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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.

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.

VEHICLE REGISTRATIONS AMONG ETHNIC GROUPS GROW, SAYS R.L. POLK

New-vehicle registrations among ethnic groups increased by nearly 11% from 2003–2006, according to data released by R. L. Polk & Co. Hispanics, Asians and African Americans are represented in the category. Polk also reports non-ethnic new-vehicle registrations are down 7% for the same timeframe.

CONSUMERS PAY PREMIUM FOR USED DIESELS

Consumers are paying more money for the diesel option of a used vehicle than what that option originally cost new, according to a recent AutoWeek article. For example, the cost of the diesel option for the 2005 Mercedes E320 CDI sedan was $1,000, but the cost of this option rose to $2,500, according to Black Book used-vehicle price guide reports. The article notes that the reason for this lies in the fact that consumers want fullsize car and trucks with better fuel economy.

ACTIVE CONSUMERS BUYING MORE RECREATIONAL VEHICLES

The motorized recreational vehicle (RV) and non-motorized or “towable” RV market, hindered by a slow economy, is expected to pick up speed over the next five years, growing 5% and reaching $15.9 billion, according to “Recreational Vehicle Manufacturing in the U.S.”, a new report from market research publisher SBI.

A SIMPLE APPROACH TO SIX SIGMA—HOW YOU CAN BENEFIT

The concept of Six Sigma has been applied to many big businesses as a way to improve business processes, and several of these companies report substantial cost savings as a result. You can find out more about Six Sigma by downloading a series of SEMA webinars by going to www.sema.org/webinars and searching under archived webinars. In addition, the following article below, written by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, gives a simple example to help understand the basic approach to applying Six Sigma to your business.

WILL THE NEW CHRYSLER LIFETIME POWERTRAIN WARRANTY AFFECT YOU?

Chrysler recently announced that it would extend its powertrain warranty from the three-year/36,000-mile Basic Limited Warranty to a new Lifetime Powertrain Warranty. The new Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty applies to most new Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles purchased from dealer inventory and delivered on or after July 26, 2007. With a lifetime warranty, will more consumers purchase Chrysler vehicles? In a recent survey of new-vehicle buyers, vehicle warranty ranked 13 among the top 52 characteristics important to consumers when shopping for a new vehicle. 

TWIN-INJECTION ENGINE ONE OF THE 10 BEST, SAYS WARDS

According to a recent WardsAuto.com article, when Toyota Motor Corp. introduced its 3.5L, DOHC V6, 2GR-FSE, many eyebrows were raised. The reason? The engine would be the first to combine direct-injection gasoline (DIG) fueling with conventional port fuel injection (PFI). The engine was launched in the 2006 Lexus IS 350, and has won two consecutive Ward’s 10 Best Engines awards.

NUMBER-ONE SELLING CAR GETS PRICE CHANGE

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., announced manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRP) for its 2008 Camry and Camry Hybrid.

The gas version carries over unchanged for the 2008 model year with a price increase of $100 for each grade. The weighted average of the increase represents 0.4% across all grades. The base MSRP for the 2008 Camry sedan ranges from $18,570 for the four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission to $28,120 for the premium XLE grade with a V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission.

STUDY SHOWS MORE CONSUMERS CONSIDER CLEAN DIESEL

As consumers become more realistic about the fuel-efficiency capabilities of hybrid vehicles, the percentage of new-vehicle shoppers who are considering a hybrid has declined, according to recently released J.D. Power and Associates' 2007 Alternative Powertrain Study. Their study examines the percentage of consumers that are considering purchasing either hybrid or clean-diesel powertrains.

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