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New models to spur sales, J. D. Power says

Sun, 06 Feb 2011 00:00:00 -0800

A flood of new-model introductions this year will help pump sales volume for the industry, according to forecasts from J.D. Power and Associates.

Automakers have scheduled 60 new or substantially redesigned model introductions this year, compared with just 36 in 2010, by Power's count.

The marketing and forecasting company predicts a million more retail sales in 2011 than in 2010, said Jeff Schuster, executive director of forecasting, at the J.D. Power International Automotive Roundtable on Friday.

"New models are critical to stirring up sales," Schuster said. "It drives showroom floor traffic. Customers might not end up buying the new model, but they come into the store to look at it. It creates a buzz. It helps sell other models."

The low number of introductions last year was partly due to timing -- models are redesigned on a recurring cycle. It also was due to the elimination of some brands, including Pontiac and Saturn, and by delays in programs as automakers reeled from financial troubles.

Schuster said a growing number of future new models will come in small-vehicle segments, including B-segment and C-segment cars, crossovers and SUVs.

In 2010, he said, 32 percent of U.S. sales were compacts and subcompacts. By 2015, he predicted, the volume will represent 39 percent.

He said: "We see a lot of competitive pressure in the smaller end of the spectrum."

By Lindsay Chappell- Automotive News