Lexus, Porsche Rank Highest in Dependability; Ram Dependability Improves Most

Long-term dependability improved for a majority of automotive brands included in our 2013 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which assesses problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old vehicles (those that were introduced for the 2010 model year). For a second consecutive year, Lexus received the lowest PP100 score—71 PP100—which . . . Continue Reading Lexus, Porsche Rank Highest in Dependability; Ram Dependability Improves Most

Suzuki Leaves U.S. Auto Market; Focuses on Asian Markets

After 27 years in the United States, Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp. will stop selling its current lineup of four models here and concentrate on other parts of its global business, particularly business in India and Southeast Asia. The company, which is a major mini car maker in Japan, will continue to market motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and marine engines in the United States, according to a company statement.

Recently, Suzuki’s U.S. distributor filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in California. Declining sales, a small, aging product lineup, and the strength of the yen were listed as reasons for the Japanese automaker’s decision to exit this market. Separately, Suzuki has stated that it will continue to sell vehicles in Canada, where it once operated a joint venture production plant with General Motors.

In regard to dwindling sales in this market, Suzuki, with a lineup of four models in the U.S. market, sold only 21,172 units through the first 10 months of 2012, which was 5% fewer than last year. Sales have been sliding during the past few years. In fact, Suzuki had its best sales year in the United States five years ago when it sold 102,000 vehicles. Since the company still has 220 U.S. car dealerships, it plans to work out an agreement with dealers to continue to serve current Suzuki vehicle owners with parts and service. All warranties will be honored, according to a company statement.

Suzuki to Focus On Stronger Asian markets

The Japanese automaker may be leaving the U.S. auto market, but plans to bolster its business in other parts of the world—especially in the growth markets of India and Southeast Asia. Currently, Suzuki has a 3% share of global auto sales—the same as in 2011, according to analysis from our strategic partner LMC Automotive.

Region 2011 2012
Global 3.0% 3.0%
Japan 13.4% 12.3%
India 33.8% 33.5%
ASEAN 3.2% 3.7%

 Source: LMC Automotive

Its Maruti Suzuki India unit is a market leader in that country, and deliveries accounted for nearly 40% of the company’s total 2.49 million unit sales in its last fiscal year. This year, Suzuki’s market share in India—though still the largest—is 33.5%, down slightly from 33.8% a year ago. Continue reading ›

Satisfying Website Visits Lead to More Showroom Traffic in Canada

J.D. Ney

A majority (76%) of new-vehicle shoppers in Canada who indicate having a highly satisfying experience while visiting an auto manufacturer’s website (score of at least 976 on a 1,000-point scale) say they are much more likely to visit that brand’s showroom for a test drive, according to our 2012 Canadian Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study.

As might be anticipated, among shoppers who have a less satisfying online experience (score of 500 points or below), only 14% say they will visit a dealership for a test drive. These study results indicate that there is a strong correlation between a satisfying online shopping experience leading to a visit to a dealer showroom and the likelihood of a vehicle purchase.

It’s encouraging this year that auto brands and their websites made significant advances in satisfying new-vehicle shoppers in Canada. The industry average rises 37 points to 821 from 784 in 2011, with increases across all four factors examined. Scores for Site speed and Appearance factors increased the most, based on analysis from some 3,078 new-vehicle shoppers who indicate they will be in the market for a new vehicle within the next 12 months. Continue reading ›

First-Quarter US Sales Increase Sets Positive Tone for Auto Industry

The first-quarter of 2012 ended on a strong note for automakers in the U.S. market despite higher gas prices, which began to drop slightly in the past week and in spite of the negative influence of still high unemployment rates. On a seasonally adjusted annual selling basis, the first-quarter selling rate, or SAAR, averaged 11.7 million units for retail and 14.5 million units for total light vehicles—a tempo that was ahead of our earlier retail and total sales forecast.

In fact, the selling pace in the first three months of 2012 outperformed the J.D. Power annual sales forecast for the first time since 2008, when the auto market began slipping into recession, according to Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive.*

Fiat-Chrysler and VW Groups Make First-Quarter Sales Headlines

Two multi-franchise automakers, Fiat-Chrysler and Volkswagen Groups, achieved stellar double-digit sales and share gains in the first quarter of 2012 vs. their results in the same 3-month period a year ago. In addition, two of the four smaller independents, Fuji Heavy Industries’ Subaru brand and Mazda, also posted robust, double-digit year-over-year gains vs. the same period in 2011. Continue reading ›

Small, Fuel-Efficient Vehicles on the Minds of Many Buyers in March

The Nissan Versa was the best-selling Sub-Compact in March.

