Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fisker Automotive: Roger Ormisher Talks About Karma

Roger Ormisher, Director, Global Communications, Fisker Automotive, discusses the Karma and the company.

Fisker Karma Test Ride

The Fisker Karma, with its 22 inch wheels, is the same in its production version as it was in concept, as was the intention of Henrik Fisker, the designer and founder of Fisker Automotive according to Billy Tally, Fisker's Director of Vehicle Integration who spoke to the Motor Press Guild. One of the 500 engineers working in Fisker's Irvine headquarters, Kurt Fredlund, says one of the most amazing feats in getting this based-priced $102,000 luxury hybrid into production was the just 2-plus years from the concept stage which makes some of lyrics from the John Lennon song very appropriate, "Instant Karma's gonna get you" as the performance and handling are stunning based on my 5 mile test drive.

Very nimble given its size and weight yet very solid on the road with its conventional double wishbone suspension. There are two modes: Stealth for electric only with a 50 mile range before the gas engine kicks in with about 15% of battery charge left and Sport which is the hybrid, gas-electric combo, delivering a 300 mile range using a General Motors 265 horsepower Ecotec engine fed by a 10 gallon tank of gas and fully charged 605 lb. battery pack that Tally says "can go for at least 10 years".

The combined powerplant is rated at 403 horsepower with an amazing 950 foot pounds of torque with no clutch or transmission. There was some discussion about its EPA MPG rating which settled on 32 miles per gallon though Tally claimed it can be as high as around 50 mpg. If you're looking for a moonroof to soak in the rays forget it, there's a solar roof to absorb sunlight for charging the batteries and running the fans to keep the car cool. The car is low to the ground which gave my six foot body some difficulty climbing in and out.

My fellow MPG member Zoran Segina of LA Car was behind the wheel and drove the Karma hard, which according to engineer Fredlund, doesn't affect the range much because the hard breaking regenerates battery power. The top priced Karma is $116,000 with eco-friendly sheet metal and a back-up camera system. Music plays out of external speakers at speeds under 25 miles an hour to alert pedestrians that Karma is nearby, though the noise of LAX at our test drive location made it difficult to hear the Karma's warning music.

Sticking with John Lennon, his "Watching the Wheels" song seems to fit Executive Chairman Henrik Fisker who has just turned over his CEO reigns to Tom LaSorda, the 35 year automotive industry veteran who started with GM and joined Chrysler in 2000 becoming CEO in 2006 then co-Vice Chairman in 2007. "I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round, I really love to watch them roll, No longer riding on the merry-go-round, I just had to let it go." Deservedly so Henrik but back to Karma - "But we all shine on, Like the moon and the stars and the sun" - right on! Now awaiting the next more affordable model, which based on Karma's speedy evolution, could be very soon.

View the accompanying video interview with Fisker Automotive's Roger Ormisher, Director, Global Communications, for more.

Toyota Takes 5 of 10 Consumer Reports 2012 Top Picks


Top Picks are the best all-around models in their categories chosen from the more than 260 vehicles recently tested and scoring highest in road test, reliability and safety measures. Each model’s report card shows its overall road-test and predicted-reliability Ratings, as well as its overall fuel economy in the tests. If multiple Ratings are displayed, they apply to different versions of a model. Prices reflect the sticker prices when CR bought their test cars. You can find more details on all of the Top Picks in CR's vehicle ratings.

Family sedan: Toyota Camry Hybrid - $29,052
Sporty car: Ford Mustang - $28,880 to $43,880
Affordable family sedan: Hyundai Sonata - $21,800
Small SUV: Toyota RAV4 - $25,405 to $30,328
Family hauler: Toyota Sienna (V6) - $35,810
Sports sedan: Infiniti G - $34,225 to $37,225
Green car: Toyota Prius - $26,750 to $28,217
Small car: Subaru Impreza - $21,345
Pickup truck: Chevrolet Avalanche - $47,435
Family SUV: Toyota Highlander - $38,578 to $47,255

For the complete story go to

Subaru Top Automaker: Consumer Reports


For the first time Subaru has earned the top score in Consumer Reports automaker report cards for 2012 with a score of 75, two points higher than last year, reflecting better test scores for such redesigned models as the Impreza, Legacy, and Outback over the last few years. The 2012 Impreza, which Consumer Reports just tested, now tops the small-sedan class and is the Consumer Reports Top Pick in that category. Subaru's average road-test score of 82 is the highest in Consumer Reports analysis.

