May 3, 2012
Mercedes Leads BMW in U.S. Luxury Sales After 24% April Gain
Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz regained the U.S. luxury-vehicle sales lead for the year over BMW Group's BMW brand with April deliveries rising 24 percent, according to Automotive News. U.S. sales of Mercedes vehicles rose to 22,336 last month while BMW deliveries increased 12 percent to 21,062, according to statements this week by the companies. Click here to read AIADA’s interview with Mercedes-Benz USA President Steve Cannon in the spring issue of AutoDealer magazine. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus brand fell 0.1 percent to 17,551. Mercedes and BMW, which overtook Lexus in 2011 to become the top-selling luxury brand in the United States, are competing for the 2012 sales crown. BMW finished the first quarter ahead with 36 more deliveries than Mercedes. April results lifted Mercedes sales for the year 17 percent to 83,849, giving the automaker a 1,238 vehicle lead after four months over BMW, which had a sales increase of 16 percent. Lexus deliveries rose 2.6 percent to 66,647 during the first four months of the year. The results exclude Daimler's Sprinter vans and Smart cars and BMW's Mini brand, which aren't luxury vehicles. For the latest on the luxury sales race, click here.
New Fuel Rules Will Cost Feds, Drivers
Rising fuel-efficiency standards will cut gas tax revenue by $57 billion through 2025, the Congressional Budget Office said in a report released Wednesday. The government should consider hiking the 18.4 cent per gallon federal gas tax – which hasn't been increased since 1993 – or cutting spending on road repairs or paying for repairs through the general budget, the report said. According to The Detroit News, the report says that the higher efficiency standards – including the 2012-16 rules – will cut the Highway Trust Fund 13 percent over 11 years through 2025. The new rules – the result of a deal the Obama administration reached with automakers last July – are set to be finalized by late July. By 2040, the new rules will reduce the nation's gas tax revenue 21 percent annually. The full impact isn't felt immediately because the entire 2025 fleet won't turn over until 2040, the report said. The $57 billion reduction would mean $48 billion less to fix roads and $9 billion less for mass transit spending. The Congressional Budget Office says a 5 cent per gallon gas tax increase would be necessary to offset the reduction in revenue. Read more about what new fuel efficiency could mean for gas taxes here.
Baby Boomers Drive Boom in New Car Sales
Baby boomers' retirement savings may have taken a hit during the financial crisis. Their inheritances may have shrunk as their parents may be living longer and in need of expensive care. But they're buying new cars like never before reports The Detroit Free Press. Those age 50 and older are buying more than three of every five new vehicles sold, or about 62 percent, according to a new study from J.D. Power and AARP. That's up from 39 percent in 2001 when Power began tracking the data. Click here for a chart comparing buyers over the past several years. The flip side of the research: Those between 18 and 34 make up just 13 percent of the market, down from 24 percent in 2001. "Boomers can afford to buy new vehicles. Millennials cannot. The numbers don't lie," said Mark Bradbury, director of integrated marketing at AARP Media. He explained that the median income of those 50 and older is $67,537 compared with $55,856 for the 18-to-34 demographic. Boomers on average have investments that are worth $107,833, roughly four times the $23,490 value of a millennial's portfolio. Read more about who is buying today’s cars here.
Hyundai to Equip Its Cars with Throttle-Override System
Hyundai Motor Co. said it will equip all of its new vehicles with electronic throttle-override technology beginning with this month’s production run, reports The Wall Street Journal. The feature, the carmaker said, will allow drivers to control a vehicle’s speed and bring it to a stop even in so-called runaway throttle situations. Because electronic throttle links have replaced the cable or pushrod linkages that used to control engine speed, there is a possibility that electronic malfunctions can cause the driver to lose control of the engine’s speed. Hyundai said the likelihood of problems with these systems is extremely low, but it is seeking to reassure drivers that they will be able to keep their cars from getting away from them if something goes wrong with the throttle. “With Hyundai’s brake pedal throttle override capability, any brake pedal input by the driver, even with a runaway throttle condition, completely overrides any throttle malfunction,” said Robert Babcock, director of certification and compliance affairs for Hyundai’s technical center. “It is no longer possible to have increasing engine power once the brake pedal is depressed by the driver,” he said. Click here for more on Hyundai’s decision to include throttle-override systems in its vehicles.
The Most Improved Cars for 2012
Forbes is covering its list of the most improved cars for 2012 based on scores from Total Car Score. Vehicles on the list include the Hyundai Accent, the Toyota Camry and Camry hybrid, and the Toyota Yaris. All were redesigned for 2012. Among SUVs, the Cadillac SRX, Kia Sportage, and Honda CR-V also made the list, having scored much higher after they were redesigned. Click here for a slideshow of the whole list. Auto reviewers, like movie critics, aren’t always unanimous in their points of view. A clever feature to one might be a pet peeve to another. Some reviewers put more weight on vehicle performance, while others emphasize safety or fuel economy or affordability. An overall consensus would be useful. Total Car Score, a new online resource that aggregates car reviews from multiple sources, seeks to simplify the task of researching a car purchase. If it seems oversimplified, that’s the point, according to Forbes. This is the lazy man’s way to research a car. The vehicle’s absolute score is less important than how it ranks relative to its peers in a particular segment, giving buyers a starting point to build their shopping lists. Read more about the most improved cars for 2012 here.
Build Confidence On-The-Go: Free Webinar, Hosted by CARFAX
Is your dealership up to speed on how to use vehicle history with mobile devices to maximize your bottom line? Mobile devices can help you access more information to run your business effectively: online, in the lane, and on the lot. On the flipside, vehicle history delivered to your customers on-the- go could be the difference between making a sale or not. Join us Thursday, May 17 at 11 a.m. EDT for a free, 30-minute informative webinar. Chad Goodson, Process Improvement Manager for CARFAX, will demonstrate new approaches and techniques for getting the information you need in a mobile world. A former car dealer in the family business, Chad has been with CARFAX for over three years working with top dealer groups to evaluate their used car processes and present best practices. Join us to look in-depth at consumers’ shopping habits today, learn what is most important to customers shopping for a used vehicle, and gain key insights to crossing paths with consumers in the mobile market. Vehicle history delivered through mobile devices can be one of your most important tools to acquire, advertise, and sell your vehicles smarter and more profitably. Register today!
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