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 ›

December and Calendar 2012 Finish Year with Encouraging Sales Numbers

Dealer LotThe 2012 calendar year finished on a resilient if not strong note with double-digit gains from 2011 for retail and even fleet sales. Despite a slightly slower pace at the end of the month, which may have been stalled by the down-to-the-wire “fiscal cliff” negotiations, nearly all multi-franchise automakers sold more new vehicles in December in the United States than in the previous year, according to analysis by J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. Total sales for 2012 also finished with double-digit gains from 2011.

Some final highlights for December and the 2012 calendar year:

For Calendar Year 2012:

• Total light-vehicle sales in the U.S. market finished 2012 at 14.46 million units, which is 13.5% above sales of 12.75 million units in 2011.

• 2012 retail deliveries reached 11.73 million units, up 13.6% from 2011 on a selling-day-adjusted basis.

• Fleet sales were slightly less robust in 2012—increasing by 12.8% from 2011. Continue reading ›

Downsizing Doesn’t Require Buyers to Sacrifice Vehicle Appeal

David Sargent

Compact models delight new-vehicle buyers and lessees just as much as some larger vehicles as consumers continue to shift to smaller vehicles in the U.S., according to our 2012 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

Consumers who downsize are not making the sacrifice that they once had to make. In fact, automakers are heavily focused on providing the U.S. market with appealing smaller vehicles and consumers may even be surprised at just how good some of these models are.

In the APEAL Study, it is generally the case that all-new and/or redesigned models perform better than their award segment averages. This year, more than one-half (25 of 41) earn better scores than their award segment averages. Among all-new or redesigned compact or sub-compact models, the all-new Chevrolet Sonic outpaces the Sub-compact Car award segment average by 28 points, while the redesigned Volkswagen Passat surpasses the Midsize Car segment average by 38 points. Continue reading ›

May U.S. Sales: Bolstered by Toyota and Honda Delivery Gains

The strength of new car and light-truck sales during May helped offset some concern about a slowing U.S. economy. There is still pent-up demand in the U.S. market as vehicle owners replace their aging cars and trucks, while an easing in credit makes it easier to finance long-term loans, which helps drive sales growth, according to analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.*

In May, total light-vehicle sales reached nearly 1.335 million units, up 16% from the same month a year ago (on a selling-day adjusted basis).** May’s seasonally adjusted annual sales pace (SAAR) averaged only 13.8 million units, which was below April’s 14.4 million-unit pace, but better than last May’s 11.7 million-unit pace.

The sales gains in May were led by Japanese automakers’ year-over-year double-digit increases, which were signs of a full recovery from last year, when these automakers were hampered by production setbacks in Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in that country. Continue reading ›

Sub-Compacts, Compacts Gain Momentum and Share in US Market

Grace Hamulic

Fuel-efficient, smaller vehicles are moving off U.S. retailer lots much faster in the first two months of this year compared with the same time period in 2011, due in part to the rise in prices at the gas pump—averaging more than $3.80 per gallon across the country.*

Sub-Compact Conventional vehicles, led by the Nissan Versa, averaged only 36 days on retailer lots before being sold this year, down from an average 92 days in the same period of 2011. Compact Conventional models, led by the best-selling Honda Civic, averaged 42 days before being sold vs. 66 days a year ago, according to our Power Information Network® (PIN) transaction data.

Both categories posted higher year-to-date sales, and together have gained more than 1 point of market share. Combined total (retail and fleet) sales for these two vehicle segments account for slightly less than one-fifth of the U.S. market’s deliveries—19.73% share vs. 18.66% a year ago (+1.07%). Continue reading ›

January Sales Pace On Target with a Boost from Fleets

January’s final retail new-vehicle sales in the US market totaled 682,171 units, up 5.8% from the same month a year ago, based on analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) in collaboration with LMC Automotive. The year was off to a good start despite the strength of fleet sales gains, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive analysts said.

Retail sales in January translated to a seasonally adjusted average rate, or SAAR, of 10.9 million units, up 600,000 units from January 2011, but down 400,000 units from December 2011. Continue reading ›

Opel to Launch Upmarket Model to Boost Brand’s Sales in Europe

Jonathon Poskitt

Recently, non-premium brand Opel/Vauxhall announced that it would introduce an “upmarket” city car to the European market, according to Automotive News. The new model, code-named “Junior,” will target consumers “who care about the status of their car, what it can do, what features it has, what telematics it has,” according to Nick Reilly, GM Europe* president.