Mazda showed the most dramatic improvement among the 13 manufacturers rated by Consumer Reports climbing to second place from last year's seventh and increasing its overall score by nine points. It was helped by an improved Mazda3 and the shedding of two models that dragged down its score, the Tribute SUV and RX-8 sports car.

Toyota remains among the top three automakers for the fifth straight year, buoyed by consistently above-average reliability and most vehicles have high test scores.

Honda, which had been the perennial winner for the past four years, slipped two points to fourth place among 13 major automakers, behind Mazda and Toyota. Honda has been hurt by several redesigned models, including the Civic and Odyssey that didn't measure up to their predecessors. Honda models, however, are still among the most reliable on the road overall.

Although Chrysler remains in last place, its overall score jumped eight points, making it the second most improved automaker. Chrysler's average road-test score also increased by eight points, the most of any automaker, and its overall reliability improved to average. The turnaround can be credited mostly to Chrysler's extensively freshened and redesigned vehicles.

Ford dropped the farthest, from fifth place last year to 10th. Ford's road-test score improved by two points over last year's, but subpar reliability of some new vehicles, due largely to the troublesome MyFord Touch infotainment system and Power-Shift automatic transmission, hurt its report-card grade.

Consumer Reports automaker report cards reflect the performance, comfort, utility, and reliability of more than 275 vehicles that CR recently rated, providing a perspective on which manufacturers are building the best all-around models. Each automaker's overall score is based on the average road test scores and reliability ratings for all of its models that CR has tested. Some manufacturers were not included in Consumer Reports automaker report cards for 2012. The complete report and scores for all 13 automakers in Consumer Reports automaker report cards for 2012 is available in the April issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands March 6th or at

Thursday, February 16, 2012

J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study

The J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study shows historically high levels of dependability for 2009 model year vehicles after 3 years on the road. The study measures problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old (2009 model-year) vehicles. Overall dependability is determined by the level of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

In 2012, overall vehicle dependability averages 132 PP100, an improvement of 13 percent from the 2011 average of 151, the lowest problem rate since the inception of the study in 1990. 25 of 32 brands have improved in dependability from 2011, while only six declined and one remained flat. Domestic nameplates have improved in 2012 at a slightly faster rate than imports, narrowing the dependability gap to 13 PP100 from 18 PP100 in 2011. MINI and Scion post the greatest year-over-year improvements from 2011, by 60 PP100 and 55 PP100, respectively.

Toyota gets eight segment awards more than any other automaker in 2012 and Ford receives three. The Hyundai Genesis also receives an award. Although there are no awards in their respective segments due to an insufficient number of award-eligible models, or insufficient market share of award-eligible models in the segment, these models also perform particularly well: Ford Mustang, GMC Yukon and Porsche 911.

Dependability Segment Rating Winners:

    Compact Car: Toyota Prius
    Compact Crossover SUV: Chevrolet Equinox
    Compact Multi Purpose Vehicle: Scion xB
    Compact Sporty Car: Scion tC
    Entry Premium Car: Lexus ES 350 (tie)Lincoln MKZ (tie)
    Large Car: Buick Lucerne
    Large Pickup: Toyota Tundra
    Midsize Car: Ford Fusion
    Midsize Crossover SUV: Ford Explorer (tie)Nissan Murano (tie)
    Midsize Pickup: Nissan Frontier
    Midsize Premium Car: Hyundai Genesis
    Midsize Premium Crossover SUV: Lexus RX 350
    Midsize Van: Toyota Sienna
    Sub Compact Car: Toyota Yaris

The 2012 Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from more than 31,000 original owners of 2009 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. The study was fielded between October and December 2011. 

