By on December 20, 2011


Ever since emerging from bankruptcy, the Chevrolet Cruze has been something of a symbol of GM’s rebound. Widely hailed by the automotive media as General Motors’ strongest effort to date in a compact segment that has become increasingly important in recent years, the Cruze seemed to show that the “new” GM was capable of selling smaller cars on their merits, rather than as afterthoughts to more profitable truck, SUV and large car offerings. And indeed, through the first half of this year, it seemed that the Cruze was something of a roaring success, regularly outselling its segment competitors. But then, in June, when production shifted from 2011 models to 2012 models, something changed: sales started to slow, and inventories started to rise. As Cruzes began piling up on dealer lots, GM trimmed production moderately, but still, inventories began to grow out of control. Clearly something was going wrong.

UPDATED: “Big Six” compact sedan monthly sales graph (Jan-Nov, 2011) added to gallery after the jump.

Last week, GM shut down production of the Cruze, saying only that it had an unspecified “supplier issue.” But Automotive News [sub] reports that  had already GM shut down the Lordstown plant for the entire week of November 28, after inventories shot from 33 days supply to 73 days supply during the months of September and October. As of December 1, inventories had risen higher still, to 88 days, as sales continue to slacken. Lordstown reopened yesterday, but with sales falling and inventories running out of control, another slowdown or stoppage of production seems inevitable.

So, what happened to the Cruze’s sales? The fact that its downturn coincided with the switch from 2011 to 2012 is certainly mysterious, as GMInsidenews’s reliable guide to 2012 model-year changes shows that only the following features were deleted from Cruze in the switch from 2011 to 2012:

  • (GAP) Imperial Blue Metallic exterior color
  • (EN4) Cargo cover compartment
  • Rear center headrest on all trims

Surely a lost cargo cover compartment and rear center headrest don’t explain the downturn… which might actually be cause for even greater concern. If GM could pinpoint a specific problem that is keeping buyers away from new 2012 Cruzes, it could remedy it fairly easily. As things stand though, it’s tough not to conclude that GM may simply have filled the bulk of market demand for their car, and that it’s now losing out to the brutally tough competition in its segment. If that’s the case, it doesn’t bode well for The General… at least in terms of perception, as the Cruze goes, so goes GM.

 

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109 Comments on “Chart Of The Day: The Rise And Fall Of The Chevrolet Cruze...”


  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    You need a similar chart for the compact segment as a whole, before isolating any sales swoon to the Cruze.

    • 0 avatar

      Working on it now, will update shortly. Regardless of the result though, it’s the sales-to-production comparison that will determine the Cruze’s financial results, therefore this is a problem for GM no matter how you cut it (unless of course a rebound comes ASAP).

      • 0 avatar

        Updated with monthly sales of Cruze and biggest competitors. It seems the entire segment is sagging in the second half. Cruze is also not alone in having inventory problems, but it seems the story here is the return of Honda and Toyota…

        Inventory as of Dec 1 (per AN):
        Focus: 43,800 units (93 days supply, versus 79 days on Nov 1)
        Civic: 38,000 units (53 days supply versus 51 days on Nov 1)

        Toyota, Hyundai and VW inventories are not available.

      • 0 avatar
        Secret Hi5

        I’m currently driving the brand new Camry (rental LE trim) and it’s a very competent car–I’m very impressed. It made me think that it’s hard to justify buying a compact when midsizers start at around $20K. And face it – The primary purpose of a car for most buyers is hauling people/stuff, so size matters.

      • 0 avatar

        I’d like to see a graph with the general sag in sales plotted against the price of gas

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      It doesn’t matter if the entire compact segment as a whole is swooning. GM is the least able to withstand it.

      Come at it from a different angle and look at the company once called Chrysler and how it is doing today as a subdivision of Fiat.

      • 0 avatar
        alluster

        “Come at it from a different angle and look at the company once called Chrysler and how it is doing today as a subdivision of Fiat.”

        The question is how much better Chrysler would be doing now if they had gone through a normal bankruptcy, killed off the UAW by telling them and the car czar’s to go suck on a rock and sold themselves off to FIAT? Sadly we will never know the answer.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yeah, we’ll never know of course but I am more optimistic about the company formerly known as Chrysler than I am about GM in all its infinite wisdom.

        And I put my money where my mouth is, an amazing feat since I am no Chrysler fan. Several weeks ago while cruising through the Phoenix area on our way home in New Mexico my wife spotted a bright and shiny new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee on a flatbed at a dealership there.

        A long story short, within the hour she was driving home in that 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit V6 4X4. I hope that Jeep turns out to be as good as her 2008 Highlander Limited 4X4 has been, but we’re holding on to that Highlander, just in case….

      • 0 avatar
        musiccitymafia

        Gotta love the impulse buy … the manufacturer/retailer profits thus generated should save america eh.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Yep, we do a lot of impulse buying and I have done it all my life. Never seen a hearse with a U-Haul behind it. Might as well spend it if I got it.

        And every month the government sends us more money, and the renters willingly fork over their hard-earned cash to keep one of our roofs over their heads. A truly abhorrent system unless you are on the receiving end.

        We should hope that more people are able to buy whatever it is they want to buy so that manufacturer/retailer profits can indeed save America. But then the question becomes whether or not we, individually, are better off today than we were 5, 10, 15 years ago.

