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NEW WARD'S LUXURY REPORT SHOWS DRAMATIC GAINS BY JAPANESE

 NEW WARD'S LUXURY REPORT SHOWS DRAMATIC GAINS BY JAPANESE
 DETROIT, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by Ward's Automotive Reports:
 Japanese automakers surpassed the Europeans in U.S. luxury-vehicle sales in 1991 for the first time. Now they're moving in on the Big Three with alarming speed.
 The Japanese first tested the luxury segment in the '84 model year with two low-end sporty models: the Toyota Supra and Nissan 300ZX. They now have 18 models carrying eight different brand names (three of them bona fide luxury marques). Additional Japanese models, marques and market share are coming.
 These findings are contained in a new research report published by Ward's Automotive Reports. Entitled "The U.S. Luxury Vehicle Market in the 1990s: A Strategic Analysis," the study covers the full range of luxury-market issues: the players, the products, market forecasts, product-cycle plans, sales history, technology trends, marketing and advertising strategies, dealerships and demographics.
 Forecasts prepared for Ward's by DRI/McGraw-Hill indicate the luxury segment (generally vehicles priced over $21,000) will grow nearly 40 percent over the next five years, bringing unit-volume increases for U.S. and European brands. But the Japanese will be the biggest winners, at the expense of the Big Three's market share. European share, which declined as Japan's grew in the past few years, will level off and even rise slightly.
 Japan's share of the industry's highest-profit segment has doubled from 11 percent in 1986 to 22 percent in 1991. It's headed for 25 percent this year and nearly 30 percent by 1996. In comparison, Asian (including Korean) penetration of the overall U.S. passenger-car market will increase from about 32 percent in 1991 to 34 percent in 1996.
 By that time the U.S. Big Three, holders of 90 percent of the luxury market as recently as 1975, will see their combined share drop from about 60 percent in 1991 to just 50 percent.
 Japanese share-gains over the next five years will be greatest in the specialty and sports niches, but volume increases will be biggest in the mid- and lower-luxury sedan subsegments, which together account for 75 percent of total luxury-car sales and 90 percent of the Big Three tally.
 In the lower-luxury segment (cars priced from about $21,000 to $27,000), home to the top-of-the-line Buicks and Oldsmobiles, the Chrysler Fifth Avenue and a smattering of entry-level European models, Japanese share will rise from about 17 percent to 27 percent by 1996, while domestic share falls from 67 percent to 61 percent and European share drops from 16 percent to 12 percent.
 The Big Three will lose the most ground in the mid-luxury segment ($27,000 to $37,000), which currently accounts for about 55 percent of their sales.
 Acura Legend was the only Japanese entry until Mazda restyled its 929 and moved it up from lower-luxury for the '92 model year. They will be joined by Infiniti's J30 sedan in spring 1992; a Lexus sedan based on the Japan-market Aristo in late 1992 or early 1993; and a new sedan from Mazda's Amati luxury division in mid-1994.
 Mid-luxury car sales will increase some 37 percent by the end of 1996, and the Japanese volume will double, lifting Japan's share from 16 percent to 22 percent. European share is expected to climb from 14 percent to 19 percent while the Big Three's share drops more than 12 points to about 59 percent by 1996.
 -0- 2/7/92
 /CONTACT: Rebecca Hughes, customer services manager, or Deebe Ferris, the report's managing editor, 313-962-4433, or fax 313-962-4456, both of Ward's Communications/ CO: Ward's Automotive Reports ST: Michigan IN: AUT SU:


KK -- DE020 -- 7782 02/07/92 12:46 EST
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Date:Feb 7, 1992
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