By on June 3, 2010


Ah, segment analysis. Each automaker has its own product strategy, and none of them are designed to make apples-to-apples comparisons easy. So we’ve lumped large family sedans from automakers with a mass-market sedan positioned above their mainline D-segment sedan (Impala, Azera, Avalon, Taurus) in with entry-premium FWD cars like the ES350 and Buick LaCrosse. Since we’re comparing a nebulous segment anyway, we threw in the entire sales performances from entry-premium brands like Volvo, Saab and Acura. Not a perfect comparison in many ways (Impala would be better compared to the D-segment sedans below, for starters), but then we’re not charging you a damn consulting fee, are we?

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40 Comments on “May Sales Analysis: “Premium” and Large Family Sedans...”


  • avatar
    mdensch

    I see a pattern here. Dodge sales sky rocketed in May in every segment. I have to think that they’ve been pouring huge numbers of cars into the rental fleets to jack up the numbers. Of course, they were essentially flat-lining in ’09, so they had nowhere to go but up.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I think this chart clearly shows that the full size sedan market is almost dead. We all know that most of the Impala and Charger sales go to fleets. So what does that leave us, with the Taurus followed by the LaCrosse and Avalon? Not much of a market sales-wise. That entire list barely outsells the Accord and Camry.

    • 0 avatar
      baggins

      EXACTLY

      It really is a small market. Its all about the cross overs now, taking over from the SUV. The large sedan is so, IDK 80s?

      A Large sedan probably the safest vehicle you can drive (dont roll over, lots of vrumple zones, fairly agile) and get good mileage, particularly on freeway, where it helps not to be pushing a box down the road as one does in a crossover

      I would love to buy a mainstream large sedan but:

      - Avalon -mandatory sunroof means 38in headroom, means no good for my 6’4″ long torso, short legs build

      - Taurus – feels like a coffin inside – confining for such a huge car, center console hits my knee

      - 300 – pimpmobile, forget Chrysler

      Maxima – too small, headroom issues

      Impala – no thanks, rental queen

      BTW Buick, SAAB, ACURA, VOLVO all different class – entry premium.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      This is where market demand is so mercurial. Logically speaking, a station wagon version of any of these large sedans should sell like gangbusters. But no one is willing to take the chance.

      And who can blame them? Traditional, large station wagons died on the vine (who wants to look like Clark Griswold in an eight-headlight Wagon Queen Family Truckster) until manufacturers got creative in how they marketed them (looking at you, Ford Flex). There are only a few true station wagons left that sell while everyone else flocks to one of those SUV bricks, even though an equivalently-sized station wagon makes so much more sense.

      Even one of the last leaders in the station wagon category, the Subaru Legacy, likely would have been gone years ago if it weren’t for the huge boost it got from the Paul Hogan-hawked SUV-like Outback version.

  • avatar
    wsn

    The Accord is larger than the Maxima and the ES350.

  • avatar
    th009

    LaCrosse sales are within 15% of the Taurus? Either this is a great performance by Buick, or a disappointing one for Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      SV

      Good results for Ford but even better for Buick. The new Taurus doubled its sales compared to the old model but the LaCrosse’s sales have tripled, probably because the ’09 LaCrosse was way crappier than the ’09 Taurus…

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The new Taurus has so far been a huge success for Ford. Not only is it selling better than the previous bodystyle, but it is doing so with hardly any incentives.

      Ford has been extremely miserly with incentives on most models recently. While GM is putting 0% for 72 months on their trucks, Ford is still outselling them with the F-150 which doesn’t have 0% for beyond 36 months, and has less rebates as well.

      The Taurus outselling the 300, LaCrosse, and LuCerne, all of which can be bought for less than the Taurus feature for feature, is a clear indication that people are willing to pay more for quality.

      The Impala is an anomaly, it has to be 80%+ fleet sales to hit those numbers. Even down here in south Florida, the natural habitat of big domestic cars, I see 10 Grand Marquis for every Impala.

