The Truth About Cars » Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:05:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/sales/ Cadillac Dealers Prepare To Step Up, Or Leave, Sales Game Under De Nysschen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/cadillac-dealers-prepare-step-leave-sales-game-de-nysschen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/cadillac-dealers-prepare-step-leave-sales-game-de-nysschen/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934202 Facebook commenters and the automotive press aren’t the only ones feeling the lash from Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen, as dealers themselves are feeling the pressure to step up their game. Automotive News reports that while some Cadillac dealerships have nothing to worry about, and are, in fact, completely on-board with de Nysschen’s alphanumeric global […]

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Facebook commenters and the automotive press aren’t the only ones feeling the lash from Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen, as dealers themselves are feeling the pressure to step up their game.

Automotive News reports that while some Cadillac dealerships have nothing to worry about, and are, in fact, completely on-board with de Nysschen’s alphanumeric global vision, those on the low end of the totem pole fear they may be selling something else if they can’t compete on the level their new boss expects of them.

Specifically, de Nysschen may want to consolidate the brand’s network of 924 dealerships into a more BMW/Mercedes-esque number — hovering in the 330 – 370 range — with a similar focus on urban markets. Though neither he nor anyone representing Cadillac have stated such plans were on the table, dealers like Claude Burns and an unnamed dealer in the Midwest are going on the offensive to maintain their spots: a new expanded floorplan for the former, lawyering-up with an attorney who represented dealers during General Motors’ bankruptcy for the latter.

As for the boss himself, de Nysschen had this to say about the future of his dealerships after his meeting with them last month in Las Vegas, where he outlined his vision for the brand and their role in it:

It’s very clear to me that many, many dealers already have risen to the challenge. On the other hand, when those customers engage us in our dealerships, we cannot afford that the experience is anything other than confirming that this is a first-class brand. And not all of our dealers are there.

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September 2014 Sales: Now Even The SRX Is Slowing Cadillac Down http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-now-even-srx-slowing-cadillac/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-now-even-srx-slowing-cadillac/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:39:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932522 Cadillac sales in the United States rose to a six-year high in 2013. Yet in five of 2014’s nine months, sales have declined. Through three-quarters, Cadillac volume is down 4%. Overall new vehicle sales in the U.S. are up by more than 5%. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus sales are up 11%, 8%, and 16%, respectively, […]

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2015 Cadillac SRXCadillac sales in the United States rose to a six-year high in 2013. Yet in five of 2014’s nine months, sales have declined. Through three-quarters, Cadillac volume is down 4%. Overall new vehicle sales in the U.S. are up by more than 5%.

BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus sales are up 11%, 8%, and 16%, respectively, in 2014. Audi, up 14%, is routinely outselling Cadillac.

The SRX was a bright spot for Cadillac in the first half of this year, not only because it’s the brand’s best-selling model but because sales had jumped 20% compared with the first half of 2013. After six consecutive monthly increases, however, SRX sales in July slid 7%. August volume fell 37%. September sales dropped 15%.

Total third-quarter SRX sales were down 22%, a loss of nearly 3700 sales.

Meanwhile, September sales of Cadillac cars slid 14%. The new Escalade and Escalade ESV were saviors, rising 120% to 3518 units, 25% of Cadillac’s total September volume. As a result, overall Cadillac volume increased in September. By a single unit.

Had SRX volume not been so stable over the previous four and a half years, this 2014 Q3 result wouldn’t be surprising at all. Between 2010 and 2013, Cadillac averaged 55,565 SRX sales per year in the U.S, never falling below 51,000 units, never rising above 58,000. Year-to-date sales in 2014 are actually up 3%.

But the SRX is no longer the freshest chicken in the fridge. Supply has been increasing: Cadillac dealers had 97 days of inventory at the beginning of October, up from 82 in September and 68 at the beginning of July.

And yet the SRX is still one of America’s favourite premium brand utility vehicles, slotting in behind the Lexus RX, Acura MDX, and BMW X5 in September; the RX and MDX on year-to-date terms.

