This Week in Car Buying: Sales show market shift; 2019 Subaru Impreza priced; Mercedes tries pop-up store; BMW 8 Series returns
With strong June sales finishing out the first half of 2018, the market outlook by for the balance of the year has some analysts looking at some moderation in volume. Citing concerns over higher tariffs and rising gas prices, some believe that the current boom in trucks, particularly crossovers and SUVs, may begin to cool.
However, with all-new pickups from Chevrolet, GMC and Ram ramping up, it’s not likely that overall truck sales will decrease and that the share of these vehicles will continue to hold at two-thirds of all sales. And while overall volume may not continue at the same pace, there will be deals to be had as some manufacturers boost incentives in a bid to increase share. During the first half, the average incentive increased by 5.7 percent to about $3,700 according to figures from Autodata.
In fact, looking at the first six months, overall car share of the market has dropped by 12 percent. Crossovers accounted for 38 percent of all sales and outpaced car sales by a half-million units. Further signs of this fundamental shift in the marketplace can be seen in the top 10 vehicles by volume, where Honda Accord dropped off the list for the first time. In dropping to 12th place, the Accord ranked behind 11th place Ford Escape.
Ford F-Series continued to top sales with 451,138 units for the first half of 2018, followed by Chevrolet Silverado and Ram pickups. Compact crossover SUVs dominated the middle of the list with Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V taking fourth through sixth. The Toyota Camry is the highest volume car in seventh with 178,795 units retailed, followed closely behind by the Honda Civic (161,462) and the Toyota Corolla. Rounding out the top 10 is the Chevrolet Equinox with more than 156,000 sold.
As further testament to the appeal of crossovers, Volkswagen, which at one time saw a quarter of its sales in diesels, now sees 25 percent of its volume taken by the Tiguan.
2019 Subaru Impreza priced
Subaru announced 2019 model year pricing on its Impreza compact, saying the lineup starts at $18,595, just $100 more than the 2018 models. Arriving this summer at dealerships, the 2019 Impreza is offered in four trim levels: 2.0i base, Premium, Sport and Limited in sedan and hatchback body styles.
Among the changes on the new models is the availability for the first time of Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology on the 2.0i versions. This $845 option includes a high-grade instrument cluster with 4.2-inch color display and individual wheel pressure readouts on the tire pressure monitoring system. Standard equipment includes a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
Premium models start at $21,595 and include the Subaru Starlink Safety and Security features, black machine-finish alloy wheels, and an all-weather package with heated front seats, windshield, and exterior mirrors. Premium hatchbacks are equipped with standard roof rails.
Stepping up to the 2.0i Sport model brings a starting sticker of $22,195 along with a sport-tuned suspension, 18-inch alloy wheels, a short-throw shifter on 5-speed manual models and active torque vectoring. These models are also distinguished by a black grille insert, body-color rocker panels, aluminum pedals, leather-wrapped steering wheel and red stitching on black cloth interior upholstery. Hatchbacks feature gloss black gate trim while sedans are fitted with a rear decklid spoiler.
The range-topping Limited trim sports LED headlamps and daytime running lights, chrome exterior accents, leather upholstery, a 6-way power driver’s seat, 8-inch infotainment touchscreen and EyeSight Driver Assist Technology as standard, which includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and reverse automatic braking. Blind spot detection, lane keep assist, rear cross traffic alert and steering-responsive headlights are also part of the package. Limited pricing begins at $24,995. Prices are for sedan models; hatchback versions are $500 more. All pricing excludes $885 delivery.
Mercedes tries pop-up stores
Following up on an experiment late last year in Atlanta and earlier this year in Miami with pop-up stores to display its products, Mercedes-Benz is looking to expand these temporary showcases with one planned on the Miracle Mile in Chicago. The idea behind the pop-ups is an effort to expose its vehicles to potential customers who may have never considered a Mercedes before. Rather than being a retail location, the pop-ups are more informational in nature and typically last about two months.
Dieter Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, told Automotive News that the company plans on “doing way more of them, probably focused on new product launches.” A prime candidate for showcasing in the pop-up environment will be Mercedes’ new entry-level A-Class sedan. That vehicle is designed to attract a younger audience, one that is familiar with the pop-up concept.
The soft-sell approach of these spaces is designed to showcase products that can range from vehicles like the A-Class up through high performance Mercedes-AMG GT sports car. The pop-ups also feature Mercedes-branded accessories and even virtual test drives in simulators. In addition to exposing the product, these operations serve as lead generators for local dealers. “We have many customers who just come through browsing,” Exler told the trade journal. “And they enjoy their visit because they know we’re not going to sell them a car.”
BMW 8 Series returns
After an absence of 20 years, a flagship coupe in the form of the 8 Series is returning to BMW’s lineup. The German car maker announced that the 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Coupe will arrive in U.S. showrooms December 8 and will be priced from $111,900 plus $995 destination.
The new 8 Series will be powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 engine producing 523 horsepower and 533 lb-ft of torque. The all-wheel-drive coupe can accelerate to 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds and is equipped with advanced 4-wheel steering, an adaptive suspension, and active roll stabilization. Available options include BMW’s Driving Assistant Professional suite of active driver assists and a 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround sound system.
Considering the donation of your old car to charity? If you use the new donate option here at Kelley Blue Book through Sept. 30, we’ll give an extra $100 to St. Jude’s Hospital. Details here.
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