Category Archives: Northgate Lincoln Mercury

Auto sales: Ford and Chrysler Group post a 25% gain from year-ago levels

Ford Motor (FFortune 500) and Chrysler Group both posted a 25% gain from the year-ago levels, although Ford sales fell by 9% from March. Chrysler managed a 3% gain on its March sales total. Toyota Motor sales rose 24% compared to a year ago, but that marked a 16% drop from its March sales total. General Motors reported a more modest gain in April sales compared to a year ago and also fell short of the March sales total.

Results at GM and Ford were roughly in line with forecasts and matched the trend expected across the industry. Forecasts are for total U.S. auto sales to be up between 21% to 23% from a year ago, but down between 5% to 7% from March.

Toyota fell far short of forecasts of a 33% to 39% rise from year-ago sales.

Only Chrysler’s sales were a bit better than forecasts, which had put its year-over-year sales gain in the 11%-19% range.

It wasn’t difficult for automakers to top numbers from last April, when bankruptcies loomed at GM and Chrysler, and the economy and financial markets were also in far worse shape, with job losses over the first four months of last year hitting record levels.

So comparisons to March sales might be more relevant, and somewhat less encouraging.

But George Pipas, director of sales analysis for Ford, said the company was not concerned about the month-to-month drop in industrywide sales expected in April. He said March’s sales were inflated by the storms in February, which pushed back some purchases, and the recall problems at Toyota Motor (TM) earlier in the year.

Ford’s April sales marked the fifth straight month the automaker’s sales gained 20% or more, good enough to move it back ahead of Toyota to be the No. 2 automaker in terms of U.S. sales.

It reported double-digit increases across most of its models and brands except Volvo, which it’s in the process of selling to Chinese automaker Geely. Car sales posted a 10% gain, while sales rose more than 30% for both of its truck and utility lines.

GM sales in April rose 6% from last April, but slipped 2% compared to March. That was slightly better than expert forecasts of a 3% to 4% gain compared to a year ago.

Sales at the four brands GM is in the process of closing or selling — Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Saab — tumbled 96% from a year ago. GM shed those brands as part of the bankruptcy process it filed in June of last year. There are less than 2,000 of the discontinued brands’ vehicles left in dealer inventories, according to Steve Carlisle, GM’s vice president, U.S. sales operations.

But the automaker posted much better comparisons for the sales of its four remaining brands — Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac. Sales for those brands rose 20% compared to a year ago, and down only 1% from March levels.

Carlisle said he was pleased by the sales at the core brands and at the fact that GM was able to cut cash incentives offered to buyers in April.

“We continue to earn those sales, not buy them,” he said.

Chrysler sales gains were uneven. Sales of car models nearly doubled, while sales of light truck models other than minivan models fell 12%. Sales were flat at its Jeep brand, while sales at its Ram line of light trucks tumbled 22%. But sales for its Chrysler and Dodge brands both shot up 61%.

Other automakers are due to report results later Monday. To top of page

Price War: Honda and Toyota Get Down and Dirty, helping to boost March auto sales

Price wars and discounting used to be the province of beleaguered companies from Detroit. Now Honda (HMC) and Toyota (TM) are down in the bargain mud, too — and helping to boost March auto sales.

Forecasts for annual U.S. auto sales for the month are around 12.5 million range for theSeasonally Adjusted Annual Rate. That’s a sharp improvement from a 10.8 million SAAR in January 2010 and 10.4 million in February.

“The shape of the U.S. SAAR over the rest of the year will largely depend on how long the industry’s pricing battle goes on,” saidBrian Johnson, auto industry analyst for Barclays Capital.

Toyota kicked off the discounting this month with offers of zero-percent loans, to boost demand in light of the unintended acceleration disaster. Honda responded with cheap, no-money-down lease deals.

Such steep discounts are unusual for the Japanese carmakers, because their cars have typically been in higher demand than U.S. brands. Last month, before the current round of price-cutting kicked in, Edmunds.com said Honda’s incentives averaged about $1,400, less than half the level of Chrysler, Ford and GM. Toyota incentives averaged about $1,800, according to the shopping and research web site.

Meanwhile, ChryslerFord (F) and General Motors are bending over backwards to cut production and try and reduce the need for deep discounts, especially since Chrysler and GM went bankrupt last year. The results have been mixed.