If Cadillac’s car issues weren’t so troubling – ATS volume is down 20% this year, the CTS is off by 6%, and the XTS by 22% – this recent SRX decline wouldn’t merit more than a paragraph. Instead, because their car sales are so low, Cadillac needs something other than the Escalade to sell well.

Based on a brief but sudden downturn, the second-generation SRX appears as though it is perhaps not consistently capable of being that vehicle, not five years into its term.

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Porsche 918 Hybrid Hypercar Nearly Sold Out http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/porsche-918-hybrid-hypercar-nearly-sold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/porsche-918-hybrid-hypercar-nearly-sold/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934098 Saving your pennies for a Porsche 918 Spyder? You may want to go ahead and take out a loan to get the down payment on the table, for the hybrid hypercar is nearly sold out. Automotive News reports production of the 918 will draw to a close in July 2015, while planned production is sold […]

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Saving your pennies for a Porsche 918 Spyder? You may want to go ahead and take out a loan to get the down payment on the table, for the hybrid hypercar is nearly sold out.

Automotive News reports production of the 918 will draw to a close in July 2015, while planned production is sold out through early April at the latest, according to Porsche Cars North America vice president of marketing, Andre Oosthuizen.

Regarding how many have been made thus far, Oosthuizen declined to say more than that it was doing well for itself. He added that 30 of the $847,945 spyders were delivered to customers around the world — each bestowing Porsche a deposit of $200,000 for the opportunity to own one — thus far.

 

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Chrysler Twins Rank First And Second Among Minivans In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chrysler-twins-ranked-first-second-among-minivans-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chrysler-twins-ranked-first-second-among-minivans-2014/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:02:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932466 Only twice in the last six years have one of the Chrysler Group’s minivans been America’s top-selling minivan. America’s best-selling minivan in 2008 and 2009 was the Honda Odyssey, which also led the segment in 2013. The Toyota Sienna was America’s best-selling minivan in 2011. Yet through the first nine months of 2014, not only […]

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2015 Dodge Grand CaravanOnly twice in the last six years have one of the Chrysler Group’s minivans been America’s top-selling minivan. America’s best-selling minivan in 2008 and 2009 was the Honda Odyssey, which also led the segment in 2013. The Toyota Sienna was America’s best-selling minivan in 2011.

Yet through the first nine months of 2014, not only is the Chrysler Town & Country America’s top-selling minivan, but its twin, the Dodge Grand Caravan, ranks second in the class, 8431 sales ahead of the third-ranked Odyssey. The Chrysler and Dodge haven’t finished a calendar year as the two top-ranked minivans since 2005. 

Granted, even during the years in which the Odyssey or Sienna led the category, the Chrysler/Dodge twins combined for superior market share. We also know that these vans are fleet favourites, assisting in the generation of volume outside of a retail environment. Moreover, competitors produce higher transaction prices, especially the Odyssey, while the Grand Caravan is geared towards value-minded family buyers.

But the news that these twins combined to finish the months of March, April, May, June, and September as the two leaders of the category is pertinent given FCA’s intentions for their Ontario-assembled vans and the recent growth in the category.

2011 Chrysler Town & CountryAfter five consecutive years of decline ending in 2009, overall minivan volume grew 7% in 2010, 3% in 2011, and 13% in 2012, then declined 4% to a two-year low last year. Minivan sales in 2014 are up 6%, meaning the category is on track for its best year since 2008, when the Odyssey’s two-year reign began.

We published a chart just last month looking at the increased market share of the twins in 2014, rising from 44% during the first eight months of 2013 to 49% this year. With three-quarters under our belt, the Town & Country and Grand Caravan now own 50% of the market, up from 45% a year ago. Town & Country volume is up 19%, a near 18,000-unit improvement. Grand Caravan sales have improved by 12,501 units, a 14% jump. Jointly, their sales are up 17% to 212,411 units, 13.7% of Chrysler Group’s year-to-date volume, up from 13.4% at this time a year ago. (Including the Ram Cargo Van, they account for 14.1% of all Chrysler Group sales.)

