Luxury Brands Rank Highest in Japan’s APEAL Study

The overall industry index in the 2012 Japan Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study improves from 2011 by 3 points to an average of 691 points (on a 1,000-point scale), although the segment averages for two of the five segments—compact and mini-car segments—are below industry average, according to the recently released study. 

At the . . . Continue Reading Luxury Brands Rank Highest in Japan’s APEAL Study

Service Satisfaction among Japan’s Mini-Car Owners is a Major Challenge

Taku Kimoto

The mini-car segment in Japan continues to gain share and attract more attention, accounting for one-third of total industry sales. Traditional mini-car brands—mainly Daihatsu and Suzuki—are competing in a tight market with Japan’s six mass-market brands—Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mazda, Subaru and Mitsubishi. Some, including Honda, are launching their own tiny models with engine sizes of 660 cc or less.*

The competition between mini-car brands and mass-market brands is presenting a severe challenge to satisfying customers with after-sales service—especially among those vehicle owners who have switched from domestic mass market brands to mini-car brands, according to our 2012 Japan Customer Service Index (CSI) Study.

This year, overall customer satisfaction with service performed at automotive dealer facilities averages just 617 index points (on a 1,000-point scale), which is down from 623 in 2011. Continue reading ›

New-Vehicle Sales Satisfaction in Malaysia Declines; Nissan Ranks Highest

Mohit Arora

Although new-vehicle owner satisfaction with service at authorized service centers in Malaysia—especially for national makes Perodua and Proton—increases 22 points (on a 1,000-point scale) from 2011, satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales and delivery process declines by 18 points from a year ago, to an average of 781, according to our 2012 Malaysia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study.

Highlights of findings from the 2012 Malaysia SSI Study, which is based on responses from 2,451 new-vehicle owners who made their purchase between August 2011 and April 2012, are as follows:

• Fewer new-vehicle owners are highly satisfied with their purchase experience in 2012, in spite of an increase in the implementation of sales standards across the industry.

• Satisfaction is down especially for first-time new-vehicle owners, and these owners account for a majority of new-vehicle owners. Continue reading ›

Indonesia Dealer Service Infrastructure Strained by Sales Growth

Overall customer satisfaction with the authorized dealer service experience among new-vehicle owners in Indonesia declines 12 points from 2011, to 740 points (on a 1,000-point scale), partly due to a strain on the dealership service infrastructure caused by strong new-vehicle sales growth during the past 5 years, and hence more customers visiting dealer service centers, according to our 2012 Indonesia Customer Service Index (CSI) Study.

This year, satisfaction is lower across all five study factors,* with the largest declines in service initiation and service advisor. According to the study, only 37% of service customers received advance notice from their dealership that vehicle service was due—down 14 percentage points from 2011. In addition, the percentage of customers who scheduled a service visit in advance declined to 22% from 27% in 2011. Continue reading ›

August Retail Sales Surge, Fleets Dip; Strongest Performance in 4+ Years

Retail light-vehicle sales in August climbed 21% from a year ago to 1.094 million units, which translated to a seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) of 12.6 million units—3.0 million units ahead of last August’s 9.6 million-unit pace, according to data and analysis by J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.*

A robust sales finish in the final days of the month added unexpected strength to retail numbers, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive experts, especially since fleet deliveries in August declined 8.6% from a year ago and were down 7.4% from July’s numbers on a selling-day-adjusted** basis. Continue reading ›

Honda and Toyota Group Sales Rebound; Volkswagen Makes Inroads in August

Honda and Toyota Groups led U.S. light-vehicle sales gains in August with high double-digit increases—53.6% and 40.2%, respectively—from a year ago when inventories were curtailed by production setbacks following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Volkswagen Group also sold more than one-third more vehicles in August than it did in the same month of 2011, with a hefty portion of VW Passat deliveries bolstering the brand’s gains. VW brand sales were the best for any August since 1973, according to the company. Continue reading ›

Lincoln in China: Observations from our China Expert

Editor’s Note: Last week, while in China for a plant groundbreaking, Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Alan Mulally announced future plans to launch the Lincoln luxury brand in China. The first Lincoln models to be sold will be built in North America and distributed through an independent dealer network. Jim Farley, group vice president, Global Marketing Sales and Service, said in a statement that Lincoln will be differentiated in China with more individualized and personally tailored products.

