FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Edmunds.com Looks Back at 2005 and Forecasts 2006 Automotive Trends
Gas Prices and Incentives Headline 2005
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — January 3, 2006 — Edmunds.com, (http://www.edmunds.com), the premier online resource for automotive information, has compiled lists of the most-researched new cars and trucks in 2005. This data reflects traffic to Edmunds.com itself as well as the automotive research pages of AOL and the sites of other syndication partners featuring automotive channels powered by Edmunds.com. The most-researched cars of 2005 are:
The most-researched minivans, SUVs and trucks of 2005 are:
Despite many recent new product introductions, the lists contain many vehicles that were also among the most researched in 2004. Newcomers to the 2005 list are the Volkswagen Jetta — which is newly redesigned for 2006 — the Audi A4 and the Acura MDX. No longer in the top ten are the Nissan Altima (ranked #14), Chrysler 300 (ranked #19) and the Lexus RX330 (ranked #11).
2005 Automotive Trends Spotted by Edmunds.com
Record-Level Gas Prices Led to Different Vehicle Interests from Consumers — Gas prices soared this past year, reaching a peak national average of $3.057 per gallon for regular self-serve on September 5, according to the American Automobile Association. As a result, many consumers researched and purchased more fuel-efficient vehicles in 2005 and turned away from mid-size and large SUVs. Specifically:
- Hybrid sales nearly tripled this past year, earning 1.26% market share in 2005 compared with 0.48% in 2004.
- Compact car market share increased from 15.9% in 2005 from 14.5% in 2004.
- In the used car vehicle marketplace, average trade-in values for mid-size SUVs dropped 8.3% and large SUV values fell by 13.7%, while average trade-in values for compact cars rose by 13.5%.
Import Market Share Climbed — Domestic manufacturers have been losing ground to imports, particularly Japanese brands. Trends that Edmunds.com saw in 2005 include:
- Domestic manufacturers' market share percentage dropped 2.4% from 58.4% in 2004 to 57.0% in 2005. Import market share percentage increased 3.4% from 41.6% in 2004 to 43.0%.
- Of the major Japanese manufacturers, Toyota and Nissan enjoyed the most growth, with market share percentage gains of 8.7% and 8.5%, respectively.
- Edmunds.com's site traffic data revealed that eight out of the top ten makes researched were imports, with Honda and Toyota leading. The two domestics that made the list were Chevrolet and Ford, at number three and five, respectively.
Popular Marketing Programs Increased Consumer Interest — Employee pricing offers and slogans such as "Keep It Simple" were created to drive showroom traffic, and they worked. These programs helped domestic manufacturers sell older inventory much quicker than in years past. Specifically:
- Average incentives for 2005 were $3,456 per domestic vehicle sold and $1,109 per Japanese vehicle sold, a decrease of 4.1% and increase of 21.0% over 2004, respectively.
- In 2005, GM led the domestic incentives war with average incentives of $3,623 per vehicle sold, while Ford spent $3,148 and Chrysler spent $3,510 per vehicle sold.
- Nissan spent an average of $1,769 per vehicle sold, while Toyota spent $961 and Honda spent $646 per vehicle sold.
- Imports have increased their incentive spending over time, while domestic manufacturers have been decreasing incentive spending.
Edmunds.com 2006 Forecast
Edmunds.com expects sales to be flat from a sales perspective, with light vehicle sales once again totaling 16.9 million. Though domestics are expected to continue to lose market share, their many new products will help keep consumers interested. For example, GM has already introduced the Pontiac Solstice, which helped redefine the company's image and was named Edmunds.com's Most Significant Vehicle for the year. With the upcoming introduction of new vehicles based on the GMT 900 platform, GM should regain lost share in the remarkably profitable large truck and large SUV segments. In addition, the new Ford Fusion and the continuing success of the Chrysler 300 are among other bright spots in the domestic automakers' future.
Other trends that Edmunds.com foresees for 2006 are:
- Steady or increasing demand for compact cars — even with gas price stabilizing — and luxury vehicles.
- The rapid sales growth of hybrids - as much as doubling their market share
- The Japanese Big Three (Honda, Nissan and Toyota) continuing to capture market share from domestic manufacturers.
- A greater volume of off-lease vehicles entering the marketplace, increasing used vehicle inventories and driving their prices down. This will also stimulate certified pre-owned sales, as off-lease vehicles are the primary source of certifiable cars and trucks.
- New subcompact models from Japanese automakers, including the Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris, finding their niche and be achieving in the U.S. marketplace.
"This year has seen the rebirth of the car, as we saw a two percent increase in that segment's market share, while SUV market share decreased by nearly the same percentage," said Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com. "We expect this trend to continue in 2006, as manufacturers will be launching new hybrids, subcompacts and other fuel-efficient products."
About Edmunds.com, Inc.
Edmunds.com is the premier online resource for automotive information. Its comprehensive set of data, tools and services, including Edmunds.com True Market Value ® pricing, is generated by Edmunds.com Information Solutions and is licensed to third parties. The company supplies content for the auto sections of NYTimes.com, AOL, CNN.com and About.com; provides weekly data to Automotive News; and delivers monthly data reports to Wall Street analysts. Edmunds.com also publishes Inside Line (www.insideline.com), a free online magazine for auto enthusiasts. Edmunds.com was named "Best Car Research Site" by Forbes ASAP, has been selected by consumers as the "Most Useful Web Site" according to every J.D. Power and Associates New Autoshopper.com StudySM, and was ranked first in the Survey of Car-Shopping Web Sites by The Wall Street Journal. The company is headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and maintains a satellite office in suburban Detroit.