Brawn, Utility and Performance Attract Male Buyers in US Market

Grace Hamulic

Premium sporty cars and large pickups remained the most popular models with male buyers during the first 11 months of 2011, based on real-time transaction data from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN).

Six of the 10 new-vehicle models with the highest percentages of male buyers or lessees this year are light trucks—large pickups or vans. The two best-selling models in the US market through the first 11 months of 2011—the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado—are among the models with the highest percentages of male buyers. Both the F-Series and Silverado have posted higher sales this year vs. 2010, and the category’s sales have also outpaced the industry this year—year-to-date, large pickup sales are up slightly more than the industry’s 10% gain.

It’s no surprise that three large passenger and cargo vans also are among the 10 models with the highest percentages of male buyers, since a majority of these models were purchased for commercial use. The large van category, which accounts for a 1.76% share of US industry sales, is led by the Ford E-Series (Econoline), with year-to-date total sales of more than 103,800 units.

Three of the top 10 models that attracted male buyers this year and in 2010 are iconic sports cars. The BMW M3 compact premium model and the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette midsize premium sporty cars share the highest percentages of male buyers (with at least 100 unit sales per month) in 2011, and also did in 2010. The 911 and Corvette models have captured more sales this year than a year ago.

The M3, which has the highest percentage of male buyers in the first 11 months of 2011, has been called an “authentic performance car” by enthusiast magazines. Among the three sporty models with the highest percentages of male buyers, the M3 also has the largest percentage of transactions by young buyers (16 to 35 years old). According to PIN data, more than one-third (36.9%) of M3 buyers are young buyers, up from 32% a year ago. In terms of sales, BMW’s 3 Series, including the M3, is the volume leader in the crowded compact premium segment (with 19 entries), although year-to-date sales are down 5.8%, to 85,882 units vs. 90,843 unit sales a year ago.

In considering the remaining two top sporty models with male buyers, this year, the 911 has edged out the Corvette by a fraction of a point in total US sales. The Porsche 911, with its flat-6 engine unconventionally mounted behind the rear wheels, has been successful for Porsche—as a street car and as a competition car as well. Year-to-date sales for the 911, which includes a lineup of more than a dozen models, are up from a year ago (5,545 vs. 5,227 unit sales). The seventh generation of the 911 is set to debut next spring.

The Corvette, called “one of the greatest sports cars in the world” by US enthusiast magazine Automobile, also posted higher sales year-to-date (12,126 vs. 11,645 unit sales). However, the Corvette, which also includes a lineup of 4 models, has remained on retailer lots longer this year before selling—the retail turn rate* has averaged over 100 days in both 2011 and 2010. Porsche’s 911 has moved off dealer lots in an average 70 days this year, slightly faster than the 87-day retail turn rate in 2010.

Audi’s flagship large premium sedan, the A8, along with its sporty S8 version, was the world’s first car to be built on an aluminum platform, according to the German luxury automaker. The A8/S8 also has been on the list of the 10 models with the highest percentages of male buyers or lessees. It has remained on dealer lots only 36 days before being sold this year vs. 68 days a year ago. The small-volume model has also posted a fourfold sales increase this year vs. 2010 (5,022 vs. 1,019 unit sales).

Altogether, nearly two dozen models (with sales of more than 1,100 units) have male buyer percentages that are higher than 80%. One of the new entries this year on the list is the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)—year-to-date, 80.9% of buyers or lessees have been male. The Volt also is the model on this list that has the lowest retail turn rate—so far this year, it has remained on retailer lots only 18 days before being sold or leased. Through the first 11 months of this year, 6,142 Volts have been delivered.

Although not in the top 10, the BMW 7 Series and AudiA7 large premium conventional sedans also share extremely high percentages of male purchasers or lessees—83.1% of buyers were male. The 7 Series posted higher sales in November than a year ago.Grace Hamulic, Power Information Network production manager at J.D. Power and Associates

*Retail turn rate is the average number of days that a model remains on a dealer lot before being sold.

Note: All models garnered sales of at least 1,100 units in 2011 and in 2010.

Model 11 Mos. – 2011 11 Mos. – 2010 2010-2011 Segment
  Male % Male % % Change  
BMW M3 86.7% 86.8% -0.1% Compact Premium Conventional
Porsche 911 86.5% 86.8% -0.3% Midsize Premium Sporty
Chevrolet Corvette 86.0% 86.8% -0.8% Midsize Premium Sporty
GMC Sierra 85.7% 85.7%  0.0% Large Pickup
Ford F-Series 85.2% 84.4% +0.8% Large Pickup
GMC Savana 85.2% 83.2% +2.0% Large Van
Chevrolet Express 85.1% 83.9% +1.2% Large Van
Ford Econoline 84.8% 84.3% +0.5% Large Van
Chevrolet Silverado 84.2% 83.8% +0.4% Large Pickup
Audi A8/S8 84.1% 82.8% +1.3% Large Premium Conventional

Source: Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transactions for January-November, 2011 and 2010.

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