Here's the Thing

Toyota building sales on loyal customers

(July 2010) has determined that a larger percentage of Toyota's new car sales are now coming from buyers who trade in other Toyotas.

In 2009, 42 percent of Toyota's new car sales included a Toyota trade-in (not counting the Cash for Clunkers period, which created many anomalies in the marketplace). So far in 2010, 49 percent of Toyota's new car sales included a Toyota trade-in.

Trucks provide June sales with a surprise boost

(July 2010) Large pickups provided a small boost to U.S. light-vehicle sales in June, according to J.D. Power and Associates sales analysis. The sub-segment garnered an 11.66% share of industry sales in June, up more than 1 percentage point from 10.58% a year ago, and even slightly ahead of the 11.54% share of industry sales for the month of May, when overall industry sales were stronger.

Incentives flat as automakers struggle

(July 2010) has estimated that the average automotive manufacturer incentive in the U.S. was $2,661 per vehicle sold in June 2010, down $36, or 1.3 percent, from May 2010, and down $196, or 6.9 percent, from June 2009.

Satisfaction with Class 8 trucks begins steep decline after nine months

(July 2010) WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Among Class 8 truck owners, satisfaction peaks in the first nine months the truck is in service, then decreases notably, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Heavy-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study released on Thursday.

The study examines trucks that are one-model-year old and finds that satisfaction levels peak during the first nine months of usage, averaging 768 on a 1,000-point scale. Between 10 and 14 months of usage, satisfaction tends to decline by an average of 20 points.

German automakers focus on diesels and EVs

(July 2010) Recent news reports have highlighted the agreement between Toyota Motor and Tesla to jointly develop electric vehicles (EVs) along with providing updates on the upcoming launches of new EV models such as the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf. What is happening with the development of other alternative powertrains — such as diesels — in the U.S. market? Mike Omotoso, senior manager, Global Powertrain at J.D. Power and Associates offers insight and answers:

GM bankruptcy: no used-car bargains either

(July 2010) A year ago as General Motors was sprinting through bankruptcy proc(eedings and its future appeared iffy, shoppers were scouring dealership lots for bargains. The conventional wisdom suggsted great deals were to be had from the automaker's new and used vehicle inventories.

Turns out, conventional wisdom was wrong: there were no great bargains in either used- or new- GM vehicles.

Controls and displays — what happened to simple?

By Christie Schweinsberg

(July 2010) Door locks on the center stack. Heated-seat controls near the floor. And the auxiliary jack? Nowhere in sight.

Welcome to today’s vehicle interiors, where the proliferation of features demand corresponding growth in the number of dials, knobs and buttons – all of which compete for the same space.

Safety features are most desired until price is revealed

(June 2010) Two safety features — Blind spot detection and Active cornering headlight system — receive the highest levels of pre-price interest among the 22 primary technologies examined in the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study.

Mini has diesels with exceptional fuel economy — but not for the U.S.

(June 2010) The new lineup from BMW-owned Mini includes a new diesel engine that replaces the old Peugeot-sourced motor with one from BMW — in different tune for each model.

GM's slimmer cost structure will pack wallop

(June 2010) With all the positive things that have begun accruing to General Motors as it attempts to leave bankruptcy behind, the biggest one of all has only begun to materialize: GM's fast-improving manufacturing-cost position versus its biggest foreign rivals.

That's right: GM likely has begun enjoying a new cost edge. Some analysts say that it already has reached as much as $2,000 a car over models built by Japanese competitors in the United States and that GM's overall cost advantage may soon become as much as double that amount.