Courtesy of J.D. Power and Associates

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

J.D. Power and Associates Reports U.S. Sales Satisfaction Improves

The J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study shows that the new-vehicle sales process has improved notably from 2010. The study, based on responses from 24,045 buyers who purchased or leased their new vehicle in May 2011, is a comprehensive analysis of the new-vehicle purchase experience and measures customer satisfaction with the selling dealer (satisfaction among buyers). It also measures satisfaction with brands and dealerships that were shopped but ultimately rejected in favor of the selling brand and dealership (satisfaction among rejecters). Among buyers, satisfaction is examined across four measures (listed in order of importance): working out the deal (17%); salesperson (13%); delivery process (11%); and dealership facility (10%). Among rejecters, satisfaction is examined across five measures (listed in order of importance): salesperson (20%); fairness of price (12%); facility (6%); inventory (6%); and experience negotiating (5%). 

Overall sales satisfaction averages 648 on a 1,000-point scale in 2011, improving by 13 points from an average of 635 from 2010. This gain suggests that, as market conditions improve, automotive manufacturers and dealers are placing renewed focus on and investment in providing buyers with satisfying retail experiences.

All measures improve notably from 2010, with the greatest gain in the delivery process, despite the fact that the average length of time to complete the delivery portion of a new-vehicle sale has increased by four minutes to an average of 32 minutes in 2011, from an average of 28 minutes in 2010. Overall, the average length of time a buyer spends at the dealership has increased by 11 minutes, to an average of 4.3 hours in 2011 from 4.1 hours in 2010.

Courtesy J.D. Power and Associates

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2012 Hyundai Azera Starts at $32,875 in April

The completely redesigned 2012 Hyundai Azera  with a 293 horsepower 3.3-liter GDI V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic with SHIFTRONIC® starts at $32,875 (including the $875 freight charge) and $36,875 for the top Azera with Technology Package. The 2012 Azera has fuel economy of 20 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. The 2012 Azera, introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, goes on sale in April.

Monday, February 13, 2012

2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe For $76,895 Early This Summer

The all-new 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe will sell for $76,895 (including $895 Destination and Handling Charge) with its  TwinPower Turbo 6-cylinder powered 640i Gran Coupe is the initial model of the range, and arrives early this summer. Later in the summer, the TwinPower Turbo V-8 powered 2013 BMW 650i Gran Coupe and the all-wheel drive 2013 BMW 650i xDrive Gran Coupe will join the line. Pricing for the V-8 powered models will be announced closer to the time of launch.

BMW M6 Convertible Arrives In June, M6 Coupe Later This Summer

The new 2012 BMW M6 Convertible returns from a two year hiatus with a 560 horsepower 4.4-liter engine mated to a high-torque 7-speed M-Double Clutch Transmission. The new 2012 BMW M6 Convertible will be the first to reach US BMW Center showrooms in June 2012.

The BMW M6 Coupe will arrive at US BMW Centers in the late Summer of 2012 as a 2013 model. US Pricing, technical specification, EPA mileage ratings, standard and optional equipment will be announced closer to the on-sale date.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

2012 Prius c 5-door Hatchback Starts at $19,710 In March

The all-new 2012 Prius c five-door hatchback with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive and an EPA-estimated city fuel economy rating of 53 mpg will arrive at Toyota dealerships in March with a starting MSRP of $19,710 (including the delivery, processing and handling fee of $760 which can vary depending on region). The Prius c will be available in four grades with a starting MSRP of $23,990 for the top level variant.

Hyundai Adds 2013 Elantra 5-door GT & 2013 Elantra 2-door Coupe

The Elantra sedan, voted the 2012 North American Car of the Year by a panel of journalists, now has two siblings - the two-door Elantra Coupe and five-door Elantra GT, based on the new-generation i30 model designed for the European market.

The all-new 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT has the 148 horsepower 1.8-liter Nu four-cylinder engine like the new coupe and sedan. The Elantra GT features seating layouts that can seat five people or accommodate four passengers, plus long items like golf clubs or snowboards. Fold down two seats, to seat three people and hold larger packages, or fold all of the back seats to get CUV-sized cargo space. The 2013 Elantra GT will take on the Toyota Matrix, Mazda3, Ford Focus and VW Golf and even the Nissan Juke crossover.