Edmunds.com CEO Jeremy Anwyl said in a written statement the Toyota deals are unlikely to last, because Toyota’s inventories of unsold cars aren’t that high. The Toyota deals are set to expire April 5.

“Although this SAAR sounds promising,”Anwyl concluded, “it’s too early to wave the flag and say that the economy has turned the corner.”

Ford on Track to Be #1 U.S. Carmaker

NOTE: WE’VE SEEN THIS COMING FOR AWHILE. GREAT NEW PRODUCT, SAAVY MARKETING AND NOT TAKING THE GOVERNMENT BAILOUT HAVE MADE FORD THE NUMBER ONE CHOICE AMONG U.S. CONSUMERS THAT WANT TO BUY AMERICAN.=DP

September 2, 2009

Ford on Track to Be #1 U.S. Carmaker

 Things are looking up for the one American automaker that didn’t go for a government bailout, and it’s not just because of “cash-for-clunkers.” 

 Ford’s recent navigation of financial shoals is paying off big-time. The Detroit automaker took a different tack than its rivals, which sought aid from the federal government and shelter in bankruptcy court. It’s on course to grab the brass ring in 2010, becoming No. 1 in U.S. auto sales. An $18-billion low interest loan in 2006 — when the company mortgaged itself, including its iconic blue oval insignia — is allowing Ford to remake operations. It’s slashing costs and developing common bodies, braking and wiring systems for its vehicles worldwide and putting in place new flexible assembly lines that let plants shift rapidly from making one model to another. Plus, Ford is committed to new model development — pledging to revamp its entire fleet by early 2011, and then repeating the feat in a few years. As a result, by year-end 2010, Ford’s U.S. sales will likely edge out both General Motors’ and Toyota’s, but it’ll be a photo finish. The best bet: Toyota will come in second and GM will slip to third. Already, Ford’s share of U.S. auto sales is climbing. It’s likely to top 16% this year and be a hair over 17% next, mainly at the expense of GM and Chrysler. A market share gain of one percentage point reverses a slide that had plagued the firm for more than a decade. GM’s share of new-vehicle sales will be about 19.5% this year, nearly one percentage point lower than in 2008, and come in at barely 17% in 2010. Chrysler’s share will continue to plunge. Its slice of vehicles sold by new-car dealers will slip and slide to as low as 8.5% this year and around 8% in 2010, down from 11% in 2008. Foreign brands will largely hold their own through 2010, with Honda and Toyota posting small gains next year. Ford is getting a boost from a new cycle of models whose popularity seems to be hitting its stride. “There is a perception that Ford has its fingers on the pulse of what consumers want to buy, whether this be a raft of hybrids, such as the Fusion, Escape and Mariner, or the new Taurus,” says Howard Kuperman, president of Phil’s Ford Lincoln Mercury in Port Jervis, N.Y., and chairman of the New York State Automobile Dealers Association. It’s not just curbside appeal that’s giving Ford’s sales a lift. “Consumers are making a decision to buy a Ford product because it did not accept federal bailout money, as did GM and Chrysler, and it didn’t go through bankruptcy as did the other two,” says Aaron Bragman, an auto analyst with IHS Global Insight, a business consultancy. Such consumer anger may fade over time, but Ford’s sales should keep gaining as it builds on strong sales through next year with the introduction of all-new Focus and Fiesta small cars and an ultraefficient commercial van, the Transit Connect, says Bragman.

Dealer Marketing Magazine’s Advice to Auto Dealers

AT POWERHOUSE WE SPECIALIZE IN VERTICALLY INTEGRATED MEDIA SOLUTIONS– WE MAKE SURE YOUR INTERNET MARKETING MESSAGE IS CONSISTENT WITH TRADITIONAL MEDIA ADVERTISING BY FOLLOWING A CONSISTENT EFFORT TO REINFORCE YOUR MARKETING MESSAGE TO YOUR CORE AUDIENCE. SEE BELOW DEALER MARKETING ADVICE TO AUTO DEALERS.

Marketing your dealership used to be so much simpler. There was television, Radio, newspaper, and direct mail — and that was it. Those were the days weren’t they? Today, however, with the advent of the Internet, things have changed. Now every dealership, big and small, has to have a Website in order to survive. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small dealer in rural Alaska selling trucks and 4x4s or a luxury dealership in Los Angeles selling Porsches, without a Website, you might as well not exist.