Resting on laurels is genuinely thought to be a bad idea. These vans are in need of an update, and their consistently held status of sales leaderboard top dogs hides the fact that so much of their appeal comes down to price. (And Stow ‘N Go!) They’re the least efficient vans in the class. Their second rows aren’t as comfortable or as spacious as the seats in, for example, the Sienna. They don’t offer eight-passenger seating.

Nevertheless, it would be easier to understand FCA’s decision to severely alter the Town & Country/Grand Caravan model structure if the trend was heading in the opposite direction, as it did in 2011, when their market share decreased to 41.7% from 45% in 2010. On the other hand, should an automaker stick to tried-and-true product plans in a category that’s declined in size by 48% over the last decade, even if that category is showing moderate signs of renewed health?

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Koesters: Ford May Build PHEV For Europe Should Demand Rise http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/koesters-ford-may-build-phev-europe-demand-rise/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/koesters-ford-may-build-phev-europe-demand-rise/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933746 While U.S. consumers can opt for a PHEV version of the Fusion or C-Max, European customers have had to look elsewhere. This could change soon, however. Automotive News reports Ford is “actively considering” bringing over a PHEV to go up against offerings from Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volvo, according to vehicle line director for large […]

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While U.S. consumers can opt for a PHEV version of the Fusion or C-Max, European customers have had to look elsewhere.

This could change soon, however.

Automotive News reports Ford is “actively considering” bringing over a PHEV to go up against offerings from Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volvo, according to vehicle line director for large cars in Europe, Uli Koesters.

The reason the Blue Oval hadn’t planned on playing the game? Low demand in Europe for PHEVs overall. Koesters could immediately bring a PHEV to market, such as one based upon the Fusion’s European cousin, the Mondeo, but only if the interest is there:

I believe the plug-in take-up in Europe is not quite as ready as some people would like to think, but it is clearly a technology that can do a lot better at significantly reducing fuel consumption and that is why we are actively looking at it.

At the moment, the most popular PHEV is the Mitsubishi Outlander, with 8,953 units sold in H1 2014. Volvo, meanwhile, sold the fewest PHEVs in the same period, moving only 3,233 V60s.

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Chart Of The Day: The 200 And A Decade Of Chrysler Group Midsize Car Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-200-decade-chrysler-group-midsize-car-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-200-decade-chrysler-group-midsize-car-sales/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 11:41:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930402 Through the first nine months of 2014, sales of the Chrysler 200 are down 27%. That’s to be expected, as the 200 was transitioning from Sebring-based (but Pentastar-powered!) fleet favourite to sleeker 2015 200 form. Granted, Toyota is transitioning from Camry to refreshed Camry and sales are up 5% this year, but that’s a somewhat […]

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003-2015-chrysler-200-leak-1Through the first nine months of 2014, sales of the Chrysler 200 are down 27%. That’s to be expected, as the 200 was transitioning from Sebring-based (but Pentastar-powered!) fleet favourite to sleeker 2015 200 form. Granted, Toyota is transitioning from Camry to refreshed Camry and sales are up 5% this year, but that’s a somewhat invalid comparison for another day. Dodge Avenger volume is down 37% to 49,363 units in 2014, but again, this was an anticipated decline, as Chrysler Group has actually killed off the Avenger.

Jointly, the duo is down 31% to 124,505 units. For the third time, this is not a shocker. We expected a period of decreasing 200 volume, and we knew the Avenger’s drops were going to be severe.

Perhaps Fiat Chrysler Automobiles does not need the remaining, sibling-less 200 to sell in 200/Avenger-like fashion. But if we set aside the year-to-date numbers to look only at September’s results, we’ll certainly see that the new 200 is, in fact, not coming close to selling in 200/Avenger-like numbers. In fact, the 200 and remaining Avenger – 1677 were sold in September – aren’t selling like the 200 and Avenger did last year, either. While 200 sales jumped 15% in September, that was not enough to overcome the near disappearance of Avenger sales.