        For many people today the answer may surprise you, hence, the impulse buying on the part of those who can. Better git while the gittin’ is still good. Things may not be this good tomorrow.

      • 0 avatar
        windswords

        Well we could also come at it from a different angle and look at the company once called Nissan and how it is doing today as a subdivision of Renault.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I’d say it’s poor marketing. The Cruze (at least in my brief experience) wildly exceeded expectations. But, that’s hard to communicate to potential buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      It is not hard to exceed very low expectations. Not saying the Cruze is a bad car, it is certainly segment competitive, but it did not exactly have a high hurdle ot cross compared to its predecessors.

    • 0 avatar

      jmo,

      you are exactly correct. I predicted this at the introduction. GM has no clue. their marketing actually damages a model and it’s brand. they are useless and unreasonable, refusing to listen. I could increase Chevy sales by 500,000 units per year, achieving that pace within 2 months while lowering expenses. I guarantee it.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      What is poor marketing is the Honda Civic commercials/ads that have all of the grotesque people/creatures hawking the cars. There’s no way in a 30 second commercial to explain what the h*ll the troll looking thing is and why I should buy your car. Unless I’m an zombie or a woodsman… Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

      At least with the Cruze, you get lots of local market ads touting the mileage and the deal. Unless you’re a gnome, zombie or a ninja dipster… Then Honda has the car for you.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Oh oh. Well, they were due for a new CEO and/or Chair anyway.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    While I’d like to think that the slow down in demand is due to the consumer being trained in the ways of decontenting, but I don’t think the average consumer pays much attention to this. How are overall sales in the segment and how do the numbers for other cars in this segment compare? Is this a segment or industry wide trend, something unique to GM or just to the Cruze? Without context it is hard to draw useful conclusions.

  • avatar
    fvfvsix

    My impression here in the Desert Southwest is that Honda finally got their act together with 2012 Civic production, and has virtually eliminated that particular avenue for conquest sales for Cruze.

    Since around July/August, I’ve literally seen 5-6 2012 Civics daily in my East Valley commute. I’ll also note that every Cruze I’ve ever seen driving around has had a FLT (read: rental) sticker on the plates.

  • avatar
    DDayJ

    Does that take fleet sales into account? My only experience with the Cruze was through Hertz. I did like the car though.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      I was thinking the same thing as GM often sells 30% or more into fleets (Hyundai, Ford & Chrysler are all part of this too) with Toyota not far behind and Honda at almost no rental fleet sales. The spike in Cruze sales also coincides with the major supply disruptions of the Japanese car makers maybe leading to its high sales over the summer.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Every time I got a Cruze as a rental it was competent enough but not appealing enough for me to run out and buy one. When it came time to buy my grand-daughter a car for her HS graduation this past May, SHE chose a 2011 Elantra after looking at Civic, Fit, Corolla, Cruz, Impreza, Accent, etc.

      What appealed to her were the features and the killer sound system for the money offered with the Elantra. What appealed most to me was the warranty. And for a car that retailed out the door for <$17K, it blows everything else away, and that includes a Cruz of ANY trim level.

      If people compare the Cruz to others in that same class, the Cruz is not all that appealing. It is true that with the lower price of gas all cars of this segment have seen a drop in sales, but the Cruz has nothing that would make buyers choose it over others in this segment. Well, maybe fleet and rental sales, but those will eventually dry up too, and saturate the used-car market.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    GM moved 13,000+ units in the US in November. That’s not exactly a terrible number.

    That being said, more data is needed. I suspect that some of those retail Cruze sales were the result of cannibalization of other GM products, such as the Malibu, as well as some buyers who would have purchased a Saturn or Pontiac if those brands hadn’t been phased out. I doubt that the conquest of foreign/transplant brands has been particularly exceptional (although probably better than average for GM.)

    That, and the fleet sales for the Cruze haven’t been low. Rental sales tend to be cyclical, and this is not typically a peak period for rental purchases.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Agree with bumpy ii; I know it’s Chart of the day, but charts (plural) would be helpful to compare the Cruze’s trends with those of its competitors.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Looking at the second chart with the big six compact cars on it seems most have had sales drops from June. With Corolla, Focus and Elantra all having lower sales in November than in June. The Cruze does have a bigger drop though, but the trend lower is consistent with other manufacturers. The Civic is the big exception and Honda was worst hit by the natural disasters.

  • avatar
    idesigner

    Bring the hatch back version.

  • avatar

    Why are they deleting anything from the car, especially something so easily visible like a rear center head restraint, this is one practice that domestic manufacturers do more than any other and it’s annoying. Add features, don’t remove them.

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      I was thinking the same thing. They still haven’t learned that you don’t cut costs where the customer can see it. Other automakers figured this out and make good cars at a profit. They still don’t get it. As a feature I would never miss a middle head rest, but it sticks out to me when missing from a car and just looks cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        Probably because very few people expecting to regularly carry 5 people buy a car this size, and if you don’t actually need it, the center headrest serves no purpose other than to block rearward vision.

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        The center headrest in my car is smaller and low enough that it doesn’t block the view, you just pull it up if you use it. And this is more about customer perception anyway. If every other car has a very obvious feature that this lacks it’s going to give the impression that it’s cheaper and missing something.