Websites are only one aspect of Internet marketing, however. In order to really take advantage of the changes brought on by the Internet, you need to have a marketing strategy that takes advantage of all the Internet has to offer in order to help you grow your business and succeed, in good times and bad.

Internet marketing has many different facets, from Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to promoting your online presence with your offline marketing efforts, website building, and everything in between.

In order to help you negotiate the maze of different strategies and technologies that are out there, we spoke to several Internet experts and convinced them to share some of their secrets with you.

Combining traditional marketing and Internet marketing
Ten years ago, a Website was just a marketing add-on; today it is the first view most of your customers have of your dealership, because the Internet is the first place most customers start their vehicle search. Conversely, however, most customers still hear about your dealership through your offline advertising.

What this means for dealers is that it is time to stop separating Internet marketing and traditional marketing. All of your offline advertising needs to lead to your Website and your Website needs to reflect what you say in your offline advertising, thus creating synergy in your marketing. Synergy is an overused word, but what it literally means is two or more things that when combined create more than when they act separately, which is what happens when you combine your offline and online marketing.

“Based on the data, there is no better way to promote your Website than through traditional marketing an online placement. In other words, advertising your Website address in every ad medium you use generates the best results,” confirms Jason Ezell, national sales director, director of industry relations, and one of the original founders for DealerSkins.

One of the reasons that many dealers’ online and offline marketing do not work in sync is because their advertising agency and their Website provider do not work together.

“Your Website provider should give you the most powerful Website with the most effective backend tools, and your ad agency should give you the most cutting-edge creative and marketing strategy,” offers Dean Evans of Dealer.com. “They should work together as a team and share information; work in partnership with the Website developer and the agency to maximize the investment for dealers.”

Measuring your success
John Wanamaker, whom many consider the father of modern advertising, once said, “I know half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, but I can never find out which half.” That, however, was the nineteenth century and things have changed. Today, with the marketing metrics made possible with the Internet and other new technologies, you should be able to calculate your return on investment so that none of your budget is wasted. This is one area where the vast majority of marketing experts agree.

“The statistical information we gain from shoppers’ ‘tire-clicking’ is vital to running all aspects of the dealership,” says Jason Ezell. “These stats can tell us exactly where a dealer’s marketing dollars are best spent, which cars are most and least popular, and what other cars a shopper is considering before sending a lead. In the ‘new economy,’ this data will be invaluable.”

Remember, however, when you measure your marketing efforts to compare your online and offline efforts, you may be surprised which forms of advertising deliver the best return on investment. As Dillon McDonald, chief operating officer for Jumpstart Automotive Media, reminds us, “Measure traditional media and digital media against the same scorecard, which is a mix of car sales, audience engagement, and leads generated — not solely lead count.”

A GREAT WHY BUY MESSAGE FROM LINCOLN MERCURY

Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Why Lincoln Why Now

If you’ve been considering trading up to the luxury and technology available in a new Lincoln, now would be a great time to act. If you have already purchased from us, we appreciate your business. Please pass this offer to family and friends.

Why Lincoln.
Lincoln has the luxury you deserve and the technology you expect.

Why Now.
The government’s CARS program, better known as “Cash for Clunkers,” is offering a $3,500 or $4,500 incentive when you trade in a qualifying vehicle at our dealership.1 We are your Cash for Clunkers Specialist, and no one makes it easier to recycle your ride.

Please contact us immediately; you may also be eligible for THOUSANDS of dollars in private offers this month that are compatible with all rebates and incentives.

1This is a government program, and rules are subject to change. Vouchers are available at participating dealers and are limited. Rebate varies based on vehicle age, ownership length and old/new vehicle fuel economy. Not all vehicles qualify. Offer good while voucher supplies last or until 11/1/09. See cars.gov or ford.com for complete details.

// posted by Ford BDC @ 7:01 PM 0 comments links to this post

Why Mercury Why Now

If you’ve been considering a new-vehicle purchase or lease, now would be a great time to consider Mercury. If you have already purchased from us, we appreciate your business. Please pass this offer to family and friends.

