August U.S. New-Vehicle Sales Move Ahead with Gusto

AIS04 car shopperAugust was another month of stellar new-vehicle sales in the U.S. auto industry. In early reports, all three Detroit-based automakers celebrated double-digit gains at the end of a month that was capped off by the Labor Day sales weekend. The three major Japanese automakers posted even stronger double-digit increases than their U.S. rivals. Nearly all multi-franchise automakers reported better sales in August this year vs. 2012.

Consumers continued to replace their aging vehicles—averaging 11 years old—at a healthy pace that matches a monthly forecast update from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. Easier credit terms, including long-term loans and more reasonable lease deals, helped spur sales.

Total sales (retail and fleet) reached 1.5 million units for a selling-day adjusted increase of 12.7% from August 2012—the highest unit sales volume since May 2007. J.D. Power projected that the seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) would surpass 16 million, which it did.
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Shorter Delivery Times in Japan Increases Sales Satisfaction Levels

Kimoto Taku NEW_C_Lg

Taku Kimoto

Customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales experience in Japan has improved as delivery times are nine days shorter on average than in 2012 when there were longer delays in delivery due to the initiation of an eco-car subsidy program, according to our 2013 Japan Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study.

This year, the average time for delivery to buyers of non-hybrid vehicles declines to 28 days from 34 days in 2012, and the delivery time for hybrids drops by 23 days and averages 50 days instead of 73 days. Among Japan’s domestic brands, Toyota—the largest seller of hybrid vehicles in Japan—and Honda, which had its production in 2012 negatively affected by flooding in Thailand, achieve notable reductions in delivery times. Continue reading ›

Large Pickups Bolster July U.S. Sales; Consumers Enticed by Easier Credit Terms

CarDealership Compact CUV 06In July, consumers continued to replace aging vehicles and take advantage of easier credit, including low-interest rate loans and longer terms. New-vehicle sales totaled 1.313 million units in July and were up 9.4% on a selling-day adjusted basis from July 2013, according to J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. The seasonally adjusted annual selling rate in July was 15.8 million units. There was one more selling day in July 2013 than in July 2012.

Large pickups and compacts—especially compact cars and compact crossovers—outpaced most other segments as nearly all U.S. automakers reported higher sales than in July 2012. Some U.S. automakers said they had their best July sales since 2006—before the Great Recession. Continue reading ›

Premium Brands Earn Higher APEAL Scores; Land Rover Range Rover Ranks Highest

David Amodeo

David Amodeo

A new feature of our redesigned 2013 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study is the division and ranking of APEAL performance into two major categories: Premium and Non-Premium Brands.

At the industry level, the APEAL score averages 795 points on a 1,000-point scale. With our change in segment designations, the Premium segment average is 844 points and the Non-Premium segment average is 786.

As it has for the past nine years, Porsche leads all brands in the nameplate rankings and earns a score of 884 points, which also means it ranks highest in the Premium category. Rounding out the top five premium brands are, respectively: Audi (857); BMW (854); and Land Rover (853), followed by Lexus and Mercedes-Benz in a tie (847). The highest-ranking domestic premium brand in the study is Cadillac at No. 7.

In the Non-Premium segment, for the first time, Chrysler Group’s Ram nameplate is the most appealing brand with a score of 817. Ram is followed by Volkswagen (809); MINI (801); Buick (800) and Kia (797) in the Non-Premium category. All of these mass-market brands receive scores that are above the industry average of 795 points. Continue reading ›

New-Vehicle Sales Satisfaction in Malaysia Declines; Nissan Ranks Highest

Mohit Arora

Although new-vehicle owner satisfaction with service at authorized service centers in Malaysia—especially for national makes Perodua and Proton—increases 22 points (on a 1,000-point scale) from 2011, satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales and delivery process declines by 18 points from a year ago, to an average of 781, according to our 2012 Malaysia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study.

