Minicar

Which Vehicles Topped Google's Search in Brazil?

When Google released its Zeitgeist 2013, a compilation of the most googled terms of the year, the Hyundai HB20 reached the top spot for the Brazilian automotive industry. It was followed by the Chevrolet Onix and Chevrolet Prisma. The new Volkswagen Golf and the Volkswagen Beetle (locally called Fusca) rounded out the Top 5. The HB20 hatchback, the Onix and the Fusca were launched late in 2012. There is no doubt the HB20 has written its success story in Brazil’s automotive history. With 3,312......
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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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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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Rising Gas Prices: Boon for Electric Cars?

Gas prices have risen $0.40 on average for all grades in the past six weeks, igniting consumer interest in more fuel efficient vehicles. Small car market including hybrids, electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs)—soared almost 30 percent to 3.2 percent, its fifth highest month ever. The stars would seem to be well-aligned for EV and PHEV sales to take off, but that has not yet happened. Hybrid sales—particularly Toyota Prius —accounted for the bulk of February's momentum. EV/PHEV...Re...
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Product Mix for the Domestic and Asian Mainstream Automotive Makes

From 2006 through 2009, large vehicles as a percentage of total new vehicle registrations declined 10 percentage points to 20%, though this proportion has stayed constant in the last two years. Going forward, most automotive forecasts predict that large vehicles will retreat even further as gas prices rise and OEMs launch smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles (including hybrids and electric vehicles) to meet the upcoming CAFÉ standards.Looking at the nine non-luxury mainstream makes, all of...
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Luxury Makes at the NAIAS: Focus on the Small Car

The Luxury Compact Car Segment – with 27% of all luxury registrations during the first 11 months of 2011 - is the largest luxury segment. Therefore, it is no surprise that many of the luxury marques focused on small cars in their presentations to the media at the recent North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.BMW unveiled the redesigned 2012 3-Series which offers understated, evolutionary styling changes; later in the year, a hybrid 3-Series will be available. Cadillac...Read...
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Spotlight on the Dominant Auto Segments

It seems like there are a million different types of cars and trucks on the road these days. I'm not a mathematician, but if you were to calculate all of the different combinations of vehicles available based on such vehicle characteristics as size, body type, price and powertrain, there are probably a million possibilities. Yet, even with such a wide choice of vehicles from which the consumer can choose, four types of vehicles dominate the marketplace. Midsize cars, compact cars, compact...Read...
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BMW Launches New 3-Series to Hold on to Leadership Position

The BMW 3-Series continues to be the heart and soul of BMW. This small BMW encapsulates in one vehicle the driving characteristics, styling and image that define the BMW brand. The 3-Series registration results illustrate its success. In the past 12 months (September 2010 – August 2011), BMW dealers have delivered 96,292 3-Series, 41% of all BMWs. This total is 66% more than the Infinity G, the runner-up in the small car segment of the luxury market.Determined to maintain the leadership...
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The Ten Most Popular Cars and Trucks in America

Even though the U.S. new vehicle industry has had to weather a lot of turbulence during the past few years, some things seem to pretty much remain the same. One of these is the list of most popular models. Nine of the 10 models with the greatest number of registrations (through the first five months of this year) are repeats from a year ago. Some other highlights of the list include:
  • The Ford F-Series is a fixture at the top of the list. It has been the number one, best-selling model of car...
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Who is the Number One German Luxury Carmaker?

The recently published half-year sales of the three German luxury car brands (Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz) were quite impressive. All three recorded sales performances that were considered better than ever.However, the Year-over-Year (YOY) growth showed some significant differences: while sales of Audi and BMW models increased by more than 17 percent, the sales performance of Mercedes-Benz (cars, without Smart) improved less than 10%. In absolute terms, BMW is leading with sales of 690,000...Read...
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Needed: A Tiny Purple Car!

My 10-year old daughter wrote an essay about what she wants to do when she becomes a teenager. Of all the things she wants to do, one item in particularl made me not only smile, but think. She wants to drive a tiny purple car; tiny, because she wants to leave the smallest bio-foot-print possible and purple because she is really into it, "a royal color" as she describes it.She realizes there are not that many tiny or purple cars out there. But it doesn't stop her from wanting one. "I still...
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Governing Fuel Consumption: Gas Tax, CAFE Standard Hikes, or Both?

