Interesting EV Numbers

The good news for EV enthusiasts (as in those who enthusiastically support the proliferation of EVs not necessarily because of any environmental considerations but simply because (a) they have one and figure that others should, too, or (b) they simply think it is cool tech, and while they can’t afford it—according to, EVs had an average retail price of $65,291 in September—they still think it is cool for those who can):

According to Elizabeth Krear, vice president, electric vehicle practice, J.D. Power: “October breaks a three-consecutive month decline in EV consideration.” More people are thinking about getting an EV.

J.D. Power data have it that 27.4% of people who are going to be in the market for a new vehicle in the next 12 months are “very likely” to consider an EV.

While that is a move in the right direction for EV sales, Krear has some other figures that are less propitious:

“Adoption has been flat for the past six months with the retail monthly share for BEVs hovering at 5.6%. The top two reasons for EV rejection are lack of public charging and price.”

As for that all-important price component, she points out that affordability has decreased by 15 points during the past 12 months and the recent rise in interest rates is having an effect, as well.

But the federal EV support money for EV purchases as well as an increase in the number of models (J.D. Power has 51 in its data set; two years ago it contained 27) are at least helping people consider EVs, even though they still might opt for that ICE model.

Car Rental Firms: Less Satisfying

Arguably there were two things at play when it came to the rental car situation in the U.S. in the Age of COVID a couple years back.

On the one hand, people weren’t traveling, so the rental fleets figured that it would be OK to offload some of those cars that were just sitting there in parking lots around airports.

On the other hand, car manufacturers figured that they could make more money selling the limited number of vehicles they could build (because of supply chain issues overall and chip shortages in particular) to individual consumers than to rental fleets. (Let’s face it: rental car companies aren’t going to buy a whole bunch of loaded SUVs or pickups.)

When travel came back with an amazing zeal (forget those Zoom calls; beaches beckoned; it is nice to see far-flung family again. . .) plenty of those travelers discovered that the rental car companies seemed ill-prepared to accommodate them.

The cars that weren’t there in the lots. The cars that were there and seemed rather, well, tired. Unhappiness abounded.

According to the J.D. Power 2022 North American Rental Car Satisfaction Study, satisfaction among renters was not good in 2021 and it hasn’t gotten any better this year.

One of the factors contributing to this is that prices are up 14%.

“When it comes to rental cars,” says Michael Taylor, managing director of travel, hospitality and retail at J.D. Power, “price is the biggest factor affecting satisfaction, and the combined effects of inflation and high fuel prices are really pushing customers to their limits—and could affect brand image.”

On a 1,000-point scale, Enterprise is #1 at 865. Thrifty is in last place, with 780.

The industry average is 829.

(Avis evidently doesn’t try harder any more, as it comes in below industry average at 816.)

Taylor: “If rental car companies want to offset the influence of these cost increases on customer satisfaction and their brand loyalty, they are going to have to work hard to deliver outsized value by ramping up service.”

What are the odds of that happening?


At some point, tires on one’s vehicle need to be changed.

It could be wear.

It could be a flat.

It could be to obtain some additional performance.

It could be because of looks.

Tires? Looks?

That is a surprising—and possibly disturbing—finding in the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study.

“High levels of satisfaction typically yield loyalty”—and Michelin, Goodyear, Pirelli, BF Goodrich and Firestone all rack up good numbers in that context—“but we’re seeing many owners purchase replacement tires based on a narrow focus, such as solely on appearance or price,” said Brent Gruber, senior director of global automotive, J.D. Power.

Sure, price is one thing, especially with the rise in prices of everything (yes, petroleum is not only used to make gasoline, but tires, too).

But appearance?

When faced with a tire change, keep these words from Gruber in mind:

“Tires are a highly engineered component of the vehicle—designed to very exact specifications—which influence how that vehicle performs. With tire replacement, there’s a risk of negating some of those key characteristics and product benefits if expert recommendations aren’t utilized.”

They may not be attractive. But that’s not the point.

Wouldn’t You Really Rather Have a Buick?

Buick doesn’t always get the respect that it has earned, especially when it spent many years in the shadow of Cadillac. (If you can’t afford a Cadillac, then. . . .)

Now the company has switched to an all-SUV lineup. There are four. One is built in the U.S. The others are from South Korea and China. It is worth knowing that David Dunbar Buick was born in Scotland.

2019 Buick LaCrosse. (Image: Buick)

J.D. Power has released its latest Vehicle Dependability Study. This looks at how people feel about their vehicle’s performance after three years of ownership.

The top brand is Kia with a score of 145. The second-best brand is Buick, at 147 points. (As you may discern, a lower numerical score is better.)

Know that this means Buick beat out the likes of Lexus and Porsche and Lincoln and BMW and Jaguar and others—in many cases, rather handily.


What is somewhat ironic is that in terms of vehicle categories, in Large Car Buick also came in second, with the LaCrosse. It no longer offers it.

In first place is the Chevrolet Impala. That is going away, too. (Last year in the U.S. GM delivered 750 Impalas.)

