Fuel Economy Improvements and Aging Vehicle Fleet Mean U.S. Auto Industry Strength to Continue, Says MaritzCX

SALT LAKE CITY, July 15, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The bull market in U.S. light-vehicle sales has plenty of room left to run, according to recent industry analysis by customer experience company MaritzCX.

"What's interesting about this most recent auto industry expansion, after the downturn in 2009, is that increases in new buyers or increases in household fleets aren't responsible for today's growth," noted Dr. Dave Fish, senior vice president of expert services at MaritzCX. "So how are we getting such expansion in a mature market such as the U.S.? Our analysis reveals that buyers are replacing older than usual vehicles with newer ones that have better fuel economy—and there is still pent-up demand for more new vehicles."

Fuel Economy Matters

A big driver of turning in much older vehicles for newer ones is the demand for better fuel efficiency. In 2002, only 31 percent of new buyers from the MaritzCX New Vehicle Customer Study rated fuel efficiency as "extremely important," not even making the top ten most important purchase reasons in that year.

By 2014, the need for fuel economy skyrocketed to 45 percent, putting miles per gallon (mpg) to #3 of the most important purchase reasons for new vehicle buyers in the U.S., only trailing "value for the money" and "reliability" The industry has kept up by increasing vehicle fuel efficiency by 24 percent in passenger cars (36-mpg) and 13 percent for light-trucks (21.4-mpg) during that same period.

Brightening economic conditions, with a customer eye toward more fuel efficiency, appear to be conjuring up laggard buyers. These buyers have been waiting for a sense of economic stability before making a major family purchase like a new car or truck. But how long can this sales expansion continue? When will the supply of these buyers who've held out so long begin to wane?

"That largely depends on the natural run rate on U.S. vehicle sales which is conservatively around 15.6 million units, based on historical light-vehicle sales data since the beginning of the century. This is a number we have been well under from 2009 to 2013," said Fish.

"Provided we hit the anticipated 17+ million units sold in 2015, those dark years of 2008 through 2013 have left us with a demand of about 13 million additional units after 2015. Obviously, many of those folks will continue to delay or make other choices, like used vehicles, but with even half that many units in play, it looks like the good times may roll for some time into the future," added Fish.

The MaritzCX New Vehicle Customer Study (NVCS) is the longest-running and most comprehensive buyer behavior study in the automotive industry. The study, released monthly to subscribers, provides a lens on vehicle buying patterns including key metrics on market share, retention, loyalty, purchase reasons, feature ratings, and vehicle design. For more than 40 years, the NVCS has delivered tactical and strategic intelligence for product planning, marketing, brand management, financing, and more. The study receives feedback from 250,000 North American vehicle buyers annually and is used by the majority of automotive manufacturers in both the US and Canada. For more information about MaritzCX in the auto industry, please visit cxcafe.maritzcx.com/auto.

About MaritzCX LLC

MaritzCX believes organizations should be able to see, sense and act on the experiences and desires of every customer, at every touch point, as it happens. The company helps organizations increase customer retention, conversion and lifetime value by ingraining customer experience intelligence and action systems into the DNA of business operations. MaritzCX is the combination of the Allegiance award-winning CX platform and Maritz Research strategic consulting services. For more information, visit www.maritzcx.com.

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CONTACT: Laura Kvinge 801.467.9263 media@maritzcx.com

Source: MaritzCX