U.S. Auto Sales Reach Post-Great Recession High Mark in March

Salesperson and Couple at DealershipSales of new cars and light trucks in the United States may hit their best mark in March since before the start of the Great Recession in December 2007, despite news about the fiscal cliff and sequester in Washington, D.C. Economic news was more positive with better employment figures in March, which is giving car buyers renewed confidence.

 New-car shoppers continued to replace aging vehicles and took advantage of easier credit including low-interest-rate loans. A proliferation of new and refreshed models—including popular crossovers and large pickups—also enticed buyers into showrooms. Discounts on large pickup models that are being replaced by new 2014 models as well as a recovery in the housing sector helped prime the market for large pickups. It should also be noted that March typically is a strong month for the auto business.

 In early reports, J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and its strategic partner LMC Automotive report that automakers sold 1.45 million units in the third month of 2013. If sales are adjusted for one less selling day in March this year, deliveries rose 7.4% from March 2012, which translates to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15.2 million units. Continue reading ›

Young Buyers are Attracted to Import Compacts in 2012

2012 Dodge Charger SRT8Import car models—especially compacts—attracted the highest percentages of younger buyers (ages 16-35) in the past calendar year, based on analysis of real-time transaction data from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN).

Unlike 2011, however, one of the 10 models with the highest percentages of young buyers in 2012 was a domestic, full-size model from Fiat-Chrysler—the Dodge Charger. Also, two of the 10 models were compact premium models from the Honda Group—Acura’s new entry-level ILX and the current TSX compact premium conventional models. All three of these new additions to the young buyer list had suggested retail prices that were just above $30,000. Continue reading ›

A Perspective on Real-Time Advertising

Jeremy Detgen3_v

Jeremy Detgen

When your job is to tweet or post about the Super Bowl on behalf of your company, you might anticipate responding to comments about your ad or commenting about exciting moments in the game, but when there is a 34-minute blackout the opportunities to be creative and react quickly are abundant.

The ability to respond to current events, such as the Super Bowl power outage, allows companies to take advantage of national or global events that cause people to talk online via social media. If companies join in this conversation, they have an opportunity to engage consumers in a unique, relevant and personal way.

According to a special report in Ad Age, some companies, like Bud Light and Speed Stick, bid on sponsored tweets with the keyword “power outage” so that their tweets were seen when the topic was searched for. Other companies, including auto brand Audi, responded with a witty text comment, “Sending some LEDs to the @MBUSA Superdome right now…” while Volkswagen posted their “Get Happy” Game Day commercial, saying “Lost power during the Big Game… Don’t worry, #Get Happy…” with a link to the specific Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial. Continue reading ›

Demand for Replacement Vehicles Spurs December U.S. Auto Sales

Car buyer gets keys from DealerDecember nearly always is a strong sales month in the auto industry, and this past year’s 12th month auto sales results were no exception. Consumers in the United States continued to replace their aging vehicles at a faster pace than in the previous year.

The month’s light-vehicle deliveries rose 13.3% from a year ago to 1.353 million units, which translates to a 15.2 million-unit seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR), nearly matching an earlier forecast from our Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. Sales in December were also boosted by consumers replacing vehicles totaled or damaged in late October’s Hurricane Sandy super storm on the East Coast.

Two German Automakers Post Leading Sales Gains in December

December also remained a strong month for luxury deliveries, as anticipated in earlier J.D. Power analysis. Two European automakers, Volkswagen and BMW Groups, sold nearly 40% more new vehicles than they delivered in December a year ago. Volkswagen Group’s Audi and Porsche luxury brands posted stellar sales in December and for calendar 2012. Porsche’s sales rose by more than 60% from a year ago. In addition, the mass-market VW brand was helped by strong sales of newer models such as the U.S.-made Passat and the Jetta. Continue reading ›

Replacement Shopping after Super Storm Sandy Lifts November U.S. Auto Sales

Nearly 150,000 more new vehicles were sold last month than in November 2011. U.S. light-vehicle sales in November rose 15%, to 1.142 million units from 992,312 in the same month a year ago, outperforming most forecasts due to a boost from consumers returning to dealer showrooms after disruptions caused by the Hurricane Sandy super storm system and a need to replace some 230,000 vehicles damaged by the storm.

November deliveries were 9% stronger compared with October 2012, on a selling-day-adjusted basis, based on analysis from our Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. November’s seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) translated to 15.4 million units—the highest annual pace in more than four years. The pace also was significantly stronger than last year’s 13.6 million-unit pace. November in both years had the same number of selling days. Continue reading ›

U.S. October Auto Sales Remain Resilient; First 10 Months Totals Are Up

Every multi-franchise automaker in the U.S. market except for Nissan Group reported selling more new vehicles last month than in October 2011—even though Hurricane Sandy’s storm damage on the East Coast curtailed the final five days of sales in the region during the month this year.

In October, BMW, Volkswagen and Toyota Groups posted the highest double-digit sales increases from a year ago, and six of the 11 multi-franchise automakers—including the above-mentioned three—outpaced the industry’s 7% year-over-year increase. Volkswagen Group posted the best gain as sales were up 21.5% from a year ago.

Before the storm hit in the final days of the month, total (retail and fleet) sales for October had been forecast to rise 11% from a year ago. Instead, U.S. deliveries were up 7% from a year ago, reaching 1.09 million unit sales (vs. 1.02 million unit sales a year ago), which translates to a 14.2 million-unit seasonally adjusted selling rate (SAAR). That rate is up 1 million units from last October.

Retail sales in October still came in stronger than total deliveries—climbing 9.4% from last year, according to real-time transaction data and analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. However, in light of the storm damage, retail deliveries were 12.2% below retail sales in September, which was an especially strong month this year. Continue reading ›

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 ›

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 ›

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 ›