Auto Shoppers Place More Value on Price When Weighing Interest in Emerging Technologies

Casey Mier

Following several years of economic turmoil, US consumers have become more circumspect about their level of interest in new and emerging features in their next new vehicle, especially after market price points are revealed. Our 2011 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study finds that safety features continue to override “infotainment” technologies when it comes to price point. The study measures consumer interest and purchase intent for emerging automotive technologies, both before and after a market price is revealed.

Among the 21 technologies evaluated, J.D. Power finds that Blind-spot Detection has the highest overall interest, with a majority (79%) of respondents indicating that they are “definitely” or “probably” interested in having the feature on their next new car or light truck. In fact, this feature has strong appeal among customers across all age groups and vehicle segments, according to our study results. More than three-fifths of survey respondents who say they will not pay extra to have the latest safety features still express interest in blind-spot detection. Continue reading ›

New Technologies Offer Automakers Opportunities in Wake of Strict Legislation

As state and local governments enact distracted-driver laws, consumers want technology solutions to safely and legally make phone calls in their vehicles, get directions or check e-mail while driving, according to findings in our 2011 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study, which is based on responses from nearly 18,000 vehicle owners, and measures consumer interest and purchase intent for 21 emerging automotive technologies, before and after a market price is presented.

Mike VanNieuwkuyk

We know that a vast majority (86%) of smartphone owners indicate that they use their device while in their vehicle, and our research finds that the two most common activities are making or receiving calls and getting directions. When these consumers are given the opportunity to select which of the 21 technologies they would like to have on their next vehicle at respective market prices, Wireless Connectivity Systems receives the third-highest percentage level of interest* (50%) among all technologies evaluated. Continue reading ›

Satisfaction, Loyalty with Winter Tires in Japan Hinges on Educating Buyers

A majority of passenger-vehicle owners in Japan (82%) who purchased new winter tires during the past few years regard tire performance on icy roads as an important purchase consideration. These buyers also tend to be more satisfied with their tires than customers who don’t value tire performance in winter ice and snow conditions, according to our J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2011 Japan Winter Tire Customer Satisfaction Index Study.SM

We find that the index score (based on a 1,000-point scale) for customers who value tire performance on icy roads averages 596, which is 71 points higher than the tire satisfaction score (525) for those owners who do not place particular importance on tire performance in winter conditions. In addition, the average satisfaction score is 65 points higher among owners who indicate that handling and traction on both dry and wet roads is an important consideration in their purchase of winter tires. Continue reading ›

Plug-in Prius and Other Plug-in Models may Outperform BEVs

Mike Omotoso

Toyota Group’s new Prius Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) will be available at dealerships in 15 US states next spring, and the company recently announced that the plug-in technology will become standard on Prius hybrid electric cars in 2014. Since the first Toyota Prius was launched, sales of the automaker’s popular hybrid have surpassed 2 million units worldwide. Toyota officials say they hope to sell 1 million hybrids annually by 2015, which would be more than a 40% increase from 700,000 hybrid sales globally in 2010.

Plug-in Hybrids may Outpace Battery-Electric Vehicle Sales

In the future, plug-in hybrids are expected to be more successful than battery electric vehicles (BEVs) for a number of reasons. One advantage of plug-ins is that they overcome the ‘range anxiety’ issue that BEVs face. BEVs typically have a 70-100 mile range before they need to be recharged, which is a lot less than people are used to. Typically, plug-ins have a 300-400 mile range, which is closer to what drivers of conventional gasoline-powered cars expect and achieve. Continue reading ›

Japan’s Production Disruptions Affect North American Output

Production in North America (United States, Canada and Mexico) through the first 4 months of 2011 increased 12%, to 4.3 million units from 3.8 million units during the same period in 2010.

