Fewer kids are getting their driver’s license

There are all sorts of trends out there that affect the auto industry, like how the Toyota Prius has changed how we think about hybrids and fuel efficient cars. But this one seems incredibly significant – fewer kids are getting their driver’s license these days. 30.5% of American 19-year-olds in 2010 did not have a driver’s license, which is the highest percentage ever, and a sharp increase from the 24.5% in 2008 and only 12.7% in 1983.

What’s causing this? It all has to do with the Internet, phones and social media. Today, kids don’t need a car to socialize with their friends. They can text like crazy, play games on headsets while they chat with their friends, look for a poker game by searching an online poker guide, post wild photos on Facebook or arrange a meetup through Twitter. Sure, cars are still great, but they are no longer essential for the social experience we all crave at that age.

The implications of this are huge for automakers and car insurance companies. Car companies love younger buyers, but now they’ll have to adjust their thinking a bit. Also, will insurance companies treat a new driver who is 18 the same way they would treat a 16-year-old?

It will be interesting how this affects car safety. The roads have never been safer and this might be a good trend in that area. At least some patents are breathing easier, though this also means they’ll be shlepping around their kids for a little longer.

This might also explain why the car companies are racing to add gadgets and features to cars to make them more attractive to the new social generation.

  

Chrysler sales still on fire

Times are good for Chrysler, which provides some good economic news for the administration on a day that the lame job numbers came out.

Chrysler sales jumped 30% in May, which extend an incredible steak of 12 consecutive months where the company has exceed 20& year-over-year sales growth. This is excellent news for the company and for anyone who defended the auto bailout.

And things might get even better for Chrysler soon:

And it comes as Chrysler prepares later this month to roll out its key new car introduction for the year, the Fiat-based Dodge Dart, above, that it aims to get the company back into the small-car game. Dart is an enlarged, Americanized version of Fiat’s sporty Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

All the company’s brands — Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and Fiat — posted year-over-year gains in May. Fiat was up most, 128% to a record month as the tiny 500 finally gains some traction.

But the Chrysler brand was heroic — up 81%, as the 200 sedan zoomed 87% and the big 300 rocketed 140% for its best May since 2007.

If the Dart is a hit, then Sergio Marchionne and his team can really celebrate.

Check out the entire article for news on the other automakers.

  

November Car Sales Kick into Gear!

Car sales picked up the pace in November but will it last? The annual rate of 13.8 million sales we might have turned the corner to better days ahead. Chrysler was up a staggering 45 percent and that isn’t a misprint.

From the Detroit News:

November shaped up to be a strong month for U.S. auto sales with all major automakers except Honda Motor Co. reporting better results than a year ago.

Honda’s sales of 83,925 were down 6 percent from a year ago, largely on inventory woes due to flooding in Thailand.

Chrysler Group LLC reported a whopping 45 percent sales increase in November in the first results of what is expected to be one of strongest months of the year for U.S. vehicle sales.

Conversely, General Motors Co. only saw sales grow 7 percent compared with a year ago.

Ford Motor Co. sits in the middle with total sales of 166,865, up 13 percent from 2010 results.

Toyota Motor Corp. said its sales were up 6.7 percent in November on volume of 137,960 units.

Chrysler, the biggest gainer for the month, sold 107,172 vehicles in November, the automaker’s sixth consecutive month of best year-over-year sales this year.

“With sales up 45 percent, November was another huge month for the Chrysler Group and our highest year-over-year sales gain of 2011,” said Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales.

Strong sellers for the Auburn Hills automaker included the Chrysler 300 and 200 sedans, which contributed to the Chrysler brand’s 92 percent hike over last year and best November since 2008. Also boosting sales were the Dodge Charger, Avenger and Durango. The Fiat 500 notched 1,618 sales for the month.

Read the full article.

  

Chevy Volt sales are picking up

I’ve been seeing a lot of commercials for the Chevy Volt, and this advertising blitz might be paying off. The Chevy Volt outsold the Nissan Leaf for the first time in October. In October GM sold 1,108 units of the Volt, which is a significant increase over the 723 units sold in September.

The Volt is still running behind GM’s sales targets, and it seems like the company was banking on all the PR buzz around the vehicle to drive sales. Perhaps a marketing push was also needed. The commercials are pretty good. They stress the gas savings of an electric car with some humorous situations at gas stations.

As more and more automakers go electric and introduce plug-in hybrids, it will be interesting to see if this segment really takes off. Right now the sales numbers are miniscule but that could change quickly.

  

October Sales Results: Chrysler and VW Post Big Gains

Although the economy continues to lurch toward recovery at a snail’s pace, some automakers are defying expectations, and posting big gains on the sale charts. For the month of October, the big winners were Chrysler and Volkswagen. Chrysler sold 21,244 cars last month, a 28% increase when compared to October of 2010. High demand for the recently revised 200 and 300 sedans and high incentives helped bring traffic to the showrooms.

Volkswagen was another winner. They sold 28,028 cars last month, a 40% increase from October of last year. Volkswagen points to strong sales of their recently redesigned Passat sedan as the reason for drawing more sales. The good news is not expected to stop as November starts either.

Many automakers and analysts expected strong October sales, and are claiming high sales to continue through November. Although the economy is still a blight on auto sales, analysts expect outside variables to drive sales forward. First, they claim there is a lot of pent up demand for new vehicles since the age of the average car in this country is 11 years old. Secondly, inventory levels are returning to pre-quake levels for the Japanese manufacturers. Finally, a combination of high used car prices and incentives on new car purchases may sway consumers to purchase new cars instead of used ones. The fourth quarter of this year for automakers is shaping up to be much better than expected.

Source: Automotive News

  

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