What Vehicles Are People Considering and Why?

By Gary S. Vasilash

Kelley Blue Book puts together an interesting study on what people are interested in by examining what they are searching for automotive-wise both on desktops and mobile.

For Q1 22 in the non-luxury space the number-one brand is Toyota, with 34% brand consideration. In Q4 21 it was Ford on top. They’ve switched places. Ford is at 32%. Chevy is on the rise because in Q4 it was at 25% but has risen by five percentage points.

What is somewhat sad is Fiat, which was at 0% in Q4 and is at 0% in Q1.

And just above it are Mitsubishi and MINI, both at 1%, which is where they were last quarter, too.

Perhaps people just know all they need to about those brands.

Ram Laramie 1500: Imposing and comfortable. (Image: Ram)

KBB slices, dices and rices data in various ways. Like looking at four categories: SUVs, Cars, Pickups, and Minivans.

The top SUV is the Honda CR-V (besting the Tahoe, Durango, RAV4 and Highlander).

The #1 car is the Honda Accord, edging out the Civic (sibling rivalry). The Camry, Charger and Challenger follow.

In Pickups it is the Silverado 1500, followed by the F-150, F-250/F-350/F-450, the Silverado 2500/3500 HD, and the Tacoma.

In Minivans it is the Sienna followed by the Odyssey, Pacifica, Pacifica Hybrid and Voyager.

Of those categories, 66% looked at SUVs, 37% Cars, 35% Pickups, and 5% Minivans.

Perhaps there is some life in Cars, although the considerations were down 31% in the last quarter and 33% in the last year, so clearly things aren’t moving in the right direction.

Another potentially encouraging sign for Cars is that in the top 10 models considered, there are three Cars on the list (Accord, Civic and Camry), which is the number of SUVs on the list (CR-V, Tahoe, Durango).

What are the top three factors driving consideration?

Durability/reliability is in the top spot, which is not a surprise, nor is the fact that Toyota is the one that takes it.

Second is safety, and while you might imagine that would be Volvo, Subaru is actually in that position.

And third is driving comfort. This is taken by Ram. Who would have thought that a pickup truck would win the comfort honors?

Top Tech According to KBB

Kelley Blue Book has come out with a list of top vehicular tech for 2022.

One thing that you may immediately notice is that this technology isn’t exactly new in most cases.

But it is a list of things that you might want to be aware of should you be out there looking for a new vehicle.

Of course, finding an affordable new vehicle is all the more difficult nowadays because of the on-going shortage of semiconductors–and it is worth noting that by and large these technologies are predicated on. . .semiconductors:

  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Connected Mobile Apps/Digital Key (the latter uses a phone as a device to unlock and start the vehicle)
  • Teen Driver Tech (squeals to Mom and Dad if the kids go too fast, for example)
  • Safe Exit Assist to Protect Cyclists (blind spot detection of bike rides—helps save them and the driver’s door)
  • Wireless Smartphone Connectivity and Charging
  • 360-degree Camera
  • Emergency Services/Stolen Vehicle Tracking Software (when is the last time you heard anyone mention LoJack?)
  • Blind-Spot View Monitor (not just that little yellow light in the sideview mirror but an actual image of what’s where)
  • Video Rearview Mirror (switches the reflective mirror to a video display)

Drive carefully even if you don’t have any of this stuff.

Remarkable Rotary Engine and Agreeable NACTOY Jurors

Power in a small package. Jurors before casting their ballots

By Gary S. Vasilash

The Omega 1 is a highly efficient engine, one that can produce 160 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. Yet it weighs just 35 pounds.

While it is a combustion engine, it doesn’t have pistons. Doesn’t have crankshafts.

Rather, the output from the engine comes from a single rotating power shaft.

Yes, the configuration of the engine is predicated on rotary motion. In fact there are no moving parts besides the rotational elements.

It can be fueled with gasoline or hydrogen.

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” we are joined by Matthew Riley, the founder, CEO of Astron Aerospace and inventor of the Omega 1 and Chris Theodore of Theodore & Associates and technical advisor to Astron.

They explain the way this engine works.

Astron Omega 1. Looks complicated. But simpler and lighter than a reciprocating engine. (Image: Astron Aerospace)

Given the name of the company, there is a focus on use in aircraft applications. For example, drone use would be certainly something that this lightweight engine would lend itself to.

But it also is conceivably applicable to automotive applications: Think of how it could be used to power a vehicle using hydrogen as fuel—there would be no need for a fuel cell to transform the hydrogen.

Then on the second half of the show “Autoline’s” John McElroy and I are joined by Matt DeLorenzo of Kelley Blue Book and Jack Nerad of “America on the Road Radio.” All four of us are jurors for the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year (NACTOY) awards and will soon be voting on the winners for the 2022 awards.

The finalists are:

CAR

  • Honda Civic
  • Lucid Air
  • Volkswagen GTI/Golf R

TRUCK

  • Ford Maverick
  • Hyundai Santa Cruz
  • Rivian R1T

UTILITY

  • Ford Bronco
  • Genesis GV 70
  • Hyundai IONIQ 5

The four of us discuss which vehicles are likely to win.

The surprising part of the discussion is how much agreement there is, with little in the way of dispute.

But you be the judge by watching it here.

Auto: High/Low

Better (1) have lots of cash—or credit—and (2) be flexible in your vehicle choice

By Gary S. Vasilash

According to Kelley Blue Book automobile prices hit an all-time high in July—and affordability hit a 10-year low.

Here’s a number that is undoubtedly making OEMs and dealers happy and consumers not:

42,736

Stick a $ in front of that and that’s the average transaction price—a.k.a., what people actually pay—for a new vehicle.

This, according to KBB, is $3,223 more than it was one year ago and $402 more than in June 2021.

What’s more, incentives are down, therefore accounting, in part, for the decline in profitability.

That is, in July 2021 the average incentive was 5.9% of the average transaction price. In July 2020 it was 10.1%.

And while probably not as crazy as things are in residential real estate, it is a bit of a surprise to learn that the average price paid was above the manufacturers’ suggested retail price.

You read that right: people paid more than MSRP.

Another factor that plays into this price rise is the lack of inventory. While the last time you went out for a new vehicle the dealer lot was probably jammed with new vehicles, nowadays it has the look of a church parking lot on a Monday.

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.

Gulp.

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.