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...
Wednesday, October 2, 2013 by
U.S. new vehicle registration data indicate that millenials' (age
21-34) portion of total new vehicle registrations continues to
decline (see chart below). In the first seven months of this year,
11.2% of all new vehicle purchases were made by millenials, down
from 14.5% five years ago. There are two schools of thought on why
this trend is occurring:
- Millenials are not as interested in cars as their predecessors
because, among other things, today's millenials are immersed in the
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 by
August U.S. new car and light truck sales were not merely good —
they were extraordinary. Consider the following:
- U.S. customers purchased 1,503,151 new cars and light trucks in
August, the highest monthly volume since May 2007
- This August total converts to an annual rate (SAAR) of 16.1
million, the highest monthly SAAR since November 2007
- The August year-over-year increase of 17% was the highest
monthly change since June 2012
- Every manufacturer enjoyed a sales increase in August
- August Ford...
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 by
Drive on any U.S. highway for more than 10 minutes and you
can't help but notice the wide variety of vehicles on the road.
There appear to be dozens of colors, wheels, designs and body types
from which to choose, not to mention the variety of less visible
features such as engines, transmissions and connectivity
technologies. A visitor to the U.S. could rightfully be overwhelmed
by the plethora of different cars and light trucks on the road.
Yet, a review of body type registration data reveals......
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 by
When car owners either trade their vehicle for a new one or add a
vehicle to their household fleet, 55-60% of them choose a vehicle
from the same corporation as their existing vehicle. But what about
car owners whose brand has been discontinued (frequently referred
to as "orphan" owners)? This is now a topical question since GM and
Ford together have recently discontinued five brands. As of April,
there were over 14.4 million orphan owners in the U.S. (including
owners of vehicles from all...Read...
Thursday, August 1, 2013 by
There is mounting evidence that the three "domestic" automakers,
long known for their strength in light trucks, are turning out more
competitive cars and that consumers are noticing. New retail
registration data for the first five months of 2013 show the
domestics have gained almost two points of car market share (versus
the same time period in 2012) with almost all of this increase
coming at the expense of the Asian makes. The domestics have made
these gains while at the same time increasing...R...
Tuesday, July 16, 2013 by
The "sweet spot" in the U.S. premium new vehicle market right now,
at least from a volume standpoint, is the compact crossover
category. Small luxury CUV registrations have jumped almost
four-fold over the past five years, with almost 75,000 being
delivered in the first five months of 2013. The segment's share of
industry has reached 1.15% and small luxury crossovers now account
for more than one of every 10 luxury registrations (with all
luxury crossovers together making up a third of the...Read...
Friday, July 12, 2013 by
At the brand level, the structures of the U.S. marketing and sales
operations of all the major automakers are similar with the
exception of one. The OEMs operating in the U.S. have one dominant
make accounting for at least 60% (and much higher in most cases) of
all its U.S. registrations while Chrysler's registrations are
spread more evenly across five makes (see chart below). Chrysler's
U.S. structure is the result of both acquisitions and a different
marketing strategy. Chrysler purchased...
Thursday, June 20, 2013 by
One reason for the improved U.S. market shares for both GM and Ford
in 2013 is their rising shares of the non-luxury subcompact car
category. GM's share of this segment climbed from 8.6% in 2011 to
14.3% last year, and it should reach 15% this year. Both the
Chevrolet Sonic and Spark have sold well and represent improvements
versus the Daewoo-based Chevrolet Aveo. In 2012, the Sonic ranked
number two in the subcompact segment based on registrations,
trailing only the Versa. Ford did not... Read...
Monday, May 20, 2013 by
Just as the U.S. new vehicle market continues to fragment into
dozens of segments and hundreds upon hundreds of models, the
commercial van segment is splitting into two distinct categories,
each with a wide range of models. Back in 2008, the commercial van
customer had five models from which to choose, but by next year
there will be 11 models on the market. Prior to 2009, there
was one commercial van segment and it was perennially dominated by
Ford's E-Series (Econoline and Club Wagon). In...