New Altima Guns for Bigger Slice of Mid-Sized Sedan Segment

First Up 05/16/12

May 16, 2012

New Altima Guns for Bigger Slice of Mid-Sized Sedan Segment
Nissan North America began production at its Smyrna, Tenn., plant on Tuesday of the redesigned 2013 Altima sedan that it hopes will challenge the family-sedan supremacy of the Toyota Camry. "We didn't put all of the investment into this product and put in all the features with an expectation to be No. 2," said Bill Krueger, vice chairman of Nissan Americas, after the first 2013 model rolled off the line in Smyrna, Tenn. "Ultimately the consumer's going to vote with their purchase whether or not we sell more than anyone else." Krueger said that product enhancements will sell the Altima and he does not intend to raise incentives on it. "I'm willing to build demand by putting value out in the market place. But I'm not willing to cut and trim profit margin to try and beat a number that one of our competitors is doing," he said. "We don't have any intention of piling incentives on it to try to chase a number." Automotive News reports that Nissan is adding factory capacity for the Altima at both Smyrna and the model's second North American production site in Canton, Miss. Click here to read more about Nissan’s newly redesigned Altima.

Surprise! SUVs Are More Popular Than Ever
If you thought the "SUV craze" was over, you're wrong. Very wrong. Market share for SUVs in recent months is the largest it has ever been. During the height of the so-called "SUV craze" in the late 1990s and early 2000s, about one in five vehicles sold in America was an SUV. Today, in an era of near 4-dollar gasoline and heightened environmental awareness, nearly one in three vehicles sold is an SUV, reports CNN Money. Far from becoming forgotten relics of our misguided past, SUVs have survived and prospered by adapting to changing consumer tastes. A decade ago, SUV buyers climbed up into huge vehicles that were, essentially, heavily modified trucks designed to excel in off-road driving and for hauling heavy trailers. They got terrible fuel economy and, with their tendency to tip over, they were dangerous, as well. Today, big truck-based vehicles make up a tiny sliver of the SUV market. 90 percent of the SUVs sold are mid-sized or smaller and the vast majority have nothing to do with trucks. These are high-riding cars. Most are front-wheel-drive, or if they're not, they're all-wheel-drive. Click here for more on how SUVs are faring in today’s economy and auto market.
GM Says Facebook Ads Don't Pay Off
General Motors Co. plans to stop advertising with Facebook Inc. after deciding that paid ads on the site have little impact on consumers' car purchases. The move by GM, one of the largest advertisers in the U.S., puts a spotlight on an issue that many marketers have been raising: whether ads on Facebook help them sell more products. The Wall Street Journal reports that GM will continue to promote its products on Facebook, but without paying the social-media company. Earlier this month, a top marketing executive from the U.S. division of Kia Motors Corp. questioned the value of Facebook ads, saying it was unclear how paid ads help sell cars. However, the South Korean auto maker said it still planned on increasing its ad spending on Facebook this year. Other automakers are more confident about Facebook's value as an ad outlet. "We have committed to Facebook for more than $5 million [in ad spending] this year and if the return on investment is there we will spend more next year," said Dean Evans, chief marketing officer of Subaru of America. "Half the U.S. population is on Facebook, you have to work it to learn it," he added. Read about the attitude of GM and other automakers toward Facebook here.

In a Global Marketplace, Toyota and Volkswagen Make Room for Niche Vehicles
Though the world’s major automakers have optimized their efficiency and profitability by producing global vehicles that can be sold worldwide with minimal changes, specialization still plays a role in the automotive marketplace, according to The New York Times. Toyota recently introduced the second generation of its Pixis Epoch, a microvehicle for the home market of Japan, while Volkswagen unveiled a compact ambulance at the 2012 RETTmobil emergency vehicles trade show in Fulda, Germany, based on its Sharan minivan. The 2013 Pixis Epoch, which is built for Toyota by Daihatsu Motor, is just 133 inches long: about 3.5 feet shorter than a Ford Fiesta or Chevrolet Sonic, but still roughly two feet longer than a Smart Fortwo. The microcar is one of a number of so-called kei cars that are marketed in Japan and are designed to comply with the country’s tax, insurance, and parking regulations. The Volkswagen Sharan NEF (NEF is a contraction of notarzteinsatzfahrzeug, the German word for “emergency ambulance”), is based on the Sharan van, which is sold, as are the Scirocco, Polo, and Passat wagon, over there but not over here. It occupies an even smaller niche than the Toyota, that of compact emergency vehicle. Click here for more on Toyota and VW’s niche vehicles.

The Fastest and Most Fuel-Frugal Sports Cars
It doesn’t take a market research maven to determine that with gas prices still hovering four-dollars per gallon, fuel economy remains of paramount importance among new-car buyers. But what if your vehicular preferences run more toward the fast and the furious – can a true sports car be both entertaining to drive and fuel efficient? The answer, according to Forbes, is yes. While the sports car market is still populated with plenty of gas-guzzlers, there are a number of models – some of which are among the quickest rides on the road – that boast downright decent fuel economy. Click here to see a slideshow of its picks for frugal sports cars. Take, for example, the 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera S, which can leap to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds, yet is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency to achieve an estimated 20 mpg around town and 27 mpg on the open road. While that’s not exactly Toyota Prius territory, it’s far more respectable than such notorious fuel swillers as the Aston Martin V12 Vantage and Lamborghini Aventador, each of which gets a combustible 11/17 mpg city/highway. Read more from Forbes on its picks for today’s frugal sports cars by clicking here.

Last Call: Registration Still Available for AIADA’s International Auto Industry Summit
Join fellow international nameplate dealers who are Securing the Future of their businesses May 23-24 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. for AIADA's 6th Annual International Auto Industry Summit. The two-day event will bring together auto industry leaders and Washington insiders to equip dealers with the tools they need to successfully advocate on behalf of their businesses, brands, and employees. Some of Washington’s top insiders, including Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report, former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, an industry executive Q&A panel moderated by Automotive News editor Jason Stein, and the chance to visit with your Congressional members and their staff are just a few of the items on this year’s Summit agenda. Dealer involvement is crucial to securing the future of the international auto retail industry, especially in this election year. Registration is still open for AIADA’s Summit, but don’t wait. Register today by clicking here or by calling 1-800-GO-AIADA.

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