|Tom currently uses his passion for the auto industry to serve as the Lead Analyst for Polk’s North American Forecasting Practice. He recently relocated to Michigan after serving as a PolkInsight Advisor for two years in Polk’s Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey office. When he’s not predicting automotive trends, you’ll find Tom reading, gardening, sailing and running. Aside from Detroit and New York, Tom has also lived in Los Angeles, Denver, and Boston, where he drove a taxi for two years. Tom has also traveled extensively in the United States and overseas, including an overland trip across Asia after graduating from college. Tom is inspired by people who practice what they preach and enjoys socializing with friends that he's met throughout his career and from school.|
Tom is a past member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Automotive Analysts (SAA). During the 2009 calendar year, Tom was President of that organization. He is an active member of the Automotive Press Association, and in the past has written a blog for the online version of the Detroit Free Press. Tom has a bachelor's degree in history from Amherst College, an MBA with a marketing concentration from Columbia University and once served as an Adjunct Professor of Market Research at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.
It is no secret that Toyota owes much of its climb in the U.S. market to the success of the Camry. This sedan has been the most popular car in the U.S. every year since 1997, with the exception of 2001 when it was edged out by the Accord, and Toyota has not hesitated to stress the Camry's leadership position in its advertising. The Camry and Corolla represent the core of Toyota's car lineup in the U.S., though obviously there are other successful Toyota cars. The Camry's position at the center...Read More »
Given that U.S. new vehicle registrations in 2012 were spread across 52 makes and 331 models, it's difficult to summarize the results concisely. This leads to a focus on the larger makes that dominate the industry. Yet one smaller make has been outperforming the industry for years and deserves some recognition. Subaru's recent performance in the U.S. has been remarkable. Two facts stand out. Subaru is the only make in the entire U.S. industry that has had five consecutive year-over-year sales...Read More »
Ford and GM are now solidly profitable and Ford's credit rating has moved out of the junk category, but the U.S. market shares for both companies declined significantly in 2012. Whether share is calculated by looking at the first two months of this year versus the same time period a year ago or versus all of last year, the results are the same. While these trends are discouraging in and of themselves, they are particularly concerning right now because the European operations of both companies...Read More »
On the eve of the 2013 New York Auto Show, the media has noted the irony that one of the largest auto shows in the country is taking place in a location where many residents do not even own a car. What is less frequently, if ever, mentioned in the press is the fact that the mix of new cars purchased by New Yorkers who DO own a vehicle is far different from the mix in the rest of the United States.
One of the most vivid differences between new vehicle registrations in New York and the rest of the...Read More »
Mainstream large cars, such as the Avalon, Maxima, Taurus and Impala, continue to lose favor. Their combined share of the U.S. market has retreated from 5.8% in 2008 to just 3.5% in 2012 (the results were similar this past January, with the large car share declining from 4.1% a year ago to 3.9% this year). Large cars now account for a smaller slice of the U.S. market than minivans, itself an endangered species. And the number of large cars continues to decline, down from 14 in 2008 to 7 now....Read More »
Three new cars are striving to gain ground in the huge non-luxury small car segment. The 2013 Dodge Dart was launched last June, the redesigned 2013 Nissan Sentra last November, and the 2014 Kia Forte sedan arrives later this month. This segment accounted for 16% of all new vehicle registrations in 2012, second only to the midsize cars 17.6% among the 32 segments tracked by Polk. The non-luxury small car segment has been dominated for years by such well-known models as the Corolla, Civic and...Read More »
January 2013 U.S. new light vehicle sales climbed 14% from a year ago and sales for the rest of the year are expected to climb as well, though at a more modest rate. There are several drivers of this growth, both at the macroeconomic level and within the industry itself. Consider the following:
- Interest rates remain exceptionally low, and with the Fed promising to keep them there until unemployment declines to 6.5%, we can expect to see low rates for quite awhile. This means that OEMs and dealers...
The next 18 months are important for all OEMs, but perhaps more so for GM than for any of its rivals. From mid-2012 through mid-2014, GM will unveil the greatest array of all-new or re-designed vehicles in recent memory, if not in the company's history.
