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SANTA ANA, Calif., April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Based on the results of two new studies released by AutoPacific, the same sport utility vehicles that have revolutionized the light vehicle market are about to undergo dramatic changes themselves -- to vehicles based on front wheel drive cars.

"We have maintained for some time that as much as 20% of the future compact SUV market will be car-based," stated George Peterson of the firm. This view is supported by the extraordinary desire among SUV acquirers for more car-like vehicle attributes. The annual "MPV Consultancy" study released last month by AutoPacific reveals consumer demand for levels of on-road performance that current truck-based SUVs simply cannot deliver. According to the study, acquirers of tomorrow's SUVs will require handling, maneuverability, acceleration and braking well beyond today's standards. Car platforms already possess these attributes and, with proper packaging, can be efficiently converted to compact SUVs.

"What has surprised us is the eagerness with which SUV buyers will embrace front wheel drive," said Peterson. AutoPacific's recently completed "Future Attribute Demand and Segmentation Study" reveals front drive demand to be over twice that for rear drive among compact SUV considerers. And the vast majority also want four wheel drive capability. This new class of vehicle will compete strongly alongside the rear drive SUVs that will continue to occupy a substantial share of the market. "The inescapable conclusion," according to Peterson, "is that a tremendous opportunity exists for the manufacturer who can grasp these facts and deliver a true compact SUV based on a front wheel drive car. Get the package right, deliver the on-road dynamics, and go to the head of the class."

Given such findings, AutoPacific sharply differs with those in the industry predicting a net fall off in SUV demand as aging baby boomers tire of the vehicles' truck-like manners. The firm's research reveals no evidence that SUV buyers are tiring of the segment. "We've been studying this segment intensely for ten years. People predicting its demise consistently fail to realize the product is not static. Change in the segment is accelerating. The only demises will be among those vehicle manufacturers who don't make the investment to keep pace with this change." Indeed, the firm's competitive analysis indicates that as many as 28 additional SUVs will soon crowd into the market, and about half of them will be car-based.

AutoPacific, Inc. is a it future-oriented automotive marketing and product consulting firm. Each year it publishes a variety of annual syndicated studies including the "MPV Consultancy" and the "Future Attribute Demand and Segmentation Study." The firm also conducts extensive proprietary research and consulting for manufacturers, marketers, distributors, and suppliers. Headquartered in Santa Ana, California and with offices in Detroit, Michigan, the firm works exclusively in the automotive industry.
 -0- 4/23/96

/CONTACT: AutoPacific, 800-576-AUTO/

CO: AutoPacific Inc. ST: California IN: AUT SU:

AW-BB -- LATU045 -- 9249 04/23/96 10:15 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 23, 1996

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