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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.

COULD YOU BENEFIT FROM A SALES AND MARKETING PLAN?

The benefits of strategic planning are many, but the planning process itself has its own rewards, according to a recent article by Dan Beaulieu, president of D.B. Management Group LLC. The excerpt of his article below describes how companies can benefit by taking the time to develop a strategic marketing plan:

Does your company have a strategic business plan? How about a formal marketing plan? Does your team sit down together at least once a year and hack out how you did this year and what you plan to do next year?

HOW YOUR COMPETITION DEALS WITH RISING ENERGY COSTS

SEMA members cited rising operating costs as the number-one obstacle facing their businesses, according to a SEMA research. Part of these operating costs include money spent on energy, and a recent study showed that businesses in general are faced with similar challenges imposed by rising energy costs. Results from a survey of North American business leaders indicate they expect energy prices to continue to rise, and plan to invest in energy efficiency measures to help fight rising costs, according to a recent Johnson Controls press release.

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.

HARDTOP CONVERTIBLES—HOT NEW TREND?

Although convertible hardtops have been around for some time, this past year has seen a huge influx of less expensive niche models with folding hardtops, according to a recent AutoWeek article. The article states, as hardtop convertible variants were introduced on vehicles, such as the Volvo C70, Pontiac G6, Volkswagen Eos, Chrysler Sebring, Mazda MX-5 and BMW 3 Series, automakers pushed their benefits: protection from the weather and theft, a quieter ride and even better body stiffness.

HIGH-PERFORMANCE NISSAN 350Z COMING SOON

Nissan will offer enthusiasts a highly modified version of its popular sports car: the 2007 Nissan NISMO 350Z. This marks the first time the NISMO package is available for the 350Z. The automaker says that they’re capturing the level of an enthusiast that wants customization at the dealership, but with this, enthusiasts are also turning to the specialty-equipment industry for their custom parts and accessories.

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