Camry Tops F-150 as Midsize Cars Lead U.S. Sales, Study Says

First Up 09/12/12

September 12, 2012

Camry Tops F-150 as Midsize Cars Lead U.S. Sales, Study Says
Midsize sedans are the most popular vehicles among car shoppers so far this year, and hybrid cars are the fastest-growing segment, according to a study from Experian Automotive, and an auto-industry information and data analysis company. Experian also said the said the Toyota Camry was the top-selling vehicle in the first half of this year based on its latest vehicle registration analysis. The Ford F-150 pickup truck is a close second. The Ford F-150 has been the most popular vehicle overall in the U.S. for decades and the Camry has been the best-selling car here for most of the past 15 years. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Camry’s top ranking in part reflects higher fuel prices that have driven many consumers toward smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles and made cars more attractive than trucks. People are also simply buying more vehicles. Experian said the top 10 vehicles for the first half of include: Toyota Camry, Ford F-150, Honda Civic, Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Toyota Corolla, Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford Fusion, and Chevrolet Malibu. Click here for full coverage of Experian’s findings regarding the most popular vehicles so far this year.

BMW, Audi, Mercedes Pushing Hard Into the Small-Car Market
German luxury car makers are investing heavily in new small vehicles, and investors are worrying that maybe, just maybe, they are being a bit too ambitious. But many experts think big sales targets for the new Mercedes A class and the latest Audi A3 will be accomplished with relative ease. The old Mercedes A and B class were not sold in America. Mercedes hasn't yet confirmed that the new A class will go on sale in the U.S., but with the need to improve fuel efficiency drastically under Washington's plans to raise average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, there would seem to be a clear case for selling this little car in America, reports The Detroit News. IHS Automotive forecasts that global A class sales will jump to just under 183,000 by 2015 compared with around 92,000 this year. New A class sales are just getting under way now in Europe. B class sales will reach close to 125,000 in 2015 compared with 137,000 in 2012. IHS forecasts that Audi's little A3 will hit almost 350,000 in sales in 2015 compared with about 165,000 in 2012. The recently introduced new A3 hatchback is now on sale in Europe. A sedan version won't appear in America until 2014. Read more about a push by German luxury automakers into the small car market here.

Toyota Introduces New U.S. Advertising Tag Line
Automotive News reports that the Toyota brand is changing its U.S. advertising tag line to "Let's Go Places," replacing "Moving Forward," its slogan since 2004. At Toyota's national dealer meeting yesterday in Las Vegas, Toyota Motor President Akio Toyoda said the new tag line reflects the company's commitment to more exciting products, and a promise to invite customers to take part in shaping Toyota's future. The announcement follows the division's 31 percent U.S. sales gain through August and three years of battling recession, recalls and natural disasters. The tag line will be introduced into Toyota advertising on Dec. 31, as part of the launch for the redesigned 2013 Avalon full-sized sedan. "It is energetic, aspirational, inclusive, and very versatile," Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager, said in a statement. "The phrase conveys a dual meaning of physically going places and taking off on an adventure, while also expressing optimism and the promise of exciting innovation that enriches people's lives." Toyota worked with advertising partners Saatchi & Saatchi, Dentsu America, Conill, Burrell, Intertrend, and Grieco Research to create the tag line. Click here for more on Toyota’s new advertising tag line.

AutoNation Shares Zoom Higher With Sales Surging
AutoNation Inc. posted a solid 35 percent jump in profits for the second quarter of 2012, which helped it reach its 52-week high of $43.72. With a stronger environment for new vehicle sales and a long-term earnings growth projection of 16.5 percent, the stock offers a lucrative opportunity for growth-seeking investors, reports Forbes. Incorporated in 1991 and headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, AutoNation is the largest automotive retailer in the U.S. As of June 30, 2012, the company owned and operated 260 new vehicle franchises and 215 stores located in major metropolitan markets in 15 states. On July 19, AutoNation reported adjusted earnings per share of 66 cents for the second quarter of 2012, outpacing the year-ago level of 49 cents by 35 percent as well as the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 60 cents by 10 percent. Revenues grew 17 percent to $3.9 billion driven by a growth in new vehicle unit sales of 29 percent, which significantly outperformed the industry growth of 15 percent. On a same-store basis, new vehicle sales went up 29 percent to 66,828 units during the quarter. Click here for more on AutoNation’s successful run this year.

Luxury Vehicles 7 to 10 Percent More Affordable Today than Last Year
In light of an economic recovery that’s still modest, Kelley Blue Book (KBB) insisted luxury vehicle values have been hit especially hard during the past several months as new- and used-model values have steadily declined. Seen as consistently underperforming their non-luxury counterparts, KBB calculated that values of used luxury vehicles dropped by 1.7 to 2.5 percent last month, slightly more than the industry average of 1.5 percent. According to Auto Remarketing, compared to this time last year, analysts computed that the average luxury vehicle is approximately 7 to 10 percent more affordable today – well below the industry average affordability level of 5.2 percent. “Shoppers in the luxury segment typically prefer the latest and greatest models. However, those willing to forego the bells and whistles can find substantial savings on a used vehicle,” explained Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst of automotive insights at Kelley Blue Book. “Consumers considering a used luxury car from the 2009 model year can find vehicles selling at 57 percent of original MSRP, which is far below the industry average retention of 70 percent for 3-year-old vehicles,” Gutierrez continued. Click here for the latest on the current affordability of luxury vehicles.

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