Quiet Cars Influence OE Tire Satisfaction in Japan Market

Vehicle owners in Japan expect the tires that come with their vehicle from the factory to be perfect and without problems, according to our 2013 Japan Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Index Study. As vehicles become quieter, especially hybrids and electric vehicles, owners become more sensitive to noise and vibrations caused by their vehicle tires—a problem that is more prevalent than traction and handling issues.

The 2013 study, which examines problems that owners experience with their original equipment (OE) tires in the Japan market, finds that the two most frequently experienced problems owners have are pebbles or stones getting caught in the tire tread and road and vibration noise, which negatively affect ride, quietness and, ultimately, tire satisfaction. Continue reading ›

J.D. Power’s Dunne Discusses Global Green Move and Automotive Engineering

Tim Dunne

Tim Dunne

Reducing and even eliminating harmful exhaust emissions from cars and trucks and improving average fuel economy for vehicle fleets remain key challenges for global automakers, according to a recent J.D. Power paper, “The Changing Landscape of the Global Automotive Industry; A Global Shift in the Balance of Power.”

 Tim Dunne, director of global automotive industry analysis at J.D. Power, discusses some of the changes in the powertrains and architecture of future vehicles that are in process and are projected in the future as part of a global automotive industry paper that has been published in several Standard & Poor’s publications. Continue reading ›

J.D. Power Expert Offers Insight on the Shift in the Global Automotive Industry

Tim Dunne

The global auto industry is in flux with dramatic changes and growth in emerging markets—especially in the Asia-Pacific region, according to J.D. Power’s Tim Dunne, director of global automotive industry analysis.

In a recent paper that has been published in several Standard & Poor’s publications, including CreditWeek®, Dunne discusses some of these changes and provides future forecasts and an outlook for the industry in terms of auto production, changes in technology and engineering, and the impact of these changes on the environment and the economy.

A few highlights about the Asia-Pacific market are excerpted from “The Changing Landscape of the Global Automotive Industry; A Global Shift in the Balance of Power:”

• In 2013, LMC Automotive (J.D. Power’s strategic partner) expects the Asia-Pacific region to account for 36 million light-vehicle sales, representing 43% of the world’s total. Continue reading ›

China Rolls Out New Green-Vehicle Subsidies and Awareness Campaign

China Bustle and Street TrafficChina’s urban air quality has long been a source of concern for China’s government and citizens, as the country’s relatively environmentally unregulated factories spewed harmful emissions into the air. Now that the country has become the global leader in annual light-vehicle sales—and the number of light vehicles in operation has exceeded 120 million units, more than triple the number from 2000—China’s air quality challenges are an even greater concern.

Early this year, air pollution in China’s major cities, such as Beijing, was so challenging that residents stocked up on face masks and air purifiers. This kind of smog incidence is partly behind several modest programs that China’s government administrators rolled out recently.

These include another incentive program for buying fuel-efficient vehicles and a “No Car Day” campaign to help curb increasing levels of vehicle pollution in large cities, according to news reports in The Wall Street Journal and China Global Times. Continue reading ›

Tesla Plans to Enter China Luxury Car Market Later this Year

Tim Dunne

Tesla is building its first electric car store in Beijing, China, in spite of two major challenges: a very limited charging infrastructure and intense competition in the luxury segment from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The new Tesla “lifestyle store,” which is slated to open later this year, is located in an exclusive . . . Continue Reading Tesla Plans to Enter China Luxury Car Market Later this Year

Premium Brands Earn Higher APEAL Scores; Land Rover Range Rover Ranks Highest

David Amodeo

David Amodeo

A new feature of our redesigned 2013 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study is the division and ranking of APEAL performance into two major categories: Premium and Non-Premium Brands.

At the industry level, the APEAL score averages 795 points on a 1,000-point scale. With our change in segment designations, the Premium segment average is 844 points and the Non-Premium segment average is 786.

As it has for the past nine years, Porsche leads all brands in the nameplate rankings and earns a score of 884 points, which also means it ranks highest in the Premium category. Rounding out the top five premium brands are, respectively: Audi (857); BMW (854); and Land Rover (853), followed by Lexus and Mercedes-Benz in a tie (847). The highest-ranking domestic premium brand in the study is Cadillac at No. 7.

