On October 1, after we asked TTAC readers late last month if the TLX could restore Acura’s car business, Acura reported 3884 TLX sales for the month of September 2014. This was a strong follow-up to the TLX’s 2286-unit performance during the latest Acura’s first month on sale.
3884 is a figure which, like most premium (or semi-premium?) monthly car sales totals, pales in comparison to the numbers put up by BMW’s vast 3-Series/4-Series range. 12,814 of those BMWs were sold in September, a 51% year-over-year increase. Mercedes-Benz C-Class sales slid 2% to 6285 units, the best C-Class month since December. (The C has been undergoing a transition into new W205 form.) Lexus ES sales jumped 18% to 5722 units. Mercedes-Benz E-Class volume fell 14% to 4883 units.
Yet among premium brand passenger cars, nothing else sold more often than the TLX in September 2014, not the Lexus IS, Audi A4, Infiniti Q50, Mercedes-Benz CLA, Audi A3, or the Cadillac CTS.
(Buick sold 3913 Veranos in September. In the eyes of many, Buick, like Acura and perhaps Volvo, treads middle ground between the Mazdas and Mercedes-Benzes of the world. Speaking of Volvo, the TLX outsold Volvo’s whole passenger car division by nearly 1000 units in September.)
If we exclude those nameplates from the equation to concentrate on Acura’s recent TL and TSX history, we then see the true signs of early success for the TLX. Not since March of last year has the TL topped the 3000-unit mark. Not since March of 2011 had the TL achieved a monthly total (3995) in excess of the TLX’s September result.
Acura hadn’t sold more than 3000 TSXs in a single month since April 2012. December 2010 marks the last occasion in which the TSX put up a figure (4393) better than the TLX’s 3884-unit achievement in September.
Even at 3900 units/month, the TLX isn’t going to bring back the kind of annual numbers the TL used to achieve, of course. Acura averaged 71,500 annual TL sales in the United States between 2004 and 2007, a period in which the brand was also selling 34,000 TSXs per year.
We no longer expect cars to be the major driving force for premium automakers, however. In 2005, for example, Acura relied on cars for nearly seven out of every ten sales. Only 63,285 MDXs and RDXs were sold. That same year, passenger cars accounted for 79% of all BMW sales. At BMW, that figure stands at just 66% in 2014.
Through the first seven months of this year, only 30% of the Acuras sold were passenger cars. That figure rose to 32% in August and then 41% in September, a month in which ILX sales actually increased, as well: 7% to 1464 units. Acura sold 187 RLXs last month, a 40% drop. The TL and TSX leftovers, 200 units, accounted for 3.5% of Acura’s passenger car total in September. Already this year, Acura has sold 81,472 utility vehicles.
If the TLX sells like the TL of a decade ago, we’d be shocked. If it continues to outsell increasingly popular cars like the Lexus IS, Infiniti Q50, and Audi A3, we might just have to call it a hit.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.