Tata Motors: Remaining Competitive in India

Ammar Photo

Ammar Master

One of India’s major automakers, Tata Motors, is struggling in its home market as buyers are attracted to the competition’s products. Tata’s upgraded products lack excitement and the Nano’s current slump has brought up a question about the company’s ability to connect with young and aspiring consumers in India.

During the past few years, more competitors have been entering the critical sub‐compact car market, and Tata may have over-emphasized the importance of its Nano and the role of the model in the company’s portfolio.

Tata was riding high on expectations of a mass migration of India’s two‐wheeler buyers to the affordably priced Nano. When this did not happen, the Nano was in a position that failed to win buyers from stronger models such as the Maruti Suzuki Alto and Hyundai i10. Continue reading ›

Early September Retail U.S. Sales Pace Remains Robust

John Humphrey

After a strong close over the Labor Day weekend (Sept. 1-3), retail light-vehicle sales in September maintained a relatively healthy pace through the first half of the month. However, sales are expected to level off through the rest of September—but still will rise 12% from September 2011, based on a monthly forecast update from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) with strategic partner LMC Automotive.*

Through the first 14 selling days of the month, retail car and light-truck sales increased 15% from a year ago, reflecting a healthy market, although we expect retail sales to level off through the remainder of the month. Retail deliveries are projected to reach 952,200 unit sales, which translates to a seasonally adjusted annul rate (SAAR) of 11.8 million units, which is up by more than 1 million units from September 2011, but lower than August’s 12.6 million-unit retail sales pace. Continue reading ›

Buying a Smaller Vehicle Does Not Mean Sacrificing Seat Quality, Satisfaction

Mike VanNieuwkuyk

Owner satisfaction with vehicle seats is increasing, according to results in our 2012 U.S. Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study. In addition, seat satisfaction among compact and sub-compact vehicle owners averages 7.5 points on a 10-point scale, a significant improvement from owner satisfaction with smaller-vehicle seats 4 years ago in our 2008 study. This is noteworthy since market share for smaller vehicle models has grown to 35.4% of industry sales in the first 7 months of 2012* from 32.0% in 2008, and more than one-fourth (27%) of new-vehicle owners this year have replaced their current vehicle with a smaller 2012 model.**

Along with this year’s sales growth in compact and sub-compact model segments, the market penetration of seat features in these vehicles has also risen. Our study finds that market penetration in the compact and sub-compact vehicle segments for heated seats has increased by 16 percentage points, compared with the 2008 study, while leather seat penetration in these small vehicle models has increased by 10 percentage points. Memory seat penetration also is up by 3 points, and cooled/ventilated seats by 2 points. Continue reading ›

Easier Credit Primes July U.S. Double-Digit Retail Sales Rise

John Humphrey

Retail sales in the U.S. auto market got off to a fast start in July. While they’ve slowed as the month has progressed, retail sales in the first 16 selling days are still up 15.1% from a year ago, and July could post the second-strongest retail sales growth rate for the year, according to a monthly sales update developed by J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.* Fleet sales are expected to be slightly lower than in other months of the year.

Total light-vehicle sales (retail and fleet) remain stable, with volume in July expected to reach 1.168 million units, which is 20% higher than a year ago on a selling-day-adjusted basis.** That translates to a 14.1 million-unit seasonally adjusted selling rate (SAAR), which matches last month’s SAAR and is significantly stronger than the 12.2 million unit pace in July 2011. Typically, July is a slower month for fleet deliveries, which so far account for 17% of the mix, but is still stronger than the historical July average fleet percentage of 15%. 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. 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 ›

April US Retail Growth Pace Rises at End of Month; Fleets Add Momentum

April was another month of growth for the U.S. auto industry in 2012. Strong end-of-month retail sales and higher fleet sales helped continue the trend of sales gains, based on data collected and analyzed by J.D. Power with LMC Automotive.*

Retail sales reached 908,685 units in April, which was 9.3%** higher than last April and translated to a seasonally adjusted selling rate (SAAR) of 10.3 million units, which was lower than a year ago and last month due to fewer selling days this year. Fleet sales were strong in April, climbing 40% from a year ago. Continue reading ›

A Few Brands Set April Records Despite Fewer Selling Days

U.S. light-vehicle sales were anticipated to be challenging last month because Easter and Passover holidays fell in April this year, which meant there were three fewer selling days compared with April 2011.* However, in early reports from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive,** total deliveries were up 15% from the same month a year ago on a selling-day-adjusted basis.

J.D. Power expects that 1.182 million cars and light trucks were delivered last month, which translates to a 14.4-million-unit seasonally adjusted selling pace (SAAR) compared to 13.2 million units in April 2011. Continue reading ›

Pent-up Demand, Access to Consumer Credit Spur US Auto Sales in February

Pent-up demand due to the continued replacement of an aging vehicle fleet, along with a rebound in leasing, easier access to consumer credit and long-term financing, are driving new-vehicle sales momentum this month, according to a monthly sales forecast update based on analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.

Our . . . Continue Reading Pent-up Demand, Access to Consumer Credit Spur US Auto Sales in February

Honda Faces Major Challenge in Southeast Asia


Ammar Master

Honda has had a tough sales year in Southeast Asia, as the automaker’s total sales in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have shrunk by 18%—to 110,000 units—in the first seven months of this year vs. the same period in 2010. Yet, Honda did not start the year poorly. Sales in the first quarter were up 19% year-over-year, to about 60,000 units, partly boosted by the facelift of the Accord and minor changes to the Jazz (sold as the Fit in the United States). The Japanese automaker was betting big on the launch of the Brio, its first eco car model, to further drive up sales volumes in Thailand.

Then, disaster struck Japan in March with the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. As a result, Honda was forced to slash output by as much as 50% in the second quarter, as key vehicle components from Japan dried up. The lack of supply at dealerships led to a sales downfall in subsequent months. Continue reading ›