Why Mercury.
Because we have the most fuel-efficient midsize sedan in America1 — Mercury Milan and the most fuel-efficient SUV2 on the planet — Mercury Mariner Hybrid.

Why Now.
The government’s CARS program, better known as “Cash for Clunkers,” is offering a $3,500 or $4,500 incentive when you trade in a qualifying vehicle at our dealership.3 We are your Cash for Clunkers Specialist, and no one makes it easier to recycle your ride.

Please contact us immediately; you may also be eligible for THOUSANDS of dollars in private offers this month that are compatible with all rebates and incentives.

1EPA-estimated 23 city/34 hwy/27 combined mpg, Milan I-4 automatic with Rapid Spec 101A. Midsize class per R. L. Polk & Co. Non-hybrid. 22009 EPA-estimated 34 city/31 hwy mpg, Mariner Hybrid FWD. Actual mileage will vary. Excludes vehicles built for Mazda. 3This is a government program, and rules are subject to change. Vouchers are available at participating dealers and are limited. Rebate varies based on vehicle age, ownership length and old/new vehicle fuel economy. Not all vehicles qualify. Offer good while voucher supplies last or until 11/1/09. See cars.gov or ford.com for complete details

Lead generation to vehicle purchase: What’s The Weakest Link?

The Weakest Link

The path leading from ‘searching for a vehicle’ to ‘purchasing a vehicle’ involves many information transactions. The buyer often starts by searching online, looks at vehicle detail pages, initiates contact with some sellers (by phone or email), corresponds a few times to narrow down the field, schedules appointments with some subset of the sellers with whom they corresponded, and finally purchases one of the vehicles.

Links in the chain
From an industry standpoint, the path that follows is like a chain: The generator, the lead itself, the dealership, and the staff member working the lead are all links in that chain. There are strong and weak lead providers who produce strong and weak leads; there are strong and weak dealerships that employ strong and weak staff. By the time leads have run the gauntlet of links from lead generation to vehicle purchase, they have had several opportunities to hit a weak link. As long as the links in the chain stay strong, the lead progresses toward a sale; as soon as there is a bad link, the lead is most likely dead. If it goes really poorly with the staff member link, you not only lose this sale but probably also lose the opportunity for service business or future vehicle sales with this lead. The point is that the chain is only as strong as the weakest link and your success with each lead hinges on having a strong chain.

Taking control
As a dealer, you have little control over how a lead is generated; however, you do have some control over how your existing and potential customers are treated by your staff, which determines, in the minds of consumers, whether or not you are a good or bad dealership. You also have control over the staff you employ and their training. This is link in the chain that you must focus on, if you want to get more out of your leads.

The dilemma
The salespeople working the leads have made no investment and are therefore less inclined to really work every lead. Often, the staff will take only a single pass or not work leads at all and just blame the lack of success on lead quality. I suggest a new model for your consideration: Let your staff invest in the leads! Have them buy the leads themselves or share in the cost with you and provide a performance-based way for them to earn their investment back. If your staff is invested in the leads they work, they will be much more likely to work those leads until they buy or die, which will produce an immediate, profound change in your lead closing ratio.

Keep making sales
Yes, sales are down, way down. However, people are still searching for cars, buying cars, and selling cars. Traffic, searches, and private party listings have held relatively steady throughout the economic downturn. Of course, there wass a slight drop in all three areas, it was not nearly proportional to the drop in sales at dealerships. Sales are out there but in the current economic climate staff must work harder to get them: Don’t let a staff member be the weakest link in your chain.

NOTE: POWERHOUSE USA HELPS CLIENTS GENERATE QUALIFIED LEADS THROUGH VARIOUS SOURCES INCLUDING THE INTERNET. BY USING DEALER WEBSITES, THIRD PARTY WEBSITES, CUSTOM LANDING PAGES, MICROSITES, GOOGLE ADWORDS, YAHOO!, MICROSOFT BING!,VARIOUS OTHER SEARCH ENGINES, SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING, SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION, VIDEO ADS, TEXT ADS, YOU TUBE AND THE LIKE. POWERHOUSE USA IS A FULL SERVICE MARKETING ADVERTISING, PROMOTIONS, SPECIAL EVENTS AND INTERNET ADVERTISING COMPANY LOCATED IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA THAT PROVIDES CREATIVE BUSINESS SOLUTIONS TO COMPANIES OF ALL TYPES. FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT WWW.POWERHOUSEUS.COM

U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT : Ford Could Surpass GM

Ford Could Surpass GM
Posted: Jul. 10, 2009 10:07 a.m.

