Luxury Market

Automotive Worlds Apart: New York City vs. the Rest of the U.S.

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...
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Will Large Cars Survive?

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....Re...
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Dodge, Nissan and Kia Aim to Move Up in the Small Car Arena

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...Re...
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2013 Looks Bright for U.S. New Vehicle Sales

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...
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GM is Relying on New Product Blitz to Halt Share Decline

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... Re...
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Toyota Lessons Not To Follow

As Toyota announced it has regained the global sales crown, it makes me think of how the Japanese OEM has wasted its chances in the world's fourth largest market. Not everyone is aware that Toyota opened its first factory outside of Japan within Brazil in 1959, a plant that is currently used to produce parts. For decades, the Brazilian market was closed to imports and Toyota only produced a version of its Land Cruiser. It was a great product for rural areas, but Toyota was far behind its...Read...
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German Luxury Makes Resonate with the Young Buyer

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...
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Is the End of the Year the Best Time to Buy a Select Vehicle?

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,...
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BMW's Chance to Grow in Brazil

I arrived in my hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil yesterday and thought for sure that I would see a couple of Volkswagen Gols with their new facelift, which was announced in July. The Gol has been the best-selling vehicle in Brazil for 30 years and in the past, I have always seen a new generation or facelift on the streets as soon as they were announced. However, to my surprise, yesterday was different: I didn't see a new Gol. At the airport parking lot, there were two EcoSports – the crossover...
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Toyota Thrives in the "Middle"

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...
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Audi's Second Factory in the Americas

There is a lot of buzz about the Audi plant that will be built in San José Chiapa, Mexico. The press refers to it as "Audi's first car plant in the Americas," but this is not correct. Audi produced the A3 in São José dos Pinhais, Brazil between 1999 and 2006, in a factory now totally owned by Audi's parent company, Volkswagen. Golf (still in its fourth generation), Fox and SpaceFox are produced there. It was a joint venture between Audi and Volkswagen – Audi had 25% of the factory.The A3...
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Midsize Cars: An Increasingly Dominant Segment

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...
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Saab Story

My clients often ask the question, "What brands are Saab owners moving into, now that the company is bankrupt?" I decided to do a quick study but before the findings are revealed, I'll provide some brief background information about the brand's development in the U.S. Saab, the Swedish vehicle company who claimed its cars were "born from jets." In 1989, General Motors decided to take a 50% stake in the Swedish company to help propel sales in the U.S. market. Throughout the '90s, Saab enjoyed...
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Cadillac: The Decline is Not Surprising

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...
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Toyota Comes Roaring Back

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...
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Fullsize Cars Lose their Luster

Non-luxury fullsize cars, once the mainstay of the U.S. car business, are losing their luster in the eyes of the U.S. consumer. This category’s share of the U.S. market has dropped by more than half over the last five years, and through the first three months of this year, it accounts for just 2.3% of all new vehicles sold. The number of fullsize models in dealer showrooms has declined dramatically as well, falling from 15 just five years ago to only seven now. The only large non-luxury cars...
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Lincoln MKZ is Step in Right Direction, But More is Needed

If the new 2013 Lincoln MKZ does as well after its launch as it has beforehand, it will be a huge success. At both the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January (concept vehicle) and the New York International Auto Show just a couple of weeks ago (final production version), the media raved about the car. Two compliments were mentioned repeatedly: the car's styling is modern, clean and elegant, and there is virtually no similarity visually between the MKZ and its sister...Read...
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Powertrain Preferences Shift but Internal Combustion Engine Still Dominates

Sales of hybrid and electric vehicles remain modest. And, the creation of the infrastructure to support the use of these vehicles is proceeding in fits and starts. In January, hybrid registrations accounted for just 2.29% of all new vehicle registrations in the U.S., down from 2.51% a year ago. Looking at electric vehicle registrations, the good news is that the January total climbed eight-fold versus January 2011. The bad news is that the 2012 total was just .8% of the industry. Nissan Leaf... R...
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Buick Goes Against Trend and Attracts Younger Buyers

An analysis of new vehicle buyers shows that their average age was 51 years old in 2011, three years older than buyers in 2007. In 2011, 40% of all buyers were aged 55 years or older, up from about 30% just four years earlier. And, in keeping with much commentary about today’s youth, in 2011, only 11% of all new vehicle buyers were aged 34 years or younger, down from almost 16% four years earlier. Perhaps today’s young people indeed do have less interest in cars or perhaps they don’t have the...R...
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Age and the Automotive Loyalty Effect

Common sense suggests that gaining a first time buyer provides the opportunity to create a customer for life. Yet analyzing repurchase behavior among the younger demographic set suggests that manufacturers and dealers alike are not doing enough to retain younger buyers when they return to market. Admittedly, younger buyers represent a small percentage of total repurchase activity, less than 1% for buyers 18-24 and 7.5% for buyers 25-34, but it’s not necessarily about the value these customers...R...
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