Auto Sales Get Decimated In October – A Sign Of Things To Come?

The month of October was not friendly to most car manufacturers, as overall sales in the United States dropped 6%. This sharp drop can be attributed to volume sellers who saw declines that haven’t been posted in quite sometime. Is this a reason for concern moving forward? Is a slowing auto market going to be the new reality that manufacturers will face for at least the short term? New car sales have been slowing over the past few months, but October’s sudden drop in overall sales is nothing that should be taken lightly.

It should be noted that October of 2016 had two fewer selling days than October of 2015, but with some of the percentages that were posted, not even two extra selling days could change the outcome of a bleak new car market.

Fiat-Chrysler Massacre

It has not been a good year for the Fiat-Chrysler group, and October magnifies the downward trend in sales for most of the brands. Chrysler posted a decline of 44.7%, Fiat down 24.3%, Dodge -16.4%, and Jeep -6.6%. Three out of the four brands listed are down on the year for new car sales, while Jeep is still maintaining an increase of 9.7%. With Dodge ending the Dart and Chrysler no longer producing the 200, sales figures being down was to be expected, but for the auto group as a whole, there’s not much excitement for any of the brands, besides Dodge which produces the Challenger and Charger.

BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo and Land Rover Experience Sales Decline

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Volvo and Land Rover, two manufacturers who are both up on the year in new car sales in the United States, saw sharp declines in the month of October. Volvo, a brand that has been revived thanks to the all new S90 and completely redesigned XC90, experienced a 14.6% drop in sales. Land Rover saw a decline of 23.2% in October. Despite the sharp drop in sales in the United States, Volvo and Land Rover are still having a fantastic year overall, and shouldn’t be too concerned about the final quarter of the year, unless lower sales figures overall in the automotive market becomes a trend.

BMW may be the biggest surprise for lower volumes in sales, not only for October, but for the year of 2016. Down 18.4% last month, and down 9% for the year, BMW is the only brand out of the big three luxury manufacturers in Germany that has experienced declines. Mercedes Benz and Audi are still strong, and while sales were flat in October, the loss of two sales days could be a contributing factor. Volkswagen on the other hand has not recovered from Diesel Gate, and with a loss of 13.5% on the year and another double-digit loss last month, it just continues to get worse for the German auto brand.

Bentley, Jaguar, Maserati, and Porsche Have Strong October

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Not everyone is reeling from the October blues, there are car brands that had a fantastic month with Bentley, Jaguar, Maserati, and Porsche having double and even triple digit increases in sales. The British are leading the way and Jaguar’s 226% sales increase can be attributed to the F-Pace and XE, which have both taken their respective markets by storm. The F-Pace is Jaguar’s first attempt at making an SUV, and so far it has been a great success, while the XE, which is the British’s answer to the BMW 3 Series, is seeing strong sales since it’s arrival to the market earlier this year.

Bentley’s impressive gain of 158% in sales last month is all thanks to the Benteyga, which is Bentley’s first ever SUV. In October, the Benteyga contributed more than 33% of sales for the Bentley brand. While the British luxury car maker is down on the year by 6.8%, the entrance into the luxury SUV market has yielded strong sales figures, with the Benteyga making up about 50% of Bentley’s sales in the US since it’s debut on the market in August.

Maserati, much like Bentley and Jaguar, has seen strong sales numbers since entering the SUV market as well. The Levante, which also brought in about 33% of sales in October for Maserati, has received raved reviewed by journalists and consumers. Maserati has hit a home run with their luxury SUV, and that is starting to trickle down to other cars in the lineup. The Ghibli had a strong month alongside the Levante, leading to Maserati’s 11.8% increase in sales for the month of October.

Porsche had the best month out of all German brands in October, with luxury SUV’s again being the main contributor for strong sale. Up 10.7% in October and 3.2% for the year of 2016, Porsche has seen tremendous sales figures and it’s the Cayenne and Macan that is carrying the once sports car dominated lineup.

Strong sales across the board for luxury brands could be a good sign, despite the slowing of overall sales in the market. While Fiat-Chrysler, BMW, Volvo, and many others struggled in October, there’s no reason to panic just yet. If the fourth quarter of 2016 continues a downward trend and that transitions into the new year, then there would be a legitimate reason for concern. As for right now, we can only hope that October isn’t the start of a trend, and that the holiday season and the incentives that come with it could motivate consumers to buy in November and December.

