Auto Notes, April 2011- A New Day Rises, but with More of the Same

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The economy is on an upswing. Slow, but on an upswing. While the lending and housing markets are slow to rebound, vehicle manufacturers are seeing vehicles moving off dealer lots at a quickening pace. At the major auto shows, such as Los Angeles and Detroit (as well as at the Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg shows), new product was everywhere. Some new product was driven by the need to remain competitive, other new product was driven by government safety and fuel mileage requirements. There were electric, turbo and diesel vehicles for increased mileage, while electronic content is expanding to appeal to a demanding customer base looking to be entertained and informed.

And the competition is fierce! Quality across the product segments from subcompacts to crossovers to luxury vehicles is at a virtual dead heat, leaving customers with no reason to leave a brand, as the disappointments in the vehicle ownership experience are few and far apart. That leaves vehicle manufacturers scrambling to differentiate their product lines from others in the marketplace. With product

being nearly equal, the manufacturers have refocused their sights (again!) on their dealer body to further elevate the buying and service experience to win over new customers, and to keep those in the family happy.

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