  • avatar
    vbofw

    The supply issues could be coming from the Thai floods.

    Regarding the Cruze’s weakness beginning in mid 2012, I don’t think it’s because of the model year changeover. Rather, these sales began to weaken as the Japanese production recovered, and dealer lots again started receiving Civics and Corollas.

  • avatar
    Acd

    How do pricing, incentives and lease residuals compare from 2011 to 2012? Also how have these changed for their competitors? What may have been a great deal in August through October may not be so hot in November and December since the Japanese have turned the supply faucet back on.

  • avatar
    Prado

    The numbers in the chart do not make sense in the Jan to June timeframe. In the chart it shows that in every month (Jan to June) that production was higher than sales. If that was the case inventory should have been rising every month up to June.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The numbers in the chart do not make sense in the Jan to June timeframe.

      I would presume that the sales and inventory figures are US-only, while the production figures include exports, i.e. cars that are shipped to Canada and Mexico.

  • avatar
    igve2shtz

    I believe the strong sales in the beginning for the Cruze could be due to the Japanese market tsunami, and also the “Pro-America” movement that briefly surfaced. Also, the Cruze made a great first impression on the media outlets (car mags, internet, market-placement) that could have driven up sales as well as a high cost for gas. Lately, gas prices are falling, and with it usually comes less demand for fuel efficient vehicles. Furthermore, the summer driving season is over, and new car purchases are most likely focused on winter vehicles (4×4 trucks, AWD cars and crossovers).

    However, according to my Cruze owner neighbor, a few months ago GM dealers were marking up prices on all Cruze’s. Seems that the high demand has made dealers greedy. Not that this is happening all over North America, but any GM dealer within 100 miles of my house has stated higher-than-MSRP prices for all Cruze models (esp Eco models).

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    The price of gas over the last year seems to correlate well with the Cruze’s sales numbers:

    http://www.gasbuddy.com/gb_retail_price_chart.aspx?time=12

    Of course, the entire compact and subcompact segment’s sales chart would have a similar look if this were the main factor. In any case, the Cruze is a nice car. I know someone who just bought an Eco — solid construction, lots of gizmos and great fuel economy.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I would guess price. The Cruze is quite expensive when compared to the Elantra, Corolla and Mazda 3. When the 2011 incentives ran out the price went up and buyers started looking elsewhere. The Cruze is a nice car but maybe more buyers are looking for bargains?

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Lower gas prices and a worse economy.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    i remember bloggers tossing the Cobalt’s salad when it first came out and then three years later it was summarily trashed by even more bloggers. Could it be that the Cruze is doomed to the same fate? Perhaps.

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      Maybe once the relative improvment effect wares off. The Cobalt was a huge improvement over the ancient Cavalier. Then people compared it to other cars in the class. This is much better but they are asking premium prices when their customers are used to paying a lot less.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    I am amazed the US doesn’t have a requirement for a rear center headrest, as if the center passenger’s life is less worthy than the other riders.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      We don’t have a requirement for side mounted turn signals either, since most people in the US (a) don’t use them because they’re jerks and (b) aren’t perceptive enough to notice if someone else is using them.

      • 0 avatar
        windnsea00

        I definitely think they should mandate side mounted turn signals, my car has them but it would be nice if everyone else’s did too!

      • 0 avatar
        JCraig

        It bugs me when cars have the turn signal located on the inside of the tail light instead of on the corner. This combined w/ no side mounted signal means only people in front or behind can see it, when people next to you would have the most benefit from avoiding a possible side swipe. My own car is guilty of this.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Doesn’t the same go for those individuals who refuse to turn on their lights when it’s still sort of dark and road conditions such as rain make it advisable? Of course no one seems to think of the other guy, just themselves.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      Nah – using your logic, the reason we don’t have side mounted turn signals is because we don’t value the life of our fenders over the life of our hoods or trunks.

      Yeah – it’s all about fairness and equity. If someone gets something someone else doesn’t, it means the person without is less valued. See how simple it is to be simple?

  • avatar

    Corolla inventories (and to a lesser extent, Focus inventories) went up, Cruze sales went down. What’s the mystery?

  • avatar
    SV

    I think the answer is pretty obvious: Corolla and Civic inventories are getting back up to healthy levels. It’s a shame, as I think the Cruze is a more appealing car than either the helplessly drab Corolla or the decontented new Civic, but it’s either going to take quite a bit of time or a game-changer the likes of which we haven’t seen in a while to end Toyota and Honda’s leadership in this segment.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I think the answer is pretty obvious: Corolla and Civic inventories are getting back up to healthy levels.

      This presumes that the Cruze was earning a large number of conquest sales from Toyota and Honda.

      I wouldn’t assume that. If we had more data, then I would expect to see that the primary beneficiaries of the tsumani orphans would have been Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, and to a lesser extent, Ford.

      I would also expect to see that a lot of the retail Cruze sales would have come from domestic buyers who moved down a sales class, i.e. those who might have otherwise bought a Malibu or something larger, as well as refugees from Saturn and Pontiac.

      If my guesses are correct, then I would suspect that there may be a portion of the sales decline over the last few months that will not be recovered. But I would still expect the Cruze to outperform the Cobalt, and to maintain lower (albeit still high) fleet percentages than did its predecessor.