Chrysler Group midsize car sales chartThe pair was down 14% to 12672 units, a loss of 2010 units. Is that a concern if the new car has greater potential for profit generation? Not at all. But the discounts are already piling up on the 2015 200, with a $2500 cash allowance being just the starting point.

Of course, Chrysler Group midsize car sales fluctuate wildly, and we could yet see a surge by year’s end. The accompanying chart shows nine-month U.S. sales totals over the last nine years.

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Canada Auto Sales Recap: September 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/canada-auto-sales-recap-september-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/canada-auto-sales-recap-september-2014/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:36:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932434 Without an unexpected drastic downward turn in the final quarter of 2014, Canadian auto sales will reach record levels this year, a strong follow-up to best-ever sales in calendar year 2013. September 2014 was marked by a collective 13% sales improvement from the overall industry, a gain of nearly 19,000 units compared with September 2013. […]

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2015 Hyundai Sonata frontWithout an unexpected drastic downward turn in the final quarter of 2014, Canadian auto sales will reach record levels this year, a strong follow-up to best-ever sales in calendar year 2013.

September 2014 was marked by a collective 13% sales improvement from the overall industry, a gain of nearly 19,000 units compared with September 2013. September also marked Ford Motor Company’s return to the top of the overall sales leaderboard in Canada. Chrysler Group’s five brands haven’t actually led the monthly results since March, but their lead was strong enough to support year-to-date number one status through the end of August.

Both Ford/Lincoln and General Motors outsold the Chrysler Group in September, however, despite a combined 20% year-over-year improvement from Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat.

Jeep’s 140% year-over-year sales increase was at the top of September’s growth chart, surpassing Maserati’s 123% leap and Buick’s 111% improvement. Jeep volume has risen above 6000 units in each of the last six months. Jeep set an all-time monthly record for new vehicle sales in May of this year, when 7531 Wranglers, Cherokees, Grand Cherokees, Patriots, and Compasses were sold. Buick’s rise beyond 2000 units was the first such 2K+ month since April of last year, when precisely 2000 Buicks were sold in Canada.

Canada’s next-fastest-growing auto brand last month was Audi, sales of which shot up 42% to 2490 units. 29% of Audi Canada’s September volume was generated by the brand’s two new entry-level models, the A3 sedan (393 September sales) and Q3 crossover (328 September sales).

The Q3 was joined in Canada by its newest rival, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, 184 of which were sold last month, a figure which is expected to steadily rise. 46% of Mercedes-Benz’s non-Sprinter volume was generated by five SUV and crossover nameplates last month. Through nine months, the Mercedes-Benz brand (excluding Sprinter vans) leads BMW, the second-ranked premium automaker, by a scant 50 units.

Canada September 2014 YTD best-selling cars chartMidsize cars are an increasingly lackluster force in Canada’s auto market. Even in Canada’s declining passenger car market, the midsize segment’s decline is particularly egregious, falling 15% this year and 6% in September. Hyundai’s Sonata has bucked the trend of late, surging 140% in September to lead the category for the third consecutive month. But this Ford Fusion-led midsize segment was, Sonata excluded, down 15% last month, a loss of 1522 units.

Canadians, of course, respond much more favourably to slightly more efficient, not quite as roomy, and much more affordable compact cars. 2014 will mark the Honda Civic’s 17th consecutive year as the compact leader and as Canada’s best-selling passenger car overall. September Civic sales jumped 10% as compact volume grew just 4%.

The Civic was joined on the positive side of the ledger by the Buick Verano (up 121%), Chevrolet Cruze (up 22%), Nissan Sentra (up 57%) and Volkswagen Golf (up 101%), among other.

Golf sales, at 2073 units, are notable for the difference achieved by the nameplate on two sides of one border. In the United States, where Volkswagen’s struggles have been thoroughly chronicled, the Golf family accounted for just 13% of VW volume in September. The Golf is VW Canada’s second-best-selling model, producing 32% of the brand’s September sales.

