Category: Chart Of The Day
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.
I’ve suggested in these pages that the several documented fires involving Chevrolet Volts suggest some kind of pattern, as no other major-manufacturer EVs have been involved in any reported fires. But, as Ronnie Schreiber at Cars In Depth points out, even that pattern seems to pale in comparison to the National Fire Protection Association’s tally of highway vehicle fires in the US each year. Though the number of highway vehicle fires has decreased significantly since 1980, 2009 still saw 190,500 fires. And between 2003 and 2007,
On average, 31 highway vehicle fires were reported per hour. These fires killed one person a day.
With today’s chart showing the abject failure of Lexus’s HS250h, we thought we’d dig deeper into Lexus’s 2011 performance by breaking out the brand’s core model sales over the year. And, to be perfectly honest, they don’t look as bad as you might expect. Though the tsunami-related supply shortages cut a huge hole out of Lexus’s sales this year, the overall momentum model-by-model doesn’t seem as bad as I might have thought, given that Lexus is the most-stumbling brand of the year, sales-wise. And, to give a little more context to this focused at Lexus’s portfolio, we’ve included a chart of year-over-year performances through October of all the luxury/premium brands.
With all the attention being paid to Volt sales, production and turn time in the wake of recent congressional criticism, I thought I’d update our recent chart of Volt sales versus production to see how GM’s wonder car is doing a month on. As you can see, there’s not much obvious change on the year-to-date chart, with both sales and production trending upwards. But if we zoom in on the most recent months, we can see something strange happening…
Sales analysis for calender-year 2011 hasn’t been easy, as supply disruptions in Asia have caused sales dips that may not be related to actual market demand. So, it’s not entirely surprising that Subaru’s sales numbers seem to be drooping this year, after two years of spectacular sales growth. Indeed, the brand’s sales releases make much of its inventory woes, although Subaru USA’s Thomas Doll still insists that
Based on the continuing strong demand for our products, increased supply through December and the launch of the all-new Impreza we expect to finish 2011 with the fourth consecutive year of sales growth for Subaru.
And he may be right (note: our estimate of declining 2011 volume above is non-seasonally-adjusted). In fact, through October, Subaru was less than 1% off its pace for the previous year’s sales through October. On the other hand, if you look at Subaru’s sales over the last 18 months, you’ll find that not all of its sales slippage can be blamed on the tsunami….
With October’s compact segment numbers reflecting Midsized segment’s return to the Toyota-Honda duopoly, the year-to-date graph shows that 2011 saw the rise of a new contender in the compact class: Chevy’s Cruze. With “virtually zero” 2012 Civics at Honda’s dealers (allegedly) due to Earthquake aftermath and Thai flooding, it’s beginning to look like Civic could be kicked out of the new triumvirate, leaving Cruze and Corolla to fight it out to the finish. To celebrate the drama, we’ve included a special bonus graph showing the “Big Six” compact horserace from January through October, to go along with the YTD graph. Enjoy!
The import empire struck back last month, as Honda and Hyundai jumped in segment sales and Chevy’s Malibu got battered down towards the bottom of our monthly chart. Four of the top five midsized sellers in October were import nameplates, although the two biggest year-over-year growers were Chrysler’s 200 and Kia’s Optima. Meanwhile, VW’s Chattanooga-built Passat is still rolling out, but still managed to post 5,000 units in its first month. Year-to-date rankings remain unchanged from last month, although Accord could easily squeeze past Fusion to snag third place by year’s end.
The auto sales game has only one rule: sell more cars this year than you did last year. By that measure, these seven brands are “losing” 2011 as we head into the final two months of the year. Of course 2011’s king of bellyflopping brands was Mercury, which went from 78,656 units in the first 10 months of 2010 to 248 in the same period this year. But because it was mercifully euthanized by Ford (not to mention the fact that its 99.7% decline ruined the rest of the graph), Ford’s erstwhile “entry luxury” brand has been left off.
And what we’re left with is a sight to behold… the once-dominant Honda and Toyota (and even their luxury brands) laid low by floods, tsunamis, congressional hearings and a few poorly-received products. Even Subaru, a brand that grew 15 and 16 percent in 2009 and 2010 respectively seems in danger of not growing its volume this year… for less easily-explained (or is that superficially-explained?) reasons. Meanwhile, if Jaguar is falling behind with its freshest lineup in… well, you get the point. With the market up 10% compared to where it was in the first ten months of 2010, nobody wants to be losing volume right now…
Though the Compact CUV segment continues to add volume, its starting to become one of the older segments, as models like Escape, Rogue, CR-V and RAV4 approach the ends of their life cycles. And yet only one of those competitors, the Toyota RAV4, has fallen off sharply. The Equinox seems to have permanently passed the Toyota model in the YTD race, and the Rogue could end up passing it as well before the year is over. Meanwhile, as we start looking ahead to the new look of this segment, there will be some divergence between the top two models that bears keeping an eye on. The Escape, long a cheap-n-rugged entry in this segment will be replaced with a more premium, European-style global crossover (see the Vertrek concept), while Honda is taking a more conservative approach, adding room but keeping the vehicle’s basic image intact. It should be interesting how those changes affect the top of this segment going forward…