Startling Projected Sales Numbers

This is what happens when there’s little supply and plenty of demand

By Gary S. Vasilash

Back in November 2020, the Centers for Disease Control determined, “The overall weekly hospitalization rate is at its highest point since the beginning of the pandemic, with steep increases in adults aged 65 years and older. Based on death certificate data, the percentage of deaths attributed to PIC for week 48 was 12.8% and, while declining compared with week 47 (18.6%), remains above the epidemic threshold.”

In other words, horrible times.

As we come forward to now, here is something that seems nearly inexplicable: J.D. Power and LMC Automotive estimate that new-vehicle retail sales in November 2021 will be 12.6% lower than they were in November 2020.

Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division of J.D. Power, explains, “For November—as has been the case since August—new-vehicle sales are being constrained by available inventory.”

Less to buy.

King continues, “Retailers continue to sell a large proportion of vehicles almost as soon as they arrive in inventory. This November, a record of nearly 55% of vehicles will be sold within 10 days of arriving at a dealership, while the average number of days a new vehicle sits on a dealer lot before being sold is on pace to fall to 19 days, a record low and down from 48 days a year ago.”

Think about that. A year ago vehicles were on lots for nearly 30 days longer than they are now.

And the people on the short end of the proverbial stick are customers. The research firms estimate that average transaction prices—the prices actually paid by people—will be $44,043, which is 18.1% higher than they were in November 2020.

As a result, the total retail profit per vehicle will hit a record $5,164, which is up $3,060 last year.

$5,164 now. $2,104 then.

And then there’s this:

Two years ago, November 2019, COVID wasn’t even on the radar of most people.

Yet the J.D.P.A. and LMC estimate that the total aggregate profit from new-vehicle sales in November 2021 will be 226% higher than in November 2019.

Keep that in mind when you visit the nearly empty lot of your local dealer. You might think they’re hurting. But that may not be the case.

COVID and. . .Seats?

Another consequence of the global pandemic

By Gary S. Vasilash

Apparently, when it comes to the material used for seats in vehicles, leather is the leader. However, according to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study, fake leather, which goes by a number of names depending on the OEM (hint: if you’re in the showroom and you ask what that seat is made of and the name of the material sounds like something out of an episode of the Mandalorian, know that it isn’t leather), seems to be gaining some adherents.

Thanks to COVID.

“With a heightened sense of awareness to surface cleanliness due to COVID-19, synthetic leather seats lend themselves well to cleanability, but it is ultimately about providing benefits which address notable industry challenges such as providing durability, soil resistance and, most importantly, cost-effectiveness. Our study shows that synthetic leather out-performs cloth seating in select areas while offering benefits similar to those of leather.”

That’s Brent Gruber, senior director of automotive quality at J.D. Power.

Hyundai Elantra seats. (Image: Hyundai)

Clearly, cleaning is become all the more relevant nowadays.

In case you’re wondering what the top seats (and the manufacturers of said seats) are in the survey:

  • Mass market compact: Hyundai Elantra (Hyundai Seat Div.)
  • Mass market midsize/large car: Honda Clarity (Tachi-S Co.)
  • Mass market SUV & truck/van: Nissan Rogue (NHK Spring Co.)
  • Mass market midsize/large SUV: Chevrolet Blazer (Lear Corp.)
  • Mass market truck/van: Ram 1500 (Bridgewater Interiors)
  • Premium car: Porsche 718 (Lear Corp.)
  • Premium SUV: Lexus UX (Toyota Boshoku Corp.)

The EV Infrastructure Issue

Yes, people like fast and free. How do you build a business case on that?

By Gary S. Vasilash

“Public charging infrastructure is a key component in the overall adoption of electric vehicles by the broad population.

“Unfortunately, the availability of public charging is the least satisfying aspect of owning an EV. Owners are reasonably happy in situations where public charging is free, doesn’t require a wait and the location offers other things to do—but that represents a best-case scenario.

“The industry needs to make significant investment in public charging to assure a level of convenience and satisfaction that will lure potentially skeptical consumers to EVs.”–Brent Gruber, senior director of global automotive at J.D. Power.

J.D. Power has launched its first U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Public Charging Study, so Gruber’s observations are predicated on the responses of actual battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

Think about this:

  • People like free
  • People like fast
  • People like distractions

If energy providers are going to increase the speeds of charging, then this means they’re going to need to spend more money on their equipment.

So free and fast seem to be at odds.

And let’s face it: there is only so long that any business that wants to stay in business is going to be able to offer something for nothing.

As for the distractions, that goes to the point of the amount of time that it takes to recharge an EV.

Again, if the speed goes up, then the need for much in the way of distractions goes down.

(At a local bp station there are video screens on the pumps that play canned content that are high on the annoyance scale and subtractive on the info scale. Thank goodness it takes a brief period of time to recharge.)

Gruber noted: “Building a better infrastructure starts with more collaboration among automakers, charge point operators, site locations, utilities and government at all levels.”

All of which is to say that in order to get more EVs in more garages it is going to take more than having features that allow a vehicle to go incredibly fast or to maneuver like a crustacean.