In 2012, the company brought to market the Spark minicar, Malibu midsize sedan, Verano compact car, XTS large luxury car and the ATS compact luxury car. Coming in 2013 are new versions of the Silverado and Sierra large pickups, the full-size...Read More »
The mix of new vehicle powertrains varies as much among the different regions of the United States as does the mix of makes and models, if not more so. The 15 Designated Market Areas (DMAs) with the highest percentage of hybrid powertrains together account for almost 30% of all hybrid registrations nationally, yet these same 15 markets include just 12.5% of all new vehicle registrations. Nine of these 15 hybrid-rich areas have a hybrid penetration greater than 6%, while the national...Read More »
Automotive marketers continue to covet the young buyer and this holds true in the luxury market as much as in the mass market. The luxury marque that captures the young buyer then merely has to retain him/her and move him/her up the ladder, while the luxury brand that fails to appeal to the young demographic is faced with the more expensive task of conquesting from a competitor. This is not to imply that customer retention is "easy," but it is generally acknowledged to be less expensive to...Read More »
If your current car or truck is getting long in the tooth and you've been thinking about trading it in, you may want to drop by your local dealership before year-end. While some people believe the fall is the best time to buy a new car because the dealers want to clear out their inventory to make room for the new models, in fact the end of the calendar year is just as good a time, if not better. Here's why:
- Dealership employees and vehicle manufacturer employees, including retail salespeople,...
The sales and registration data speak for themselves regarding the success of the Prius. Its sales more than doubled in September, and are up 92% through nine months. However, because three new derivatives of the Prius have come to market in 2012 (the tall 'V' version, the plug-in version and the smaller 'C' version), comparing this year with last is not comparing apples to apples.
But even when you pull out the 2012 deliveries of these three derivatives and look just at the original Prius, its...Read More »
We hear all the time about the troubled U.S. economy. If it isn’t high unemployment, it's the sluggish GDP or a decline in manufacturing or something else. But, there is also frequent mention in the media about the positive trends in the car business. Car and light truck sales are up, the manufacturers are turning in hefty – sometimes record – profits and even adding jobs to keep up with strong demand. There seems to be a disconnect here. How could the car business be doing so well while the...Read More »
It's difficult to overstate the importance of the Accord to the Honda franchise. The Accord is to Honda as the F-Series is to Ford, the Caravan is to Dodge, and the 3-Series is to BMW. The Accord is the heart and soul of Honda. Launched in 1976, the Accord has been at or near the top of the midsize sedan segment ever since. There are 11 million on the road. Car & Driver magazine has named the Accord one of the Ten Best Cars some 26 times, more than any other vehicle. Mr. Takuji Yamada, Executive...Read More »
The contract between the three "domestic" automakers and the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) expires at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 17. The contract covers approximately 18,000 workers. As of this writing, the two sides have not reached an agreement on terms for a new contract and the CAW is threatening to simultaneously strike Canadian operations at all three companies. A list of models assembled in Canada by these companies is shown below.
There is little doubt a strike would...Read More »
There is a theory in professional baseball that if a team is strong "up the middle" (i.e., in the positions in the middle of the field from catcher through pitcher, second base and shortstop to center field), it will have a competitive advantage. If this theory also holds true for the U.S. automobile business, then Toyota should be in good shape. A look at the product portfolios in the midsize segments from the mainstream non-luxury makes shows Toyota is in a strong position.
Toyota offers seven...Read More »
If you live in the Detroit metropolitan area, you may have noticed that almost every other car on the road seems to be a Ford Fusion or Chevrolet Malibu (if you're on one of the coasts, the same could be said of the Camry or Accord). In fact, there is a boom in sales of midsize cars. In the first six months of this year, 18% of all new vehicle sales have been non-luxury midsize cars. This is more than two points higher than the number two segment (non-luxury compact cars) and the first time in...Read More »
A list of GM's woes would undoubtedly include the European market, but right now GM is also struggling in the U.S. Through the first six months of 2012, the company's U.S. market share is down almost two percentage points to just 18.1%. The GM brand suffering the greatest decline, in both market share (-25%) and sales (-18%), is Cadillac.
Yet, even though this is not good news for GM's flagship brand, it is not a surprise. During GM's restructuring in 2009, product programs were delayed or even...Read More »
The much-coveted new vehicle buyers age 18-34, sometimes referred to as millenials, are a dwindling group. Five years ago they accounted for 17% of all new vehicle buyers, but so far this year they comprise just 11%. In contrast, the buyer group age 55-74 has grown from 26% to 36%. Whether the younger buyer has lost interest in cars or simply doesn’t have the money for a new vehicle (average price = approximately $30,000), the fact remains that the new vehicle market is skewing more and more to...Read More »
Hidden behind the headlines about May's modest new vehicle sales results is the fact that Toyota Motor Sales had an extraordinary month. With replenished inventories of core models, both the Toyota and Lexus makes had "break-out" months. Together the two brands captured 15.2% of the U.S. market in May, up five percentage points from May 2011. To put that in perspective, Toyota's gain in May was equal to the entire U.S. volume of the Hyundai make in the same month.
Toyota dealers delivered 181,510...Read More »