Volkswagen’s model range is thin, of course, with just two utility vehicles, and five continuing passenger car lines. Volkswagen is done with the Routan minivan, having sold their last in May 2013. Canadian minivan volume was up 12% in September; mini-MPV sales were down 43%. Pickup truck volume, jacked up by the best-selling Ford F-Series, rose 11% to 31,050 units. Commercial van sales were up 23%. Passenger car sales rose 2%, accounting for 41% of total new vehicle volume last month. And Canada’s growth sector, SUVs and crossovers, grew 30%, forming 35% of the Canadian auto industry’s volume, up from 30% a year ago.

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Dwindling Cabriolet Market Affecting Automakers, Suppliers Alike http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dwindling-cabriolet-market-affecting-automakers-suppliers-alike/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dwindling-cabriolet-market-affecting-automakers-suppliers-alike/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932282 If you’re a fan of convertibles, then you may find your selection dwindling as more consumers go for a different image, affecting automakers and suppliers alike. Automotive News Europe reports manufacturers like Volkswagen and Peugeot are cutting down the number of cabriolets in their portfolios as a result of the following: Popularity: In the two […]

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If you’re a fan of convertibles, then you may find your selection dwindling as more consumers go for a different image, affecting automakers and suppliers alike.

Automotive News Europe reports manufacturers like Volkswagen and Peugeot are cutting down the number of cabriolets in their portfolios as a result of the following:

  • Popularity: In the two biggest markets for such vehicles — North America and Europe — the convertible experienced sales of 827,000 unit in 2007, but only 444,000 in 2013. The drop is likely the result of consumers moving toward crossovers and SUVs, along with other image-making vehicles like the Toyota Prius and Tesla Model S.
  • Limited market: Even when popularity was at its peak, not everyone wanted the wind in their hair. Convertibles were most popular in places like England, Sweden, California and Florida — the latter two were the result of transplants from colder, wetter regions who now wanted to soak up the sun — while few were sold in places like Dubai, China and Singapore.
  • Other options: Consumers shopping for new vehicles can have theirs with a panoramic roof, delivering blue skies to all without needing to apply a ton of Aqua Net or toupee glue before heading out. Further, SUVs and cabriolets are image vehicles that can replace each other, though such a swap hurts the latter more than the former in the new-vehicle market. Finally, convertibles have a higher residual value, and tend to do better in the used-vehicle market than when first purchased.

Thus, as automakers trim their open-top offerings, suppliers like Valmet and Magna CTS fear their time may soon come to call it a day. CEO for the largest supplier of roof systems, Webasto’s Holger Engelmann, says the market won’t be able to sustain three major players in the supply game. Both Webasto and Valmet — the third largest; Magna CTS is No. 2 — have shuttered facilities over the years amid the shrinking market, with Valmet closing its German operations by 2017.

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Toyota 4Runner Booms: Off-Roaders Aren’t Dead Yet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/toyota-4runner-booms-roaders-arent-dead-yet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/toyota-4runner-booms-roaders-arent-dead-yet/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 12:37:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931802 The off-roader is not yet dead, and with recent successes from a couple of well-known rough-and-tumble four-by-fours, the niche category has lives yet to live. We’re not talking about pickup trucks with Z71 badges or the ever-growing stable of vehicles perceived to be capable of mud-running because of their when-the-wheels-slip all-wheel-drive systems. No, truck-based SUV […]

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2014 Toyota 4Runner dirt pathThe off-roader is not yet dead, and with recent successes from a couple of well-known rough-and-tumble four-by-fours, the niche category has lives yet to live.

We’re not talking about pickup trucks with Z71 badges or the ever-growing stable of vehicles perceived to be capable of mud-running because of their when-the-wheels-slip all-wheel-drive systems.

No, truck-based SUV platforms with selectable four-wheel-drive are another breed. We’re well acquainted with the Jeep Wrangler’s steady rise up the utility vehicle sales leaderboard, and 2014 is almost assured of ending with record Wrangler sales.

The Unlimited has expanded that Wrangler’s appeal to corners of the market near and far. Wrangler sales in the United States have increased in four consecutive years and are likely to top 170,000 units in 2014.

