Thursday, October 2, 2014 by
Alfred P. Sloan died almost 50 years ago, but several of his
strategies that built GM into the world’s largest automaker remain
intact. Sloan created a “ladder of brands” at GM to enable the
consumer to “move up” the ladder to more prestigious makes as his
household financial position improved; today six auto manufacturers
offer both mainstream and premium makes in the U.S. to similarly
allow the consumer to “move up” the ladder, so to speak. IHS
Automotive loyalty data (see below) show that...Re...
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 by
One of the most competitive parts of the U.S. new vehicle market is
the lower end of the luxury space, where the Mercedes-Benz
CLA-Class, Audi A3 sedan and BMW 320 all serve as gateways, at
least on the car side, from the non-luxury makes up to the prestige
brands. An IHS Automotive analysis of Polk new vehicle registration
data indicates that the CLA-Class and A3 sedan are both succeeding
in this effort as both appear on the list of models most likely to
conquest non-luxury drivers. But they...R...
Thursday, July 3, 2014 by
The domestic OEMs have lagged behind their Asian competitors in the
U.S. new car market for many years. From 2009 through 2012 the
domestic OEMs’ combined share of the retail car market was below
28%. Last year it inched up to 28.2%, and through the first four
months of 2014 it stands at 28.7% (based on IHS Automotive analysis
of Polk new vehicle registration data). Although the current car
offerings from GM, Ford and Chrysler are clearly superior to their
predecessors in many perspectives,...
Friday, May 30, 2014 by
There is a theory that by adding a model (to a brand or segment,
for example), sales will go up. IHS Automotive new vehicle
registration data indicate this does not always occur in the area
of alternative fuel vehicles. The number of hybrid models in U.S.
showrooms has increased every year from 2009 through this year, but
their market share has not kept pace. Hybrid share actually
declined from 2009 to 2010 and again from 2013 to 2014, despite an
increase in model count during both these time...R...
Thursday, May 8, 2014 by
There is a scene in the movie, “The Right Stuff” (about the Project
Mercury program in the early 1960s to send an American into space)
in which the astronaut candidates are undergoing endurance testing.
One of the tests involves blowing into a tube for as long as
possible with just one breath. The camera zeroes in on two of the
participants, the presumed front-runners, who are frantically
competing with one another, watching each other every second and
seemingly about to burst at the seams to...R...
Monday, May 5, 2014 by
Today's new vehicle buyer is just under 52 years old, up slightly
from two years ago and about a year from 2009. Among luxury
(non-exotic) makes, Land Rover has the youngest buyers, followed by
Infiniti. The typical buyer of every Land Rover model is under 50,
with the LR4 lowest at 46. Infiniti's average age has dropped by
more than a year since 2011, due in part to the popularity of the
Infiniti JX crossover (47.1 years). The Infiniti QX56 and QX80 are
the largest Infinitis available, but...
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 by
Even though IHS Automotive divides the U.S. automobile industry
into over 30 segments, one segment – mainstream midsize cars - has
been the most popular category for ten years in a row. The
traditional four-door sedan provides the combination of size,
functionality and range of features that appeals to the American
family. Yet, since the launch of the Forester, CR-V and RAV4 in the
mid-90s, crossovers have continually gained traction with the U.S.
consumer. Crossovers have climbed the charts... R...
Tuesday, April 8, 2014 by
As the automotive world focuses on the GM recall crisis, other
stories are getting less visibility than they otherwise
would. One of these is Jeep and its amazing start to
2014. Consider the following:
- In the first three months of 2014, Jeep dealers delivered
145,839 new trucks, almost 45,000 (45%) more than a year ago, the
largest increase of any brand in the industry (other than the 331%
increase at low-volume Maserati).
- Jeep captured 3.9% of the U.S. market in the first quarter, up
Friday, March 21, 2014 by
A new study by the Pew Research Center on millennials (age 18-34,
also known as Generation Y) provides financial data that support
new vehicle registration data collected by IHS Automotive/Polk.
According to the Pew study, millennials have more student loan
debt, poverty and unemployment than both the preceding generations
did at the same age, and, predictably, lower levels of wealth and
personal income as well. With less buying power, millennials have
been less likely to purchase a new...
Friday, March 7, 2014 by
February U.S. car sales were driven in part by the appeal of
mainstream compact crossovers. These vehicles offer the ideal
combination of value for the money, good fuel economy, car-like
driving characteristics, and SUV-like functionality. Midsize as
well as sub-compact crossovers offer some of these advantages but
not all of them. Compact crossover sales in February drove
industry results at the segment, model and make levels. At the
segment level, the February results were extraordinary.... Rea...