The 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe with the same 148 horsepower 1.8-liter Nu four-cylinder engine as the sedan is a new two-door sport coupe variant to the Elantra line-up and will be available this spring. Elantra Coupe’s fuel economy is estimated at 29 mpg city, 40 mpg highway for the six-speed manual transmission, and 28 mpg city, 39 mpg highway for the six-speed automatic transmission. These ratings give Elantra Coupe a highway-only driving range of up to 500 miles. Elantra Coupe is available with a standard is a 172-watt AM/FM/Satellite Radio/CD/MP3 audio system with six-speakers and iPod®/USB/auxiliary input jacks or an optional 360-watt system with external amplifier is optional with the SE Technology package. The 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe will take on the Honda Civic Coupe.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

NADA Keynote Speaker: President George W. Bush

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) drew 24,000 attendees from their base of 16,000 members or 90% of the country's car dealers to their convention in Las Vegas last weekend which ended, as usual, to their credit, with an impressive keynote speaker to leave the audience with inspiration, motivation, hope and, in this case, religion. This was my sixth NADA convention and in the past I've seen Richard Branson, President George H. W. Bush together with President Bill Clinton, Boone Pickens and Condoleezza Rice and have always left with a warm and fuzzy feeling and renewed ambition.

On Monday, at 4:06pm. President George W. Bush was warmly received by thousands of car dealers who frequently erupted into applause during his 12 minutes of prepared remarks which made numerous references to his book, Decision Points, which I have not read so can't measure how much new content we heard in the live venue at the Las Vegas Convention Center. He said there were many decisions in a complex environment and the book is anecdotal. He said, "we are safer".

He threw in many jokes, like being relieved when he confirmed that his birth certificate was aligned with his parents marriage certificate because he was born while his father was attending Yale. And there was serious honesty in admitting that had he not quit drinking that he would never have been President.

He stressed his desire to remain useful and is building an institute at Southern Methodist University to train school principals, defend the marketplace, promote the desire to be free by helping democracies and fight desease by helping women in Africa, specifically in Rwanda, deal with cervical cancer. He told the story of Rwanda orphans responding to his remark that "God is good" with "All the time". It lead to frequent "God is good" mentions that evetually had the audience responding, "All the time".

4:18pm: Questions from NADA Chairman Stephen Wade that brought some expected and maybe unexpected answers.

President Bush's "best pal" on the global stage was British Prime Minister Tony Blair with mentions going to Australia Prime Minister John Howard and German Chancellor Angela Merkle. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin was difficult and then told a story which is apparently in his book, about when he introduced President Putin to his Scottish terrier, Barney, on a visit to the U.S. presidential retreat, Camp David and Putin commented on his small size. When Bush visited Russia, Putin's Lab came charging over and Putin commented "bigger, stronger, faster than Barney". 
Miss most about being President? "being pampered" and "being Commander in Chief".
What does he miss least? He said the "noise", "the spotlight can be harsh" but then said "I'm glad I did it", "it was an awesome experience".
"Do-overs": the aircraft carrier banner ("mission accomplished" on the USS Lincoln in 2003 referring to Iraq) and the Katrina flyover which he justisfied by saying that landing would have been a distraction to the hurricane ground efforts.
"I would have done it again": cutting taxes, interogation techniques and Saddam Hussein.
On the lighter side: in response to the relationship of his father and President Clinton, "mother says he's your new step-brother".
On the Past President's Club, he says he and Clinton were both born in 1946 and "he's a good guy".
On his father, President George H.W. Bush, he says, "I would not be sitting here if not for the unconditional love of my father" and "1992 was the worst year of my life when my father lost the election".
On seeking advice: "find smart capable people to express there opinions if I like them or not". His "go to guy" was a circle of people depending on the subject and he rattled off Condy (Rice), (Josh) Bolten, (Karl) Rove. 
His advice: "Understand your committments in life", "We will remain leader of the free world, it will require decent policy", "We cycle through these moments".
"Latter years?" "I'm up for suggestions".

4:53pm. after 47 minutes: "God is good" and the crowd responded, "All the time" - Bush 43 walked off stage leaving us with: OK, I might buy your book.

Next year, the NADA convention returns to Orlando with more top speakers I'm sure.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chrysler's "It's Halftime, America" Ad Tops Super Bowl Auto Spots

Sixteen auto manufacturer ads ran during last Sunday's Super Bowl and, according to Ace Metrix criteria below, here's how they ranked relative to all the ads that aired on NBC during the game.

