Used Vehicle

New Luxury Products Conquest Non-Luxury Owners

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...
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Ford Fusion Moves up in the Midsize Car Segment, Despite the Asian Stronghold

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,...
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Automotive Hybrid Model Counts Continue to Rise, but Sales Don’t Keep Pace

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...
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Luxury Automotive Leadership Now a Three-Way Contest

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...
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Land Rover and Dodge Appeal to the Young Automotive Buyer

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...
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Small Crossovers Outpace Sedans for First Time Ever

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...
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Nissan Targets 5% of Brazil Auto Market Share with New Facility in Brazil

Nissan just opened a new plant in Brazil, with capacity to make 200,000 light vehicles per year. Nissan has built the Livina/Grand Livina MPVs and the Frontier pick-up in a plant owned by Renault in the southern part of the country. With the new facility, they will make the March and Versa in Brazil. Previously, they were imported from Mexico, but when Brazil set limits on vehicle imports from Mexico in 2012, they had to change their strategy. The new factory, which was built in 36 months,...
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Jeep Off to Extraordinary Start in 2014

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 1.2...
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Small Crossover Sales Explode in February

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...
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Are Brands Important?

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...
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Who is Buying the Tesla Model S?

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...
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The Best-of-the-Best: Automotive Loyalty Award Winners Named

It was my pleasure to be a co-presenter last night, along with Edouard Tavernier, as 33 winners were recognized for automotive loyalty and conquest during the Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards presented by IHS. For those of you unfamiliar with how owner loyalty is measured, it’s determined when a household that owns a new vehicle returns to market and purchases or leases another new vehicle of the same model or make.   This year's Polk Loyalty Awards recognized the best-of-the-best and winners...
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When Porsche Outsells Other German Luxury Brands in Brazil

Do you think a Jeep Grand Cherokee is a direct competitor of a Porsche Cayenne? Would you add the Volkswagen Touareg to the competitive set? Well, many Brazilian consumers do. And the results may be surprising. Let me start with the winner in the SUV/crossover segment. Land Rover is the preferred brand. The Range Rover Evoque sells over three times more than vehicle number two, the Volvo XC60. And the Freelander (LR2 in the U.S.) comes right in third place. Looking one length class above, the......
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Five Car Brands that Excelled in 2013 and Why

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...
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Luxury Share of U.S. Auto Market Remains in 10-11% Range

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...
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Inconsistent Trends: Local Oil Production and EV Sales

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...
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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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How Quickly Should an OEM Phase a Vehicle Out?

I always think about the title of this post – how quickly should an OEM phase a vehicle out? – when I analyze Chevrolet’s numbers in Brazil, the second market for the brand just behind the U.S. Before I get to the figures, let me give you a quick background. Traditionally, Chevrolet had sold rebadged Opel models in Brazil: Monza, Corsa, Zafira, Meriva, Astra, Vectra. During GM's Chapter 11 time, no investments were made in Brazil, which got Detroit's approval of using local revenue to develop......
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Luxury Deliveries Climb at Year End

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,...
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Porsche Macan: “De-Nichification” Continues

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...
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