July 12, 2013
Dealerships Benefit from Customer Service to Women
With women accounting for more than two-thirds of all dealership service visits, Women-Drivers.com notes that it’s wise for dealers to address the specific needs of these customers. According toAuto Remarketing, the company, which captures dealer reviews from women about their dealership experience, has released its mid-year report on the top auto brands for service, with scores measured in WSI, or Women Satisfaction Index, on a scale of 5.0 (Excellent) to 1.0 (Poor). Women-Drivers.com president Anne Fleming says the service department is “the place in the dealership for the best listeners. The service advisers need to be able to hear what women are concerned about and saying, and also be interested in what they aren’t saying. Auto Remarketing is showcasing the top car brands with the highest Servicing WSI scores at new dealerships. The average score for all brands was 4.12. “Congratulations to these brands as they are putting value where it really matters—customer retention equates to real trust and excellent communication,” said Fleming. Click here to see the list and read Auto Remarketing’s entire report.
Fuel Economy of New 2013 Models Sold Tops That of 2012 Units, Study Says
The average fuel economy for new 2013 model light vehicles sold in the United States is 24.6 mpg, up 1.1 mpg from 2012 models, according to a monthly report from University of Michigan researchers. New cars, vans, SUVs, and pickups sold last month had an average fuel economy of 24.7 mpg, down 0.1 mpg from May, according to researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle. Schoettle, project manager at the university’s Transportation Research Institute, said the drop from May to June might be linked to the increase in light-truck sales and a slight decrease in gasoline prices last month. Automotive News reports that fuel economy is up 4.6 mpg since October 2007, when researchers began collecting data. The average sales-weighted fuel economy was determined using monthly sales of vehicle models and the combined city-highway fuel economy ratings for those models from the EPA Fuel Economy Guide. Schoettle said he expects fuel economy of 2013 light vehicles sold to post a 1 percent to 1.2 percent improvement over their 2012 counterparts as automakers continue to meet consumer demand for better fuel economy when gasoline prices are high. For coverage of improving fuel economy figures, click here.
Toyota Tops Automakers in U.S. Patents for 2012
Toyota Motor Corp. received more patents than any other automaker from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year. The automaker was granted 1,491 U.S. patents in 2012, a 31 percent rise from 2011, according to the Intellectual Property Association’s annual list of top 300 U.S. patent recipients. Toyota ranked No. 13 overall. According to Automotive News, among automakers, General Motors ranked No. 2 with 1,374 patents, a 26 percent increase, and Honda Motor Co. was third with 1,074, a 12 percent rise. "Different organizations measure patent and innovation leadership differently," a GM spokesman wrote in an e-mail to Automotive News. "While many recognize GM as the industry innovation leader, the only measure that matters to us is what is a relevant application to the vehicle and benefits our customers." Toyota's patents in 2012 included items such as improvements for car communication systems and materials to help vehicles repel insect splatter. "Since the days of Toyota's founding, innovation has been a cornerstone of Toyota's success," Kristen Tabar, vice president of electrical systems engineering at the Toyota Technical Center, said in a statement. "We're driven to listen to our customers and develop new ways to improve their experience." Read more about Toyota’s innovative patents here.
Automaking Rivals Join Forces as Rules Get Tougher
The Detroit News reports that automakers are increasingly teaming with competitors to share costs and brainpower as fuel efficiency and environmental requirements get tougher. General Motors Co. and Honda Motor Co. announced last week plans to jointly develop a hydrogen fuel-cell system. Earlier this year, Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co., and Daimler AG agreed to work together on a similar powertrain. Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW Group also have teamed up to develop components for fuel cell cars. Collaborations like these are the new normal for the auto industry. “It is very counterintuitive when you think about it, but at the end of the day, automakers recognize the expertise that one entity has and the other one doesn’t,” said Aleksandra Miziolek, director of Dykema’s Automotive Industry Group. “But frankly, it’s a necessity and that’s why you’re seeing it more and more.” This may go down as the year of automaker alliances: In 2013 there have been at least 12 announced collaborations between automakers, versus the six announced in 2012. Add suppliers and technology firms to the mix, and there have been 30 collaborations this year, compared to 19 in 2012. Read more about automaker collaborations here.
Car Sales in China No Longer Auto Industry’s Future
White-hot car sales in China have slowed considerably and no longer outpace the percentage rise in the United States by much. Auto sales in the People’s Republic were up by 11.2 percent in June, but production only rose 9.3 percent, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The market is about to get much worse as air pollution trouble restricts the sale of cars in many large cities. China no longer holds its place as the most critical growth market in the world. According to 24/7 Wall St., if China continues to restrict auto sales in its largest cities, slowing sales should batter the dreams of the world’s largest manufacturers. China passed the United States as the top car market in the world four years ago, as the recession cut sales in America, and a thriving economy and incentives quickened those in the People’s Republic. That has changed recently. Most car makers who sell products in the United States have announced sales that are at or near five-year highs. Without China, the industry will wobble as it tries to get earnings back to pre-global recession levels. For more on how the Chinese auto market will impact global auto sales going forward, click here.
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