6. It's Halftime, America - Chrysler -  633
7. Matthew's Day Off - Honda - 630
12. Transactions - Acura - 593
14. Dog Strikes Back - Volkswagen - 590
21. Green Hell - Cadillac - 563
22. Happy Grad - Chevrolet - 558
23. Seduction - Fiat - 556
24. Cheetah - Hyundai - 552
25. It's Reinvented - Toyota - 552
26. 2012 - Chevrolet - 550
29. Think Fast - Hyundai - 544
30. Stunt Anthem - Chevrolet - 538
31. A Dream Car for Real Life - Kia - 537
32. Vampire Party - Audi - 536
39. Connections - Toyota - 502
42. The Beast - Lexus - 489

According to Ace Metrix website, Ace Metrix scores every ad in front of 500+ consumers – alongside other advertising. Each ad gets its own unique audience. Ace Metrix has conducted more than 2.6 million surveys in 2011 alone. It is our belief that a complete test of advertising creative must take into consideration both the voluntary nature of advertising consumption and the business goal of the advertiser. As a result, the Ace Score is calculated with both of those objectives in mind. First, we measure the success in achieving the business objective through our Persuasion metric. Persuasion is composed of six factors, each one identified for its ability to influence behavior: Desire, Relevance, Information, Attention, Change, Likeability. Second, we address the nature of advertising consumption, through our Watchability metric which is designed to measure the ad’s ability to attract a viewer’s interest in watching the ad voluntarily. Persuasion and Watchability interact with each other, which results in the overall effectiveness of an ad (its Ace Score).

My personal favorite was the Fiat "Seduction" ad because it encompasses sexy, performance and imagination in the eyes of the beholder - and that's what a car is all about. What was your favorite?

2013 Mazda CX-5 Compact Crossover SUV Starts At $21,490

The all-new 2013 Mazda CX-5 five-passenger compact crossover SUV with the 155 horsepower SKYACTIV-G engine starts at a $21,490 (including the $795 destination charge but not title, taxes, license, options and dealer charges). Using Mazda's SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, CX-5 achieves 35 miles per gallon on the highway and 29 mpg combined city/highway.

2013 Mazda CX-5 Sport models equipped with the optional SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic transmission start at $22,890 MSRP and when equipped with Mazda's all-new active torque-split all-wheel-drive system, the starting price is $24,140 MSRP. SKYACTIV-Drive is standard on Touring models, which start at $24,690 MSRP with front-wheel-drive and $25,940 MSRP when equipped with AWD. Available in either FWD or AWD configurations, the Grand Touring model starts at $27,840 and $29,090 MSRP, respectively. A Blind Spot Monitoring system is standard on Touring and Grand Touring models only.

The CX-5 was introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November and is expected in showrooms in the next month or so. It is a welcomed entry into the competitive and fast-growing compact SUV segment.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne Opens NADA With Optimistic Speech

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler, was the opening keynote speaker at the 2012 NADA Convention in Las Vegas, where, he says despite his world travels, it's a first time visit to Vegas but having watched so many movies made here, he said he felt like he's been here before. He gave a content-filled speech that touched on many issues, both industry and Chrysler-specific. He is optimistic about sales continuing to grow and pointed out that the average car on the road is 10.8 years old, the oldest since Polk began keeping the data in 1995 when the average vehicle age was 8.4 years. He cautioned the uncertainty surrounding Europe's financial health could spread beyond its borders. He said overcapacity is not a problem and product sales should drive profitability, not the financing business. Marchionne said Chrysler is adding 1800 employees in Illinois to build the new Dodge Dart based on the Alfa Romeo, which, as a brand will be built and back on sale in the U.S. as early as next year. Chrysler will also be adding jobs in Detroit to build the Maserati Kubang SUV.

Marchionne stressed that their bankruptcy and subsequent "restructuring set the rebirth of the industry" and "sense was restored to the marketplace". He emphasized that they have to "maintain the discipline that restructure enforced". He punctuated that "customer satisfaction is a crucial differentiator" in the industry. He said that the internet has "taken pricing out of the dealers' hands." He said that "dealers are more profitable than they have been in a decade". Customer satisfaction scores have plateaued so Chrysler is revising their program that is  based on them.