  • avatar
    walt501

    Well let’s see, most of the production run up has been after the 2012 model introduction. So if there are a host of Chevy Cruze models on dealer lots in the 1st quarter and if….if…car sales boom in the 1st quarter then he who has the goods on the lot wins. I suspect this is how Q1 2012 is going to play out.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Bring the oil burner! (I know that would likely give a one time bump more than anything else.) Don’t know what to say. Gas prices went down American’s are fickle.

  • avatar
    alluster

    While the Cruze sales are down for Nov compared to like June – July, Sales of GMT 900 platform have shot up. Tahoe up 33%, Suburban up 23%, Silverado up 34%, Avalanche 28%, Sierra up 22%, Yukon up 29%. GM would rather have low gas prices and high truck sales, than high gas prices and high Cruze sales.

    Cruze is up 100,000 more than the Cobalt, not to mention much higher retail sales. Outsold the Civic, Focus and Corolla (minus Matrix), which no GM compact could ever do, this with Toyota giving the Corolla away for 149 a month. ATP is $3000 more than the Corolla, $2000 more than the Civic – also an incredibly impressive feat in one year. To command 18% higher prices while selling as many as the closest competitor is no small feat.

    TTAC has become like Fox news catering to a demographic, telling one side of the story – mostly what the audience wants to hear. No mention of the Nox and Terrain which are the fastest selling cars in their class and the most expensive too. GM had to raise production 5 times, but still cant keep enough in supply almost two years after release. Combined the Nox and Terrain actually outsold all cars except the Camry. No mention of the Rav 4,Crossturd, GS 350, which fell to record low levels, especially with Toyota giving them away.

    • 0 avatar
      getacargetacheck

      “Combined the Nox and Terrain actually outsold all cars except the Camry.”

      If that’s true it just hardens my belief that GM should phase out GMC and move all the marketing effort to Chevrolet. Even if the Nox only picked up 50% of Terrain sales it would be a strong story to tell. Same for Silverado and Sierra.

      • 0 avatar
        alluster

        That’s correct. So far they sold 250,000 Units (versus 171,000 last year) which is more than the Altima, Corolla, Fusion, Accord, Civic, Cruze etc.

        Why would you want GMC to be killed when its just printing money for GM? Same cars, different designs, much higher ATP, loyalty, and conquest rates. When was the last time you saw a TV ad for any GMC Vehicle?

      • 0 avatar
        getacargetacheck

        “Why would you want GMC to be killed when its just printing money for GM?”

        Because it’s holding Chevrolet back. Your example of lost bragging rights is an example. And, it’s probably holding Buick back too in the sense that the buyer demographic is richer overall than GMC’s. A LaCrosse buyer might feel special until he has to rub elbows in the “service” department with a white box Savana master plumber. Won’t see that problem at Lexus dealers (just the opposite: the ES owner gets to rub elbows with the LS owner).

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        All I know is that the Denali trim is nicer than anything Buick makes in North America.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynamic88

        GM doesn’t need to kill more divisions, it needs to differentiate them and give them a reason to exist.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Cruze can be had for $199/mo w/ $0 down, $0 first month’s payment, $0 security deposit, $0 due at signing. If we’re throwing “giving them away” accusations around, I don’t think the Cruze is immune.

      Since I like to nitpick, Rav4 is in its 6th model year with a brand new one due in ’12 and the GS never moved in any appreciable volume and a brand new, apparently vastly improved one is already being tested by TTAC, Autoblog, and even local newspapers. The Crosstour* has sold poorly, but it is pretty easy to cherry pick on stinker from any maker’s lineup. Citing something like the Accord or Civic would give a little steak to your sizzle but you are picking on geriatrics and/or born losers. Safe to say you’re the other side of the same coin if TTAC is Fox News?

      *Another great way to shoot holes in your credentials as an unbiased source is using names like Crossturd. Are you 11?

      • 0 avatar
        alluster

        “Are you 11?” Close. I am 12 :). I agree though. Calling it a Crossturd was immature. It is someones car i am talking about. Anyway I couldn’t find the Cruze lease deal you posted anywhere. Didn’t know you can lease one yet. I tried 5 different zip codes and the only offer i found was 2.9% for 60 Months

        http://www.chevrolet.com/tools/currentoffers/results.do?zipCode=06902

        The Corolla OTH, has 0% for 60 months, 500 cash back or 149/mo lease

        http://www.buyatoyota.com/Specials/SpecialOffersDetails.aspx?series=corolla

        Even if they did give away Cruzes, its still selling for $3000 more than the Corolla. BTW the ATP numbers don’t factor in the difference in financing deals. With 1/3rd of the corollas imported this year despite the Yen at loss making levels and Toyota throwing everything at it to maintain market share, you can tell how important this segment has become.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        http://www.chevrolet.com/offers/?offer=seasonal_chevy_offers&seo=goo_|_2011_Chevy_Retail_Awareness_|_2011_CYEE_|_cruze_Offer_|_cruze_incentives&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Retail_Awareness-Chevy-2011_CYEE&utm_content=Search&utm_term=cruze_incentives

        I just google searched “cruze incentives” and hit the first result. I don’t know if it sets the zip code via your ISP but it is right there for me for a 2012 Cruze. The Corolla lease rate in my area is $169/mo w/ first month’s payment and $2300 due at signing on a 2011 model. Nothing listed for a ’12. Running the math out, it is $1300 more expensive than the Cruze lease due to the extra due down for the Corolla. The other incentives on a Corolla are $500 cash back OR 0% APR for 60 months.

