Who Has the Biggest Car Market in the World?

Here Come the Chinese

In 2009, stimulus programs in China helped it to become the world’s largest car market. SAIC Motor Corp said car sales continue to rev up to tune of 44% higher sales in the first half of 2010 with 1.77 million vehicles sold.

However, there are reports that China is beginning to scale back their automotive incentives, which will likely result in few car sales.

Chevrolet, meanwhile, is reversing an old strategy. Typically they would provide smaller vehicles with minimal extra features. Beginning with the Chevy Cruze, GM is including as standard items features such as 10 airbags and stability control. All these standard “extras” will come at a price. The Cruze is already being sold in places like Europe and Asia.

GM hopes to de-emphasize SUV’s and trucks and gain more profitability from vehicles like the Cruze. They have plans to overhaul other models to increase sales. Those include the Aveo and Impala by making them sportier and sleeker.

Ford is using wireless features in more and more of their vehicles. They are adding Wi-Fi transmitters into models such as the Edge and Lincoln. Soon, drivers will have internet access in their vehicles.

Well, it really should not come as a total surprise.

China has passed the United States as the worlds # 1 car market. Why should that surprise anyone. China has a billion or two people and the United States ultimately cannot compete with the raw population numbers of China. The key for communist China was and is allowing their people to begin earning enough money to afford cars.

Also helping the Chinese automotive market was a massive government incentive program that pushed sales up 46% in just one year. Can that trend continue? Highly unlikely.

About 10.4 million vehicles were sold in the U.S. in 2009, a drop of 21% from a year earlier. The only month the United States outsold China was August of 2009, when the Cash for Clunkers was in full operation.

Some analysts believe the U.S. will regain the top auto sales market sooner than later once China scales back on its government incentives. Plus, American consumers made an obvious choice in the past year to reduce large purchases with an economy that has yet to fully bounce back.

Report Card for Cars in U.S.

Here they go again.

The U.S. Government, in their drive to push more people into the vehicles they want the public buying, is proposing a requirement that every vehicle sold come with a letter grade.

All electric and hybrid vehicles will receive an “A” grade and every other vehicle a “B” grade or less. The lowest grade given will be a “D”.

This idea reminded me of the first time I saw letter grades on the windows of restaurants in California. Those grades definitely would effect my decision whether to eat at a particular restaurant or not because it was dealing with things like cleanliness.

Will it work in the automotive industry? Only time will tell. Once consumers understand that it is only a grade representing a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and emissions they likely will overlook the grade. Apparently, the new grading system will have nothing to do with the value vs cost of the vehicle, safety issues, warranty offered, or mechanical track record of a particular model.

Of course, small cars will generally receive the highest grades and lower fuel efficient vehicles the lowest grades. Sometimes what the government forgets is the pocketbook of consumers.

If someone can only afford to buy a $14,000 vehicle it’s not likely they will fork over $30,000 for an electric Nissan Leaf. And most wealthy people who can afford to buy a Leaf are more likely to buy a Lexus or other luxury vehicle.

Things change and that includes how you care for your vehicle. Here are some tips for taking care of your vehicle and ideas for saving money too.

Tips for Caring for Your Vehicle

1) Do not use premium fuel unless your owner’s manual specifically requires it. Some manuals “recommend” premium gasoline but it is not necessary.

2) You no longer have to change your oil every 3,000 miles if you own a newer vehicle. Most newer vehicles today are fine having the oil changed every 5,000 or 7,000 miles. Read your owner’s manual.

3) Change your air filter around every 25,000 miles. If you delay this could result in a filter that becomes clogged and could hurt your gas mileage.

4) Have your mechanic check your brake pads. It’s better replacing pads versus your brake drum or rotors.

5) Avoid expensive mileage-boosting additives. There is not a whole lot of evidence they really do much for your vehicle. Advertising for these items increase when gas prices rise.

6) Vehicle need a tune up? Engines for newer vehicles today are tuned by on board computers. Don’t fall for this gimmic.

7) Check engine light on? Don’t ignore it. Your vehicle’s computer is alerting you to a potential problem. Ignoring it could cost you more in the long run.

You may have expected electric vehicles to take hold in the consumer market primarily. But businesses have been an expanding market for electric vehicles. Staples, the office supplier, purchased 41 electric trucks with plans to maybe buy an additonal 40 somewhere down the road.

The electric trucks have a top speed of about 50 miles per hour. But commercial delivery fleets generally drive a specific route and a limited number of miles per day. That fits perfectly into the offerings of most electric vehicles, which have a limited battery range.

The electric trucks cost about $30,000 more than a diesel, but Staples officials predict they will recoup that cost in less than four years through various savings, such as fuel costs, brakes (electric vehicles use regenerative braking), fuel filters, oil, transmission fluid and belts.

Other companies moving into the electric vehicle market includes AT&T, FedEx, PepsiCo, and Frito-Lay.

Virtual Dashboards

While we have read about using “touch” technology on electronics such as phones and laptops, the next wave of touch technology just might be in your automobile.

For example, Volkswagon is launching a redesigned A8 model that will include, as an option, a touch pad that allows you to send commands to the vehicle’s navigation and bluetooth system with the touch of a finger. As you touch the device the car will repeat by voice the letters back to you. By using voice commands a driver would be able to determine a location. Another upgrade being worked on is a camera inside the vehicle that will track the movement of a driver’s head – to determine if a driver may be falling asleep. The camera will notify the driver if it believes that is the case.

In recent years the costs to power such technology has decreased significantly.

However, the big concerns from some circles is the ability for drivers to utilize such technology without becoming even more distracted than they already are. Most of the technology, at the moment, is being directed toward the upper end of the vehicle market.

Volkswagon, for one, will install the technology increasingly throughout all their models as they continue to master the device. Ford and Lincoln models are also launching touch technology.