Thursday, February 20, 2014 by
In “Twilight of the Brands” in the February 17/24 issue of “The New
Yorker,” James Surowiecki discusses the challenges facing
brands in today’s information-rich U.S. economy. Surowiecki focuses
on Lululemon Athletica, a yoga apparel company that quickly became
the darling of the industry and then tumbled almost overnight
because of negative customer feedback. Such instantaneous
customer reaction can propel a company to new heights or spell its
doom in the blink of an eye, according to...Read...
Thursday, February 6, 2014 by
Given all the attention recently focused on Tesla, I thought it
would be interesting to see who is buying the Model S.
Specifically, what are customers trading in for the Model S, or
what other vehicles do Model S buyers have in their garage if they
are adding to their fleet? The Model S conquest data, derived from
Polk new vehicle registration data, are fascinating. There are two
ways of looking at the data. First, the pure conquest data show
that the Model S is conquesting owners of... Read...
Thursday, January 16, 2014 by
U.S. car dealers delivered 15,600,199 new cars and light trucks in
2013, up 8% from 2012. This is the fourth consecutive
year-over-year increase and follows three years of double-digit
growth from 2010 through 2012 as the industry climbed out of the
2009-10 recession. Of the 38 makes now on the market, 29 enjoyed
year-over-year increases in 2013, eight saw declines and one
(Tesla) could not be compared to 2012 since it had no sales at all
last year. The five makes with the largest increases... Re...
Wednesday, January 8, 2014 by
The competition in the luxury part of the U.S. new vehicle industry
has perhaps never been as intense as it is right now, and, in a
related trend, new product activity in this space is as frenetic as
ever. BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz continue to vie for luxury sales
leadership with Audi and Cadillac aggressively trying to move up.
Many of the luxury makes have been expanding into new segments,
with such products as the Evoque, F-Type and CLA. There are other
examples of this trend coming...
Friday, January 3, 2014 by
Given the complexities of the global and U.S. economies, inevitably
there are going to be economic and/or industrial trends that run
counter to one another, but it seems to me that we are now
experiencing two movements that are particularly inconsistent. Last
month, The New York Times ran a story about the surge in U.S.
oil production, saying local oil output will increase by 800,000
barrels a day annually for at least the next three years (Dec. 17
page B1). Imported oil's share of total... Read...
Friday, December 6, 2013 by
December brings to mind snow and cold, but for luxury dealers in
the U.S., this month will be the "hottest" of the year. U.S.
consumers purchase more new luxury vehicles in December than in any
other month of the year, according to monthly Polk new vehicle
registration data. This contrasts with the monthly tallies for the
non-luxury space, where March and August are the peak months.
Luxury registrations also rise in the spring, but not to the same
degree as non-luxury deliveries; rather,...
Monday, November 25, 2013 by
The Porsche Macan, Porsche's all-new small crossover revealed last
week in Los Angeles and to be launched in the U.S. next spring,
should be a "slam dunk," given the landscape of today's new vehicle
market. The small luxury crossover segment is one of the
fastest-growing in the industry, with registrations more than
quadrupling since 2008 and share of industry up by almost the same
amount (see table below). The number of small luxury crossovers in
the market has doubled from four in 2008 to...
Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by
Monthly summaries of U.S. car and light truck sales focus on macro
results such as the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR),
corporate results and brand results. Micro outcomes get less
publicity even though they may be as noteworthy, if not more so.
For instance, there has been little mention given to the fact that
Mercedes-Benz dealers delivered 4,895 CLAs in October, its second
month on the market. This tally follows 2,310 sales in September.
The October figure is surprisingly strong and...R...
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 by
After two lackluster years, Jaguar is now thriving in the U.S. In
both 2011 and 2012, Jaguar suffered registration declines even
though the industry recorded double-digit growth. But this year,
Jaguar's registrations have jumped 25% through August when compared
to a year ago. This is the fourth highest year-over-year gain among
all makes (with 1,000 or more registrations) that were also on the
market for all of 2012, after Porsche, Cadillac and Subaru.
Jaguar's gain is almost three times the...Re...
Tuesday, October 8, 2013 by
Leasing is not just back; it has climbed to new heights in the U.S.
car business. Through the first seven months of 2013, leases have
accounted for 20% of all new vehicle transactions, the highest
annual lease penetration in at least 10 years if it holds for
the rest of the year. The Fed's bond-buying program, which has
suppressed interest rates, coupled with the higher quality and
residuals of new vehicles, has helped to make leasing more
attractive to the consumer. This industry-wide rise...