There was recently a big hullabaloo about Dan Akerson, General Motors CEO, voicing his support for an increase in gas taxes; an opinion also shared by both Bill Ford and Alan Mullaly of Ford. This was presented as an alternative to managing fuel consumption, as opposed to increasing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The basic principle is to impact the demand side of the economic equation, rather than the supply side.I don't disagree that $4/gallon gas is quite an adjustment...
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Are Automotive Sales Trends Dictated by Your Waistline?

Okay, this article "Analysts Say Americans are Too Fat to Buy Small Cars in Big Numbers" is sad and humorous in my view. It's an assessment of how misaligned OEMs may be with building or selling cars and trucks for the American population which seems to be growing in personal girth. While I'm saddened by Americans' obesity statistics that reveal adverse "growth rates," I have to question the implied correlation of overweight humans and the dislike for small cars. One does not trigger the...
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Minivans - (Still) Hot or Not?

My wife swears she'll never drive a minivan. Whereas, I have a teammate at Polk who takes every opportunity to boast about "how cool minivans are." Based on these two disparate points, I decided to conduct some research, using 1st quarter new vehicle registrations (January - March for a given year) as my guide, to determine if the minivan segment is still hot or not.Based on the 5-year trend of first quarter registrations below, the minivan market is losing ground with U.S. consumers. The...Read...
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Toyota Tundra's Struggles and Implications for Other OEMs

Sometimes hidden among all the setbacks the domestic OEMs have endured in the past five years is one notable success: thwarting Toyota's efforts to become a major competitor in the fullsize pickup segment. With the launch of the re-designed Tundra in 2007, Toyota hoped to gain a stronger foothold in this segment but the model has fallen short. The Tundra's share of the half-ton pickup segment jumped by almost five points in 2007 to 13.8%, but since then it has retreated, and so far this year...
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Will Americans Ever Actually Like Small Cars?

Given the current rising gas prices it does not take a forecasting wizard to predict that small car purchases will increase in the U.S. We have seen this trend many times in the past -- gas prices increase, small car sales spike. However, we also see that within days of gas prices beginning to fall, so do small car sales and Americans flock back to large cars, SUVs and trucks.Can we get past the point of Americans buying small cars only to save a few bucks at the pump – but actually because...
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Remembering a few of the first Econoboxes: Omni and Horizon

I hate to admit this, but I'm old enough to have been driving during the oil embargo in the mid-seventies. Among other effects (the price of gas went up to more than 50 cents a gallon!), this shock caused car buyers to seriously consider choosing to buy a small Japanese import instead of one of the comfy domestic cars that we were all used to. The oil embargo ended, but it was a long time before we were all comfortable that gas would be available when we needed it (at any price). Into this...Read...
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Market Shift to Flexible Gasoline and Ethanol Vehicles

Flexible (gasoline/ethanol) vehicles, commonly referred to as "E85" or "Flex Fuel," represent one of every 10 personal new vehicle purchases year-to-date through November 2010. This represents a market share increase of nearly 6 percentage points since 2006. As a consumer who lived through the gas price crisis, I expected the new wave of fuel efficient vehicles to push Americans into small minicar like transportation. On the other hand, as a member of the Polk analytic community, I was keenly...R...
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Saving Gas

If you could increase the fuel efficiency of just one vehicle segment by 10%, which segment would you choose? The table below shows the number of vehicles bought new in each macro segment in the last 12 months (personal registrations only), along with a SWAG at the average mpg for that segment:Personal Registrations, Last 12 Months Vehicle Segment Count Est. MPG Entry/Economy Car 1,396,394 30 Midsize Car 1,805,962 28 Sporty Car 255,991 20 Luxury/Large Car 768,797 22 Minivan 296,526 20 Mini Sport...
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2011 – A Big Year in U.S. Automotive?

So we are one month into the New Year, the North American International Auto Show is behind us and everyone has put their stake in the ground. From what I have seen, the expectation is a market of around 12.5 million units this year – certainly better than the last few but nowhere near the 16 million mark of a few years ago. What's your guess? (Because let's be honest – that's what they all are!)What are the big things that could impact this year? Let's start with the obvious – the economy...
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