Higher fuel prices helped prime sales of smaller and more fuel-efficient passenger cars, especially Sub-Compact and some Compact Conventional segment models, which boosted U.S. new-vehicle deliveries in March for nearly all automakers. The seasonally adjusted annual sales pace (SAAR) was more than 1 million units stronger than a year ago, and many automakers said March sales were their strongest since March 2008.

More than 1.4 million new vehicles were sold in the U.S. market during March, which was up 8.7% (on a selling-day-adjusted basis) from March 2011, when fewer than 1 million units were delivered, according to analysis from our Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.** The sales pace in March 2012 averaged 14.4 million units vs. 13 million units in March 2011.

At the segment level, Sub-Compact sales soared 36.3% and outperformed the industry, gaining nearly 1 point of share to garner 4.6% of industry sales, while Compact Conventional sales edged up only 3.1%, but still accounted for a 15.8% share of the market. Led by Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion, Midsize Conventional segment sales increased by 23.3% and the category captured 2 more points of share to end March with 18.4% of industry sales. Also noteworthy: Large Pickups, up 9.3% as a category and with the help of incentives, outperformed the industry’s 8.7% improvement as the segment garnered a 10.4% share in March 2012. Continue reading ›

Compacts, Car Models Add Momentum to February US Sales Totals

In February, fuel-efficient, compact models, including new and redesigned entries from the Detroit-based automakers, were in demand in the US market. On a selling-day-adjusted basis*, February deliveries were up slightly more than 11% from a year ago, and the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) translated to just over 15.0 million units, based on analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.

The Volkswagen Group (+26.8%) and Chrysler Group LLC (+34.8%) posted the largest year-over-year increases and outpaced the industry, despite a spike in gasoline prices, which are up by as much as 45 cents per gallon since the first of the year. At the same time, smaller models were more popular this year. Sub-compact segment deliveries climbed 38% in February vs. a year ago and accounted for 4.3% of industry sales, up from a 3.46% share in the prior year.

Positive factors driving February 2012 deliveries include an improving US economy, a drop in the unemployment rate, an advance in consumer confidence, and better stock market numbers, in addition to pent-up demand from owners replacing their older vehicles. Continue reading ›

US Auto Market Experiences Solid Ending To a Good Sales Year

The US auto market finished 2011 on a robust note in spite of concerns about both the domestic and global economies, as well as significant setbacks to production and inventory levels for two major Japanese automakers following the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Nearly 10% more new cars and light trucks were sold in the US market during the past year in comparison to 2010—12.75 million unit sales in 2011 vs. 11.56 million unit sales in 2010. The final (retail and fleet) sales tally was only slightly stronger than projected by J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive a few weeks ago in their monthly forecast. Continue reading ›

US November Sales Strike Upbeat Pace; Toyota Posts Small Gain

November’s average annual selling pace (SAAR) in the US auto market reached 13.6 million units, which was the highest monthly rate this year and significantly stronger than last November’s 12.3 million-unit SAAR, based on analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data and LMC Automotive. The SAAR in November also outpaced the 13.2 million-unit pace in October 2011.

Overall light-vehicle sales climbed 9.3% (on a selling-day-adjusted basis*) to 992,312 units from 871,299 units a year ago. Deliveries last month were partly bolstered by owners needing to replace their current vehicles, an early spate of holiday ads, and the upbeat mood of consumers during the post-Thanksgiving Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events. Continue reading ›

October Retail Sales Finish Slightly Ahead of Expected Pace

Robust light-vehicle sales in the US market during the final days of October helped push the month’s sales totals higher than anticipated, according to J.D. Power and LMC Forecasting analysis and data.* Retail deliveries averaged a 10.5 million-unit selling pace in October, which matched September’s retail sales pace. Fleet sales averaged nearly a 2.7 million-unit rate, which was up by 900,000 units from October 2010.

Total October deliveries (including retail and fleet) rose 11.5% from the same month a year ago to 1.02 million units from nearly 950,000 unit sales in the same month last year. The annual selling rate (SAAR) in October averaged 13.2 million units, which was 1 million units stronger than last October’s 12.2 million-unit pace. It was the strongest selling pace since February 2011. Continue reading ›

Models from Japanese Makers Rank Highest in Seven Segments

Models from Japanese automakers rank highest in seven of 11 award segments in this year’s China Initial Quality Study. Models of Chinese domestic brands rank highest in initial quality in the mini van and lower premium midsize segments. The study features analysis on 155 different passenger-vehicle models covering 56 different makes. Continue reading ›