Surprising Trends in Auto Retail

You spend a lot. And you may be willing to forego the dealer “experience”

By Gary S. Vasilash

According to the most-recent Cox Automotive/Moody’s Analytics Vehicle Affordability Index, the number of median weeks of income to buy a new vehicle is 37.

37 weeks to buy a new vehicle.

That’s the greatest number of weeks since they started measuring it back in 2012.

The firms found a trifecta of things contributing to this situation:

  • Vehicle prices increased
  • OEMs and dealers are putting less cash on the hood
  • Median incomes fell

It would have been worse, apparently. Financing rates decreased, so if that didn’t happen, there would have been higher monthly payments.


In May, the most recent month with figures, the average transaction price that people were paying for a new vehicle was $41,263 according to Kelley Blue Book.

Now admittedly that doesn’t mean that everyone pays that much. It wraps in figures for OEMs from Mitsubishi to Mercedes, from Chevy to Porsche. Cars, trucks, SUVs.

But still, a lot of money.

A lot of weeks to earn that money.

All that said, J.D. Power has announced that predicated on its analysis of the usage of OEM websites, 49% of vehicle shoppers are willing to purchase a new vehicle online.

This is an increase of 11% from 18 months ago—about the time that the effects of the pandemic kicked in in the U.S. market.

So what’s behind this:

  • Is it that people are more comfortable shopping for things online, as many of them have done during the past 18 months for everything from groceries to appliances?
  • Are more people simply questioning the visit to a dealer as being a necessity?
  • Is this a case where people go to a dealership, take the test drive, and then go home and search for a better deal?

Whatever the case, it is clear that there is a shift in how vehicles are going to be bought. And it is also clear that there is a shift in what people are willing to pay for vehicles.

Consider this: If you bought a new vehicle the first week of January this year, you wouldn’t pay it off until the week of September 10.

Sales Numbers Could Make One Swoon In June

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive see solid figures for June ’21 sales

By Gary S. Vasilash

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive have come out with their prediction for how June 2021 sales will come in, and the prediction is that it will be a 12.4% increase over June 2020—which isn’t all that surprising, given that in June 2020 we were still in the midst of the pandemic—and even a smidge, as in 0.3%, better than June 2019 (taking into account available selling days).

However, looking at the second quarter of 2021 in its entirety, things are rather robust, as in a 44.2% increase over Q2 2020 and a 10.7% increase over Q2 2019.

But there are some other figures that need to be taken into account.

One of those numbers is $38,088. That’s the average price of a new vehicle, which is a first half record according to the two organizations. It is a 10.1% (or $3,497) rise compared to the same period in 2019 and a 14.1% (or $4,699) increase over the number in 2019.

The average transaction price—as in what people actually pay for a vehicle from a dealer—is expected to be $40,206, a record high.

The organizations see retailer profits rise from $1,310 in the first half of 2020 and $1,457 in the first half of 2019 to $2,844.

Explains Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power, “Consumers are buying more expensive vehicles despite smaller discounts, which is dramatically increasing the profitability of those sales for both manufacturers and retailers.”

Although there is evident agitation on behalf of some of an economic bent regarding the rise in inflation, recognize that here are consumers who are buying big, which means that OEMs are going to make more expensive vehicles because they’re selling, which means that there will be a continued rise. . .

Until there isn’t.

2020 Sales Expectations: Not Bad. But Not Good.

12,386,000. That’s the number of new vehicles that J.D. Power and LMC Automotive estimate will be sold in the U.S. in 2020.

All in, this is a decline of 9.5% compared with 2019 sales.

Given COVID-19, surprisingly good.

What’s more, the average transaction price—that is, the price that people actually pay, taking cash back, incentives and other means to persuade people to buy—is expected to be $38,077, up 9% from 2019.

According to the researchers, because of the higher transaction prices, the vehicle manufacturers are not going to take quite as big a hit as the 9.5% decline in sales might lead one to expect: It is estimated that the total value of new vehicles purchased will be off just 4%.

December sales provide a bit of a boost because this is when luxury sales tend to make an upswing.

And for this particular December, J.D. Power and LMC calculate that trucks and SUVs—which generally have a higher sticker price than sedans—will account for 79% of all retail sales, up 4% from December 2019.

But here’s a question: is this a sustainable situation given the number of people in the U.S. who are currently unemployed?

According to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

“Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff decreased by 441,000 in November to 2.8 million. This measure is down considerably from the high of 18.1 million in April”—good—“but is 2.0 million higher than its February level.” Not good.

“The number of permanent job losers, at 3.7 million, was about unchanged in November but is 2.5 million higher than in February.” Think of this: those people aren’t getting their jobs back.

“In November, the number of persons who usually work full time rose by 752,000 to 124.3 million”—good—“while the number of persons who usually work part time decreased by 779,000 to 25.4 million.” Not good.

Given the number of unemployed people, is it not likely that there were some people who, after the lockdowns were lifted, went out and bought a new pickup because they figured that they might as well?

While sales in 2021 will undoubtedly be better than 2020 (yes, a not particularly high bar), one wonders: How many people are going to find that their vehicle payments and their income just aren’t getting along very well?