GM may be shedding its bad assets, but if Ford has its way, GM will shed something else: its title as the top-selling brand in America.

Bloomberg reports, “Ford Motor Co., gaining ground on its distressed domestic competitors, may surpass General Motors Corp. this year to become the top-selling automaker in the U.S. for the first time since 1931.”

The Street says June sales left Ford in a good position for an attack. “Ford reported its smallest sales decline in 11 months, making it the country’s No. 2 automaker in June and raising the possibility that it could move to the top spot.” According to the Street, Ford sales “fell by 11%, while Toyota sales fell 33% and sales at General Motors fell 34%.”

As the only domestic automaker that has not undergone bankruptcy, Ford is in a stronger position than Chrysler or GM. Ford has also had some successes with recent models, including the Ford Fusion hybrid, which some reviewers says is a better all-around car than the Toyota Prius. The 2010 Fusion hybrid sits at the top of our affordable midsize car rankings.

The good sales news and strong market position has caused Ford to increase production. The Associated Press reports, “Citing better-than-expected sales and traffic at dealerships, Ford Motor Co. said Monday it plans to increase third-quarter production by 25,000 units – marking the automaker’s second production hike in recent weeks.”

According to a Ford spokesman, “We had pretty well lowered production in recent quarters to meet demand,” Truby said. “Now as we’re seeing market share increases and showroom activity, we’re ramping up production to meet that demand.”

Some analysts say that demand is likely to rise in the coming weeks as consumers seek to take advantage of the government’s Cash for Clunkers program.

If you’re in the market for a new car — even if it’s not a Ford — check out the U.S. News rankings of this year’s best cars as well as this month’s best car deals.

Toyota Camry is more American than the Ford F-150 according to Cars.com’s American-Made Index.

NOTE: THERE IS SOME FLAWED METHODOLOGY IN THIS SURVEY HOWEVER, THE POINT IS THAT ALMOST ALL CAR COMPANIES ARE MAKING CARS AND PARTS HERE. ADD IIN EMPLOYEES AT THE DEALERSHIP LEVEL AND MARKETING SPENDS AND YOU CAN SEE WHAT A HUGE ECONOMIC DRIVER AUTOMOTIVE REALLY IS.=DP

Saturday, July 4, 2009
Survey: Camry more American than F-150
Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News
The Toyota Camry is more American than the Ford F-150, at least according to Cars.com’s annual American-Made Index.

The findings further muddy the buy American debate that rages across the country.

Toyota Motor Corp. also is the most American car company, according to the rankings of the index in terms of U.S. content in its cars and trucks.

The findings are based on where each vehicle is built, its popularity based on sales volume and the percentage of the parts made in the U.S. based on the cost or value of those parts.

This year, the Camry (not counting the hybrid or the Solara) dethroned the F-150 which had been a five-time winner. The Ford truck came in at No. 2.

Toyota had the most individual models on the list with four, including the Sienna minivan in the sixth spot, followed by the Tundra full-size pickup, and the new Venza crossover at No. 10.

Detroit’s Big Three automakers collectively have five vehicles in the top 10 spots, which is their lowest showing since Cars.com started the index in 2006 and was conducted twice a year initially.

“This year was unique for our index, to say the least,” said Patrick Olsen, editor of Cars.com. “The difficult sales environment and changes in cars’ domestic-parts content — both important factors in our index’s equation — played a huge role in how the rankings changed from last year.”

The results likely won’t go over well in Detroit, said analyst Joe Phillippi of AutoTrends Consulting Inc. in Short Hills, N.J., but the more important point is that the vehicles and many of their parts are made in the U.S. and “we need all the payroll generation we can get.”

To its credit, Toyota has maintained its headcount in the U.S., Phillippi said. “There have not been wholesale firings and mass layoffs and they continue to employ a lot of people even in a downturn and their game plan is to continue to employ more.”

