J.D. Power International Roundtable Provides Future Industry Outlook

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John Humphrey

After a successful 2012, the outlook in 2013 for the automotive markets in the United States and China remains optimistic, according to John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. He gave projections for the global auto industry during a presentation at the recent J.D. Power 2013 International Automotive Roundtable in Orlando, FL. Some 500 auto industry members—including dealers, marketers and executives from automakers—attended the one-day conference that was co-sponsored with the NADA. Some highlights from the presentation:

Auto Sales Shift to Emerging Markets

In 2013, the global automotive industry faces a somewhat mixed economic bag; the average GDP of mature markets will grow at about 1.4%, while the world’s largest emerging markets will grow by 5.5%, on average.*

Clearly, the United States and China are the bright spots to watch in 2013 and thereafter, in terms of sales and production potential. That said, there are pockets of overcapacity in the global industry that need to be addressed. In 2012, total global capacity for light vehicles reached 116 million units, against total global sales of 81 million units. This roughly translates to a utilization rate of 70%—well below the 80% threshold that most automakers need to reach to achieve financial breakeven. While utilization rates can vary widely by market—and impact the health of individual industries—the overall rate for the global industry can positively or negatively affect automakers with global operations.

Looking toward the end of the decade, the global automotive industry is plainly being driven by the largest emerging markets. In 2012, Asian markets accounted for 41% of the 81 million light vehicles sold globally—primarily China and India. By 2019, Asian markets will account for 49% of the 115 million vehicles forecast to be sold globally.

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Reducing Vehicle Weights Helps Automakers Meet Fuel Economy Rules

Mike Omotoso

All the major auto manufacturers are making efforts to reduce weight in order to meet tighter CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards in the United States and to meet CO2 reduction targets in Western Europe.

Vehicle weight reduction in conjunction with powertrain improvements are the two main tools for improving fuel . . . Continue Reading Reducing Vehicle Weights Helps Automakers Meet Fuel Economy Rules

Creating An Electric Vehicle Industry in China Will Be No Easy Task

Tim Dunne

Over the past several years, international media have been reporting with increasing frequency about China’s intention to lead the world in the development of hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles (EVs). Since we are at the beginning of Year Three of China’s green-vehicle campaign, now might be a good time to assess how much progress has been made.

The short answer is, unfortunately, not much.

Total sales of hybrid vehicles in China in 2010 were estimated to be in the thousands of units. By comparison, hundreds of thousands of hybrids were sold in Japan, the United States and Europe. If one considers only the number of EVs sold in China in 2010, the sales figures are believed to be even smaller than for hybrids. Continue reading ›

Honda Receives Most Model-Level Initial Quality Awards in 2011

Jon Sundberg

Honda captures a total of seven model-level initial quality awards—the most of any brand this year, and the most for the Japanese automaker in any given year—according to results of the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS). Lexus, which receives four model-level awards, is also the brand with the highest-performing model in the industry—the LS. Chevrolet, Ford and Mercedes-Benz receive two awards each, while Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge and Mazda each receive one award. Continue reading ›

Japan’s Production Disruptions Affect North American Output

Production in North America (United States, Canada and Mexico) through the first 4 months of 2011 increased 12%, to 4.3 million units from 3.8 million units during the same period in 2010.

Despite this increase through April, the effects of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear power plant crisis and disruptions in . . . Continue Reading Japan’s Production Disruptions Affect North American Output

BMW Takes US Premium Sales Lead in First Four Months of 2011

David Cutting

BMW, offering 11 models in the US market, currently is the best-selling luxury, or premium, brand through the first four months of 2011, according to data from our Automotive Forecasting division. BMW’s year-to-date sales through April totaled 71,417 units, which was a 10% improvement over last year’s same time period. The German luxury automaker’s 5 Series midsize premium conventional model posted strong gains for the brand this year—sales rose more than 75%, to 15,986 units vs. 9,111 sales a year ago. Also, the redesigned X3 compact premium crossover (CUV) bolstered the brand’s totals with 7,987 unit sales so far this year. Additionally, all of BMW’s CUV models posted gains this year, while the volume-leading 3 Series, which was the best-selling premium model in the US market, posted a 12% sales decline (26,590 unit sales vs. 30,360 unit sales in 2010).

Mercedes-Benz, with a lineup of 15 models in the US new-vehicle market, was very close to its rival BMW, selling just 32 fewer units through the first four months. Mercedes delivered 71,385 premium cars and light trucks in January through April 2011, up 7% from last year’s 66,857 unit deliveries. In addition to being the best-selling luxury brand, the Mercedes C-Class and E-Class passenger cars were among the 10 best-selling luxury models in the United States during this same time frame. The Sprinter van has sold 3,764 units in year-to-date sales, but is not included in the above figures as it is not considered to be a premium model. Continue reading ›

Sales Slowdown a Concern, but Automakers Maintain Discipline with Inventories

New Vehicle Inventories

Some analysts are lowering their calendar-year 2010 forecasts for light-vehicle sales in the U.S. market, according to media reports, which have suggested that consumers still are looking for bargains and sales events. Major programs such as zero-percent financing offers from Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. to boost sales following a wave . . . Continue Reading Sales Slowdown a Concern, but Automakers Maintain Discipline with Inventories