Two of the "Big Three" U.S. automakers have gone bankrupt. Car sales continue to decline. This would appear to be the most challenging period for the automotive industry in its history. But despite the gloom, there are some bright spots for auto makers, according to new research from The Nielsen Company.
The re-designed Forester boosted sales for Subaru, while Hyundai and Kia launched new models appealing to younger drivers. Existing models, such as the Sorento and Sedona posted strong sales growth (69% and 48%, respectively). And Lincoln was the only U.S. brand to outperform the market (although sales remained in negative territory on a year-to-year basis). Foreign automakers benefitted disproportionately from escalating gas prices because consumer perception that their vehicles, especially hybrids and diesel models, are more fuel-efficient. Hybrids remain an exciting but emerging segment, as consumers take their time investigating the genre. Meanwhile, consumer interest in the basic economy vehicle was solid when gas prices were high, but dropped sharply once gas prices dropped.
Read more about the positive developments in the auto industry in 2008, as well as consumer behavior with respect to shopping for and buying vehicles in the July edition of Consumer Insight