Outlook for New Vehicle Sales Falls on Credit and Mortgage Woes; High Fuel Costs Spur Interest in Alternative Fuel Vehicles

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Auto purchase outlook index reading signals a potential slump in sales if manufacturers don't act to shore up the market.

The battering the economy has taken from the sub-prime mortgage situation, credit squeeze, persistently high energy prices and the psychological impact of a weak dollar are all contributing factors.

After declining for three months in a row, the AutoView Auto Purchase Outlook Index reversed course this month, picking up 4.8 points, or 6.2%, to reach 83.5 (vs. 78.6 in December 2007). Despite the up tick, this month's reading still represents the second lowest score for the Index in its 12-month history, which was reached last month. Currently the Index is 12.9 points below its all time average of 96.3.

Note: Index readings correlate with demand and purchase plans for new automobiles.

Higher index scores indicate higher demand, while lower scores indicate lower demand.

The baseline score for the Index is 100.

"The relatively low Index reading is a reflection of the uncertainty and unease many Americans are feeling about the national economy as a whole," said Raghavan Mayur, president of AutoView, the automotive research division of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence. "The battering the economy has taken from the sub-prime mortgage situation, credit squeeze, persistently high energy prices and the psychological impact of a weak dollar are all contributing factors."

On its own, the Index signals weaker-than-average demand among American consumers and is a warning that sales may be in for a slump.

However, when taken together with data garnered from TechnoMetrica's Alternative Fuel Vehicles Tracker, the combined data also suggests that consumers are not as keen on purchasing existing vehicle types as they used to be, and would likely show stronger interest in purchasing other types of vehicles - especially alternative fuel vehicles.

In fact, in December of 2007, 78% of consumers indicated that they were likely to consider an alternative fuel vehicle the next time they were in the market to purchase or lease a new auto.

January's Breakdown

This month, 14% of adult American consumers indicated that they were very (6%) or somewhat likely (8%) to purchase or lease a new vehicle within the next 6 months.

Most of those who indicated that they were likely to buy within six months plan on making their purchase within the next 4 to 6 months (79%), while smaller numbers plan on doing it within the next one month (7%) or within 2 to 3 months (12%).

Considering vehicle type, compact cars (26%) made the top of the list of vehicles likely buyers were most likely to purchase, followed by small SUVs (22%) and pickup trucks (16%). By make, most (52%) of likely buyers say that they will purchase an American brand, while a quarter (24%) are eyeing Asian brands and a tenth (11%) European.

Looking at brands, January's survey found that if consumers were to purchase a vehicle today, Chevrolet and Ford would share the number one spot, with both receiving 19% of the vote. Honda would capture second place (12%) while Mercedes-Benz would capture third (9%).

In total, luxury brands were the brands of choice among 11% of likely buyers, while 76% said they would purchase non-luxury brands.

Changes in Demand

AutoView tracks demand for new automobiles among 26 different demographic groups.

In January, demand increased among 16 of them while declining among 10.

The largest gains occurred among Black and Hispanic consumers (up 11.1 percentage points), followed by those earning between $50K and $75K per year (+8.6) and Westerners (+6.4), while the largest drop in demand occurred among parents of children under the age of 18 (down 4.7 percentage points).

Other declining groups included those earning more than $75K per year (-4.0), women (-3.1) and Midwesterners (-3.0).

For more information about the AutoView Auto Purchase Outlook Index, or any of our other reports, please call 1-800-328-8324 or send an email to ckambanis@technometrica.com.

About AutoView
AutoView is the automotive research arm of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, a nationally recognized research firm and a leader in the publication of economic and industry-specific consumer confidence and purchase plan indicators. In addition to the Automotive Purchase Outlook Index, AutoView also publishes the Alternative Fuels Tracker, a quarterly tracking study that monitors the development and growth of the alternative fuel vehicle market. Each year, AutoView also publishes 30+ reports focusing on different automotive topics.

The following report titles are slated for 2008 publication:

Affluent Market I (perspectives)
Affluent Market II (psychographic segments)
African American Market
All Terrain Vehicle Market
Alternative Fuels Overview
Automobile Financing
Baby Boomer Market
Brand Reputation I (Bi-Annual)
Brand Reputation II (Bi-Annual)
Certified Pre-Owned I (Bi-Annual)
Certified Pre-Owned II (Bi-Annual)
Compact SUVs
Crossover Utility Vehicle
Family Vehicles
Lifestyles & Automobiles (youth)
Lifestyles & Automobiles (all consumers)
Light Truck Market
Media and Auto
Motorcycle/Motocross Market
New Automobile Purchase Process
Off Road Consumer Profile
Off-road Vehicles
Onboard Entertainment
Online Auto Shopper
Small Business Market
Small Cars
Sports Marketing and Sponsorship
Telematics
U.S. Auto Aftermarket
U.S. Trends and Forecast - Mid-year
U.S. Trends and Forecast - Year-end
Used Vehicle Market I
Used Vehicle Market II
Youth Market
Youth Oriented Vehicles (Tuner market)

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