Mazda Is Putting The Driver First With “Driving Matters”

While everyone is looking toward the future of the automotive industry and the inevitable development of autonomous cars, Mazda is focused not only on the here and now, but more importantly, the driver. For any car enthusiast, the thought of having a computer take control of the wheel and drive you to your destination is not something that makes you feel good. As drivers, we believe that having the car in our control is not only the best way to transport ourselves, but it’s a freedom and a privileged to drive and own a car that we enjoy and love. For the time being at least, Mazda is marketing to the car enthusiast that drives for fun, not because it’s a chore.

Mazda’s new tagline is, “Driving Matters”, replacing the old and very worn out “Zoom zoom”. By coming up with ads that create an emotion and desire to drive, consumers who love getting behind the wheel now have an automaker who has their best interest in mind. Starting with the new MX-5, Mazda wanted to recapture the youth and memories of former Miata drivers by making a commercial that’s basically a flashback to all the major milestones throughout the owner’s life. With the redesigned MX-5, they can relive their 20’s now that the kids are older or out of the house.

Another ad from Mazda has a businessman who’s been travelling for work, spending far too much time on planes and not enough time with his car. Once he lands ands gets back to his Mazda 6, it seems as though everything is right with the world. This isn’t just about driving, but a pride in ownership of a car that you love. “Driving Matters” and unfortunately, not many other auto manufacturers are putting the driver first, and instead focus on the technology they put inside their interiors. When it comes to daily drivers, there’s only a few features that should be noted when advertising to consumers. Is it comfortable, does it have a decent amount of horsepower, and is it reliable? That’s it. Thankfully Mazda’s commercials have a simple concept, and that’s putting you, the driver first.

The Poor Man’s Exotic: Jaguar F-Type

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Jaguar F-Type

I know what you’re thinking, Boston Auto Blog the Jaguar F-Type is already priced near $100,000, which can buy you a Lamborghini Gallardo. Yes, while the new Jaguar F-Type R already exceeds six figures, the argument can be made that this Jaguar could be considered an exotic. However the 2014 models are beginning to hit the used market, and great deals are out there for the taking. Your wait for the British performance car to depreciate in value might be shortened as you can get behind the wheel of this amazing car right now if you’re in the financial position to do so.

It will require some searching and traveling depending on your location, but there are 2014 Jaguar F-Type’s on the market for as low as $55,000. Mileage on the tachometer is around 6,000 – 12,000 on the lower end of price range spectrum. These models aren’t just base trims either, you’ll find the S trim within the $55,000 – $60,000 price range, which means you’ll get 40 extra horses under the hood for a total of 380 horsepower and supercharged V6 engine. Since these are 2014’s, you’re limited to the convertible, as the coupes didn’t hit the market until 2015.

If you want to spend more than $60,000 and closer towards a $70,000 price tag, the V8-S trim is available, giving you a whopping 495 hp. Unfortunately, the 2015 F-Type R is still near the six figure mark, and to find a coupe you’ll be looking at spending $80,000. With that being said, the 2014 convertible is still a solid choice at this price range. You’re getting European performance at a relatively low cost, especially if you look at other options in this price range. While the Alfa Romeo 4C, Lotus Evora, older Porsches, and Chevrolet Corvettes on the market could satisfy anyone’s hunger and desire for speed and performance, there is no denying that the F-Type’s roar alone makes it a serious consideration for those looking at sports cars to have fun with in the summer.

Unlike the other cars that I’ve talked about as being a “Poor Man’s Exotic”, Jaguar offers leasing programs for the F-Type. Prices vary, but $699/month appears to be the consensus. Now, I understand that leasing isn’t very popular due to mile limitations and the fact that the car isn’t really yours, but it is an option worth mentioning.

In appearance, the Jaguar F-Type resembles the Ferrari California T, which is why it should be considered a “Poor Man’s Exotic”. While the F-Type’s predecessor, the XK, has some affordable options on the market right now, both cars differ to a certain degree in terms of perception, where figuratively the XK is more of a car you go to the golf course with, and the F-Type is for having fun on the open roads.

“It’s Good To Be Bad” should be taken literally, because this bad cat is very fun to drive.