Despite this increase through April, the effects of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear power plant crisis and disruptions in . . . Continue Reading Japan’s Production Disruptions Affect North American Output

May Sales Likely to Regain Some Momentum After Slow Start

Jeff Schuster

Retail new-vehicle sales in the first two weeks of May* got off to a weak start, due to several variables, including higher prices; lower incentive levels; some inventory shortages related to the Japan disaster; and gas prices reaching nearly historically high prices, based on analysis of our Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data. As a result, the industry will be facing a lower sales pace, at least through the summer selling season, which puts pressure on our outlook for vehicle sales in 2011.

We do see May sales improving in the second half of the month and project the month’s retail sales to reach 858,400 units, which is 10%** higher than in May 2010, and represents a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 9.6 million units. Yet, even though the retail sales pace in May is nearly 1 million units stronger than it was in May 2010 (8.7 million unit SAAR), the pace is sharply lower than the 10.7 million-unit average sales pace in the first four months of 2011. As we look ahead to the close of the month, we see quite a bit riding on results during the Memorial Day weekend, which traditionally is a pretty strong selling weekend. Continue reading ›

PIN Demographic and Transaction Highlights for Premium Brands

Most premium brands had lower retail turn rates* than the industry average during the first four months of 2011, based on our Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data. This year, the Audi brand had the lowest retail turn rate—new vehicles remained an average of only 23 days on dealer lots before being sold—which was even lower than last year’s 34 days, and less than half of the industry average retail turn rate (54 days) during the first four months of 2011. Land Rover had the next lowest turn rate—30 days—down from 35 days in 2010. Lexus followed with a retail turn rate of 36 days, which was up from 29 days in 2010. Continue reading ›

BMW Takes US Premium Sales Lead in First Four Months of 2011

David Cutting

BMW, offering 11 models in the US market, currently is the best-selling luxury, or premium, brand through the first four months of 2011, according to data from our Automotive Forecasting division. BMW’s year-to-date sales through April totaled 71,417 units, which was a 10% improvement over last year’s same time period. The German luxury automaker’s 5 Series midsize premium conventional model posted strong gains for the brand this year—sales rose more than 75%, to 15,986 units vs. 9,111 sales a year ago. Also, the redesigned X3 compact premium crossover (CUV) bolstered the brand’s totals with 7,987 unit sales so far this year. Additionally, all of BMW’s CUV models posted gains this year, while the volume-leading 3 Series, which was the best-selling premium model in the US market, posted a 12% sales decline (26,590 unit sales vs. 30,360 unit sales in 2010).

Mercedes-Benz, with a lineup of 15 models in the US new-vehicle market, was very close to its rival BMW, selling just 32 fewer units through the first four months. Mercedes delivered 71,385 premium cars and light trucks in January through April 2011, up 7% from last year’s 66,857 unit deliveries. In addition to being the best-selling luxury brand, the Mercedes C-Class and E-Class passenger cars were among the 10 best-selling luxury models in the United States during this same time frame. The Sprinter van has sold 3,764 units in year-to-date sales, but is not included in the above figures as it is not considered to be a premium model. Continue reading ›

What About the Other Swedish Brand in China—Geely and Volvo?

In addition to the Saab-Hawtai discussions, China’s other well-known Sino-Swedish automotive partnership has been plugging along since Zhejiang Geely Automotive Group acquired Volvo Cars from Ford Motor Co. for $1.5 billion in August 2010.

Sales of Volvo models in China reached nearly 30,000 units in 2010, up 32% over the prior year, likely making . . . Continue Reading What About the Other Swedish Brand in China—Geely and Volvo?

Foreign Brand Expansion Plans Could Downshift in China

Tim Dunne

Recent scuttlebutt from China is that many automakers are having difficulties getting their production expansion plans approved by the appropriate authorities in the country’s government. While approvals are merely a bureaucratic formality in most markets, they appear to have become a lever to influence behavior and reap concessions from foreign automakers . . . Continue Reading Foreign Brand Expansion Plans Could Downshift in China