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Monday December 8

R.L. Polk Reports 2003 Model Year Vehicle Registrations Down 6.5 Percent

Total U.S. new vehicle registrations were down by 6.5 percent at the close of the 2003 model year, compared to 2002, according to automotive intelligence provider, R.L. Polk & Co. European brands and SUVs were the only segments to show growth in an otherwise down new vehicle market for the model year.

Registrations for the 2003 model year were 16,434,563, their lowest level since the 1999 model year when 16,149,984 new vehicles were registered by U.S. consumers. The decline in new registrations was experienced broadly across the industry. Overall car registrations slipped by 9.2 percent while truck registrations fell by 4.1 percent, resulting in modest market share decline.

"The automotive market has been running at a very high rate, given the state of the economy. We expected to see some pull back," said Lonnie Miller, director of analytical solutions at R.L. Polk & Co. "The market decline is not surprising given the model year's slow start and consistent performance below last year's levels."

Both prestige luxury and mid sporty segments improved for 2003. The introduction of the Infiniti M45 and BMW 760 helped bolster the prestige luxury segment while the Mazda RX-8 and Chrysler Crossfire introductions increased registrations in the mid sporty segment.

"Economic indicators are trending positively, and are signaling a turnaround for the economy and the automotive market going into next year," said Miller. "We project new vehicle sales to reach 16.6 million for the 2003 calendar year, increasing to 17 million for the 2004 calendar year."

U.S. domestic nameplates continued to see their market shares erode in the 2003 model year. Ford's domestic brands had the greatest decline at a combined 11.1 percent. Market share for DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group brands fell 10.8 percent in the 2003 model year. GM's domestic brands had a combined downturn of 7.6 percent.

The Asian brands, including Korean brands, experienced a combined volume decline of 1.9 percent; but their combined market share grew to 32.5 percent in model year 2003, compared to 31 percent in 2002. American Honda Motor Co. had the strongest showing of the Asian companies with a 6.3 percent increase in registrations, increasing its market share to 8.1 percent in 2003 from 7.2 percent in 2002. Toyota Motor Corporation's overall registrations declined by 1.5 percent, while its market share grew from 10.4 percent in 2002 to 10.9 percent in 2003.

Market share for European brands increased to 7 percent in 2003, from 6.7 percent in 2002. The BMW Group had the strongest growth at 11.4 percent increasing its share to 1.6 percent from 1.4 percent in 2002. The Volkswagen Group suffered the greatest loss among the European brands with registrations falling by nearly 12 percent. Mercedes grew in 2003 by 2.2 percent increasing its share to 1.3 percent from 1.2 in 2002.

"We are optimistic in the overall state of the U.S. automotive market, despite the downturn in registrations for 2003," said Miller. "With continued economic growth, a stronger job market and continued commitment from the industry to provide exciting options for buyers, the U.S. automotive market should trend positive into the short term future."

The Top Ten Vehicles in the U.S. in M.Y. 2003:
Ford F Series782,376
Chevrolet Silverado677,107
Dodge Ram423,086
Toyota Camry413,628
Honda Accord403,463
Ford Explorer397,218
Ford Taurus328,401
Toyota Corolla322,174
Honda Civic308,007
Chevrolet Impala264,996

*Source: R. L. Polk & Co. 2003 Total New Vehicle Registrations. Model year is measured from October 2002 - September 2003.

The Top Ten Trucks in the U.S. in M.Y. 2003*:
Ford F Series782,376
Chevrolet Silverado677,107
Dodge Ram423,086
Ford Explorer397,218
Chevrolet TrailBlazer264,151
Dodge Caravan233,947
Ford Ranger215,470
Jeep Grand Cherokee205,427
GMC Sierra199,912
Chevrolet Tahoe191,209

*Source: R. L. Polk & Co. 2003 Total New Vehicle Registrations. Model year is measured from October 2002 - September 2003.

The Top Ten Cars in the U.S. in M.Y. 2003*:
Toyota Camry413,628
Honda Accord403,463
Ford Taurus328,401
Toyota Corolla322,174
Honda Civic308,007
Chevrolet Impala264,996
Chevrolet Cavalier237,066
Ford Focus233,575
Nissan Altima196,778
Chevrolet Malibu158,794

*Source: R. L. Polk & Co. 2003 Total New Vehicle Registrations. Model year is measured from October 2002 - September 2003.

Total Model Year End Registrations, 1994 - 2003:

  • 2003 - 16,434,563
  • 2002 - 17,580,435
  • 2001 - 16,841,111
  • 2000 - 17,657,586
  • 1999 - 16,149,984
  • 1998 - 15,190,449
  • 1997 - 14,992,066
  • 1996 - 15,181,879
  • 1995 - 14,759,212
  • 1994 - 14,698,586

*Source: R. L. Polk & Co. Total New Vehicle Registrations. Model year is measured from October of the previous year through September of the designated year.

Polk has served the automotive industry for 80 years and is the longest standing curator of automobile records in the United States. Founded in Detroit in 1870, Polk launched its motor vehicle statistical operations in 1922 when the first car registration reports were published. The company now provides automotive solutions to nearly every segment of the motor vehicle industry as an analytical consultant and statistician, as a provider of database-marketing services, and as a supplier of vehicle histories. Based in Southfield, Mich., Polk is a privately held global firm, currently operating in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

©2003 Collision Repair Industry INSIGHT
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