Car Dealerships: Stop Posting Content Your Customers Have No Interest In

Every morning I check car dealerships’ social media accounts, and to my disappointment, 90-95% of dealerships are all posting content that is boring and irrelevant. It comes as no surprise that lack of interesting posts has led to silent Facebook pages that see no engagement from fans and followers. As a result, car dealerships’ social media pages have become inactive over time. After not seeing results from the articles and non-native content they’re sharing, these dealerships then revert to hard selling, which on social media never works. There’s better ways to utilize Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to attract both former and future customers.

Recently I came across a post on a luxury dealership’s Facebook page discussing racing technology the brand is using in their race cars, and also adding a link for further reading. That article would be worth sharing on a car magazine’s account that has scores of racing enthusiasts. The question one must ask is, “How many of this dealership’s customers will take their new cars out onto a track?” Not too many is my guess. Similar articles were being shared, not only on that account, but several other dealership’s fan pages as well. There’s a reason why customers don’t engage with the business they bought their car from. The content just isn’t compelling.

It’s rather interesting though, when these companies start sharing news about keeping their new cars looking clean, removing scratches, and posting native content of their dealership and cars in the showroom, all of a sudden the customers start interacting. You’re selling some amazing products that the car brands have spent much time marketing, why not continue marketing them in a way that makes your showroom appealing while also attracting interest by potential car buyers to visit your business? The car buying experience should be exciting, especially if your customers are purchasing a new car. That experience starts on social media.

The dealerships who understand this are posting top quality photos of their best vehicles. Exclusive content, whether that be from your blog, showroom, or pictures on Instagram is how you stand out amongst the crowd. Sure, articles from car magazines and Consumer Reports are great, but don’t make that the main focus of your social media pages. Your business should take center stage, not in terms of selling, but attracting, and you do that by using all the tools social media has given you and sharing interesting content worth reading and engaging with.

I’ve seen far too many dealerships making the mistake of posting content that brings no value to the consumer. In fact, I cringe every morning because I know you’re selling amazing vehicles that should be leaving your dealership’s lots much faster than they really are. Facebook and Instagram are the biggest, and most important platforms in your industry. Stop posting irrelevant articles or news that serves no purpose or doesn’t help customers decide whether to visit your showroom or someone else’s. You have an entire inventory worth sharing. That should be the basis for your content on social media, with articles and news stories from third party sources being the icing on the cake.

Consumer Reports Has Buick In Top 10 Brands, Regal Best Sports Sedan

To most car owners, Consumer Reports’ findings are always suspect and are never truly accurate. Because they base part of their reports on the reviews of their subscribers, the findings can be a bit distorted. While they do test these cars themselves, they’re also using other forms of secondary statistics to decide which vehicles and brands are worthy to be put into the top 10. Shockingly, the Buick Regal gets best in the sports sedan class while the Buick Brand gets places in 7th behind Porsche, Subaru, and Audi in the top 10 auto brands.

Buick finds themselves among some of the most well-known brands in the industry, and it’s rather interesting how Consumer Reports came up with the findings. The real question is, based on what? Price? Reliability? Performance? It should be noted that the Buick Regal is in fact a rebadged Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, so no matter what your take is on this report, apparently having your car built in Germany can make all the difference when it comes to quality.

The Regal is priced between $29,000 – $40,000 putting it in the price range of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Volvo S60, and Infiniti G37/Q40 to name a few. That’s some worthy competition to be up against and to beat out. The one factor that hasn’t been taken into consideration is long term reliability, and seeing as though they’re basing these findings on the 2015 models, we can’t tell if the Regal is better overall in the sports sedan category when it comes to reliability.

When it comes to the Buick brand itself, they are making better cars, but that might be due to the rebadging of Opel’s. Buick is certainly selling nicer cars than a few years ago, but to put them in the same sentence as Porsche, Subaru, Audi, and Lexus in the top 10 auto brands is far too early and very bold.

The other shocker from this report is the Chevy Impala’s rank as best in the large sedan class. Again, I want to know what it’s based on. I’ll respect the honors it’s receiving if I could understand why exactly this car is better than all the other large sedans on the market. Even when it comes to Buick, I just want an explanation as to why and not just a graph showing me that the Buick Regal is best in the sports sedan class.

What do you think? Cars are not one of Consumer Reports’ strong suits, but I do agree with Subaru’s dominance in the mid-sized sedan and compact car classes. Who do you think should have gotten the honors in the sports sedan and large sedan classes? Do you agree that the Buick Regal is the best sports sedan, or Buick is a top 10 auto brand?

Consumer reports also left out the hatchback class, but we all know the GTI would have gone home with that award.