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New Cars - US - July 2011

For the purpose of this report, Mintel has used the following definitions:

  • Light trucks are defined as the vehicle segment including SUVs, crossover vehicles, vans, and pickup trucks. SUVs are defined as a vehicle built on a light truck platform with an interior similar to a large sedan. Crossovers are defined as a vehicle offering features common to SUVs, such as more cargo space and the ability to sit up high, yet is built on a car platform.
  • Cars are defined as the vehicle segment including small, mid, large, and luxury sedans. For purposes of sales data, Mintel uses model size as categorized by Morgan & Company, Inc.
  • The primary focus of this report is new domestic vehicle sales, trends, and use. This includes light truck and car segments.
  • Vehicle sales data throughout this report apply to new (not used) vehicles unless otherwise stated. Value figures throughout this report are at retail selling prices (rsp) excluding sales tax unless otherwise stated.

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Sales data
            • Consumer survey data
              • Advertising creative
                • Abbreviations and terms
                  • Abbreviations
                    • Terms
                    • Executive Summary

                      • Total unit sales of new cars and light trucks increase 10%
                        • Recovery propelled by 25.3% increase in crossover vehicle sales
                          • More respondents planning to buy in next year
                            • Depending on demographics, consumers plan to buy small cars or crossovers
                              • Consumers react to rising gas prices
                                • Automakers look to attract buyers trading down in size
                                  • Vehicle buyers focused on cost and value
                                    • More affluent households depend more on research
                                      • Young consumers look for dealerships, attracted to in-car technologies
                                        • Higher earners purchase options for comfort and entertainment
                                          • Tragic earthquake in Japan disrupts production, leads to fewer incentives
                                            • General Motors leads in sales
                                              • Ford avoids bankruptcy spotlight and prospers
                                                • Chrysler fastest-growing U.S. automaker
                                                  • Toyota hurt by vehicle recall and earthquake
                                                    • Hyundai-Kia fastest-growing automaker
                                                    • Insights and Opportunities

                                                      • Targeting car owners for a zero-cost trade-in
                                                        • Dealerships use clinics to educate and connect with consumers
                                                          • Letting consumers test drive the competition
                                                          • Inspire Insights

                                                              • Inspire Trend: Access All Areas
                                                              • Market Size and Trends

                                                                • Key points
                                                                  • New car and light truck sales increase more than 10% from year prior
                                                                      • Figure 1: U.S. unit sales of new cars and light trucks, 2005-11
                                                                    • Total sales of new cars and light trucks more than $175 million
                                                                      • Figure 2: U.S. dollar sales of new cars and light trucks, at current prices, 2005-10
                                                                      • Figure 3: U.S. dollar sales of new cars and light trucks, at inflation adjusted prices, 2005-10
                                                                  • Market Drivers

                                                                    • Key points
                                                                      • Gas prices again top $4/gallon, impacting consumer-buying decisions
                                                                        • Automakers respond with record number of 40 mpg-capable vehicles
                                                                          • Automakers restyle small cars to fit more sophisticated consumer needs
                                                                            • Domestic automakers lead small car surge
                                                                              • Higher prices result from lower incentives and strained inventory
                                                                                • Price increases in used-car market create demand for new cars
                                                                                  • Nissan LEAF first mass-produced electric vehicle
                                                                                    • Hybrid electric vehicles provide consumers with gasoline safety-net
                                                                                      • Electric vehicles potentially overhyped, according to J.D. Power & Associates
                                                                                        • Tragic earthquake in Japan disrupts production
                                                                                        • Segment Overview

                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                            • Crossover vehicles propel recovery, reach nearly 3 million units sold
                                                                                              • Figure 4: U.S. unit sales of new cars and light trucks, by segment, 2010 and 2011
                                                                                            • Crossovers supplant SUVs as top light-truck segment
                                                                                              • Pickup sales rebound as manufacturers return focus to business users
                                                                                                • Van sales rebound as brands manage to recast minivan as cool
                                                                                                  • Figure 5: U.S. unit sales of light trucks, segmented by type, 2005-11
                                                                                                  • Figure 6: Index of U.S. unit sales of light trucks, segmented by type, 2005-11
                                                                                                  • Figure 7: Change in U.S. unit sales of light trucks, segmented by type, 2005-11
                                                                                                • Car sales lag as older model cars don’t excite consumers
                                                                                                  • Mid-size cars account for nearly half of all cars sold
                                                                                                    • Luxury fastest-growing car segment, though consumers choose less expensive models
                                                                                                      • Figure 8: U.S. unit sales of cars, segmented by type, 2005-11
                                                                                                      • Figure 9: Index of U.S. unit sales of cars, segmented by type, 2005-11
                                                                                                      • Figure 10: Change in U.S. unit sales of cars, segmented by type, 2005-11
                                                                                                  • Domestic Brand Performance—General Motors