Highlights of findings from the 2012 Malaysia SSI Study, which is based on responses from 2,451 new-vehicle owners who made their purchase between August 2011 and April 2012, are as follows:

• Fewer new-vehicle owners are highly satisfied with their purchase experience in 2012, in spite of an increase in the implementation of sales standards across the industry.

• Satisfaction is down especially for first-time new-vehicle owners, and these owners account for a majority of new-vehicle owners. Continue reading ›

Lincoln in China: Observations from our China Expert

Editor’s Note: Last week, while in China for a plant groundbreaking, Ford Motor Co. President and CEO Alan Mulally announced future plans to launch the Lincoln luxury brand in China. The first Lincoln models to be sold will be built in North America and distributed through an independent dealer network. Jim Farley, group vice president, Global Marketing Sales and Service, said in a statement that Lincoln will be differentiated in China with more individualized and personally tailored products.

Our Asia expert, Tim Dunne, offers a few observations and insight about Ford’s plans:

It’s About Vision and Commitment

Tim Dunne

Is it too late for Ford in China? Were Honda and Toyota too late to the American market when they started building cars in the United States in the 1980s? Was Hyundai too late when they started building cars in the U.S. in the 2000s? Their results provide the answers: Today, Japanese- and Korean-made vehicles account for roughly half of all sales in the U.S. market. Anything is possible with vision and commitment.

That said, the Ford brand does have its work cut out for it in the world’s most competitive auto market, which plays host to some 95 brands in the passenger-vehicle segment. The Ford brand currently holds a 2.5% share of the world’s largest market and ranks 13th overall in brand sales, trailing most of its major global competitor brands such as Volkswagen, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Chevrolet and Honda. Ford’s total brand sales in China in 2011 were 323,000 units, and 2012 sales are on pace to reach 350,000. By comparison, the Ford brand sold 2.06 million vehicles in the United States in 2011, or six times as many vehicles as it sold in China last year. 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 ›

Chrysler and VW Groups, Mazda Post Jackpot US Sales Increases in January

Although January often is the weakest sales month of the year in the US auto market, many automakers posted double-digit sales gains over the same month in 2010, indicating a good beginning for 2012. It appears that total light-vehicle sales might rise by more than 11% over January 2011 and that would translate to a 14.1 million-unit seasaonally adjusted selling rate (SAAR), according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive analysis.*

All multi-franchise automakers, except for General Motors, posted increases, as did two of four independents—Mazda and Subaru. Fiat-Chrysler and Volkswagen Groups led the January gains with year-over-year increases of 48% and 44%, respectively. Not only did Chrysler Group LLC report stronger sales for its Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram brands than a year ago, but the company also said it earned a net profit of $183 million in 2011 vs. a loss of $652 million in the prior year.** VW Group sales in January were bolstered by strong demand for the Passat, now built in Tennessee. Among the independents, Mazda was a star with deliveries soaring 68%. Continue reading ›

Performance Returns as a Mainstay in a Recovering Auto Industry

More than half a dozen mass-market and premium brands displayed models with higher-horsepower powertrains at this week’s L.A. Auto Show, many with the capability to hit speeds nearing 200 mph without limiters.

Ford introduced a new Shelby Mustang GT500 with an engine that exuded 650 horsepower.

• The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 convertible will be equipped with a 580-horsepower supercharged V-8.

BMW showed one of its performance models, the M5, powered by its most powerful street engine—a 560-horsepower unit that can propel the M5 to 60 mph in 4 seconds, according to the automaker. Continue reading ›

Automakers Offer More Fuel-Efficient Engine Choices

Mike Omotoso

Ford Motor Co. has been increasing the number of models it will offer with 4-cylinder engines that are part of its EcoBoost engine program, both to boost fuel efficiency and to meet increasing CAFE standards. There are other automakers that are also making inroads with alternative powertrains to enhance the fuel efficiency of their fleet and meet CAFE standards. Continue reading ›