      • 0 avatar
        Frylock350

        Cheap leases can actually be a positive sign for a vehicle, they indicate high resale value.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      To gain an accurate picture of how popular each vehicle really is, we need to compare what percentage of sales are to fleet customers for both the Civic and Cruze. They are definitely higher for the Cruze, so those total sales figures need to be taken with a grain of salt.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        To gain an accurate picture of how popular each vehicle really is, we need to compare what percentage of sales are to fleet customers for both the Civic and Cruze.

        You have to give credit to Alluster. His/her ability to abuse statistics that s/he likes, while ignoring or misinterpreting those that s/he doesn’t, is impressive. He should check out the want ads over at the Ministry of Truth; Big Brother may have a job for him.

        (For example, it wouldn’t hurt to know what an “average transaction price” includes and doesn’t include before citing it as gospel. Hint: Fleet sales are excluded from that figure.)

        That being said, it is fair to say that the Cruze is doing better than the Cobalt. When we get the numbers for it, I expect that we will see that it is selling about the same number of fleet as before. If true, that would mean that the marginal increase is probably almost entirely retail and the fleet percentage is lower than it was for the Cobalt, albeit much higher than is typical of Honda and Toyota.

        That, and I would like to see some accurate conquest sales data, if possible. I would be curious to know how many of these were former Saturn and Pontiac buyers, and how many were from Chrysler and Ford, versus the other brands.

      • 0 avatar
        alluster

        PCH101, there is site called google that answers all your questions. Before you question others posts, you may want to give it a try. Let me help you

        http://www.tribtoday.com/page/content.detail/id/555168/Cruising-to-the-top.html

        “About half of Cruze sales in March were “conquest” sales – luring buyers from competing models, such as perennial segment leaders Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.”

        “In addition, Cruze sales came at an average transaction price close to $19,000, which was $2,000 above the Civic and $3,000 above the Corolla” “The Cruze’s average price also was about $4,000 more than the Cobalt”

        “Batey said only 2,477 (13%) Cruze sales in March were to fleet customers, leaving 15,541 for retail buyers.By comparison, 13,491 Impala sales went to fleet buyers and 4,572 to retail customers.”

        So 13% fleet sales in March. Even if its 20% now, thats less than the 70% fleet sales for cobalt. BTW unless you can provide a link stating ATP excludes fleet sales, i am gonna have to call your bluff on that.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “About half of Cruze sales in March were “conquest” sales – luring buyers from competing models, such as perennial segment leaders Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.”

        Again, there you go again with the selective reading skills.

        I asked for the specific sources of the conquest sales. A conquest sale from Chrysler would have different implications than would a conquest sale from Toyota, for example. You obviously don’t know the answer.

        Batey said only 2,477 (13%) Cruze sales in March were to fleet customers

        Again, there you go again with the selective sound bites. Just to play tit-for-tat with you, the fleet percentage in the following month was 27%. (Do the math and figure it out: http://blogs.motortrend.com/gm-leads-strong-sales-month-chevy-cruze-beats-toyota-corolla-15021.html )

        Cherry picking and misinterpreting your numbers is your raison d’etre around here. If you think that effort is going to help to sell more GM products, I’d suggest that you not bother.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Sales of GMT 900 platform have shot up. Tahoe up 33%, Suburban up 23%, Silverado up 34%, Avalanche 28%, Sierra up 22%, Yukon up 29%. GM would rather have low gas prices and high truck sales, than high gas prices and high Cruze sales.

      All this proves is that American buyers are hopelessly fickle morons. This is why some auto executives have secretly hoped for a gasoline tax.

      Cruze is up 100,000 more than the Cobalt, not to mention much higher retail sales. Outsold the Civic, Focus and Corolla (minus Matrix), which no GM compact could ever do

      The classic GM folly. Placing “We’re number one!” bragging ahead of things like profit margins, quality control, product innovation or anything else resembling long-term planning. Admittedly, more of these cars are going to retail customers, for good reason. Outselling the tsunami-crippled Honda and Toyota will most likely restore GM’s blinding hubris back to its-pre bankruptcy levels, though.

      ATP is $3000 more than the Corolla, $2000 more than the Civic – also an incredibly impressive feat in one year. To command 18% higher prices while selling as many as the closest competitor is no small feat.

      Ah, Average Transaction Price, the new battle cry of the GM fanboi. Nevermind that Toyota doesn’t even bother offering a Corolla for anywhere near the sticker price of a Cruze LTZ. Does Toyota make more on a strippo Corolla than a loaded Cruze? How many sales of more profitable Malibus, Impalas, Buicks, etc were lost to a Cruze with pleather seats?

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Maybe everybody finally got that test drive, realized the engines are loathsome compared to a Cobalt, and decided to wait for the rare Voltano…Voltrano? Verdano? … Whatever they call the Buick Skylark.. with the promised Ecotec 2-something.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Just curious as a Eco automatic owner, what is loathsome about the motor? Certainly not the torque or the fuel economy. Maybe the plastic valve cover?