General Motors Corp. results were impacted because the methodology used excludes models slated to be discontinued that do not have a clear successor. That wipes out the Pontiac G6, for example, which has scored well in the past, but has fallen victim to GM downsizing. Also absent from the list this year is the Chevrolet Cobalt, which has fewer domestic parts and seen its sales fall off because it, too, is being discontinued. It will be replaced by the all-new Chevrolet Cruze next year.

GM retains three vehicles in the top 10 with the Chevrolet Malibu taking the third spot and the Chevrolet Silverado (5th) and GMC Sierra 1500 pickup (8th).

The Ford Taurus had the most domestic parts at 90 percent but landed 9th on the list, largely because the new Taurus is selling about 2,000 units a month compared with about 25,000 Camrys a month.

Chrysler Group LLC has no vehicles in the top 10. The company’s high-volume minivan is made in Canada.

Phillippi said while the results may surprise some consumers, it likely will have little impact on buying decisions and he doubts many shoppers research domestic content. “These days, price and incentives are at the top of the list given the squeeze on peoples’ budgets.”

The index provides some justification for consumers who have been loyal to imports, Phillippi said.

Jim Hall, analyst with 2953 Analytics in Birmingham, called the claims “spurious” and questioned the math given that the index uses a parts count but does not go deeper and calculate the number of labor hours to make each part — a figure that varies greatly with an engine being very labor-intensive, for example.

In terms of validity, “it’s like Michael Jackson saying he’s the King of Pop,” Hall said of the self-proclamation of the superstar and the Web site in its findings.

Ford’s decision to opt-out of government TARP financing has multiple benefits

Do June Ford Sales Signal a Rebound? 

 July 2nd, 2009 @ 8:34 am

There has been abundant confirmation that Ford’s decision to opt-out of government TARP financing—a move made possible by CEO Alan Mulally’s prescient borrowing of $23 billion against its assets in 2006—has multiple benefits. People seem to be retaining their confidence in Ford cars and trucks, and it’s starting to show up in sales figures—which are still down, but not as dire as they might be. For one thing, Ford’s “financial viability” (meaning, not in bankruptcy court) ensured that it would receive $5.9 billion in federal advanced technology funding through 2011 to make its existing models, from the Taurus to the Focus, 25 percent more fuel efficient. General Motors and Chrysler may get funded, too, but only Ford received this boon in the first round (along with Nissan and Tesla). In June, Ford sales were down 10.7 percent compared to June 2008, but GM dropped 33 percent in the same period, and Chrysler 42 percent. Ford also outsold Toyota for the third month in a row. Strong Fusion and Flex sales were cited as one reason for an uptick. Ford could get into positive territory as its new products come on line. Crucial for the automaker is the 2010 Taurus, which has been dramatically made over and is moving somewhat upmarket. Business Week calls the Taurus (starting at $26,000, the same as the model it replaces) “styled and packaged just right.” The new car bristles with features, including adaptive cruise, collision warning, blind spot information system, rain-sensing wipers, capless refueling, and a new generation of its SYNC audio system. Here’s a first video drive of the new Taurus: The new Euro-rooted Fiesta and Focus are moving forward, and the Fiesta is being pre-marketed with a smart youth-oriented campaign that includes 100 Twitter-friendly bloggers using the cars for six months. The Focus, in a partnership with Magna International, will be the basis of a new electric battery car in 2011, and Ford is also working on a plug-in hybrid for 2012. The new, leaner Ford has also jettisoned Jaguar and Land Rover (to India’s Tata, generating $2.3 billion), gotten out of the supercar business by selling Aston Martin, reduced its share in Mazda, and is no doubt working overtime to sever its relationship with Volvo. The Fusion Hybrid is a very credible entry in the field. And the company is also trying to reinvigorate the stagnant Lincoln and Mercury brands with a new Fusion-based luxury sedan and SUVs grouped around “MK” branding. Executive Chairman Bill Ford said that “Alan was the right choice [to be CEO], and it gets more right every day.” Of course, Ford is hardly out of the woods. Sales are, after all, still down. But it hasn’t made any significantly wrong moves in its attempt to recover from the auto industry’s worst slump since the Depression.

