May U.S. Auto Sales Finish the Month on a Higher Note than Anticipated

buyer looking at carNew car and light-truck sales in May finished the month higher than projected, according to analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. The better-than-expected performance was propelled by a strong retail market especially during the last four days of the month—which included the Memorial Day weekend—and accounted for 25% of May’s retail totals.

Automakers in the U.S. market sold 8.2% more new vehicles than in the same month of 2012. Both months in both years had the same number of selling days. The seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) averaged more than 15.2 million units for total sales (retail and fleet).

Fleet sales were not as strong as retail deliveries. May retail sales were up 10% and totaled 1.177 million units, which translated to a 12.7 million-unit SAAR—more than 1 million units stronger than the retail pace a year ago. May’s retail SAAR was the strongest in five years.

PIN and LMC Automotive also reported that nearly all manufacturers posted year-over-year retail sales increases. Through the first 5 months of 2013, total sales were up 7.3% from the total in the same time period of 2012. Continue reading ›

Detroit Automakers Gain Traction with May Light-Truck Sales in U.S. Market

CarDealership Compact CUV 06This spring, strong demand for large pickups and compact crossovers (CUVs) shored up May’s light-vehicle totals. Both Ford Motor Co. and Fiat-Chrysler Group reported double-digit increases and said their results were stronger than before the Great Recession that ended in 2009. Ford officials said commercial truck purchases increased related to positive changes in the housing and energy sectors.

Some 156,000 more new cars and light trucks were sold in May 2013 than in the previous month this year (April). According to analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive, May deliveries rose 7.8% from April on a selling-day adjusted basis. Sales totaled 1.442 million units, up 8.2% from year-ago tallies. The seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) in May averaged 15.2 million units, which was significantly stronger than a weaker 13.9 million-unit pace in May 2012. Continue reading ›

Large Pickups and Compact CUV Models Capture Share in April

Ford 2013 EscapeIn April, two light-truck segments—large pickups and compact crossovers (CUVs)—outpaced the industry’s 4.3% increase significantly and each gained nearly 2 more percentage points of market share, while the largest-volume midsize sedan segment lost favor and nearly 2 points of share in the U.S. market during the month.

Compact crossovers (CUVs) soared by 22.4% in April and garnered a 12.9% share of industry sales in the U.S. market—up from 11.0% a year ago. These small vehicles outsold large pickups in April, which also captured a larger 11.9% share of sales, up from 10.2% a year ago. Large pickup deliveries roared ahead 22% in the past month vs. April 2012.

Midsize sedans and coupes, one of the most overcrowded and competitive of 22 segments, saw sales dip 5.9% from a year ago. The U.S. market’s highest-volume segment’s share slipped to 16.4% from 18.2% in April 2012. Also, model dominance in this segment has been moving around. Two months ago, in March, the Nissan Altima was the monthly sales leader, while in April, the Honda Accord led the pack of midsize cars, even with lower sales than in the same month a year ago. Perennial sales leader Toyota Camry ranked second in sales during these months, although Camry was still the midsize sedan sales leader through the first four months of 2013. Continue reading ›

In 2012, the Best News Comes for Small Vehicle Segments

Small cars were in demand with consumers in 2012.

Small vehicles resonated with new-vehicle buyers in 2012, partly due to higher prices at the pump during the year (prices reached $4 per gallon in some states) and due to the attraction of new models and more fuel-efficient powertrains.

Compacts accounted for some 5.97 million unit sales, or 41.3% of the market in 2012, up from 5.08 million unit sales in 2011 or 39.9% of the U.S. auto market. This represents a 1.43-percentage point share gain in 2012, according to data collected by J.D. Power and AssociatesPower Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive.

Among the compact segments,Compact Sport and Sub-Compacts were the best performers in 2012, achieving a 39.3% and  33.1% increase over 2011, repsectively. More than 571,400 sub-compacts were sold and market share rose by one-half point to slightly less than 4% (3.95%). Two new models joined the category for 2012—Chevrolet Spark an, Toyota Prius C . The best seller in the segment was the Nissan Versa, followed by the Chevrolet Sonic and the Hyundai Accent. In addition, Fiat 500 sales more than doubled, and even the tiny Smart car sold nearly twice as many units in 2012 as in 2011. Continue reading ›

Large Pickups and Cars Remain Best-Selling Models in 2012

2012 Ford F-150 SVT RaptorThe Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado LD and HD versions were the best-selling models in the U.S. auto market in 2012. Together, more than 1 million of these two truck models were sold last year. In addition, another truck, Chrysler Group’s Ram pickup (LD and HD) ranked seventh among all models sold, with deliveries of more than 293,300 units.

