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Posts Tagged ‘car buying’

TrueCar Yields to Critics and Regulators

Facing mounting legal hurdles, pricing service plans “sweeping changes.”

by on Jan.17, 2012

TrueCar founder Scott Painter is promising "sweeping changes" to the site's business model.

Scott Painter has never been one to readily yield to his critics, but with state regulators taking aim and a series of huge legal battles looming across the country, the Internet car sales pioneer has backed down, announcing “sweeping changes” to the way his latest venture, TrueCar.com, operates.

The service has generated significant buzz – and plenty of traffic – since its launch, promising to provide consumers with what it has claimed to be the most accurate pricing data online.  Dealers, in turn, were provided an alternative model to attract customers.  Instead of paying for leads, as is the case with most online auto sites, they only paid a $300 fee whenever a car was actually sold.

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TrueCar’s approach has generated strong support in some quarters – but plenty of criticism elsewhere.  And angry dealers, always a force to be reckoned with, were able to rally support in a number of states where TrueCar appeared to be running afoul of strict franchising laws.  Notably, states like Texas and Virginia bar so-called “bird-dogging,” or auto brokering, where a third party steps in to help a customer get a better price.

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December A Great Deal Time for Car Shoppers

Put a new car under the tree and save a bundle.

by on Dec.08, 2011

Forget the sweaters and ties. You may get a better deal on a new car this holiday season.

Becky Poston admits she’ll be spending a little less on ties, sweaters and the other small gifts she normally puts around the family’s tree for Christmas.  She’ll need the cash she saves for a downpayment on a new BMW 328i she decided to buy.

“I wasn’t really serious, just looking,” says the New Jersey administrative assistant, “but when I heard the deal they were ready to make I couldn’t say no. So, the new car is the real present to my family this year.”

Ho, ho, ho...!

Poston isn’t alone.  As many savvy buyers have discovered, some of the best deals of the year are usually offered between Thanksgiving and New Year, a time when shoppers usually turn their attention to more traditional gift-giving purchases like clothing, toys, consumer electronics – and bad ties.

“December is going to be the best month of 2011 to buy a car with manufacturers offering attractive year-end incentives and dealers motivated to move inventory to get to their sales objectives,” notes Jesse Toprak, head of Industry Trends and Insights for TrueCar.com.

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Lexus Tops JD Power Sales Satisfaction List

Consumers, generally happier with buying process.

by on Dec.02, 2011

Lexus topped the list in the latest J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index.

It’s often compared to a trip to the dentist – but a new study says American motorists are far more comfortable than you used to be with the car buying process.

In fact, satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales process has improved notably from 2010, according to the latest of J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index, or SSI, with Lexus topping the chart among luxury brands, while Mini ranked highest among mass market brands for a second consecutive year.

Delivering Customer Satisfaction!

While Lexus and some of the other high-scoring brands also lead the way in terms of quality and reliability that’s not always the case, Mini coming in well below industry average in the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality survey.

Significantly, as manufacturers have come to recognize the increasingly competitive nature of the new car market Power data show that they’ve been putting a higher emphasis on satisfying the customer as soon as they walk into the showroom door.  And surprisingly, in some cases, that means taking more time with customers rather than rushing them in and out of the showroom.

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Are American Drivers Immune to Fuel Price Hikes?

Buyers are changing driving patterns rather than shifting vehicle choices.

by on Aug.09, 2011

Buyers continue to go for pickups and SUVs - albeit with high-tech engines that can deliver better mileage.

When gas prices first hit $2.50 a gallon, auto industry planners braced for a dramatic shift in the market.  It didn’t happen.  When the pump price first nudged $4, back in the summer of 2008, environmentalists rejoiced, betting that hybrids would replace pickups and SUVs as the vehicles of choice.  Yet after a month or so, most U.S. motorists went right back to the cars and trucks they long preferred.

This year’s run-up in fuel costs has once again led many to anticipate a wholesale shift in demand and indeed, sales of small cars have been gaining ground – but pickups, SUVs, crossovers and muscle cars haven’t exactly vanished from the sales charts – a new study by AutoPacific, Inc. suggesting that despite wishful thinking, Americans have largely grown immune to high fuel prices.

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The consulting firm’s latest Fuel Price Impact Survey concludes that while, “American drivers complain about near historically high fuel prices…few are doing much about it. In fact, choice of what vehicle to buy in the future appears to have decoupled from the price of fuel.”

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Gen-X Buyers Opt for “Family-Friendly” Vehicles

European imports lead the list.

by on Jul.13, 2011

European models top the list - even if the number offering, the VW Routan is actually a rebadged version of the Detroit-made Chrysler minivan.

That sometimes forgotten generation of post-Baby Boomers, Gen-X has moved from the grunge and rock-and-roll life phase to raising families of their own – which may explain why “family-friendly” is the key word in describing the sort of vehicles that wind up most on their shopping list, according to a new study.

As they become increasingly affluent, this relatively small group of the population – born between the mid-1960s and early ‘80s – have developed a clear taste for the roomy, well-equipped vehicles they can use to haul kids and grandkids, as well as the other accoutrements of an established life, finds TrueCar.com’s analysis of Gen-X buying data.

