When BMW recently opened a store on Paris' Avenue George V, that was first and foremost a retail play that offers interaction with its cars. Audi has just opened Audi City, a metropolis cyberstore in London, and gone the other way: this is where you go to buy a car as if you were shopping in a Regent Street or Saville Row boutique, with some retail bits thrown in.
2009 was the single worst sales year for the auto industry in 30 years, with just 10.4 million vehicles moving off dealer lots. Consultancy A.T. Kearney feels a lot better about 2010 and beyond, though, as pent-up demand is beginning to creep into the market. A.T. Kearney predicts that by the time 2010 is in the history books, the industry will have hit between 11.4 and 12.3 million cars and trucks sold, but if you hold the company to just one number, it estimates a market of 11.7 million units.
Up until very recently, the reason that you bought a BMW 3 Series or a Mercedes-Benz C-Class was to prepare you to buy a 5 or an E in a few years. You know, ladders to climb, blowing up to do, de-luxe apartments in the sky to own. These days, according to a new study, that is less and less the case: fewer premium buyers are moving up and more buyers are actually moving down.
The cynic in you might think that a rise in the price of used vehicles, just as new car sales are cratering worse than anyone can remember, is a not-so-transparent ploy to overcharge buyers. It turns out to be more a case of supply versus demand. Wholesale used car prices are bumping up as a result of sagging new car sales, according to auto auction company Manheim. Two-thirds of new car sales have a trade-in attached, which creates a supply stream of pre-owned vehicles to recycle onto dealer lo