VW Growth Plan Includes Unveiling Concepts at Geneva Motor Show

Jonathon Poskitt

The Volkswagen Group may show as many as seven concepts at the Geneva International Motor Show in March (Press Days are March 1-2), according to Automotive News, which reports that concepts will be exhibited for the group’s VW, SEAT and Skoda brands. In addition, Italdesign Giugiaro, which the VW Group took over last spring, also may have two concept cars for the VW brand.  

As part of VW’s aim to become the top-selling carmaker by 2018, we will begin to see the concepts of future production models that will assist the German automaker in its aim. One of the stars of the Geneva show this year is bound to be Volkswagen’s XL1 concept, a vehicle that is capable of achieving amazing levels of efficiency (circa 300 mpg has been suggested). This follows on from the forthcoming Up! range that will enter production later this year, with VW, Skoda and SEAT brands all getting a version of the Up!  Continue reading ›

EV Sales to Rise If More Popular Segment Models Are Added

As with the hybrid market, the increase in the number of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) should help increase demand. The hybrid market grew from two models–the original Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius—in 2000 to more than 25 models in 2010.

In addition to the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, there will soon be an electric Ford Focus and niche offerings—such as the Tesla Roadster, Fisker Karma, Mini-E, Toyota RAV4 EV, and the electric smart fortwo. However, the BEV market will remain small if only compact and sub-compact cars are offered. We see the need to add electric utilities (SUVs); crossovers (CUVs); large cars; and electric pickup trucks for the market to really take off. Continue reading ›

More States Will Join California to Sell EVs and PHEVs

Mike Omotoso

California is most likely to become the largest US market for plug-in hybrid passenger vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), according to a study from the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, MI. The state already leads in the number of hybrid owners, with more than 50 per 10,000 . . . Continue Reading More States Will Join California to Sell EVs and PHEVs

High Quality Customer Service is a Major Brand Differentiator

Five premium automotive brands—Cadillac, Jaguar, Lexus, Lincoln and Mercedes-Benz—are among 40 brands that stand out in customer service excellence from 1,200 brands that were evaluated for our first cross-industry special report, “Achieving Excellence in Customer Service.”    

Chance Parker

Among the five luxury auto brands that have been named J.D. Power 2011 Customer Service Champions, we determined from customer feedback that Cadillac and Lincoln, for example, have changed discussion with customers in a positive way by focusing on the value they provide rather than their pricing. Both brands perform especially well in one of the five drivers of excellence in customer satisfaction and advocacy—Price. In addition, three of the premium auto brands—Cadillac, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz—stand out among the 40 Customer Service Champions in the area of Presentation—with products, showrooms and marketing efforts differentiating them in the eyes of their customers.   

J.D. Power and Associates identifies the J.D.Power 5 PsSM as the features in which each of these 40 Service Excellence Champions excel:  People, Presentation, Price, Product and Process.  To be a champion, brands didn’t just need to master one or two of these features, but customers also had to indicate the brand excelled in them.  Continue reading ›

Vietnam Likely To Become An Import Market—Transfers to Cars from Motor Bikes

Ammar Master

The growing importance of Vietnam as the next big automotive market in Southeast Asia is undeniable. With an estimated 20 million bikes on the road, compared to a car population of 1 million vehicles, the potential is clear to see. Income levels are slowly rising–real GDP per capita (in 2005 US Dollar terms) has increased from US $468 in 2000 to US $834 in 2010, according to Oxford Economics, which works with J.D. Power Automotive Forecasting.

Manufacturers are hoping that the transition from two-wheelers to cars will happen sooner, rather than later. However, how the industry develops further and what direction it takes will pretty much depend on government policies on taxation, infrastructure development and investment promotion.

We think Vietnam will transform to an import vehicle market over the long term. We believe the country’s commitments towards the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) agreement to be the major driver behind this slowly shifting trend.