Our Asia expert, Tim Dunne, offers a few observations and insight about Ford’s plans:

It’s About Vision and Commitment

Tim Dunne

Is it too late for Ford in China? Were Honda and Toyota too late to the American market when they started building cars in the United States in the 1980s? Was Hyundai too late when they started building cars in the U.S. in the 2000s? Their results provide the answers: Today, Japanese- and Korean-made vehicles account for roughly half of all sales in the U.S. market. Anything is possible with vision and commitment.

That said, the Ford brand does have its work cut out for it in the world’s most competitive auto market, which plays host to some 95 brands in the passenger-vehicle segment. The Ford brand currently holds a 2.5% share of the world’s largest market and ranks 13th overall in brand sales, trailing most of its major global competitor brands such as Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Chevrolet and Honda. Ford’s total brand sales in China in 2011 were 323,000 units, and 2012 sales are on pace to reach 350,000. By comparison, the Ford brand sold 2.06 million vehicles in the United States in 2011, or six times as many vehicles as it sold in China last year. Continue reading ›

North American Production Posts Double-Digit Year-to-Date Increase

Through the first seven months of 2012, North American light-vehicle production volume has climbed 23% (up by nearly 1.7 million units) from the same period in 2011, mainly due to major increases in production for Honda and Toyota Groups, post-recovery from setbacks related to the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011. Honda’s . . . Continue Reading North American Production Posts Double-Digit Year-to-Date Increase

Japanese Automakers Regain a Foothold and Make Gains in Emerging Markets

John Humphrey

After slogging through several years of turbulent times that included a mix of vehicle quality challenges, widespread internal restructuring, and a rash of unavoidable natural disasters, Japanese automakers are starting to regain their footing and reassert themselves in markets around the world. In particular, Japan’s largest brands—Toyota, Nissan, and Honda—are performing especially well in the world’s largest emerging markets—China, India, and Brazil. For example:

• In China—a market where total passenger-vehicle sales grew 9% in the first 6 months of the year to 6.9 million units—Nissan sales increased 18% during the same period (making Nissan the second-best-selling brand in China, behind perennial leader Volkswagen). Toyota’s sales jumped 31% (making it the third-best-selling brand), while Honda sales grew 17% (making it the seventh-best-selling brand).

• In India, Japanese brands by far outpaced their competitors in year-over-year growth. Passenger-vehicle sales in India are up 12% through the first half of the year to 1.3 million vehicles. Toyota sales are up 69% (making it in the fifth-best-selling brand), Honda sales have climbed 85% (the eighth-best-selling brand in India) and Nissan sales are up 160% (making it the 10-best-selling brand).

• In Brazil, where Japanese automakers are relative latecomers to the market, Japanese brands are beginning to acquire market share. Industry sales declined 2% in the first half of the year, but Toyota (up 9%), Nissan (up 30%), and Honda (up 5%) were able to stand firm against this decline—even as a majority of their major competitors saw flat or negative growth. Continue reading ›

Some Automakers, Including GM, Set July Sales Records in China

Tim Dunne

In spite of a noticeable economic slowdown in China and a softer market for passenger vehicles as well as fewer government incentives, some automakers reported strong sales in July. General Motors and its joint venture partners sold nearly 200,000 vehicles this past month to set a July record for the company, according to a GM statement. Honda Group and its two joint ventures also had a strong month with sales in China more than doubling from last year, when Honda was hurt by production setbacks following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, based on media reports.

GM said it sold 199,503 vehicles in China during July, which was a 15% improvement from the same month in 2011. SAIC-GM-Wuling, which sells lower-priced Wuling brand micro-vans and micro-trucks, accounted for more than one-half of the company’s sales in July. Wuling brand sales increased 32.7% compared with July 2011. While the July spike in Wuling sales is welcome, it should also be noted that the Wuling vehicles—which typically retail for the equivalent of US $5,000-$6,000—generally carry much thinner profit margins than traditional passenger cars. Continue reading ›