                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                      • Strong crossover sales help GM maintain top position
                                                                                                        • GM small-car sales down over past year yet show recent improvement
                                                                                                          • 200,000 mid-size Chevy Malibu’s sold can’t offset loss of Pontiac models
                                                                                                            • Figure 11: General Motors Company new car and light truck unit sales, by segment, 2010-11
                                                                                                        • Domestic Brand Performance—Ford

                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                            • Ford increases small-car sales 20% by emphasizing luxury-like amenities
                                                                                                              • Ford’s crossover vehicles replace out-of-favor SUVs
                                                                                                                • Led by the F-Series, pickups remain Ford’s top-selling segment
                                                                                                                  • Figure 12: Ford Motor Company new car and light truck unit sales, by segment, 2010-11
                                                                                                              • Domestic Brand Performance—Chrysler Group

                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                  • Chrysler fastest-growing U.S. automaker as crossover sales increase 85.6%
                                                                                                                    • Chrysler repositions Dodge as performance brand featuring larger sedans
                                                                                                                      • Figure 13: Chrysler Group new car and light truck unit sales, by segment, 2010-11
                                                                                                                  • Import Brand Performance—Toyota

                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                      • Vehicle recall slows Toyota’s growth considerably
                                                                                                                        • SUV sales rise yet account for small overall portion of sales
                                                                                                                          • Figure 14: Toyota new car and light truck unit sales, by segment, 2010-11
                                                                                                                      • Import Brand Performance—Honda

                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                          • Honda sales rise based on success of best-selling CR-V crossover
                                                                                                                            • Honda small-car sales sustained by out-dated Civic
                                                                                                                              • Figure 15: American Honda new car and light truck unit sales, by segment, 2010-11
                                                                                                                          • Import Brand Performance—Nissan

                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                              • Nissan innovates with launch of mini-crossover and all-electric vehicle
                                                                                                                                • The Nissan LEAF marks industry’s first mass marketed all-electric vehicle
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 16: Nissan North America new car and light truck unit sales, by segment, 2010-11
                                                                                                                              • Import Brand Performance—Hyundai-Kia

                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                  • Affordability, fuel efficiency make Hyundai-Kia fastest-growing automaker
                                                                                                                                    • Small cars account for nearly half of Hyundai-Kia’s sales
                                                                                                                                      • Hyundai-Kia crossover sales increase nearly 40% as new model impresses consumers
                                                                                                                                        • Mid-size vehicle sales increase nearly 50% as best-selling Sonata passes 200,000 units
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 17: Hyundai-Kia Automotive new car and light truck unit sales, by segment, 2010-11
                                                                                                                                      • Other Brands—Performance

                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                          • Overview
                                                                                                                                            • Volkswagen
                                                                                                                                              • BMW Group
                                                                                                                                                • Subaru
                                                                                                                                                  • Volvo
                                                                                                                                                    • Jaguar Land Rover
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 18: Other brand total new car and light truck unit sales, 2010-11
                                                                                                                                                  • Innovations and Innovators

                                                                                                                                                    • Rinspeed internet car reads emails and Facebook updates aloud to driver
                                                                                                                                                      • Software developer Recargo launches app that finds EV-chargers
                                                                                                                                                        • Ford partners with Google to create next generation of smart car
                                                                                                                                                        • Marketing Strategies

                                                                                                                                                          • Brand focus
                                                                                                                                                            • Hyundai responds to issues that consumers care about most
                                                                                                                                                              • Strategic marketing initiatives
                                                                                                                                                                • Looking out for the social good
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 19: BMW—Keeping Kids Safe, TV ad, 2011
                                                                                                                                                                • Getting a timely message out quickly
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 20: Nissan—Eight Models Over 30mpg, TV ad, 2011
                                                                                                                                                                • Portraying the real car owner to connect with viewers
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 21: Ford —Real Ford Owner, TV ad, 2011
                                                                                                                                                                • Emphasizing third-party accolades
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 22: Lexus, TV ad, 2011
                                                                                                                                                              • New Cars—Current Household Ownership

                                                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                  • One-fifth of respondents purchased vehicles in the last 24 months
                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 23: Bought or leased a new car in last 24 months, and planning to buy or lease a new car in next 12 months, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                  • New Car Type Purchased/Planning to Purchase

