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DesRosiers Takes a Hindsight Look at 2012

In the days leading up to the new year, DesRosiers Automotive Consultants looked back at some of its predictions made in early 2012 to gauge which of their claims and expectations manifested in the market.

From the large pickup truck market to the popularity of diesel vehicles, company president Dennis DesRosiers took a look at the past year in his December Observations report.

First, he touched on the large pickup segment, looking into the following question: Did pickup truck sales return to normal levels in 2012?

After abnormally strong sales levels in 2010 and 2011, it was expected the segment should return to normal levels this past year, but it seems trucks are remaining popular among consumers.

"As of December 2012, large pickups have indeed held onto the increased popularity gained in the preceding two years," DesRosiers said. "Total market share has eroded slightly (standing at 15.9 percent year-to-date through the end of November 2012 versus 16.3 percent at the same point in 2011), but this share decline is minimal relative to the increase it represents over the 2000s average [and is underpinned by an increase in unit volumes]."

Breaking it down by brand, the Detroit Three automakers dominated sales, especially Ford and Chrysler.

"Large pickup remains one of the last bastions of Detroit dominance, and dominate they do - to the tune of a 96 percent combined segment share," DesRosiers said. "But while Ford and Chrysler increased their respective shares of this profitable segment, General Motors did not participate in this year's continued rally; GM's chunk of the large pickup market fell from 34.6 percent 2011 year-to-date (through November) to 31.0 percent this year (2012)."

Moving along to highlight trends in the smaller segments, DesRosiers shared that in January of 2011, the company asked whether or not subcompact buyers would return to the market in 2012.

"With a month to go before the books are closed on 2012, we can safely announce that the B segment wave failed to show up this year; we remain on-track for another year with B shares in the mid-six percent range. Should fuel prices rise beyond historic thresholds in 2013, consumers may once again shift down a segment or two," DesRosiers said as 2012 came to a close.

Providing some background on the segment's sales, officials noted that traditionally, subcompact cars have proven to be inconsistent performers in the Canadian marketplace. Since cars of this size historically have achieved better fuel efficiency than their larger counterparts, sales seem to spike along with fuel rates.

That said, this segment may ramp up in the future as CAFE regulations begin to come into play.

On that same note, the company also touched on the popularity of hybrids and electric cars.

"We wondered in January (2011) if - barring a major sales swing toward traditional hybrids and their newer plug-in siblings - other technologies like Ford's EcoBoost and Mazda's SkyActive suite would gain ground," DesRosiers said.

"It would seem that the latter technologies have won the day, at least in 2012; it remains our firmly held belief that big gains in fleet-wide energy use reduction will come from the gradual downsizing of standard internal combustion engines through the deployment of the cocktail alighted upon by the most technologically innovative (and realistic) of our vehicle companies: turbocharging, direct injection, electric accessories and ever-more-efficient transmissions," he continued, offering predictions for the future fuel-efficient market.

Lastly, the exec touched on the Japanese OEMs' performance this year, in light of 2011's natural disasters and loss of market share.

It seems some Japanese brands continue on the road to full recovery.

"Indeed, Japanese automakers have clawed back some of the lost market share, but post-2011 gains have been largely restricted to the big volume players (Vanguard Japanese: Honda/Acura and Toyota/Lexus)," DesRosiers shared.

On the other hand, smaller brands such as Nissan/Infiniti and Mazda continue to trail pre-2011 sales levels.