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Significantly, there are signs that the old maxim that each generation moves away from the cars their parents drove is at least partially true.  Among the Top 5 models on the Gen-X list is only one Japanese brand, fourth-ranked Mazda.  The most popular brands, in order, are Volkswagen, Land Rover and Audi.  Rounding out the group is the only domestic model, Jeep.

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Detroit Makers Still Struggling to Win Young Buyers

But there are some surprises among the brands Millennials want most.

by on Jul.07, 2011

Scion's tC is the most popular model with Millennials.

Conventional wisdom suggests that young buyers will turn away from the products their parents drove – potentially good news for Detroit’s Big Three who collectively lost the big Baby Boom generation to the imports.

New models, such as the Ford Fiesta, are specifically targeting Generation-Y, and the success of those products could determine whether Detroit reverses decades of market share losses, particularly in trendy coastal regions, such as California, where domestic brands account for barely one in four current car sales.  (Click Here to find out which are the most “patriotic” automotive markets.)

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Unfortunately for the Motor City, a new study suggests that while Gen-Y might be turning away from some traditionally strong Japanese marques, like Toyota and Honda, those young buyers are continuing to focus on Asian, rather than American, automakers.

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A McBlog Sidebar

The worst of time (can be) the best of times.

by on May.16, 2011

Storm clouds on the horizon? Buying some cars, like the Prius, can be a challenge right now.

Buying a car, these days, can test the patience of Job, columnist Denise McCluggage noted in her latest McBlog, yet the worst of times can turn into the best of times…with a little help. Here’s a sidebar to her column.

Fred Vang is a personal consultant to car shoppers. He lives in Santa Fe NM but his clients come from anywhere. He helps them gel their amorphous thoughts about acquiring a new car into something he can actually search for. He negotiates the deal, he handles the documentation and registration and arranges all the delivery details. In short he drains the tension out of acquiring a new vehicle and enhances the pleasures.

Auto Show Updates!

In the current market that’s hard to do but his long-held connections still leave the door ajar.

Fred sees a bright spot even in a market with new models in limited supply and used cars tagged with extremely high prices. “The worst of times can be the best of times for a few,” he says. And those few are people just coming off a lease.

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Leasing Making a Big Comeback

May soon account for 43% of luxury market again.

by on Mar.04, 2011

Good news for Land Rover as it launches - and leases - the new Range Rover Evoque.

In the “bubble years,” prior to the economic meltdown, leasing had become the option of choice for millions of American motorists, accounting for a majority of the business for some luxury brands.  After all but vanishing during the downturn, leasing is now poised to make a major comeback, suggests the Automotive Leasing Guide.

Also known as ALG, and a principle benchmark for residual values and depreciation data, the publication predicts a significant resurgence in the automobile leasing market that will continue right on through 2015.

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The luxury segment will lead the way with lease penetration rates rising to nearly 43% by 2012, while lease penetration in the mainstream market will increase to 17.5% over the next two years, according to the new estimates prepared by ALG.

Numerous brands are expected to capitalize on this leasing resurgence, based on the ALG 2011 March/April edition and current high residual values forecasts, which allows them to offer highly competitive monthly lease payments.

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World Car of the Year Finalists Announced

Europeans dominate, though Leaf, Grand Cherokee make the cut.

by on Feb.07, 2011

The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the only U.S. model among the 10 World Car of the Year finalists.

European automakers overwhelmed their North American and Asian competition, placing eight of the 10 products to make the cut as finalists in the World Car of the Year balloting.

Audi, with the new A1 and A8 models, and BMW, with the redesigned X3 and 5-Series, have the strongest presence on the list, which also includes, among Europeans:

  • Jaguar XJ;
  • Mercedes-Benz SLS;
  • Porsche Cayenne; and
  • Volvo S60/V60.

In an unexpected slight, only Nissan, with the all-new battery-electric Leaf, and Jeep, and the newly redesigned Grand Cherokee, managed to find a spot alongside the Continental offerings.

Notably absent were the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, which has won an armful of awards, including North American Car of the Year, and the Ford Explorer, named last month North American Truck of the Year.  Leaf came in just behind Volt in the North American balloting, while Grand Cherokee lost out to the Explorer.

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BMW Program Aims To Raise Owner Loyalty Rate

German maker targeting increased leasing, but sees a decline in incentives.

by on Sep.24, 2010

BMW wants you to trade in early.

BMW is betting on a new, high-tech marketing system to build both sales and owner loyalty rates.

The new program is designed to increase contact between the company and its customers – and to convince them to trade in their current BMW products sooner and more often, explains Shaun Bugbee, vice president of sales and marketing for the German maker’s American captive finance subsidiary.

Currently, about 55% of the customers who borrow money through BMW Financial pay off their loans ahead of schedule – typically at around 33 months on a 60-month contract, notes Bugbee.  A key reason is that BMW has, for the last several years, been offering heavily subvented, or subsidized, loans, often with interest rates of just 0.9% or 1.9%.  That makes it easy to pay down equity in a hurry.

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But the automaker has come to realize that when customers pay off their loans early they are more likely to trade in—often on a competing brand.  Retail owner loyalty rates, Bugbee says, have been running just 20%.  But a pilot program tested in BMW 12 dealerships has bumped that by as much as 12 percentage points.  So, it is now being rolled out nationwide.

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