U.S. Auto Sales in October Rise Despite Adverse Weather

Despite the destructive path of Hurricane Sandy through the Northeastern states on Monday of this week, automakers in the U.S. market eked out a 7% increase in October light-vehicle sales vs. sales in the same month a year ago. Sales were anticipated to be up by as much as 11% from a year ago before the hurricane struck the East Coast.

Storm damage and loss of power caused many dealerships in coastal states, including New York and New Jersey, to close their doors for several days during the final week of the month, which is when many deals occur. As many as 18 states were impacted by the storm system. Some media reports suggest that Hurricane Sandy’s path cut across an area of the country that accounts for 20-25% of new-vehicle deliveries. Reports also say that the storm system reduced October sales totals by about 100,000 units. A Ford representative told Reuters that the storm cut its monthly totals by 20,000 to 25,000 units.

Volkswagen Posts Best Gains in Spite of Storm

In early reports, all three of the Detroit-based automakers posted gains, with Fiat-Chrysler Group’s Chrysler unit reporting the best increase among them—sales improved by 10% from a year ago. Chrysler Group said it was the company’s best October performance in 5 years. General Motors Co.’s sales were up nearly 5% from a year ago, while Ford Motor Co.’s sales were stable, edging up only a fraction of a point from October 2011. Continue reading ›

Japan Vehicle Owners Who Downsize Find Smaller Models Less Appealing

New-vehicle owners in Japan who downsize to smaller vehicles because they want better fuel economy and lower vehicle maintenance costs rate their new vehicles as less appealing in comparison to owners who purchase replacement vehicles in the same segment as they previously owned, according to the 2012 Japan Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

Among those owners who downsized, more than 80% indicate that maintenance costs and fuel economy were important considerations at the time of purchase, compared with a slightly lower 70% of buyers who purchased a vehicle in the same segment as their previous vehicle. The APEAL score for owners who downsized is 15 points lower than the score for owners who replaced their vehicles with vehicles in the same segment. Continue reading ›

Midsize Vans—A Slight Revival?

Midsize vans are one of four segments (including sub-compacts, midsize conventional cars and compact crossovers) that posted year-over-year gains of more than 22% in August, based on J.D. Power’s (retail and fleet sales) transaction data.* In August, midsize van sales climbed 22.5% from a year ago and year-to-date sales were up by nearly one-fifth (+19.5%) from a year ago on a selling-day adjusted basis.**

In a comparison of retail transaction data during the past 3 months (June-August 2012 and 2011), midsize vans averaged a week longer on dealer lots before being sold—54 days—than in the same time frame of 2011 (47 days). However, that was about half as long as during the first months of the recession in 2009, when midsize vans averaged 97 days on dealer lots before being sold.***

Fiat-Chrysler Group Remains a Dominant Midsize Van Player

Among automakers, Fiat-Chrysler Group remains the dominant player in the midsize van segment. In August, the best-sellers were, respectively: Dodge Grand Caravan, Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Town & Country and Toyota Sienna. Chrysler Group’s two entries garnered more than half of the midsize van deliveries in August. Continue reading ›

Compact Crossovers, Not Minivans, are Favorites with Female Buyers

Grace Hamulic

Compacts, especially compact crossovers (CUVs), which are small, car-based utilities, are even more popular with female new-vehicle buyers and lessees this year than they were a year ago, according to J.D. Power research.

During the first 8 months (January-August) of 2011, six of the 10 new-vehicle models with the highest percentages of female purchasers or lessees were compact CUVs, and the other four were compact car models, according to our Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data. During the same time period a year ago, the 10 models with the highest percentages of female buyers/lessees also were compacts, but only five of the 10 were compact CUVs. Continue reading ›

Chrysler and US Agency to Develop Hybrid Powertrain for Minivan

Mike Omotoso

In recent remarks to workers at a Chrysler minivan assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, Fiat and Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne said that he expects Chrysler to remain a leader in the minivan segment and suggested that Chrysler will rethink the minivan to make it more versatile. As part of its . . . Continue Reading Chrysler and US Agency to Develop Hybrid Powertrain for Minivan

India Light-Vehicle Market Expected to Hit 3 Million Mark in 2011

The light-vehicle market in India is poised for continued strong growth during 2011, and is driven by rising income levels, overall economic growth, the launch of multiple new models, and the continued availability of affordable credit, according to Darius Lam, senior market analyst at J.D. Power Asia Pacific. “We forecast that light-vehicle sales will . . . Continue Reading India Light-Vehicle Market Expected to Hit 3 Million Mark in 2011