Are you in the market for a new car in 2013, but unsure of the latest car trends? If so, you’re in luck. Edmunds.com’s Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell and General Motors Head of Consumer Affairs, James Bell joined me for an interview this week, live from the New York Auto Show to dish on the top car trends this season, how to find a car that meets your needs and why car sales are up in 2013.
Candace Rose: Jessica, can you tell us about car sales in general?
Jessica Caldwell: “Well, car sales are looking really good. I think if you look at what the sale rate has been in 2013, it’s getting back to prerecession levels. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s certainly better than what we’ve seen in the past few years and I think that’s good news for automakers and the economy overall.”
Candace Rose: Why do you think that car sales are up this year?
Jessica Caldwell: “Well, I think we’re having people get back into the new car buying process. If you look at the average age of a vehicle being traded in, it’s six years old. So there are a lot of old cars on the road, and when people feeling better about the economy, they’re ready to make that new car purchase.”
Candace Rose: What are some of the most anticipated models being unveiled at this year’s New York Auto Show?
James Bell: “Well, I know I’m a little bit biased because I work for General Motors, but the car over our shoulder here (please see video above), the new CTS is going to be getting a lot of attention. And for me, what’s neat about this car is it looks like GM has finally learned its lesson, and has let the engineers and the designers go have some fun, and not just worry about the finance guys. This is a car that’s larger by five inches in length and an inch and a half in width than the outgoing model. It has more power- 420 horse-power twin-turbo V6; but yet it weighs 250 pounds less than the outgoing model, and you don’t usually see that as a car gets bigger with more safety equipment, more infotainment, etc. For me, that’s a bit of the show so far.”
Candace Rose: What kinds of trends are developing in new cars? What are people looking for?
James Bell: “Well, I think fuel efficiency is something that is on everybody’s mind and nobody wants to get burned again in case we have another run-up in that. I think the way we’re going to hit a lot of this fuel efficiency is with special focus on aerodynamics, on lightweight materials, composites, aluminums and so forth. Really technologies and chemistries that were only used on exotic cars in the past, you’re now seeing cars like this Cadillac. I think you’re going to have this push towards fuel efficiency because that’s what people are really demanding.”
Candace Rose: You both get a ringside seat to all the auto shows across the country, and see stuff most of us get to see. What goes on behind the scenes?
Jessica Caldwell: “Well, I think talking about the atmosphere first, energy. With the renewed interest in cars and car sales going up, there certainly is a lot of optimism and energy here at the show that we perhaps didn’t see back in 2009, so that’s always a good thing for me to see.”
James Bell: “I agree with that. The crowd here is just really kicked off here for the first day of press, and it’s been busy already. We’re in the General Motors area which is removed from the rest of the show, and it’s been packed here.”
Candace Rose: Do either of you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with viewers?
James Bell: “Well, speaking on behalf of General Motors, I think the best idea is to really put your hand over the brand, the label if you will, and just find the car that meets your needs.”
Jessica Caldwell: “Do your research. A well informed consumer usually gets the best deal, so you’ve got to do your research before you go into the show room.”
James Bell: “Not only the best deal in the financial perspective, but also buying the car that’s right for you. That’s so important. People get stuck buying a certain brand or assuming they need more space than they really do. My own family, we had a 7 passenger SUV, and I would bet we had seven people in that car about three times, so that was the wrong car to buy. I should have gone to Edmunds.com.”
Candace Rose: Where can viewers go for more information on everything you mentioned?
James Bell: “If you’re interested on anything from General Motors, check out GM.com.”
Jessica Caldwell: “Or if you’re in the car shopping process, go to Edmunds.com.”