      Speaking of which, why isn’t the Grand Marquis on this list? And the Milan should be with the Fusion in the mid-sizers, it is a mainstream mid-sizer, not a luxury brand.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      th009

      I’m with you.
      I am a impressed with Ford, but am still confused about their plan with the Taurus, and Lincoln as a whole.
      I own an MKS/ecoboost, but feel it is supposed to be the luxury large car, giving luxury and performance at a price 10K less than the competition.
      The MKS IS much better than the Taurus, but only really close examination will expose the difference.
      This type of hard inspection is NOT the strong point of American buyers.
      To them, there is an expensive blur here.
      The SHO should have been a performance Fusion…with a standard transmission to go along.
      The Taurus should be an affordable large car up against Avalon and the MKS the luxury/performance.

      They really need to do their work making Ford and Licoln look/perform differently.
      IF the plan is to use the ecoboost engine across both brands, then they better start working harder to make them look like they are priced.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      TrailerTrash –

      How are the Taurus’s sales dissapointing? It is outselling all of the competitors except for the fleet queen Impala, and the Charger which has huge cash on the hood. Right now Dodge is offering $3,000 rebates on the Charger, or 0% for 72 months, or an absolutely ridiculous $5,000 lease rebate.

      Ford, on the other hand, is offering only $1,000 off of the Taurus and 36 months 0%, making each Taurus sale a lot more profitable.

      You are right in that the MKS certainly has some benefits over the Taurus, as it should for the price difference. I don’t know if I would go as far as to say ‘much’ better, but if you are looking for a refined interior space with leather covering everything, an incredible stereo, real wood trim, and other luxury features, yes, the MKS is worth the extra money. However, that doesn’t stop the Taurus – which still has excellent interior quality, a ride that is just as good as the MKS, and with the SHO, performance that lets it eat German imports costing $20,000 more – from being one of the best value propositions in the segment.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      NulloModo

      Hi.
      I say the Taurus is a disappointment because it is/was expected to be like the old Taurus…a category leader.
      It’s not.
      I like the Taurus.
      I drove a SHO car around yesterday at my Farmington, MO dealer while my MKS was being washed from a recent customization.
      It is fun.
      It’s large.
      But it’s NOT a performance car. It’s JUST a Taurus with a V8 feeling.
      It’s the same as the MKS when it comes to taking on these Ozark hills…Not really sports car driving.
      In my opinion, the SHO is the MKS, without all the quality and luxury needed in “my” kind of large car, with more luxury than cars I examined at 10K more.
      OK. So it passes as an upgrade to the limited Taurus.
      But that’s all. But that will not make it as big a success as the Impala or old Taurus, which is why they brought the Taurus name back.
      They should have left the ecoboost out and allowed the Taurus to be an affordable everyday large family sedan.
      They should have made the Fusion SHO with all the extra suspension tuning required to make IT the sport sedan.

      Look, all I guess I am trying to say is Ford needs to get more separation between these cars.
      They need to make Lincoln Look and perform better than the Ford cars.
      They need to try harder.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Trailer,

      I’m not sure if I understand the point you are trying to make. On one hand you are saying that you don’t think the Taurus is nice enough ( although it easily has the best interior amongst it’s rivals – the Impala, Avalon, 300, and LuCerne) but on the other hand you think there needs to be more delineation between it and the MKS, you can’t have both without shooting the MKS even further upmarket (with the coresponding increase in sales price).

      The new Taurus was never meant to be a huge volume seller like the old car. Nothing sells 400,000 vehicles per year anymore, and the Fusion is the volume sedan in the Ford lineup. The New Taurus having the same name as the old car does not mean it is aimed at the same place in the market.

      As far as the comparison to the MKS goes, you would expect to get more car for your money buying the MKS as it costs a good bit more. I don’t see why this is a problem.

      Finally, as I showed in my last post, the Taurus is leading it’s large sedan class. Take away the Impala and Charger which are only selling in any numbers due to fleets/rentals and huge discounts and the Taurus is number one.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      NulloModo

      Let me try to explain…

      First, I think they wanted the Taurus to be a big seller.
      I will give you the point about rental/fleet sales because I have no idea what they are and for what car.