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      That was largely sarcasm, although we’ve been told this Verano is coming and it’s nowhere on the dealer lots. I’ll also throw in — for about three months, the test drive mentality at SE Michigan Chevy dealers was — you only could get a test drive on the Cruze if you were going to an offer, because they were doing such brisk pre-sales… which led many to conclude the driving dynamics had to be horrible given their reluctance to offer a test drive for comparison.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Gas prices have stabilized/dropped; compact car sales have cooled. News at 11.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    A few days ago, I checked Chevy incentives. They only had $250 on the hood of the Cruze, $2k on the lame-duck Malibu, $3-4k on the Impala. You can actually walk out of a Chevy dealership now with a Impala or a Malibu cheaper than a comparably equipped Cruze. (I’d still rather have the Cruze, though.) It’s a similar story at the Ford dealerships, the Fusion with incentives is as cheap or cheaper than the Focus.

    • 0 avatar

      distress loses to aspirational. imagine you’re in a bar and a somewhat average looking woman is gawking at you and following you around like a lost puppy. you’re not interested and are scoping out the other chances. same woman instead paying no attention to you but having fun. you may just work to catch her eye. same concept with cars. as GM throws itself at buyers, no one wants it…not cool, for losers. it’s about image baby.

      problem at GM is they have no one with any marketing savvy or sales talent. all they have are pretenders with pedigree and no common street smarts. not one of them could ever make even draw on a sales floor but their pompous selves will pontificate from on high like the nitwits they are. thats’ why their stock is tanking and their sales are flat. were it not for Sudden Acceleration, a tsunami and floods their market share dive would have continued. instead they beat their chests like they’ve done something. jerks.

      • 0 avatar
        brokeguy

        this is purely ancedotal, but I had a good friend buy a new car recently. He was sold on the Cruze eco until he drove it, then went across town and signed and drove away in a 2012 Jetta. I’ve been seeing a lot of the new generation Jetta around lately and I believe Cruze maybe losing sales not to Corolla and Civic but to Jetta and Elantra (and maybe Forte) and probably to Malibu and Impala. To the layperson with Jetta and Elantra you are getting just as much car (with more motor if you really don’t need 40 mpg) for a lower out-the-door price on the base trims. And if you can get 2-4k on the hood of a Malibu or Impala, why would you look at a Cruze unless you just want a compact car?

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      I’d take a Cruze over a Malibu, but not a Focus over a Fusion. The current Malibu is an attractive, decent enough car, but it’s had mediocre sales in a year thats seen lots of growth for its non-Toyonda rivals, doubtlessly hurt by the Cruze. Once the standard 2013 Malibu comes out (not the stupid Eco model), it’ll be interesting to see how the Cruze numbers hold up. It doesn’t help that it’s also facing real pressure from below now with the new Sonic, which actually looks good in sedan form (unlike the homely Fiesta).

      Meanwhile, for all the hype, all the supposed Euro refinement, and the new hatchback body style, the Focus isn’t doing any better than the panned ’08-’11 car. Why? It has to be sticker shock. It doesn’t take much for the MSRP to add up to $21k+, which will buy you a roomier, more comfortable, class-competitive Fusion with most of the same options and minimal mileage penalty. You’d be a fool not to take the Fusion. Plus, ignored enthusiasts by offering only a 5-speed – limiting it to the base car, at that – and it’ll be interesting to see how well the five door sells after the initial wave of hatchback-istas get theirs. I think Ford grossly overestimates its customers tastes – the last Focus sold solely because of $300 iPod interface – and the new one could very well be the 1995 Contour all over again.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Sadly, I have to agree. I think the new Focus is a beautiful car, especially in 4 dr HB form. Drives impressively too. But for the same price you can get a more substantial, roomier Fusion right now. Which also drives well.

        To me its a no brainer, especially for young families looking for a 4 dr.

      • 0 avatar
        SV

        As a big fan of the new Focus, I’m really disappointed it’s not doing as well as I’d hoped (or even as well as it was doing back in April-June, when it was topping 20k units/month)…though I’m still waiting to see where it is after a full year or so. Ford’s probably making quite a bit more money on the new one, considering its ATP is something like $4k higher than before (and the highest in the segment now, I think), but like you said, that price is also keeping volume down.

        Personally, however, I’d take the Focus over the Fusion anyway. Call me a fool if you want; though I like the Fusion, I much prefer the Focus’s looks inside and out, the handling is tighter, and the advantage of a hatchback cannot be overstated. I don’t carry back seat passengers often enough to care much about rear seat space; if it’s adequate, it’s enough, and the Focus’s is adequate for me. I don’t want a car bigger than a compact anyway. In terms of ride comfort and NVH – I’ve driven both the new Focus and the Fusion; the Focus is shockingly refined, at least a match for the Fusion, while being more enjoyable to drive.

        For most people though, I agree that the Fusion will look more appealing since it’s roomier and about the same price after discounts. But there’s the new Fusion coming very soon, and it should follow the same pattern as the Focus – same actual MSRP, but many more pricey options and way fewer discounts. The Focus will have more breathing room 6 months from now.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        +1 to SV. Having driven a Focus, Fusion, and just about every other midsize sedan on the market today, I’d take the Focus over any of them. Unless you absolutely must have the bigger back seat, I see no reason to opt for any of the larger competition as the Focus drives and feels like a much more expensive car than any of the D segment competition, even in base SE trim. I can totally see paying $27k for a Focus, but would never even consider plunking down that much on an Accord or Camry, much less a Fusion. I think as long as the higher ATP is offsetting the lost sales, my impression of Mulally is that he’s happy to sacrifice volume for higher valued product.