The 2025 54.5 miles per gallon fuel economy target presents a challenge that Marchionne says will force getting more power out of smaller engines. They are working on an electric Fiat 500 for later this year. He said electric vehicles will only play a marginal role and highlighted natural gas as a viable option and made clear that there will be a multiple array of solutions for 2025 and they have a sustainability team working on it. In a speech filled with numerous quotes from significant men in history, Marchionne came across as humbled and thankful for the government bailouts that saved Chrysler yet confident that Chrysler and its ties to Fiat and Alpha Romeo will be good for Chrysler, the industry and America.

Time Dealer Of The Year: Mike Shaw of Denver

Response Logix & Digital Air Strike Merge In Online Customer Lead Mgmt.

 Response Logix, a prospect-response digital marketing solution and Digital Air Strike, a social media and reputation management solutions company are merging with a goal to help dealerships improve their digital marketing efforts and response times to prospects and customers who search out dealer price quotes online. Tom Mohr, President and CEO of Response Logix (left) made the announcement with Alexi Venneri, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Digital Air Strike (right) who will now also be Chief Marketing Officer of the combined company.

Response Logix has Internet lead management tools called SmartQuote, SmartFollow and RapidTouch. SmartQuote delivers an information-rich, multi-vehicle price quote to the customer within 10 minutes of lead arrival, 24/7. SmartFollow provides continuous email and online advertising-based follow-up to prospects for up to 180 days. Through a partnership with a leading automotive call center, RapidTouch ensures that once the quote has been sent, a follow-up phone call is made to the prospect within 45 minutes.

Digital Air Strike offers a complete solution to fully manage over 50 social media and review sites. Dealers can select from multiple levels of service including the Defend package for outsourced online reputation management, the Conquer package for proactive social media marketing, and the Dominate package which is a complete solution that offers the broadest combined automotive social media and reputation management solution. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

2012 NADA Video: Jonathan Browning, President Volkswagen of America

Jonathan Browning, President Volkswagen of America, discusses the goal of selling 1 million vehicles in the U.S. by 2018 as part of the global goal of 10 million in sales by 2018. VW increased U.S. market share from 2.2% in 2010 to 2.5% in 2011. VW has a global market share of 8.4% with more than 8 million sold for the first time in 2011. It has 14.4% of China and 12.8% of Western Europe.

2012 NADA Video: Earl Hesterberg, Pres/CEO Group 1 Automotive

Earl Hesterberg is President and CEO of Houston-based Group 1 Automotive, the fourth largest dealership group in the United States, which owns and operates 110 automotive dealerships, with 142 franchises and 28 collision centers, in the United States and in the United Kingdom.  Group 1 Automotive is publicly-traded under ticker symbol: GPI.
Earl discusses challenges and the year ahead.

JDPA Sr. VP John Humphrey Optimistic About Car Sales

The J.D. Power and Associates Roundtable sessions have begun with an optimistic future for the auto industry. John Humphrey, Sr. V.P., Global Automotive, JDPA, ran through the numbers saying emerging markets are continuing to grow and making a larger contribution to global sales, gaining from an under 20% percent consumption rate between 2000 - 2005, to 51% in 2010 to an expected 55% in 2015. The 2012 prediction is for a global increase of 5% to 79.2 million vehicles. North America will grow 8% to 16.4 million, Brazil 16%, China 9% this year. Humphrey says China could sell 19.7 million this year increasing to 35 million by 2020.

Vehicle prices are up to $28,341 on average while incentives are down to $2,680 per vehicle. The optimistic forecast is tied to the boost in new product introductions, redesigns or facelifts, a rebound in leasing to pre-crisis levels, credit history improvement and the age of the average vehicle knocking on 11 years on the road. Having said that, Humphrey says there are risks like the price of oil, the Euro-crisis, job recovery, a China bubble burst and the infrastructure, namely roads and highways, in emerging markets being able to support the new vehicles hitting the streets.

Humphrey described Retail 3.0 which encompasses younger buyers being more difficult to satisfy, different applications and sites, increased cross-shopping, innovations in consumer engagement, etc. He says by 2015, 40% of car buyers will be Gen X or Gen Y and now 81% of people go online for pricing (24% on mobile devices, 19% on tablets). Maybe not too surprising, reasons consumers reject buying a specific vehicle is 24% dealer treatment compared with 29% brand and 23% price, 12% inventory.