U.S. Auto Makers Score Wins in Meeting Consumer Expectations says AutoPacific’s 2009 Ideal Vehicle Awards

U.S. Auto Makers Score Most Wins in Meeting Consumer Expectations According to AutoPacific’s 2009 Ideal Vehicle Awards

Survey of 32,000 Consumers Reveals Vehicles that Meet or Exceed Expectations

TUSTIN, Calif., June 29 /PRNewswire/ — Porsche and Ford Motor Company earned top honors in the 2009 Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA), announced today by automotive research firm AutoPacific. The IVAs are based on owners’ ratings of their new 2009 model year cars and trucks across 15 key vehicle attributes. The cars or trucks that owners would change the least are the most ideal.

“In today’s economy, car buyers take many factors into consideration – styling, safety features, fuel economy and more,” says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “IVA winners deliver the most of what consumers are really looking for in their vehicles.”

“While some measurements barely differentiate between the highest and lowest-ranked vehicles, the Ideal Vehicle Awards clearly show which carmakers are providing the attributes car buyers want,” says Peterson. “Looking at segment wins and top overall honors, shoppers can use the IVAs as a benchmark for vehicles that are designed and built with customers just like them in mind. In fact, AutoPacific owner research also shows that IVA-winning vehicles achieve higher overall satisfaction from their owners.”

For 2009, the top-rated premium brand is Porsche, outscoring Buick and Jaguar for the most ideal premium vehicle brand honors. The top-rated mainstream brand is Ford, outscoring Mercury for top mainstream brand results. Porsche and Ford were also the highest scoring premium and mainstream brands in the 2008 IVA rankings.

The top-rated vehicle overall is the Honda Odyssey minivan, which beat out the next-highest rated vehicle, the Toyota Venza, from the premium mid-size crossover SUV segment. Rounding out the top five were three Ford Motor Company products: the Ford F-150 large pickup, followed by the Ford Taurus and the Lincoln Town Car, both in the large car segment.

Ford Motor Company leads the industry with a total of five segment winners. Hyundai/Kia and Toyota/Lexus each had three segment winners, with Chrysler, General Motors and Honda bringing in two wins each.

Of the twenty-three Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) categories, American brands have nine segment winners, Japanese brands seven, European brands four, and Korean brands have three segment winners.

The top-rated product segment is Large Car, beating out last year’s leading category, Large Crossover SUV. American buyers continue to value large, comfortable vehicles suitable for suburban driving and longer distance highway cruising.

    2009 Ideal Premium Brand: Porsche
    2009 Ideal Mainstream Brand: Ford
    2009 Ideal Product Segment: Large Car

    2009 Ideal Vehicle Award Winners:

    Passenger Cars:
    Premium Luxury Car               Lexus LS
    Aspirational Luxury Car          Hyundai Genesis
    Large Car                        Ford Taurus
    Luxury Mid-Size Car              Lexus ES350
    Premium Mid-Size Car             Saturn Aura
    Mid-Size Car                     Volkswagen Jetta
    Image Compact Car                MINI Cooper
    Compact Car                      Hyundai Elantra
    Economy Car                      Honda Fit
    Sports Car                       Porsche 911
    Sporty Car                       Dodge Challenger

    Pickups, SUVs and Minivans
    Large Pickup                     Ford F-150
    Compact Pickup                   Ford Explorer Sport Trac
    Luxury Sport Utility             Lincoln Navigator
    Large Sport Utility              Nissan Armada
    Premium Mid-Size Sport Utility   Ford Explorer
    Mid-Size Sport Utility           Jeep Liberty
    Luxury Crossover SUV             BMW X5
    Large Crossover SUV              Chevrolet Traverse
    Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV   Toyota Venza
    Mid-Size Crossover SUV           Subaru Forester
    Compact Crossover SUV            Kia Sportage
    Minivan                          Honda Odyssey

In addition to identifying segment winners, IVA also establishes numerical ideal vehicle ratings for virtually every passenger car and light truck in the United States market. These results come from calculating owner input across 15 specific areas related to a vehicle’s attributes, including: exterior styling, exterior size, passenger roominess, cargo space, driver’s seat comfort, driver’s seat visibility, interior technology, interior lighting, power and acceleration, ease of getting in and out, interior storage compartments, ride, handling, safety features and tires and wheels.

In 2009, AutoPacific has named its Vehicle Satisfaction Award winners, plus announced “Owner Recommendations,” based on a survey of more than 25,000 new car owners.