      Whenever you read TTAC or many other auto sights, you are always seeing the MKTaurus remark.
      And this from the so called auto enthusiasts, not just your average car buyers.
      So it’s not just me that thinks the separation is not clear enough.
      I see it, but have now spent over 33K miles in the MKS and driven the Taurus (SHO) many, many times.
      But its obvious most do not.
      This is the error that needs to be fixed.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      I think the taurus is selling exactly how Ford thought it would (especially given the % of EB sold), you have 4 premium/luxury vehicles made at one factory all sharing the same basic platform and components. If they had intended it to sell like the old taurus it would need it’s own factory, be decontented and have a much lower price. They weren’t trying to make an impala, they were trying to make a premium vehicle and it seems they have succeeded.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      TT –

      The new Taurus is a success for Ford, since it is the segment leader (discounting the fleet sales queen Impala) in the large, FWD premium/upscale segment.

      There is no way that the Taurus would even come close to approaching the sales back when it was a Camcord competitor.

      But yeah, Ford needs to do a better job of differentiating its Lincoln lineup from its Ford products (w/ the new Ford models coming w/ nicer interiors/more amenities, it made Mercury totally redundant).

  • avatar
    441Zuke

    even though many of them are fleet sales i think this graph is a sad commentary on what the average American car buyer finds appealing

  • avatar
    dwford

    And then there’s the Hyundai Azera. A nice car for what it is, which is basically the last real Buick. If only Hyundai would market the car. There’s plenty of pricing room between the Sonata and Genesis.

    • 0 avatar
      rmwill

      Seems that sales data for the much hyped Hyundai Genesis sedan is in short supply. I spend alot of time in Chicago and saw my first example last weekend. Is it the same sales failure that the Genesis coupe is?

    • 0 avatar
      Chiburb

      rmwill:

      May 2010: 2480 May 2009: 2079
      CY 2010: 10,322 CY 2009: 8100

      In the region which includes Chicago, the breakdown is about 60-65% sedans, 35-40% coupes (according to my dealer for 1st quarter). Don’t know if those %s are still true or not.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Don’t expect Hyundai to market the Azera until the next gen Azera arrives.

      That and the Kia Cadenza should do some damage in this segment.

      As for the Genesis sedan (being an E segment sedan, doesn’t really fit in this segment anyways), it outsold ALL other import E segment luxury sedans save the E Class and 5 Series in 2009 (outselling the GS and M by a 2:1 margin).

      And thus far, it looks like the Genesis will outsell the new M (unless the M’s sales start to pick up).

      But yeah, the Genesis coupe has been, thus far, a big flop.

  • avatar
    forraymond

    Where’s the chart?

  • avatar
    stationwagon

    it is interesting to see the Chrysler 300 drop in sales, especially when compared to 2009. Chargers and Impalas both are bought by police departments, which is why they dominate the sales. I wish GM would make the upcoming police-only Caprice available to the public.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “but then we’re not charging you a damn consulting fee, are we?”

    Worth every penny of it, too.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Here atop the Ozark Plateau in western hillbilly country (where Appalachian emigrants frequently squatted) I espy a herd of Impalas with many apparently privately-owned vehicles.

    With an IQ average of local denizens at sub-par levels I believe the quantity of Impalas is easily explainable.

    Or maybe the vehicle is easy to steal.

    Unsure of explanation.

    • 0 avatar
      reclusive_in_nature

      Or maybe there’s a slim minority of snobbish people in the area that think they’re better than everyone else? I’m unaware of the explanation why, but this minority tends to express it’s ‘superiority’ solely behind the safety of a computer and never directly to one of the members of the majority’s face. Go figure.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Well todays plan was to read USA Today,skim over Forbes.and the Toronto Star.

      Who am I kidding? My IQ is too low for such heavy reading.

      Sunny day and all,I’m going to go out and detail my Impala.

  • avatar
    educatordan

    Impala FTW. I have driven an Impala and a Malibu (LTZ package Malibu to be exact) and can see why people choose the Impala. Malibu’s backseat is dinky, the interior (even on the LTZ) is plastic fantastic, the trunk is a mail slot. The Impala seemed plusher (it was a base model btw), softer, and more relaxing to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Impala is fairly plush, and pretty roomy in front, but the back seat is tiny. The Fusion has a much more comfortable, and roomier feeling, back seat than the Impala, and the Imapalas competitors like the 300 and Avalon completely put it to shame in regards to the back seat.

