Tag Archives: car

Motor Industry Still Feeling Effects from Japan Tsunami

Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. are speeding returns to normal production after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami idled factories and created shortages of parts. The slowdown in May sales came about because limited supply of fuel-efficient cars like Toyota’s Prius lifted prices and curbed purchases.

“Consumers were being told so dramatically after Japan that there’s going to be a shortage of cars, but this is going to be a temporary situation and so many of them will just wait,” said Alan Baum, principal of industry consultant Baum & Associates, who predicts 13 million auto sales in the U.S. for 2011. “To the extent May is a reasonably poor month, I’m not going to get carried away and say that’s going to transcend through the rest of the year.”

U.S. sales of cars and light trucks may rise to 13 million this year, the average of 16 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That would be the most since 13.2 million in 2008.

Average U.S. gasoline prices dropped for 14 straight days since May 11 to $3.80 a gallon for regular unleaded, according to AAA. Prices earlier in May were at the highest level since 2008, reducing demand as the country’s vacation season started.

The earthquake in Japan may result in 3 million to 3.5 million units of global production that will be lost or deferred into next year, according to researcher IHS Automotive. Worldwide light-vehicle production may rise to 73.7 million units this year from 71.9 million in 2010, according to IHS.

Toyota, which built 45 percent of its cars in Japan last year, may lead declines among major automakers with a 27 percent drop in May deliveries, the average of three estimates. Honda Motor Co., the second-largest Japanese automaker by U.S. sales, may say sales fell 25 percent, the average of three estimates. Nissan Motor Co. deliveries may decrease 7.3 percent, the average of three estimates.

“Predominantly this is a supply issue,” George Magliano, a New York-based senior economist for IHS Automotive, said in a telephone interview. “The auto market was developing considerable momentum coming into this month before issues related to Japan.”

Automakers benefiting from their Japan-based rivals’ supply constraints may be led by Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. Their combined U.S. sales may pass Toyota for the first time, according to Santa Monica, California-based TrueCar.com. Deliveries for Hyundai and Kia may surge 43 percent in May to 115,434, behind only General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co., according to the auto pricing website.

Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, has said it expects production in North America to return to about 70 percent of normal levels beginning in June, from about 30 percent in May. Honda forecast last week that North American production will return to 100 percent in August for all models except Civic small cars, and said May 17 that global production will return to normal before the end of the year.

 

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Online vehicle shoppers turning toward the phone

Believe it or not, trends going on in the automotive buying process are leading more towards consumers picking up the phone to contact dealers directly.

It seemed for a while that the internet would ultimately take over the car buying industry but over time, dealers have been too slow responding to leads and therefore training customers to call and complete their business over the phone or in person.

A study done by ADP Digital shows that dealers get 10 phone calls for every two internet leads, when a year ago the same statistic was seven phone calls per every two leads. Also, over the past 10 months, 2 percent of visitors have asked to be contacted  on dealer sites, whereas in 2007, the rate was 4 percent.

Phone calls are becoming shoppers initial contact because they have already researched what they needed to and are now informed and ready to be taken through the buying process by a professional. Professionalism is judged better via telephone or in person rather than by email or other means over the web.

Jefferson, the director of Internet and training for the Proctor Dealerships of Tallahassee, tells his salespeople to focus on getting timely and quality responses out for every 600 to 700 internet leads they get monthly. He says, “Tell them what you can do, not what you can’t.”

(Source: Automotive News, 5/16/11)

Ford Regains Top Spot Among Most-Considered Auto Brands

According to the latest Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence Brand Watch study, Ford is back on top as the most-considered auto brand among new-car shoppers. Ford consistently captured the most-considered auto brand title from Q4 2009 through Q2 2010, but momentarily fell to the No. 2 spot for Q3 2010 when Toyota re-captured its previously held most-considered brand status for that quarter.

However, as Toyota works to rebuild its brand following last year’s recall crisis, it continues to see fluctuating consideration and currently resides back at No. 2.

In addition to being the most-considered auto brand overall (regardless of segment) for Q4 2010, Ford has been the highest-considered brand within the truck segment for nine consecutive quarters. Currently, Ford is the most-considered brand in the non-luxury SUV/CUV segment, and continues to gain ground quarter-over-quarter in the non-luxury sedan/coupe/hatchback segment.

For the latest Q4 2010 Brand Watch study data, Ford is back on top with a significant lead over the competition (at 29%), while Toyota and Chevrolet tie for second place (22% each) and Honda finishes third (21%). Rounding out the most-considered among the 37 new-vehicle brands tracked in the Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence study are Nissan at fourth (13%), with Hyundai and BMW tying for fifth place (11% each).

“Ford’s revamped product offering, strong business strategy and clever marketing have helped to lead it back to a position of prominence in the minds of new-car shoppers,” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’skbb.com. “With enticing products offered in nearly every new-car segment, and an emphasis on forward-thinking technology like SYNC and MyFord Touch, Ford is dominating the shopping lists of many new-car buyers and has a real opportunity to turn this consideration into more dollar-signs. Kbb.com shoppers’ opinions and behaviors are leading indicators of future new-car sales patterns, so with the latest Brand Watch study results, we expect to see continued good news for Ford throughout the year.”

Specific to the non-luxury sedan/coupe/hatchback category, Honda received the highest consideration, followed closely by Toyota in second place and Ford in third place. In addition, Ford continues to improve in this segment each quarter. Following Ford are Chevrolet, Hyundai and Nissan, respectively. From Q3 2010 to Q4 2010, Hyundai’s consideration dampened slightly among non-luxury sedan/coupe/hatchback shoppers.

In the non-luxury SUV/CUV segment, Ford has regained the highest consideration within this category and has a good lead over the next competitor Toyota, followed by Honda and Chevrolet, respectively.

Specific to the luxury sedan/coupe/hatchback segment, BMW continues to maintain the top spot for consideration in Q4 2010, followed by Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Audi and Cadillac, respectively. Lexus consideration within this segment has been on a gradual decline since Q4 2009.

In contrast, Lexus remains the most-considered brand in the luxury SUV/CUV segment for Q4 2010. Following Lexus for top consideration of luxury SUV/CUVs are Cadillac, Acura, Lincoln and BMW.

Honda continues to remain the most-considered minivan brand for the past 12 quarters, followed by Toyota, which also held the No. 2 spot for the past 12 quarters.

As previously mentioned, Ford continues to remain the most-considered truck brand for nine consecutive quarters, followed by Chevrolet, which has held the No. 2 spot for the same amount of time.

(Source: Kelley Blue Book, 03/10/11)