Non-premium brands like Opel will always look to improve their market position, because if they can achieve this, it clearly benefits profitability. However, the intent to reposition a brand and the execution of it are two different things.

Opel Launches Junior in a Segment with Some Aging Products

The benefit for Opel in launching this new Basic segment car is that the segment, having seen much new model activity over the last 5 or 6 years, has seen this activity die down more recently. Many models in the segment have seen their market share suffer to some degree from model aging, which plays into the hands of Opel’s new Junior when it is launched. Continue reading ›

US Makes Progress in Fuel Efficiency, EVs

Mike Omotoso

In a recent speech about long-term energy policy in the United States, President Obama spoke about the need to develop alternative energy sources to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He said developing alternative energy sources is a priority due to recent crises in other parts of the world, including changes in the Middle East and concerns about the impact of the ongoing Japan nuclear power plant reactor situation, which is causing rolling blackouts and auto plant shutdowns. One of the goals in this new energy policy is to cut our oil imports by one-third by 2025. President Obama stressed that the United States needs to promote programs focusing on biofuels, natural gas, electric vehicles, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks, according to news reports.

US automakers have made significant progress in some of these areas. The two main areas are fuel efficiency and electric vehicles (EVs). Less progress has been made in biofuels and natural gas. Most natural-gas vehicles are in the medium-duty truck segment, and there are diesel pickup trucks such as the Dodge Ram, Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado that can use up to 20% biodiesel. Continue reading ›

Sergio Marchionne Talks about Chrysler’s Major Shift

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler and Fiat, dressed in casual dark sweater and dark slacks, recently stood in front of auto industry members, including OEM executives, marketers and dealers, at the J.D. Power and Associates International Automotive Roundtable in San Francisco. He told them that the “economic perfect storm” 2 years ago had made the automotive industry, and in particular Chrysler, “shift to something completely new—something different—and ultimately, something that is going to be much better.”

Sergio Marchionne, Chrysler Group LLC CEO

Marchionne described what he called the irrefutable reality for Chrysler that “no part of the system could afford to indulge in wasteful practices.” He said that this new era at Chrysler requires, and will continue to require, “selectivity, rigor and austerity.” He pointed out the urgency: “We were forced to acknowledge our shortcomings and take action to remedy them.” Marchionne’s remarks about the journey and a maturing alliance between Chrysler and Fiat are excerpted:

A Path to Recovery

“Before I discuss what Chrysler is today, I want to take you back some 25 months. On December 31, 2008, the Financial Times published its predictions of what would happen in 2009. Under the question of how many US carmakers would survive, the Financial Times answered, two . . . and the obvious victim will be Chrysler.

“Much has happened since then and Chrysler has continued its existence, and the fact that it has surprised many prognosticators. . . . Chrysler [recently] announced its 2010 total year results. It showed that we had met or exceeded all of our forecasts. In fact, Chrysler boasted an operating profit of $763 million for the year. We ended 2010 with over $7.3 billion in cash, bringing our total available liquidity to more than $9.6 billion. This cash generation is important, as it enables us to continue to invest in new products and in brand building.

“In the United States, Chrysler market share came in at 9.2% [in 2010], up from 8.8% from the previous year. Canadian market share increased to 13% for full year 2010, compared with 11% in 2009.  . . . We also began 2011 with a product portfolio that has been almost completely rejuvenated—within a span of almost 19 months since Chrysler Group LLC began operations as a new entity. For the full year 2010, we launched 16 all-new or significantly refreshed vehicles, and these included two nameplates that were new to the marketplace as well.    Continue reading ›

Production-Ready “Green” Vehicles Debut at Los Angeles Auto Show

It was “Electric Avenue” during the press preview days (Nov. 17-18) at this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show (LAAS) at the city’s Convention Center, which is open to the public through Sunday, November 28. Fuel efficiency, low emissions and range anxiety were buzz words as automakers introduced 50 new models and concepts and displayed . . . Continue Reading Production-Ready “Green” Vehicles Debut at Los Angeles Auto Show