Yet a far less likely candidate for success in this age is the Toyota 4Runner, sales of which have already risen to a seven-year high in 2014, with three months remaining on the calendar.

(Mr. Kreindler touched on the success of a 4Runner compatriot, the Lexus GX, back in July. GX sales will shoot above 20,000 units in 2014 for the first time since 2007. The GX’s nine-month U.S. sales total is already marks a four-year high.)

It’s not as though the 4Runner is alone on the loosely-defined SUV side of Toyota showrooms. From the RAV4 and Venza to the Highlander, FJ Cruiser, Sequoia, and Land Cruiser, Toyota sales consultants are swimming in utility vehicles up to their ears.

Moreover, the Highlander is an increasingly popular vehicle, with sales rising 12% to 105,526 units in 2014. The FJ Cruiser still matters, too, as Toyota’s clear-out of the cancelled off-roader has resulted in a 30% increase to 12,653 sales through nine months. In fact, 2014 should end as the best FJ Cruiser sales year since 2010, if not 2008.

But while the 4Runner has maintained its boxy shape and rugged underpinnings (and its not exactly track-honed on-road manners) Toyota did update the 4Runner for 2014. Granted, it’s still using a five-speed automatic and it won’t tow any more than a Highlander, but the 4Runner’s equipment levels were upgraded and the exterior was updated, like it or not.

On a monthly basis, 4Runner sales have now increased in eight consecutive months. Third-quarter volume jumped 69% to 19,978 units, 36% of the 4Runner’s 55,271-unit total through nine months.

These aren’t SUV-leading numbers, of course: Honda sells nearly 27,000 CR-Vs per month and America’s top-selling three-row vehicle, the Ford Explorer, should top 170,000 units by October’s end. But the 4Runner has regained volume status, and after forming just 1.3% of Toyota brand sales in 2009, 3.1% in 2010, 3.2% in 2011, 2.8% in 2012, and 2.7% in 2013, the 4Runner is now responsible 3.6% of all Toyota sales.

Indeed, it’s a more popular Toyota than the Avalon, Prius C, Prius V, Venza, FJ, Yaris, Sequoia, and Land Cruiser. In the broader scheme of things, it’s selling more often than the Acura MDX, Dodge Durango, Buick Enclave, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Suburban, Nissan Murano, and BMW X5.

55,271 sales in nine months is an impressive result for a vehicle which averaged 43,130 annual sales over the previous six years. It’s also a figure which tells us something about the market’s swing to car-like crossovers. In four consecutive years ending in 2006, Toyota sold more than 100,000 4Runners. Those days may be gone, but the 4Runner is not.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Michigan May Ban Tesla Direct Sales Pending Governor’s Signature http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/michigan-may-ban-tesla-direct-sales-pending-governors-signature/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/michigan-may-ban-tesla-direct-sales-pending-governors-signature/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931978 Sitting on Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s desk is a bill that would add the state to the list of places where Tesla cannot sell its vehicles directly to the public, waiting for his pen to seal the deal. Automotive News reports Michigan H.B. 5606 was originally meant to determine whether or not automakers could stop […]

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tesla-store-opening-in-westfield-mall-london-oct-2013_100444202_l

Sitting on Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s desk is a bill that would add the state to the list of places where Tesla cannot sell its vehicles directly to the public, waiting for his pen to seal the deal.

Automotive News reports Michigan H.B. 5606 was originally meant to determine whether or not automakers could stop their dealership networks from charging consumers certain fees when it was introduced in May, only for the anti-Tesla language to be appended to the bill by the state senate prior to passage — and without notice or debate — during the first two days of October. The bill then returned to the state house, passing 106 to 1 before landing on Snyder’s desk.

On the third day, Tesla contacted the governor’s office to have “a very open and productive dialogue” with those in the Snyder administration, according to vice president of business development Diarmuid O’Connell. He added that the automaker had been watching the bill since its introduction, citing its experience with other bills where anti-Tesla language had been stealthily implemented.

