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REPORT INDICATES GROWTH IN VEHICLE-APPEARANCE PRODUCT SALES

According to information from The NPD Group, a consumer and retail information company, marketers of vehicle appearance products (i.e. car care) could see a boost in business this spring. The firm reports 12% of consumers surveyed last fall indicated they would spend more money on vehicle appearance this year; only 4% said they would spend less.

NEW TECHNOLOGY COULD SUSTAIN PLUG-IN HYBRID INFRASTRUCTURE

Automakers aren’t the only companies taking a keen interest in plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs). Electric utilities are realizing development of such technology could bolster their bottom line, as well, according to a recent WardsAuto.com article.

Although PHEVs offer promising fuel efficiency, they face a number of hurdles before being introduced to the marketplace. Arguably, the most significant challenge is the way the nation’s energy grids will handle the additional power needed to recharge large numbers of plug-in vehicles.

GAS PRICES CAUSING SHIFTS IN VEHICLE PURCHASES, SAYS J.D. POWER

Rising gasoline prices have some owners of large and midsize trucks trading to smaller vehicles, according to J.D. Power and Associates, which uses real-time retail transaction data from its Power Information Network (PIN) to gather figures. In a recent press release, it said gasoline prices have surged more than $.20 in recent weeks to a record nationwide average of $3.10 per gallon, surpassing the previous record of $3.07 per gallon set in September 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

DO CONSUMERS REALLY WANT IN-CAR DVD AND NAV SYSTEMS?

Without a doubt, safety and security features and services are becoming an increasingly important part of automakers' arsenal as they try to differentiate themselves from the competition and woo more customers into their fold, according to a recent TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence article. In a recent newsletter, TechnoMetrica states that the trend of adding more features and services to today’s vehicles is not confined to safety and security.

NO BATTERIES NEEDED FOR NEW TPMS SENSOR

As automotive tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) mandates come into effect, Texas Instruments Incorporated and Transense Technologies PLC have developed what they say is the automotive industry’s first targeted piezo-electric surface acoustic wave (SAW) sensor based system for TPMS applications. According to a recent Texas Instruments press release, the sensor units operate wirelessly, require no power source and are typically 11 millimeters x 3 millimeters in size and less than 2 grams in weight.
 

UPCOMING VEHICLE PRODUCTION PLANS FORECASTED

Despite pumped-up production schedules in recent weeks, North American June output will trail last year’s pace by 8.3%, according to a recent WardsAuto.com article. Ward’s Auto forecasts manufacturers will assemble 1,394,600 vehicles next month based on 21 production days, somewhat under the industry’s planned 1,403,000 units. Output in like-2006 totaled 1,521,101 units, with one additional production day.

FILTER SALES EXPECTED TO GROW 3.2%—CLICK HERE TO SEE WHY

The future of filters appears to be heading in a good direction, according to a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc. A recent Aftermarket Business article states that filter shipments are projected to advance 3.2% annually through 2011 to $10.9 billion. Gains will be driven by ongoing sales in the aftermarket, which accounts for the vast majority of demand. Advances will also be spurred by pending changes in environmental regulations, particularly those involving cleaner air and a reduction in diesel engine emissions.

CHRYSLER SOLD, WHAT'S NEXT

Despite the sale of Chrysler group by DaimlerChrysler, powertrain analysts at CSM Worldwide expect the restructured Chrysler to remain highly competitive in the powertrain arena well into the next decade. According to a recent CSM Worldwide press release, Chrysler has been aggressively procuring designs and outsourcing powertrain production from its global partners. The link that will be maintained with Daimler AG will be a key element of this strategy.

CHEVROLET VOLT CONCEPT A PRODUCTION REALITY?

General Motors announced that they are planning a production version of its well-received Chevrolet Volt concept, according to a recent AutoWeek article. GM says they are now working on the production engineering of the Volt concept, which will ride on the next-generation Delta platform. This will be the same platform the upcoming Cobalt or Astra small car will be built on. Two versions of the Volt will be put into production: one powered by a hydrogen fuel cell and the other will run on gasoline.

AUTOS MORE AFFORDABLE—HOW THIS AFFECTS YOU

So how much money will consumers have in their pockets after purchasing a new vehicle? According to the “Auto Affordability Index” compiled by Comerica Bank, the purchase of an average-priced new vehicle took 24.7 weeks of median family income in the first quarter. This is down 1.5 weeks from the fourth quarter, and is also down 0.5 weeks compared to a year ago. This means that consumers have more discretionary income in their pockets to purchase specialty-equipment parts and accessories. 

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