  • avatar
    flatout05

    Waaaaaaiiiiit just a sec. You mean GM’s this-time-we’re-REALLY-ready-to-go-toe-to-toe-with-Toyota-and-Honda bluster turned out to be BS lapped up by press lackeys of both the buff-book and mainstream variety? And that the new saviormobile is actually pretty mediocre? And that GM will soon be piling cash on the hoods of Cruzes to move the iron off lots? And that this will reinforce the public perception of GM’s small cars as fleet-and-rebate turds?

    Because nothing like this has ever happened before. Not EVER.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    there ain’t nothing that price cant fix.

  • avatar
    geeber

    This past weekend I noticed that the lot of the local Honda dealer was almost overflowing with Civics. It was the same with Focuses at two local Ford dealers, so I’m guessing that sales are slowing for the entire segment.

  • avatar
    Hank

    That second chart looks like there was an initial flash in the pan for a new model, then the sales simply fell in line with the overall market. Collapse, or just reality setting in?

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    No incentive based Toyotathon fluctuations in Cruze’s sales this year. Just smooth demand.

    TTAC could said similar to just about every car in this category.

  • avatar
    James2

    Just a comment on the commenting system: I’m unable to comment on the “new and improved” Civic but I can here.

    To keep it relevant: the Chevy is much nicer-looking (esp. w/Grace Park behind the wheel) than the Honda. The ‘new’ Civic is such a step back from the last-gen car that I don’t trust that Honda knows how to upgrade the thing. It’s like asking Rick Wagoner to keep fixing GM.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    I’m pretty sure that fleet sales were a big part of that rise on the 2011 model so maybe it’s just that rental fleets haven’t yet put in orders on the 2012s? I got to drive around a Cruze LTZ for quite a few days on a rental and found it to be a fairly nice vehicle (though the steering is terrifyingly boring).

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Again, glad to see the usual suspects are here.

    It appears the sales of Cruzes are following gas prices. Here in Western Michigan, gas is expected to go sub-$3.00/gallon by Christmas Day. Sales of trucks and 4×4′s are going up, although in this part of the country, some of that can be attributed to the upcoming winter snows. But US-ian’s are predictable; as soon as gasoline prices go down, the sales of big vehicles go up.

    I’m also glad to see we’re back to the whole fleet sales=bad sales meme, when we’ve discussed on this board that not all fleet sales are to daily rental companies. Nor are the rental companies turning over the fleet as quickly as it once did. Additionally, it is good to have some cars in rental fleets, folks who may never get exposure to the product can do so. I personally bought a car that way, after having rented it first.

    I appreciate Ed’s willingness to chart out other cars’ sales over the last 11 months, I think it might be instructive to have another previous year’s data, too. Mostly to see if compact cars sales fell off during the last quarter of the year, also.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      we’ve discussed on this board that not all fleet sales are to daily rental companies.

      Per Fleet Central, during MY 2010, 68% of total fleet sales and 80% of passenger car fleet sales went to rental. Obviously, most of the fleet market is rental.

      Some fleet sales are fine. But high proportions of fleet sales are usually indicative of vehicles that are unpopular or that have been produced to excess.

      Those who follow the industry intelligently pay attention to fleet sales because they are usually the tip of the iceberg. If fleet sales are consistently high, that’s often a hint that other things are also wrong. Profitability and consistently high fleet sales do not go hand in hand.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        Honestly I wish the district I work for would buy a fleet of white Cruzes instead of the Tahoes/Yukons that currently dominate. It would be a much better use of taxpayer money.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        I believe the other half of the equation is how soon the rental fleet is re-marketed. That’s what was happening in the mid-2000′s; it appears to have curtailed. Many conditions have changed since 2009, I believe all of the big 3 have divested themselves of rental companies, and the rental companies are apparently hanging on to their units longer, as least from anecdotal references that were posted on this blog.

        The BK took a lot of domestic capacity out of the picture, they don’t quite have the same mechanisms and incentives to overproduce and dump into the daily rental markets. I believe we’re seeing a more organic level of sales to rental companies, than we were in 2005-2008.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Just a random thought here; perhaps the folks at Chevy should offer a coupe version of the Cruze, you know, for the Scion crowd. Thinking…Wondering…

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @Zackman: I can’t imagine GM pumping out a Cruze Coupe right now. Oddly enough, Chevy has the opposite problem it did right before the BK, the number of trucks/SUVs has remained mostly the same, but with the introduction of the Sonic and upcoming intro of the Spark, Chevy will be car-heavy soon.

        To my eye, that almost makes a Cruze Coupe redundant, as shoppers will have plenty of small car choices. Small coupe choices of course, are restricted to the Camaro.

        I guess this is what happens when GM takes the advice of folks who insisted they should be more like Toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        the rental companies are apparently hanging on to their units longer

        I believe that the rental companies reduced their purchases during the recession, which resulted in an increase in average fleet age.

        But the domestics’ fleet sales are still high. Once the data is in, I think that for CY 2011, we’ll find that GM’s are close to 30% and Ford’s are above 30%. (I’m not sure about Chrysler’s.) Not exactly low.

