October 9, 2012

Small Car Sales May Capture Largest U.S. Share Since 1993
Small cars are selling big, reports Automotive News, on pace to capture the largest share of the U.S. auto market since 1993 and driving the best sales month in four years. High gasoline prices coupled with the best crop of compact and subcompact cars that the market has ever seen drove a 50 percent increase in sales of small sedans, coupes, and wagons last month. Diminutive models were huge for almost every automaker, accounting for one in five sales for the first time in more than three years. "These cars that a while back were perceived as econo- boxes now come standard in some cases with 10 airbags and all the other features available in bigger, more expensive cars," Tom Libby, an analyst at R.L. Polk & Co., said. "Whether it's the Civic or the Focus or the Sonic or whatever, everybody agrees these are much, much better cars with more integrity than their predecessors." At this rate, 2012 may be the year of the small car. The segment accounted for 19.3 percent of the U.S. market through September. Read more about the popularity of small cars here.

Even with High Gas Prices, Drivers Question Value of E85
With gasoline prices hovering near record highs, many of the millions of motorists who drive so-called "flex fuel" vehicles are wondering when it makes sense to switch to ethanol. The answer is probably never. While the price of ethanol, or E85, is lower than the price of regular unleaded, it provides less energy and, therefore, worse mileage than gas, reports The Detroit News. In Brazil, where most cars and trucks are capable of running on either gasoline or ethanol, it is often cheaper to fuel up with the latter. That is because Brazilian ethanol is made from sugar cane, a far better source than the corn used in this country. In the United States, the situation is far more complicated. E85 is government shorthand for a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. But the actual percentage of ethanol in the fuel can vary widely – from 83 percent to just 51 percent. And regular gasoline can contain up to 10 percent ethanol – in some cases, as much as 15 percent. In many parts of the U.S., consumers have no way of knowing which blend they are getting. Click here for more on confusion surrounding E85 gas blends.

10 Best New Trucks in America
Later this month, some of the nation's top automotive journalists will gather in Hell, Mich., 60 miles west of Detroit, for their annual three-day shakedown of the best of the year's new car and trucks. The back-to-back comparison tests are part of the work that goes into the selection of the North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year award, now in its 20th year, which will be announced at the Detroit auto show in January. Winnowing the 10 contenders for the truck award has been simpler than on the car side because the original list contained only 15 vehicles. While the jurors won't be voting until December, it is possible to make some informed guesses about which way they are leaning. CNN Money is covering the best trucks, sport utilities, and crossovers. One of the publication’s dark-horse favorites is the Mazda CX-5, launched early in the year. It has won rapturous reviews for its drivability, and Mazdas are popular with enthusiasts because of their originality and the company's willingness to explore new roads. The BMW X1 is also on the list thanks to the stature of the BMW brand. Click here to see the other vehicles that CNN Money says rank among the best in North America.

Wholesale Used Vehicle Prices Drop 2.1%
Wholesale used-vehicle prices fell again in September as inventory levels continue their post-recession rebound, reports The Detroit News. Average wholesale used-vehicle prices fell 2.1 percent in September compared to the same month a year ago, according to ADESA Analytical Services. Those prices should continue a steady decline through the end of the year. "We've seen a little more than seasonal decline, through the summer especially," said Tom Kontos, executive vice president of ADESA. "I'd expect prices in the fourth quarter to be a little bit softer." A decline in wholesale used-vehicle prices also means a decline in trade-in value for consumers. But because those declines have been minimal, there's currently a gray area where consumers and buyers can capitalize on the market. "It's good in a seller's standpoint in terms of selling that vehicle, and good from a buyer's standpoint because there's more out there to choose from," said Ricky Beggs, vice president of Black Book, an independent vehicle pricing information website. "Consumers still have a great opportunity to get a great return." With new vehicle sales expected to rise for the third straight year, used-car inventories are steadily mounting as people trade in their cars. Click here for more on falling wholesale used vehicle prices.

Jewelry, Trinkets, and Cars? Toyota Rolls Out Avalon on HSN
According to The Wall Street Journal, Toyota Motor Corp. introduced its 2013 Avalon Hybrid sedan and other hybrid vehicles in its fleet on HSN during a number of appearances under the title “Discover Toyota.” Toyota said it is the first automaker to appear on the network, which has been known for decades for giving people a way to buy a range of goods. “HSN has a really loyal and engaged base of viewers, so it was a natural partner to help us expose our growing lineup of hybrids to people across the country,” said Toyota spokesman Ed Laukes. Models featured on the program included the Prius lineup, Camry Hybrid sedan, and Highlander Hybrid sport-utility vehicle. Toyota is also using the HSN partnership to offer deals to potential buyers. The company customers who buy a Toyota hybrid in the next 90 days can get a $1,000 gas card or HSN Kash by registering at a Toyota/HSN custom site. The site, which is active through Nov. 5, also features videos, a quiz and a Toyota-themed game. Fans earn points for playing to win prizes and enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win the new Avalon. Read more about Toyota’s partnership with HSN here.

Don’t Take the Ostrich Approach! It’s National Fire Prevention Week
Sticking your head in the sand won’t protect you from getting burnt. Just because you can’t see fire hazards, doesn’t mean they’re not there. Still, many dealers believe a fire will never damage their dealership – after all, those things always happen to the “other guy.” More than 480,000 “other guys” had their buildings damaged by fire in 2011. (NFPA “The U.S. Fire Problem.”) In fact, Federated Insurance has seen a significant rise in the number of policyholders experiencing fire losses in recent years. If you don’t identify and control fire hazards at your dealership, you run the risk of becoming part of these harrowing statistics. Physical damage is only one part of a fire’s potential impact. Consider the emotional toll the flames can have on displaced workers and confused customers. And, most importantly, the possibility of employees being injured or killed. After analyzing fire claims data from 2011, Federated identified the four most frequent causes of workplace fires: click here to see them. The analysis also revealed that many of the fires were preventable. Do you have a plan to protect your business from going up in smoke? If not, National Fire Prevention Week: October 7 – 13, is the perfect time to get the ball rolling. AIADA Members who are interested in Federated’s FREE resources on fire prevention, such as a Fire Prevention Checklist, can contact a local Federated Marketing Representative. To find your nearest representative, call 1-800-533-0472 or visit www.federatedinsurance.com. (You do not need to be a current client to receive this checklist.)

Around the Web  
Electric Drive to be Sole Mercedez-Benz B Class Mode in U.S. [MotorAuthority]
Where Did the Coompact Pickups Go? [AutoGuide.com]
Ladies Love It: Evoque Wins Women's World Car of the Year [Autoblog]
Carbon Fiber Chassis for Ferrari Supercar [USA Today]

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