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The current state of economy and the ever rising price of fuel is changing car buying habits in American households. Where once mid-size sedans like the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry ruled, those spots are now being replaced by smaller cars like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Hyundai Elantra (above).
Consumer survey specialists J.D. Powers and Associates is forecasting that for the first time in two-decades, the compact car will outsell the mid-size car by the end of this year. It also predicts that by 2015, about 20% of cars sold in the U.S. will be compacts, and mid-size vehicles will occupy only 14% of the market.
Part of the reason for this shift in vehicle sizes has to do with the size and technology of compact cars sold currently. These days, you can find all manner of gadgets and luxury features in a compact car, plus they are getting bigger in size. For instance, the current Corolla is only 10-inches shorter than its Camry sibling, so it is no longer a small, small car.
With all the advantages of a bigger vehicle available in a slightly smaller, more fuel efficient package, at a considerably lower price tag (typically $5000 less), no wonder more and more people are choosing to downsize their vehicles.
It’s been widely criticized by stateside Volkswagen loyalists for abandoning the concept of a premium small sedan, but the current VW Jetta, despite being bigger, less unique and considerably cheaper than its predecessor, is actually proving to be the right vehicle for VW’s strategy, according to U.S. chief Jonathan Browning.
During a recent interview at the Chicago Auto Show, Browning said that “the entry-level has really done quite well in terms of bringing extra people in.” He was, of course, referring to customers that previously, drove competitors’ vehicles and before the 2011 model, wouldn’t have viewed the Jetta as an alternative. Browning also went on to say that some 60 percent of 2011 Jetta buyers are ‘conquests’ from other brands.
Through research, VW has concluded that the reason why previous Jetta models weren’t as popular was one; retail price and two, the perception of high maintenance costs. With the current car starting at $15,995 in the U.S. and VW throwing in three-year scheduled maintenance program, the company says it has uncovered a largely new customer base for its bread and butter offering.
But although the 2011 Jetta might be the most porridge-like ever, at least as far as VW enthusiasts and loyalists are concerned, there’s still a glimmer of hope. The 2012 Jetta GLI model with tauter suspension, turbocharged 2.0-liter four, higher level of feature content and an available Fender sound system, promises to provide at least some of the thrills, traditional sporty VWs are known for when it goes on sale here as a 2012 model.
And yet VW seems firmly entrenched on increasing volume in the U.S. market; targeting total sales of 1 million units annually (including Audi) by 2018. In order to get there it will likely have to rely on affordable, dull cars, like the base Jetta and the new $20,000 Passat; due out later this year.
Let’s just hope that alongside the porridge for breakfast, we can still get some chili for lunch – the GLI is certainly a nod in the right direction.
[Source: Automotive News]
Ford ended 2009 with its highest sales month since May 2008 while gaining its first year-end market share gain since 1995.
Sales were up in every product category in December 2009 as Ford recorded a 33 percent sales increase compared to the same month in 2008.
Ford, Lincoln and Mercury sales totaled 179,017 in December. Full-year sales totaled 1.62 million, down 15 percent, but Ford estimates it still managed to increase its U.S. market share by a percentage point to 15 percent, representing Ford’s first full-year market share gain since 1995.
“Ford’s plan is working,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing Sales and Service. “Customer consideration continues to grow for our high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles. In 2010, we will introduce an even higher number of new products, giving customers more reasons to Drive One.”
The Ford Fusion, recently named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year, set a new full-year sales record at 180,671 units. Sales for the Ford Escape reached 173,044 units in 2009 for the crossover’s second-best year, including a 75 percent increase in December compared to 2008.
Ford’s F-Series truck had its best sales month since March 2008 with 48,209 units moving in December. The year-end tally of 413,625 units made the F-Series America’s best selling truck for the 33rd straight year, and top-selling vehicle, car or truck, for a 28th consecutive year.
Official release after the jump: