As Europe struggles, executives at the LA Auto Show are much more upbeat about car sales in the US.
In his keynote speech, Jim Lentz, President of Toyota Motor Sales, said he sees the market back to its 16 million high within three years, 1.5 million higher than last year.
That’s better growth than China, which has slowed to 8% in 2012. The US growth is being driven by pent-up demand for new cars as the average age of vehicles hits an all-time high of 11 years. It’s also being helped by finance rates at a record low – good news for those companies with a strong US presence.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]Jim Lentz, President of Toyota Motor Sales, said he sees the market back to its 16 million high within three years, 1.5 million higher than last year. That’s better growth than China, which has slowed to 8% in 2012
US consumers are becoming increasingly interested in more economical motoring as fuel prices continue to rise, and the revolution is being led by the German premium brands which are introducing more and more clean diesels. Audi’s message at LA is clear: diesel, diesel, diesel. Its stand features four new diesels; Volkswagen’s contribution includes the recently added Passat TDI and Beetle TDI; and Porsche has a diesel variant of its Cayenne SUV. Even Mazda is introducing its SKYACTIV-D 2.2-litre diesel.
Sales of clean diesels in the US increased 21.2% in October this year, 44% in September, and 28.1% in August. Diesel sales have risen in 26 of the past 27 months, with 23 of those months showing double-digit increases.
Research company Pike says there are currently 14 clean diesel cars and SUVs available in the US – 31 including light duty trucks and vans – and this is expected to almost double in the next 18 months.
In addition, hybrid car sales have increased 67.8%, and hybrid versions are visible on many of the show’s stands.
But California is the world’s biggest sports car market and the show boasts some major introductions, including the all-new Porsche Cayman, the North American debut of the new Jaguar F-Type and the global debut of the fastest ever Jaguar saloon, the XFR-S.
[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]There are currently 14 clean diesel cars and SUVs available in the US – 31 including light duty trucks and vans – and this is expected to almost double in the next 18 months
Even troubled Aston Martin had good news to impart. As we wait to hear about prospective company buyers, staff on the stand reported taking 150 orders for the new Vanquish from prospective buyers who have yet to even see the car.
Jaguar Land Rover is using the show to boost its sales in the US; its “British Invasion” programme included a big party at Paramount studios on the eve of the show, at which customers and celebrities witnessed the US unveiling of the two Jaguars and the all-new Range Rover. Great timing: Jaguar has risen to second place behind Lexus in the US J D Power customer satisfaction ratings.
OEMs are also using the power of the silver screen. Fiat is gradually gaining sales for its tiny 500, and global marketing chief Olivier Francois unveiled a series of cheeky and very funny TV ads; and JLR is sponsoring a Ridley Scott Associates short film based around the F-Type, featuring Homeland star Damian Lewis and soundtracked by Lana Del Rey.
But then, this is Hollywood.
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