Meanwhile, Michigan Automobile Dealers Association executive vice president Terry Burns applauded the bill, proclaiming that while Tesla are “more than welcome” to do business in Michigan, he would hope they do so based on state law:

One good thing about being governor, you get to do whatever you think is appropriate at the time. We hope and look forward to him signing the bill and clarifying the language, and we hope he does it soon.

As for when the governor would decide the fate of H.B. 5606, a representative said the bill was being evaluated, but nothing has been decided thus far. Snyder has until October 21 to sign.

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Rare Kia K900 Is Becoming Rarer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/rare-kia-k900-becoming-rarer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/rare-kia-k900-becoming-rarer/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 12:07:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931458 When dining at a steakhouse, my father always told me, make sure you ask for your beef to be grilled longer than you would at home, because restaurants always hastily send the food to your table. You want medium-rare? Ask for medium. Want medium? Ask for medium-well. With the K900, a V8-engined sedan closely related to […]

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 2015 Kia K900When dining at a steakhouse, my father always told me, make sure you ask for your beef to be grilled longer than you would at home, because restaurants always hastily send the food to your table. You want medium-rare? Ask for medium. Want medium? Ask for medium-well.

With the K900, a V8-engined sedan closely related to the Hyundai Equus, Kia asked for rare, and the chef that is the American car consumer collective is sending it out to the table even rarer.

The K900 has only been on sale in the United States since March, but it’s quickly becoming simple to draw conclusions regarding its desirability. Sales peaked at 260 units in its first full month on the market, April, and have declined (month-over-month) ever since. May volume totalled 227 K900s, then 224 in June, 132 in July, 102 in September, and 56 in September.

Keep in mind, we never expected this to be an S-Class-like seller. (Mercedes-Benz USA is selling nearly 1900 S-Classes per month in 2014.) Nor did we assume the K900 would sell like far less popular mid-rung luxury cars such as the Audi A6, sales of which are up 9% to 17,167 this year. In fact, the standards set by the established Hyundai Equus seemed lofty.

But this gradual decline to near nothingness is nevertheless disappointing when one considers the initial expectations for 5000 annual K900 sales. Cars.com shows 626 K900s currently inventoried. The bulk of that inventory was available at this time a month ago.

Kia is sensitive to the sight of low numbers in its monthly sales release. Brand-wide sales are up 7% this year because of vehicles like the Soul (115,579 year-to-date sales), Forte (53,793), and Sportage (32,643). Kia’s Cadenza, at approximately 850 units per month, generates 28% greater volume than the Hyundai Azera. So with two asterisks, Kia USA points out: “2015 K900 V8 available in select trims and in select markets with limited availability.”

That’s a double-drop of “select” and a “limited” mention, to boot.

And we’re not going to argue with their point. The K900 is supposed to be rare. Moreover, fewer than one-third of the brand’s dealers are eligible to sell the car.

Yet when it quickly becomes rarer than rare – it was outsold by the Scion iQ, Cadillac ELR, Chevrolet SS, Dodge Viper, cancelled Jaguar XK, electric Mercedes-Benz B-Class, defunct Acura TSX, and the BMW i8 in September – the K900 quickly ceases to be relevant for the purpose of brand-building.

It’s easy to make a case that the Hyundai Genesis has elevated the Hyundai brand as a whole. If potential Forte and Optima buyers never even see a K900, can that car pull off the same trick at Kia?

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Saudis Accept Lower Barrel Prices In Fight Against US Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/saudis-accept-lower-barrel-prices-fight-us-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/saudis-accept-lower-barrel-prices-fight-us-production/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931394 While some OPEC nations are panicking over oil prices not being above $100/barrel, Saudi Arabia says it wouldn’t mind accepting barrels worth $90 or $80 for the next year or two, so long as it slows down production elsewhere. Reuters reports the nation is playing the short-term, low-profit game for medium-term gains, with the long-term […]

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Rock the Casbah

While some OPEC nations are panicking over oil prices not being above $100/barrel, Saudi Arabia says it wouldn’t mind accepting barrels worth $90 or $80 for the next year or two, so long as it slows down production elsewhere.

