Tuesday, April 12, 2005


Jerry Flint Speaks The Truth Again

Flint's column at Forbes should be required reading for anyone in the business, and he once again is on-target with his analysis of car-buying trends in the first quarter of '05. He talks about three things I'd like to comment on.

First, where are SUV buyers going? His numbers show that it's not to mainstream mid-size sedans; at least not the top sellers in that class. I suspect that SUV buyers are more likely to find something like a crossover, or perhaps a slightly weird vehicle like the Mazda 6 or 3 (especially the wagon variants). And of course there's the Chrysler LX trio, which are sure to convince some folks that a big gas-guzzling box on wheels is not right for them.

Next, what's up with small-pickup sales? Simple - go shop for one. The recently-redesigned models are all big, inefficient, and expensive. Why buy a top-of-the-line Colorado when it's over $30K, underpowered, and neither significantly more economical nor smaller on the outside than a Silverado? The same criticisms (except for concerns about horsepower) also apply to the Frontier and Dakota. Additionally, the micro-sized beds on the crew-cab trucks are almost a joke. "Compact" trucks are no longer good values, and I think the market's reflecting that.

Finally, note the success that Chrysler and Honda are finding in the minivan market. Both are doing extremely well with their recently-redesigned product, showing big improvements over their respective '04 numbers. What really shocked me is just how well DCX is doing in this market - I gotta imagine that's a big part of their recent turnaround. Ford and GM just don't get this market, which is disappointing considering they've had 20 years to learn. Oh well. Nissan isn't doing well, either, and I'm not surprised by that - the Quest is just plain ugly, and not in an adorable way.

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