Vietnam to Cut Import Taxes on Vehicles

Under the deal, Vietnam is obliged to reduce import duties on completely built-up (CBU) vehicles from Southeast Asian countries to 0% by 2018. In accordance with this schedule, import duties on vehicles built in ASEAN countries are to come down from 83% to 70% this year. Apart from this, Vietnam is also cutting import taxes on vehicles with different engine sizes under its obligations to the World Trade Organization. Plus, import duties on 4-wheel-drive vehicles were reduced from 77% to 72% under the new tax rate. Continue reading ›

New-Vehicle Retail Sales Pace in February Rebounds

February new-vehicle retail sales bounced back in the second week of the month and we project retail deliveries to climb 28% from the same month a year ago to a 10.3 million unit seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) compared to an 8.0 million-unit rate a year ago, according to our latest update.

Dave . . . Continue Reading New-Vehicle Retail Sales Pace in February Rebounds

Fast Forward: Our Outlook for 2011

We are looking for the global marketplace to continue to pick up. The growth rate slows a little from what we saw in 2010. We expect about a 6% increase this year—rounding to 76.5 million units worldwide. North America is expected to pick up 11% more sales and end the year at 15.5 million units. The US is forecasted to come in at 13.0 million units—up 12% from 2010. 

Jeff Schuster

The drag on global sales will continue to be in Europe. Europe is basically flat at 18.1 million units for 2011. We are expecting weakness in the southern regions of Western Europe as well as in Ireland and the UK. However, we forecast that Germany will rebound, with a projected increase of 8%. 

In Asia, China continues to be the market to watch in 2011 as light vehicle sales are expected to increase 11% to 19.0 million units. John Zeng, our director of Asian automotive forecasting at J.D. Power Asia Pacific in Shanghai, points out that China will be the driver for global market growth and says that China’s automotive market remained robust in 2010, defying all expectations that the market would slow along with the economy. Continue reading ›

Global Auto Sales Have Come A Long Way

Jeff Schuster

You can’t really look at the US  automotive market without looking at the global market. We truly are in a very global industry, where there is a lot of interaction between the regions and between the countries. 

Looking at global light-vehicle sales historically—we have come a long way. The global market in 1998 was at a little over 50 million units. From that level, there was a tremendous amount of growth through 2007, though. On a monthly basis the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) peaked in early 2008 at 73 million units before everything went south. January of 2009 was the low point at a 56 million unit selling rate.

Since then, we’ve come a long way from a global perspective, with stability through most of 2010, as the selling rate remained between 70 and 72 million units, before rising to a rate of 78 million units by December. Let’s take a look at some sales history from 2010. Continue reading ›

Global Light-Vehicle Sales Set to Rise in 2011

John Humphrey

J.D. Power’s view of the global auto market is optimistic. Certainly, there are concerns and risks, but the automotive industry worldwide is in a much better place this year than it was even a year ago.

Our Automotive Forecasting Division projects that global new light-vehicle sales will reach 76.5 million units . . . Continue Reading Global Light-Vehicle Sales Set to Rise in 2011

AutoNation’s Jackson Asks Marchionne about the Chrysler Turnaround

The dynamic story of Chrysler’s journey through its continuing recovery by Fiat, illustrated in Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne’s speech, was followed by a provocative exchange that featured the Chrysler Group CEO’s responses to questions asked by Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, the largest public dealership group in the US market. A few of the Q&As from the presentation at the J.D. Power and Associates International Automotive Roundtable in San Francisco, CA, are excerpted:

Mike Jackson: Everybody knows you’re a great deal guy. You did a brilliant deal with the US government, except for maybe the rate on your loan, and at what point after you took over Chrysler did you realize—did you wake up one morning and go ‘Oh my God, I really did it this time. This is really bad.’?

Marchionne: “It probably happened within the first 30 days. I spent a lot of time with our people trying to understand what was the heart of the problem with Chrysler.  . . . There was a point in time in which—some time in June or the beginning of July of 2009—that I realized we had a number of issues that appeared to have gone unaddressed and they had to be wrestled to the ground as part of the relaunch of Chrysler. Of all the calls that I made inside Chrysler about keeping a product portfolio in place by fixing its inherent problems, that was by definition gutsy. But given the fact that I had to be present in the marketplace, I couldn’t wait. The first car that’s coming out from the Chrysler Fiat alliance is going to be visible in Detroit in January 2012. It’s the first piece of the architecture that rolls out of our factories. . . . We had a couple of good products in the lineup—the Grand Cherokee that already existed, the Chrysler 300 also existed within the product portfolio—had to be completed. But the rest of it was a pretty gutsy call.”   Continue reading ›