In the Non-Premium segment, for the first time, Chrysler Group’s Ram nameplate is the most appealing brand with a score of 817. Ram is followed by Volkswagen (809); MINI (801); Buick (800) and Kia (797) in the Non-Premium category. All of these mass-market brands receive scores that are above the industry average of 795 points. Continue reading ›

June U.S. Auto Sales Led by Demand for Replacement Vehicles and Pickups

Customer and Salesperson at Dealership shutterstock_52838524U.S. new-vehicle sales in June were bolstered by pent-up demand and the need for owners to replace older vehicles, as well as easier access to credit and a continuing surge in demand for large pickups, partly due to improvements in commercial sectors, such as in housing construction.

Automakers also report that they sold more smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles in June—sub-compact, compact cars and more compact crossovers (CUVs)—than a year ago, which may be partly due to sustained higher prices at the gas pump, which are averaging $3.48 per gallon this week across the country vs. $3.33 a year ago, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

In the latest update, J.D. Power and its strategic partner LMC Automotive said the month’s sales climbed 13.4% from a year ago on a selling-day adjusted basis* to 1.4 million unit sales, which translates to a stronger-than-anticipated 15.9 million-unit seasonally adjusted annual selling pace. A number of automakers said that their sales have hit higher sales levels than during the past five and even six years. Continue reading ›

Demand for Smaller Engines in U.S. Market Flourishes

tysonjominy Blog

Tyson Jominy

During the past five years, there has been a rise in demand in the U.S. market for compact- and even midsize-segment car and light-truck models to be equipped with more efficient, powerful and eco-friendly 4-cylinder engines. In fact, more than one-half of new vehicles purchased or leased in the first five and one-half months of 2013 were equipped with a 4-cylinder, according to data provided by our Power Information Network® (PIN) division.

One reason behind the larger percentage of smaller engines (PIN defines small engines as 3-, 4- and 5-cylinders) in the sales mix is that more brands in the U.S. market now offer these more fuel-efficient powertrains than they did five years ago. Some of the noticeable changes in powertrain penetration that PIN has tracked between 2008 and 2013 are summarized:

• In 2008, 10 nameplates in the U.S. market did not even have engine options smaller than 6-cylinders. Today, there are only three brands without small (below 6-cylinders) engines in their sales mix.

• In 2008, there were only five nameplates with over 90% small-engine penetration. Today, there are 11 brands with greater than 90% penetration.

• Four nameplates have 100% small-engine penetration—Mini, smart, Fiat, and Scion. Volkswagen, Subaru, Hyundai and Kia also score well above 90% small-engine penetration.

• The largest change is for the Buick brand, which did not offer 4-cylinders in 2008, but now is above 50% in its sales mix.

Audi remains the top luxury marque with 4-cylinder penetration, while BMW, which did not offer 4-cylinders in 2008, is now No. 2. Continue reading ›

Chinese and U.S. EV Makers Face Good News and Challenges

EVSymbolIn recent months, several China-based electric vehicle makers have been making headlines with announcements of new EV contracts in the U.S. market, while several U.S. EV makers, based in California, have been facing new challenges.

Additionally, in May, Tesla Motors made an offer to raise capital and also paid off its government loan, while Fisker Automotive may have another chance to survive with news of a possible purchase bid from several suitors.

Meanwhile, Chinese vehicle maker BYD Automotive Co., which boasts Warren Buffet as a major investor, recently signed a contract in the United States with the city of Long Beach in California to build 10 electric buses at a former RV facility in nearby Lancaster, CA. This arrangement allows BYD (Build Your Dreams) to take advantage of buy-American subsidies for electric vehicles and public transportation. BYD reportedly has made 1,000 electric buses, most of which operate in China, and has completed a pilot program with Hertz, according to the company. Continue reading ›

Who is the Winner? EVs or Flex-Fuel Vehicles and Biofuel?

bangkok-thailandIn looking at the future of alternative fuel vehicles—principally electric vehicles (EVs)—in the Thai market, it appears that the only push for promoting EVs is coming from the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT). In fact, the only comprehensive study on EV use in Thailand has been conducted by EGAT, which suggests that shifting electricity generation at power plants for use in electric vehicles would improve plant efficiency. However, can this alone be the driving force for consumers to move to purchasing EVs? The answer is an emphatic ‘No.’

Thailand’s Future Energy Plans Focus on Biofuel

A major obstacle in transitioning to EV use in Thailand comes in the form of the government’s Alternative Energy Development Plan (2008‐2023), which clearly shows that planned energy output to serve the transport sector for the next decade will be provided by biofuels, not electricity.

Thailand has an abundant supply of sugar cane, which can be processed into ethanol. Ethanol is an alcohol-based fuel made by distilling and fermenting crops, such as sugar cane, and more experimental sources such as cassava and molasses. Continue reading ›