Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Small Cars, Small Profits

Will Americans embrace the microcar trend?
By RICK KRANZ AUTOMOTIVE NEWS AutoWeek Updated: 04/23/07, 1:17 pm et
Automakers appear to be preparing for the possibility that rising gasoline prices will send long lines of customers to U.S. dealerships to buy tiny fuel-sipping cars such as the Mini Cooper.Several companies are moving into the segment. DaimlerChrysler's Smart ForTwo will arrive in the United States in 2008, and General Motors this month showed a trio of small Chevrolet concepts at the New York auto show. But an industry consulting company predicts that U.S. buyers will shun cars that are smaller than subcompacts such as the Chevrolet Aveo, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris. CSM Worldwide in Northville, Mich., calls such vehicles "microcars," defining them as vehicles less than 150 inches long.CSM predicts buyers will sacrifice a few miles per gallon to buy slightly larger, slightly more expensive cars.The bottom line: CSM forecasts that microcars will make barely a ripple in the U.S. market. Fewer than 100,000 microcars will be sold annually through 2013, according to CSM's seven-year forecast.

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