U.S. car industry is back on track, reporting strong sales across the country in the first quarter of 2012. The industry pushed numbers to the best quarter since before the recession. Volkswagen even had its best first quarter since 1973.
Good for the country. Maybe not so good for car buyers. Going forward, you will not see deals and incentives as good as last year. Strong sales mean that most automakers can go easy on discounts and financing offers.
It might, however, be worth keeping an eye on Honda and Toyota. Even if they haven’t revealed any surprising deals so far, something is bound to happen. Honda was the only major company with a decline in the first quarter. Sales slipped 5 percent. Since 2009 Honda has lost almost 2% of its market share. Toyota, being No. 3 in U.S. vehicle sales, is also loosing market share. The share has dropped almost 3% since 2009.
Still, both car makers are raising the forecast for 2012 sales. But how will they achieve that?
Problems for Toyota probably go back to 2009, when different safety issues forced a recall of more than 8 million vehicles. At the same time shoppers turned their back on Honda models like Civic and Accord. U.S. News & World Report ranks the 2012 Civic 25th out of 41 compacts. Consumer Reports has dropped the Civic from its recommended list. Car buyers are looking elsewhere.
Toyota and Honda need to get customers back into their show rooms. They need to get the consumer’s trust back. They need to be more aggressive.
Expect to see some better incentives and events from these companies soon.