      All in all, the Impala isn’t a bad car, but it isn’t good enough, especially at its supposed retail price point, to earn anywhere near the sales numbers it does. The only logical explanations are huge retail discounts or huge fleet sales.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      Heck if you want a spacious midsize (re:Fusion) I’ve heard lots of crowing about the Altima sedan but never riden in one.

    • 0 avatar
      gimmeamanual

      I have an ’06 Altima and it is friggin’ huge inside. Three mountain bikes with the rear seats down is no problem, 4 golf bags no problem, etc etc. And the trunk opening is wide open. No idea how the newer ones compare.

      Remember the first time I was in an MKS, the guy I was with had to twist and angle to get the baby seat in the trunk. WTF. Altima: open, drop in, close lid.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      “Impala FTW.”

      X2

      Local state police bought a load of them. I told my wife, see this is a large, comfy, nice looking car for the family… and surprisingly she agreed.

      Although I like the previous one better.

      People seem to agree over there. I don’t think all the Impala sold go straight to Police/Airport rental fleets.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      The Impala is one of the last vehicles sold which still drives like a 1970s ‘merican car. Alas, the Impala back seat is horribly uncomfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      Roundel

      I had a friend that had an 02 Altima. Talk about back seat space. I felt like I was in a Roadmaster. The new model (in 06 if I recall correctly) slimmed it down and it lost its spacious back seat. Nissan may be thinking that was a a great way to revive the irrelavant Maxima… they were wrong.

  • avatar
    NickR

    I don’t know why everyone goes ‘Gee, the Impala?’. It is the sort of moderately priced, adequately powered, decent enough looking car that GM thrived on for years before they lost the plot.

  • avatar
    Stingray

    Where are the Panther cars in that list? All 3 of them, because even if sold only to fleets, the Crown Vic is still being sold.

    And are large/full size. I think they belong.

  • avatar

    I was told by a local Chevrolet dealer that the Impala is carrying his business. GM will probably replace the Impala by another poor selling Opel or Holden.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Besides fleet the Impala is a far less expensive alternative to many of the models listed in this segment. I’m sure that goes a long way in accounting for the numbers on the retail side.

    In my area (metro Detroit) which has a much higher % of domestic cars than the national average besides police Chargers I see a lot more privately owned ones to the point that they are noticable because of the numbers.

  • avatar
    Chiburb

    On which chart does the Hyundai Genesis belong? I’d say with the Avalon and ES 350, but you’ve got the Azera here.
    2,400 or so sold in May, which I think is a record month.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    The Milan has no business being in this chart. Soon, however, it will be a moot point.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Though I don’t have the ratio of fleet vs retail, I can tell you that all of the Chevy dealers in Upstate, NY area sell far more Impalas retail compared to fleet. There are literally shitloads of them driving around and typically two to three a week seem to be moving off the lots vs 1-2 Malibus.

    Quote:John HornerJune 4th, 2010 at 10:52 am
    The Impala is one of the last vehicles sold which still drives like a 1970s ‘merican car. Alas, the Impala back seat is horribly uncomfortable.

    I beg to differ. I don’t know which 1970′s car you liken the Impala to but my 2008 Impala drive 2000 percent better than any loose sloppy, jiggly, noisy, air leaking 1970′s car than I have every driven(and I have driven tons of them). The 3900 idles as smooth as silk, the 4 speed shifts like butter and very responsive, the suspension is 10 times firmer and better controlled, the interior is considerably better made, tighter and better fitting and the reliability doesn’t even compare. Name one 1970′s car that could go 65K miles without needing carb work, tuneup or in the earlier 70′s points, interior pieces falling apart, engines going bad etc. Regarding the back seat, I agree it is a little short on toe space and legroom if the seats are set all the way back. I’m 5’10″ and so far no one has complained about the back seat in my Impala so far so calling it horribly uncomfortable is again inaccurate.


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