December 4, 2012

Superstorm Sandy Gave November Sales a Boost
According to AIADA’s November Market Watch sales report, loose credit and pent-up demand on the east coast from Superstorm Sandy resulted in a successful sales month for international nameplate brands. American Honda reported an all-time record for November, with sales of 116,580 Honda and Acura units, an increase of 38.9 percent from November 2011. Mazda (up 17.7 percent), Subaru (up 59.7 percent), and Toyota (up 17.3 percent) also saw marked improvement. “Going into December, international nameplate auto dealers are poised to end 2012 with a bang,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “New products, available credit, low interest rates, and pent up depend are combining to create a strong sales environment.” International nameplates held six of the top ten-selling vehicle spots for the month of November. Of note, in third place, the Honda Civic bumped the perennial favorite Toyota Camry from its perch as the top-selling car. Overall, AutoData Corp. estimated the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) at 15.54 million units, the highest since January 2008. Sales for all brands, unadjusted for business days, were up 15 percent from November 2011 and 13.9 percent year over year. Read the rest of AIADA’s Market Watch sales report for November here.

American Suzuki Forges Ahead with Incentives Amid U.S. Wind Down
Automotive News reports that American Suzuki, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, will continue to offer consumer rebates and zero percent financing to woo potential customers as the brand winds down its U.S. auto sales operations. Suzuki sold 2,224 vehicles last month compared to just 1,822 in Nov. 2011, up 22 percent for its second-largest monthly gain of 2012. Year-to-date sales totaled 23,412 vehicles in the first 11 months of the year, down 3 percent from last year. Incentives, including zero percent financing for up to 72 months or consumer rebates of $500 to $2000 for new Suzukis, helped the brand’s results last month. Those incentives will continue in December, Suzuki said today. American Suzuki filed for Chapter 11 on Nov. 5 to wind down its automotive sales division, buy out its 220 auto dealers, and focus on selling motorcycles, ATVs, and boat engines. American Suzuki and Ally Financial received bankruptcy court approval last month to continue consumer incentive and dealer floorplan programs. Suzuki had an estimated 5,000 new vehicles in inventory at U.S. dealers, plus another 1,500 to 1,700 headed to dealerships, when it filed for bankruptcy. Click here for the latest in Suzuki’s plans to close up shop in the U.S. auto market.

Next Year’s Best-Selling Cars
For decades, a relatively small number of cars and light trucks have dominated U.S. sales, whether these were built by American, Japanese, or European manufacturers. This trend goes all the way back to the Ford Model T. The dominance of the market by a few vehicles continued this year, and based on 24/7 Wall St. forecasts will continue in 2013. Twelve million cars and light trucks were sold in the U.S. through the first 10 months of 2012. According to sales data provided by Edmunds.com, approximately 3.7 million of these were from sales of just 16 models. Most models have at least one characteristic in common. They tend to be inexpensive sedans that get high gas mileage. Every vehicle on the list has a base price of under $25,000. Fourteen have base models that have 4-cylinder engines, which tend to get better mileage than engines with 6-cylinder and 8-cylinder power engines. Based on sales data for the first 10 months of 2012 from Edmunds.com, 24/7 Wall St. has forecasted the 16 cars and light trucks that will sell best in 2013. Click here to see the list. Read more about it and the characteristics of top-selling vehicles in the U.S. auto market here.

The Average Price People Pay for Cars Keeps Rising
Average transaction prices for new vehicles, and the levels of incentives dealers are using to help move them off the lot are at their higher levels in many months according to a new survey of pricing trends in the auto industry. TrueCar.com estimated the average transaction price for light vehicles in the U.S. in November totaled $30,832, which is up $335 or 1.1 percent from November 2011 and up $346 or 1.1 percent from this past October. TrueCar also estimated the average incentive is $2,764, which marks an increase of $117 or 4.4 percent from the year-earlier period and a jump of $447 or 19 percent from last October. According to The Wall Street Journal, the estimated ratio of incentives to average transaction prices was 9 percent in November, which is up from 8.7 percent a year earlier and up from 7.6 percent in October 2012. “Industry average transaction prices climb once again with consumers’ continued appetite for highly contended vehicles,” said Jesse Toprak, senior analyst at TrueCar. “Automakers are getting better at providing all the modern conveniences consumers come to expect for more of their models, resulting in higher overall prices hence improved profitability.” Click here for more on vehicle transaction prices.

World Debut: BMW i3 Electric Car
Last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show BMW debuted the latest iterations of its special “i” program – electric concepts meant to show where the German automaker will take its alternative-fuel program in years to come. According to Forbes, Jacob Harb, the head of Electric Vehicle Operations & Strategy BMW of North America, says the i8 and i3 vehicles on the BMW stand are only one generation away from being production ready. Harb says he is more excited about the modestly porportioned i3 than he is about the i8, which looks like it was made especially for Tony Stark. He says it’s because while the i8 looks aggressive and fast, it’ll be the 170-hp i3 Coupe that changes the world as we know it. The i3 will be powered by huge lithium-ion batteries positioned under the floorboards with a drive system, chassis and energy storage unit all incorporated into a body module made of aluminium. There are three driving modes and an electric range of 100 miles to a full charge. It won’t be due out for a few years. Will it be worth the wait? Most definitely, Harb says. Watch this video to hear more. Read more about the i3 here.

Controlling Car Rental Costs with Seamless Communications
Bill Kay’s Downers Grove Nissan, one of the leading Nissan dealers in the Chicagoland region, has high expectations for its service advisors. That includes controlling car rental costs for every customer, every time. According to Rick Klaves, service manager at the dealership, it takes service advisors just three minutes or less using the Automated Rental Management System (ARMS®) application from Enterprise Rent-A-Car to create an electronic purchase order for a rental car at the same time they are initiating a repair order for service. Available to dealerships at no charge, the ARMS® application creates seamless electronic communications between service advisors and Enterprise. “Not only does ARMS help to significantly reduce errors and avoid unnecessary delays, it helps us better analyze and manage the rental process on every level. And, our service department saves money by better managing the number of authorized rental days,” says Kaves. “With 150 to 200 customer rental cars each month, being able to control rental costs for every customer, every time, is significant.” For more information or to arrange a demonstration of the ARMS® application, please go to www.ARMSDealership.com or e-mail ARMSDealership@erac.com.

Around the Web  
First Drive: 2013 Maserati Quattroporte [Edmunds Inside Line]
TopGear.com at the LA Auto Show [TopGear]
How This Year's Least Popular Ferrari Could Become the Most Valuable in 30 Years [Jalopnik]
Want to Parallel Park Like Willie Geist? Here's How [LifeInc.]

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