Vehicle quality is narrowing among all brands so the dealership experience becomes the competitive edge and very critical as the JDPA numbers clearly illustrate. Humphrey forecasts global light vehicle sales to hit 99 million by 2015 up from the expected 2012 level of 79.2 million - that's optimistic and music to dealers' ears.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Audi R8 GT Spyder Will Cost More Than $210,000

The hand-built 560 horsepower quattro all-wheel-drive Audi R8 GT Spyder, with just 333 being produced world-wide and 50 units coming to the U.S., will have an MSRP of $210,000 (excludes $1,200 Destination and Delivery and Taxes). With its 5.2-liter V10 with direct injection engine, the R8 GT Spyder accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and reaches a top speed of 197 mph.

January 2012 U.S. Auto Sales

General Motors reported total sales of 167,962 vehicles in the United States in January, down 6 percent compared with a very strong January 2011. 

Ford Motor Company U.S. sales totaled 136,710 vehicles in January, a 7 percent increase versus year-old levels. The Ford brand totaled 131,589 vehicles in January, making it the best January sales month for the Ford brand since 2008.

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. reported monthly sales results of 124,540, a 7.5 percent gain over the year-ago month. Toyota Division passenger cars recorded sales of 67,602 units, up 20.1 percent over January 2012. Lexus reported passenger car sales of 6,069 units, up 9.1 percent over January 2011.

Chrysler Group LLC reported U.S. sales of 101,149, a 44 percent increase compared with sales in January 2011, the group's best January sales since 2008.

American Honda reported January 2012 monthly new-vehicle sales of 83,009, an increase of 8.8 percent over January 2011. The Honda Division posted January 2012 sales of 74,628, an increase of 9.3 percent year-over-year and the Acura Division's January sales totaled 8,381, up 5.3 percent compared to January 2011.

Nissan North America January sales of 79,313 was an increase of 10.4 percent over January 2011.  Nissan Division sales rose 12.5 percent for the month to 72,517 while sales of Infiniti vehicles fell 8.2 percent from the prior year to 6,796.

Hyundai Motor America announced all-time record January sales of 42,694 units, up 15 percent versus 2011. 

Kia Motors America had record January sales of 35,517, a 27.8 percent increase over the same period in 2011 for its 17th straight monthly sales record. 

Volkswagen of America reported sales of 27,209 in January, a 47.9 percent increase over prior January sales. Separately, Audi reported its 13th straight record-setting month of sales with 9,354 vehicles sold in January 2012, a 19.7 percent increase over 2011.

Mazda North American Operations reported its best January since 1994 with U.S. sales of 23,996, an increase of 68.2 percent versus last year.

Mercedes-Benz USA sold 21,726 vehicles in January, a 25.8 percent increase over January 2011, the highest January volume in the company's history. 

The BMW Group in the U.S. (BMW and MINI combined) reported January sales of 19,739 vehicles, an increase of 5.8 percent from the same month a year ago.

Subaru of America reported record vehicle sales for January 2012 of 22,807 vehicles, a gain of 21 percent over January 2011.

Mitsubishi Motors North America reported January 2012 sales of 4,711, down 17.6 percent from January 2011.

Volvo Cars North America had sales of 4,461 in January, a 4 percent increase over January 2011.

Jaguar sold 985 cars in January, 5 percent more than last January and Land Rover had sales of 3,205, a 41 percent jump from a year ago bringing combined JLR sales to 4,190 for January, a 31 percent rise.

Porsche Cars North America announced January 2012 sales of 2,550 vehicles a 6 percent increase over January 2011.

American Suzuki sold 1,505 vehicles in January, a 41 percent drop from a year ago.

Sales will be updated as manufacturers report.

Lexus First-Ever Super Bowl Commercial Features The All-New 2013 GS

 Lexus' first-ever commercial, "Beast", for the "big game", introduces the all-new 2013 GS.

Volkswagen Shows Off Super Bowl Ad Featuring All-New 2012 Beetle

The Dog Strikes Back: 2012 Volkswagen Game Day Commercial is out. My dogs seem to sleep most of the day, I wonder if a new Beetle would give them that get-up-and-go they may have got-up-and-went. VW says the "all-new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle inspires Bolt the dog to get in shape, and an intergalactic superstar makes a surprise appearance." VW released the game day ad shortly after their teaser.