deemed most significant, in no particular order.
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.
AutoPacific, Inc. and SIGMA GmbH use Model-Level Social Milieus to Help Manufacturers Determine How to Make Small Cars Sell to US Consumers
TUSTIN, Calif. USA and MANNHEIM, Germany (December 9, 2009) – Tightening CAFE standards may force smaller cars on US car buyers who are not inclined to downsize. “Our research shows that, despite what the U.S. Government is telling us, few Americans want to downsize to smaller cars,” says George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, “Finding more buyers inclined to purchase smaller cars will not be easy.”
For years, the US automobile industry has relied heavily on analyzing demographic factors in order to segment the marketplace, and sell consumers vehicles with different characteristics. Traditional socio-demographic targeting using variables such as sex, age, education or income, has been the norm. While many manufacturers have tried to create independent systems for segmenting the market, the results are often short-lived, and lack a global perspective in an industry that clearly must design and sell vehicles on a global level.
On Monday November 30, Audi AG revealed the all new Audi A8 flagship sedan to the world media in Miami, Florida. There were 850 journalists in attendance from the USA, Europe, South America, China, Japan, Russia… anywhere you can name.
Capping Audi’s Centennial Anniversary, the launch of the A8 is very significant to the company. The A8 is being introduced in Europe and China earlier in 2010 with the USA getting A8 in Winter 2010 or Spring 2010.
Study Team Visits USA and China The A8 has a special place in AutoPacific’s heart. In early 2006, AutoPacific hosted an Audi study team working on finalizing the concept of the A8. The team was in the USA for about three weeks. After visiting the USA, they spent a month in China where Audi outsells BMW and Mercedes-Benz by two-to-one. This group of engineers, planners, designers, financial experts and production managers were extremely enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and anxious to do what was right for the car and for Audi.
The results of their work is the all new 2011 Audi A8. Wow, what a car!
Ford Motor Company launched a new powertrain technology called EcoBoost earlier in 2010. EcoBoost will eventually be available on 90% of Ford’s lineup in the USA. The first EcoBoost installations are in Ford’s new D3 Platform vehicles – Ford Taurus SHO, Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT, and Ford Flex. EcoBoost’s first installation is a 3.5L V6 with gasoline direct injection and twin turbochargers. Power output on the Taurus SHO is 365HP while on the MKS, MKT and Flex is 355. The EcoBoost 3.5L has 350lb-ft of torque. These technology advancements yield substantially better performance while achieving equivalent fuel economy as a vehicle equipped with a non-EcoBoost 3.5L (of course this is only on paper. EcoBoost is so fun to drive you’ll be in it all the time – achieving equal fuel economy is just a dream).
EcoBoost a $5,000 Proposition Anyway, EcoBoost is not free. A Taurus SHO is almost $40,000 and the price increase for EcoBoost on the MKT, MKS and Flex comes out to about $5,000. That price includes all wheel drive which EcoBoost requires to handle the power and torque on the front wheel drive platform. So, with the power and price increase, how many is Ford selling?
EcoBoost Installations Running Ahead of Forecast According to George Pipas, Ford’s spokesman for sales reporting and arcane numbers, the Taurus SHO now represents about 15% of the Taurus lineup. This is 5%-pts higher than Ford had estimated. Each Taurus SHO generates $10,000 more economic profit than an average Taurus. Installation rate on the Lincoln MKT is 47%. About 30% of Lincoln MKS gets EcoBoost (and 37% gets AWD). The Flex has about an 11% rate lowest of the four.
So, it appears that EcoBoost is well on its way to being a success even in these tough economic times. In each vehicle line, with the possible exception of Flex, the installation rate is healthy for a performance option. It will be interesting to see what the mix is of EcoBoost engines as Ford continues to roll the technology across its vehicle lines.