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DEALER, RETAILER, CATALOG OR INTERNET: WHERE PICKUP OWNERS BUY ACCESSORIES

Although pickup sales have declined by nearly 18% in July compared to last year’s sales, consumer still plan to accessorize the pickups they are purchasing. According to the latest SEMA research, 17% of the 24 million households surveyed that plan to purchase specialty equipment over the next three months plan to accessorize a pickup. To help SEMA members make sense of the current buying behavior of pickup owners, SEMA put together the “2006 SEMA Light Truck Personalization Report.” The following is a short excerpt of that report.

HOW NANOTECHNOLOGY INCREASES BATTERY, ELECTRIC CAR PERFORMANCE

Advanced nanotech batteries are becoming a driving force in making electric cars go farther and faster between charges, up to five times farther than today’s conventional batteries, according to ZAP and Advanced Battery Technologies, Inc. With this in mind, the two companies recently announced the opening of a joint development office in Beijing, China, to expand their research, manufacturing and marketing of advanced batteries for electric cars using the latest in nanotechnology.

“TREMENDOUS DEMAND” FOR HIGH-PERFORMANCE ELECTRIC ROADSTER, SAYS TESLA MOTORS

Tesla Motors, a manufacturer of high-performance electric cars, says it has passed a significant milestone by passing the 500 mark in 2008 model-year Roadster reservations. “We are currently planning to produce 800 of the first model-year Roadsters," said Darryl Siry, vice president of sales, marketing and service at Tesla Motors. "The fact that more than 560 are already accounted for demonstrates the tremendous demand for the 2008 Tesla Roadster.”

MOST POPULAR CARS ONLINE ARE ALSO TOP SELLERS

CarGurus recently announced its mid-year top 10 most popular car models as voted by consumers on www.CarGurus.com. Based on the quantity and quality of ratings received by each car on the website, 2007 models were ranked by consumer popularity. Given the recent spikes in gas prices, CarGurus commented that it was surprising that 70% of the top 10 most popular cars were utility trucks or sports cars. Topping the popularity list was the Jeep Wrangler, followed by the Ford Mustang.

DEMAND WATCH: SURVEY SHOWS CONSUMER INTEREST IN PERFORMANCE PARTS GREW IN JULY

Forecasting the demand of specialty-equipment parts and accessories provides an invaluable tool for strategic market planners and helps answer one ongoing question: How will industry sales do in the coming months? To help answer this question, SEMA commissioned the market-research firm TechnoMetrica to survey consumers every month in order to gauge their specialty-equipment purchase intentions over the next three months. In July, TechnoMetrica's nationally representative sample of 1,004 consumers—which represents approximately 114 million U.S.

EUROPEAN FOUR-CYLINDER DIESEL COULD END UP IN NORTH AMERICAN MARKET

During Chrysler’s “What’s New” media preview last month, global product development chief Frank Klegon shook things up by announcing the automaker is exploring a four-cylinder diesel for North America, according to a recent article by Diesel Forecast.

Klegon didn’t provide more details, dangling the question of whether Chrysler, in the midst of an ownership transition, will pull one vehicle from its stable of European diesels or look outside the box with an all-new engine. 

HYBRID SALES TO REACH RECORD LEVELS, SAYS J.D. POWER

Hybrid vehicles are on course to achieve record sales in 2007, increasing by 35% compared with 2006, according to the “J.D. Power and Associates 2007 U.S. Hybrid Vehicle Forecast Second Quarter Update.”

DIESEL VW TOUAREG SETS RACE RECORD

Volkswagen of America, Inc. has set a new record with its Touareg V10 TDI driven by Ryan Arciero at the 2007 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (PPIHC) Race to the Clouds race—a 12.4-mile course. Arciero’s time of 13:17:70 was officially declared the new record holder for the alternative fuel diesel truck high performance showroom stock division. The previous record for this division was set in 2000 with a time of 13:34:63.

EIGHT SIMPLE TIPS FOR AN EFFECTIVE WEBSITE

On the web, content is king—or it should be. If you want people to visit, stick around, and come back to your small business’ website, give them substance, says a recent article by the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

The appearance of your website is still important in helping establish professionalism and credibility. But the information and other substantive material you provide matters most.

WHY KEEPING YOUR CUSTOMERS SATISFIED CAN ENSURE REPEAT BUSINESS

How you handle the business when you get it is at least as important as bringing it in, in the first place. If you don’t deliver a positive experience, meaning that you deliver all you promised and then some, customers are going to be disappointed, according to a recent article by Larry Mersereau, small business consultant, speaker and author in the field of marketing and promotion.
 
He notes that disappointed customers can do a number of things:

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