        The US auto market is mature enough and grows slowly enough that all of these companies need to focus on conquest sales. If they are to gain share, they have to take away sales from their competitors. If Detroit is to create sustainable gains, it must either sell more trucks and/or else take away car sales from imports and transplants. There really aren’t too many other alternatives.

        perhaps the folks at Chevy should offer a coupe version of the Cruze

        The small coupe market is small and almost dead. It wouldn’t likely pay to bother trying to play for it.

        There’s nothing wrong with the sedan configuration of the Cruze. Since the hatchback has already been developed for other markets, it probably won’t hurt to bring that here; the expense of adding it to the US lineup is low, so testing whether there is demand for it won’t be too costly.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    rather than looking at this rather short term graph. Let’s see what the entire model year ’12 brings before we start making too many judgements here.

    As for the missing 3rd headrest, I suspect that most people didn’t even notice it. I’m not even sure I would and I’m one of those tiny detail guys.

    This could partially be due to the rebound of production from the japanese and it could also signify that GM has mostly sold to those who would consider a GM.

    Conversely I wonder if the bad press/hype surrounding the volt has had an effect on this?

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I think another problems is that the Cruze really isn’t that much cheaper, or smaller than the Malibu. OR for that matter, it isn’t cheaper than Impala either. Malibu and Impala usually sell at huge discounts. You might as well get one of those than a Cruse if you are at the Chevy store.

    And if you are buying a small car, might as well buy the drastically more attractive Elantra.

  • avatar
    Thinkin...

    Perhaps the Cruze’s poor reliability had something to do with it? While the car is a huge leap forward from the Cobalt in every way, it appears that its reliability isn’t. According to Consumer Reports annual reliability data, the Cruze came in dead last in terms of reliability for all small cars. (See Oct. 30 New York Times article.)

    As ever, time will be the true judge of if GM can make competitive cars where it matters – long term reliability. GM reps can say the cars are as reliable – or more – than their competitors until they are blue in the face, but only time will tell. Current’y it doesn’t look good.

  • avatar

    guys, have you ever read the New Car 2012 reviews ?. if you read those reviews, i bet you will find something wrong with the graphic.

  • avatar
    Disaster

    What everyone seems to be missing here, is the ATP. GM and Ford are bragging about the high ATP they are commanding while sales are tanking. We are in a recession…heading for the second dip. The lower priced cars (like the Civic and Corolla) are going to do better in the next couple years vs. the higher cost, and higher optioned Focus and Cruze. Gas prices are also a factor hurting this sector. It is amazing how quickly consumers forget and move back to bigger, more gas hungry cars and trucks.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    A couple of things about the second chart and how it affects the article.

    - The bump in March for the Corolla and Civic coincides with the earthquake, as if people rushed out to buy these two cars before the inventory interruptions.

    - I’m surprised that the Cruze has done as well as it has against entire market. IIRC, the Cruze and Focus both had a bit of a soft launch when they were introduced (and no, I don’t know what affect that has).

    - Considering that the second chart has changed the context of this article, it is interesting that the title hasn’t been changed and the addition of the comment about the sales drop off being class wide is little more than a footnote.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    When times are bad, people who need wheels will opt for the proven deal, same as investments, they don’t want to take a chance on a yet unproven car.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Snuze sales are falling becuase people are buying more Volts.

    (sarcasm off)

    http://www.cars.com/for-sale/searchresults.action?sf1Dir=DESC&mkId=20053&mdId=35025&crSrtFlds=stkTypId-feedSegId-mkId-mdId&rd=100000&PMmt=1-1-0&stkTypId=28880&sf2Dir=ASC&sf1Nm=price&sf2Nm=location&isDealerGrouping=false&rpp=50&feedSegId=28705&searchSource=GEO_SEARCH&pgId=2102&zc=00001

  • avatar
    alluster

    Ignoring seasonal factors, here’s how the C segment has been compared to 2010

    Model 2011 2010 Change
    Cruze 215908 110360 105548
    Elantra 173336 119150 54186
    Jetta 138092 86925 51167
    Sentra 106281 83285 22996
    Forte 71564 62806 8758
    Focus 161436 159679 1757
    Corolla 219250 244024 -24774
    Civic 200690 231955 -31265
    Total C Segment 1286557 1098184 188373
    Cruze Market share 16.78% 10.04%
    Corolla Market Share 17.4% 22.22%

    If the General has a problem, the others have much bigger problems. Will only get more interesting once the Dodge Dart is out. Sales start at 0 and have to come from somewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      alluster

      The difference between Corolla and (Cruze+cobalt) in 2010 = 134,000 Units
      The difference between Corolla and (Cruze+cobalt) in 2011 = 3,300 Units
      In 2010 Civic led the Cruze+Cobalt by 121,500 Units
      In 2011 Cruze now leads the Civic by 15,300 Units

      That pretty much says it all. Sorry for ruining a great story by letting facts in!!

  • avatar
    lammp4

    i think there is a problem with the pricing of compact cars.as was commented on earlier, you can get into a misize car for roughly the same money as a loaded compact. there are also too many choices. i think chevy is competing, as are most car companies, with itself. i think the sonic and the cruz and soon a new malibu will overlap in price. maybe gm is still too big a company for the us market.


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