Category Archive:

Popularity of Crossovers Leaves SUVs in dust

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This article appeared in the December 8, 2005 issue of USA Today. While VehicleVoice agrees in general with what Healey and O’Donnell report, we should not lose sight that folks really have vehicles in only a few clearly identifiable classes: Cars (sedans, coupes, sports cars) and Trucks (pickups, SUVs and Minivans). In VehicleVoice Research (http://www.vehiclevoice.com), there is seldom any comment on “crossovers”. A vehicle is either an SUV or its not. Folks will talk about softer SUVs (crossovers) that maneuver better, get better fuel economy. But, too many manufacturers are forgetting that, at a glance, a crossover needs to be at-a-glance an SUV. Heck, you might get a cross between a wagon and a sporty coupe and put it real low to the ground and call it a crossover. Eeeeek!
Popularity of crossovers leaves SUVs in dust
By James R. Healey and Jayne O’Donnell, USA TODAY
Buyers are shifting rapidly from traditional SUVs to more comfortable and more fuel-efficient crossover models.
inside2-crossover.jpgWeick
The Ford Freestyle is the crossover vehicle most traded in for by truck-based Explorer owners. The Ford Freestyle is the crossover vehicle most traded in for by truck-based Explorer owners.
The transition had been inching along for several years but has turned into a stampede.
Crossovers, adaptations of car or minivan underpinnings, outsold traditional, truck-based SUVs the past three months and should do so routinely and permanently beginning next year, according to data and projections from Ford Motor (F). (Photos: Hot new crossover SUVs)
PROS AND CONS
Crossover SUVs
Advantages:
Lighter weight
better fuel economy
smoother ride
better handling.
Disadvantages:
Can’t tow or haul as much
less ground clearance
lighter-duty four-wheel drive.
Traditional SUVs
Advantages:
Rugged
able to tow and haul heavy loads
greater ground clearance
heavy-duty four-wheel drive.
Disadvantages:
Heavy
poor gas mileage
stiff ride
clumsy handling


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Ghosts That Still Haunt GM – Samuelson

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The following article was published in the Washington Post on November 30, 2005. It is an interesting historical and current perspective on how the more things change the more they remain the same… at least in the case of General Motors. Isn’t it interesting that Chrysler Group remains able to stay under the radar as GM and Ford are getting all the brickbats from the media?
GM Logo Blog.gif
Ghosts That Still Haunt GM
By Robert J. Samuelson, The Washington PostWednesday, November 30, 2005
In 1927, “The Jazz Singer” — the first successful major movie with sound — opened. In 1931, Charlie Chaplin, a silent-movie star, said: “I give the talkies six months more.” A similar frame of mind now haunts General Motors, which recently announced it would close 12 facilities and cut 30,000 jobs by 2008. Granted, GM is burdened with costly labor contracts and huge numbers of retirees, reflecting an era when it had (in 1962) as much as 51 percent of the U.S. vehicle market. But GM also inherits a self-defeating management style formed during its glory days. It presumed that superior managers could always anticipate and control change. By contrast, many top managers in younger companies accept that they will face disruptive surprises that could, unless successfully countered, destroy them.
The difference has consistently disadvantaged GM. Its latest downsizing is the company’s third since the early 1980s. With each, GM has struggled to catch up with changes that it badly misjudged — the demand for smaller cars in the late 1970s; the superior quality and production techniques of Japanese manufacturers in the 1980s; and now the demand for snazzier cars and (almost certainly) better fuel efficiency. The conceit that GM could “manage change” often served as an excuse to stand pat — until change was unavoidable.


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NIIHS Announces Safety Winners

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The National Insurance Institute of Highway Safety announced its rankings of the ten safest 2006 model year cars on Sunday December 4, 2005. To make the ratings game easier to understand, NIIHS has developed a gold silver rating scheme. Cars receiving a GOLD rating have “Good” ratings for frontal impact, side impact and head restraints. Cars receiving a SILVER rating have “Good” ratings for frontal impact and side impacts, “Acceptable” for head restraints.
One of the key objectives for this new combined rating scheme is to push manufacturers in a subtle way towards stronger performances in all aspects of the rating game.
The winners are:
GOLD

06FiveHundred Blog.jpg

Large Cars: Ford Five Hundred, Mercury Montego
Mid-Size Cars: Saab 9-3, Subaru Legacy
Small Car: Honda Civic 4-door
SILVER
Large Cars: Audi A6
Mid-Size Cars: Audi A3, Audi A4, Chevrolet Malibu with side airbags, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Passat


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GenY Buyers Want Value and Image in Their Vehicle Purchase

Generation Y is the cohort of the population between 18 and 28 years of age. There is still half of the GenY generation cohort that has not yet reached driving age, but are strating to lust after their first car or truck. Because youth is sexy and desirable, automakers and their advertising companies concentrate great effort at attracting younger buyers to their brands. It is critically important Are Generation Y new vehicle buyers really different from the older generations? AutoPacific’s annual Generation Y Consultancy shows that Generation Y – the youngest vehicle buyers in the market – are very different when vehicle selection reasons are considered. The following chart shows how some key vehicle selection reasons stack up when Generation Y is compared to older generations:

Gen Y Slide 1 - blog.jpg

The above data ring true for every vehicle segment. Basically, GenY buyers want a high value, high image vehicle that will last a long time.


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Did Anybody At Chrysler Ever Think About This?

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By the middle of 2007, Chrysler-Jeep showrooms will be populated by a befuddling number of quite traditional and Post-Modern SUVs (The Scribe refuses to use that vile “crosso___” term). While currently Chrysler-Jeep dealers have only the Wrangler, Liberty, Grand Cherokee and recently added Commander to worry about, their portfolio of SUVs will nearly double over the next eighteen months or so.


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carbuyersnotebook.com Article and Podcast on Gas Prices

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I met Frank Giovinazzi at a recent press event. Frank has created an excellent site that combines all the latest in automotive online reporting – articles, links, commentary, podcast and video-casts. Frank’s site, while fun and irreverent, often takes a different spin on automotive “truisms”.
Frank interviewed George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, for a podcast concerning the VehicleVoice internet survey of the impact of present fuel prices on American drivers.
Check out his site at http://www.carbuyersnotebook.com/archives/2005/11/car_buyers_note_98.htm


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