On the car side, the Toyota Camry, which was redesigned for the 2012 model year, remained the top-volume car and best-selling midsize sedan in the U.S. market. It also was the third-best-selling model overall in 2012, with sales of more than 404,000 units. Two additional redesigned-for-2013 midsize sedans—the Honda Accord (No. 4) and Nissan Altima (No. 6)—were among the 10 best-selling models in 2012. Continue reading ›

Compact Car and Large Pickup Deliveries Boost August U.S. Auto Sales

Compacts were popular choices for new-vehicle buyers in the U.S. market in August, due in part to the rise in gas prices—topping $4 per gallon on the West Coast. Car and light-truck sales in August rose 15.5% from a year ago, to 1.283 million units on a selling-day-adjusted basis,* according to analysis by J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.**

New car buyers continued to replace their older vehicles with new fuel-efficient compact models that included more purchases and leases of cars with alternative powertrains. At the same time, more large pickups were purchased than a year ago, which a Ford economist said may align with the fact that housing values moved in a positive direction recently compared to 2010 (based on the latest S&P Case Schiller index).

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 ›

How Subaru Lost its Joint Venture in China

Marvin Zhu

A year ago, Fuji Heavy Industries, as well as several other global carmakers, chose not to locally produce vehicles in China. Fuji Heavy was said to be seeking a local partner to establish a joint venture. According to rumor, Great Wall, well known for its SUVs, was one possible candidate, as Subaru’s most popular model in China is also an SUV—the Forester.

Beijing Auto (BAIC) was also closely linked because the company needed to expand its product portfolio to compete against other state‐owned giants, such as SAIC, FAW and Dongfeng. In addition, some smaller players—such as Huatai,Youngman and several others— were also mentioned.

However, it was eventually revealed that Chery was the last remaining company in the running to partner with Subaru. A JV would use Chery’s new plant in Dalian to make the first model, which was likely to be the Forester. Chery could learn a lot from Subaru’s engine technology, and might even develop a new brand based on the new technology.

Unfortunately, according to a recent announcement from Fuji, the company has dropped plans to manufacture vehicles in China, after failing to secure the Chinese government’s approval for a joint venture. Since then, Fuji Heavy cut its global sales targets and instead decided to increase its manufacturing capacity in the United States and in Japan. Continue reading ›

Hyundai Improves in India VDS; Garners Three Segment Model Awards

Hyundai is the only brand to improve among the 16 nameplates included in this year’s J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2012 India Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS). Fewer reported problems in three of nine vehicle categories*—HVAC; driving experience; and vehicle exterior—contribute to Hyundai’s 14-point improvement from 2011. In addition, three Hyundai models garner awards in their respective segments: the Santro; i20; and the Verna.

Hyundai’s performance in the 2012 study underscores sustained improvements it has made in consistently improving longer-term product quality over the past 3 years. Experiencing fewer problems than its key competitors over a longer term is likely to aid Hyundai in further strengthening its image of dependability and reliability among owners, which helps spread positive word-of-mouth advertising. Continue reading ›

May U.S. Retail Sales Volume was Second-Strongest This Year

May was another month of year-over-year sales growth in the U.S. auto market, even though the impact of Memorial Day weekend sales at the end of the month was weaker than anticipated, according to analysis by J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.*

May’s seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 13.7 million units (SAAR) slipped below 14.0 million units, which has been a benchmark in each of the prior four months of 2012. Still, retail sales were the second-highest this year and totaled more than 1.07 million units, up 18.5% from a year ago on a selling-day-adjusted basis.** Fleet sales rose 6.9% to more than 261,200 units.

Most Multi-Franchise Automakers Post Retail Sales Gains

All multi-franchise automakers, except for the BMW Group, posted year-over-year retail and total U.S. sales gains in May. Toyota Group outperformed all other automakers with sales up 73% from a year ago, when inventories were hindered by production setbacks after the March 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami disaster. Continue reading ›