                                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                      • Mid-size sedans most popular among respondents
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 24: Type of new vehicle bought/leased in past 2 years, or planning to buy/lease in next year, by gender, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                        • Older respondents favor crossovers
                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 25: Type of new vehicle bought/leased in past 2 years, or planning to buy/lease in next year, by two age groups, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                          • Less affluent plan to buy small cars, high wage earners plan for crossovers
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 26: Type of new vehicle bought/leased in past 2 years, or planning to buy/lease in next year, by four household income groups, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                          • Reasons to Purchase New Car

                                                                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                              • Respondents influenced by incentives related to cost
                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 27: Factors influencing purchase/lease of vehicle in past 24 months, by gender, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                              • Young respondents buying for first time, looking for dealership to trust
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 28: Factors influencing purchase/lease of vehicle in past 24 months, by two age groups, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                • Less affluent influenced by low financing, but don’t always qualify
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 29: Factors influencing purchase/lease of vehicle in past 24 months, by four household income groups, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                • Ways to Research New Cars

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Respondents influenced by third-party reviews
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 30: Research informing decision to purchase/lease last vehicle, by gender, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Social media influences young respondents’ purchasing behavior
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 31: Research informing decision to purchase/lease last vehicle, by two age groups, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                        • With more options, more affluent households depend more on research
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 32: Research informing decision to purchase/lease last vehicle by, two household income groups, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Attitudes Toward Rising Gas Prices

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Nearly half of respondents would only buy fuel-efficient vehicle
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 33: Expected impact of rising gas prices on future car buying, by gender, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Older consumers less likely to change behavior because of gas prices
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 34: Expected impact of rising gas prices on future car buying, by two age groups, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                            • High gas prices are a larger issue among least affluent respondents
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 35: Expected impact of rising gas prices on future car buying, by four household income groups, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Factors and Features Influencing New Car Purchase

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Price, comfort, and performance most influential when buying cars
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 36: Vehicle related factors that influenced last new vehicle purchase/lease, by gender, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Price, exterior design, and loyalty become more of a consideration with age
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 37: Vehicle related factors that influenced last new vehicle purchase/lease, by two age groups, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Households earning $50K+ influenced by design, safety, performance
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 38: Vehicle related factors that influenced last new vehicle purchase/lease, by two household income groups, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • New Car Options Purchased

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Security systems most popular amenity
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 39: Options bought with last new vehicle purchase/lease, by gender, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Respondents over 35 most interested in entertainment
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 40: Options bought with last new vehicle purchase/lease, by two age groups, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Higher earners purchase options for comfort and entertainment
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 41: Options bought with last new vehicle purchase/lease, by four household income groups, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Impact of Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Hispanic respondents more likely to buy pickups
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 42: Type of new vehicle bought/leased in past 2 years, or planning to buy/lease in next year, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Hispanic respondents more likely to buy fuel-efficient vehicles
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 43: Expected impact of rising gas prices on future car buying, by race/Hispanic origin, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Cluster Analysis

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Option Opulent
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Price and Economy Driven
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Uninfluenced and Underequipped
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Clusters characteristic tables
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 44: New car clusters, May 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 45: Factors influencing purchase/lease of vehicle in past 24 months, by new car clusters, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 46: Research informing decision to purchase/lease last vehicle, by new car clusters, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 47: Vehicle related factors that influenced last new vehicle purchase/lease, by new car clusters, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 48: Options bought with last new vehicle purchase/lease, by new car clusters, April 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cluster demographic tables
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 49: New car clusters, by gender, May 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 50: New car clusters, by age, May 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 51: New car clusters, by household income, May 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 52: New car clusters, by race, May 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 53: New car clusters, by Hispanic origin, May 2011
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Cluster methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Appendix: Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • AB Volvo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Alliance Of Automobile Manufacturers, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Automotive Trade Association Executives (ATAE)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • BMW of North America, LLC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Bureau of Economic Analysis
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Chrysler LLC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Compass Group North America
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Connected Vehicle Trade Association (CVA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Daimler AG
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Economist Group Limited (The)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Fiat Auto
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Ford Motor Company (USA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • General Motors Corporation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Google, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Hyundai Motor America
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • J.D. Power and Associates
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Jaguar Cars North America
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Kia Motors America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Land Rover North America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mazda Motor Corporation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mercedes-Benz USA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mitsubishi Motors Corporation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • MySpace.com
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Batteries (NAATBatt)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • National Basketball Association
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • National Independent Automobile Dealership Association (NIADA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Nissan North America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • OnStar Corporation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Porsche Cars North America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Saab Cars North America
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Sirius XM Radio Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Subaru of America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Suzuki Motor Corporation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Tire Industry Association
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Twitter, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • U.S. Department of Transportation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Volkswagen AG
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Volkswagen of America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • YouTube, Inc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        New Cars - US - July 2011

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