Reuters reports the nation is playing the short-term, low-profit game for medium-term gains, with the long-term goal of retaining its market share for years to come in mind. The move would affect other OPEC members financially, forcing reductions throughout the industry.

In particular, lower barrel prices would put a dent in North American petroleum production, from the oil sands in Alberta and the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, to deep-sea reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.

Whatever cuts do occur, they would likely happen after the group’s meeting November 27, which may prove contentious as most members would rather raise the price than reduce production. That said, the Saudis have already cut prices for its Asian customers earlier this month, a sign of price wars to come.

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China Auto Sales Slow To Lowest Rate Since February 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/china-auto-sales-slow-lowest-rate-since-february-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/china-auto-sales-slow-lowest-rate-since-february-2013/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931362 Chinese automotive sales are still growing, but at the lowest rate in the past 19 months as demand cools. Bloomberg reports sales in September rose 2.5 percent to 1.98 million units compared to what they were in 2013, marking the lowest rise in sales since February of last year. While passenger-car sales climbed 6.4 percent […]

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SAIC bus

Chinese automotive sales are still growing, but at the lowest rate in the past 19 months as demand cools.

Bloomberg reports sales in September rose 2.5 percent to 1.98 million units compared to what they were in 2013, marking the lowest rise in sales since February of last year. While passenger-car sales climbed 6.4 percent to 1.7 million units, commercial-vehicle sales fell 16 percent.

Meanwhile, purchase restrictions and declines in other parts of the nation’s economy also contributed to the slowdown in sales. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers lowered its 2014 forecast of vehicle sales growth in July, bringing it down from 10 percent to 8.3 percent. Economists add that overall growth will slow to 7.3 percent in 2014 — the lowest rate since 1990 — and 7 percent for 2015.

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Datsun Dealing With Low Sales In Emerging Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/datsun-dealing-low-sales-emerging-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/datsun-dealing-low-sales-emerging-markets/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931346 Last year, Renault-Nissan resurrected Datsun, positioning the brand for emerging markets — like India, Russia and Indonesia — with a portfolio of models that would attract new, young consumers whose wallets were a bit thin. It’s not quite working out thus far. Bloomberg reports deliveries of the Go hatchback in India have fallen in three […]

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Datsun mi-Do 01

Last year, Renault-Nissan resurrected Datsun, positioning the brand for emerging markets — like India, Russia and Indonesia — with a portfolio of models that would attract new, young consumers whose wallets were a bit thin.

It’s not quite working out thus far.

Bloomberg reports deliveries of the Go hatchback in India have fallen in three of the previous four months through this August, with only 607 units leaving the lot in July, briefly dipping below the sales rate of the Tata Nano in the same month. Further, from its debut in March through August, a total of 9,557 of the ₹312,270 ($5,100 USD) Gos found their way into Indian garages.

Meanwhile, Russian sales will take a hit thanks to the ongoing geopolitical Cold War retro revival delivering a two-pronged attack upon the market, with sanctions by Western states on one side, the spectre of recession along the other. According to IHS Automotive, sales may fall to a decade-low of 9 percent by the time 2015 rolls around.

Finally, Datsun has moved 6,400 Go+ Pancas thus far in FY 2014, with the goal set for 40,000 units sold by the end of March 2015. The brand recently began accepting orders for the Go hatch, while Nissan believes it can hit the mark within the year.

India may prove to be the toughest market for the upstart brand, as those interested in a new car would rather pay more than be seen in something considered “cheap.” That said, sales could pick up during the country’s festival season, which began last month and is set to end in November. Additionally, Datsun corporate vice president Vincent Cobee acknowledged that it would take a while for a new-car buyer to consider a new brand over an established one, even if they are paying $10,000 or less for the vehicle.

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Chart Of The Day: America’s Top Rental Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-americas-top-rental-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-americas-top-rental-cars/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:57:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930946   Courtesy of the New York Times and Polk, a chart showing the top rental cars in 2013, as a percentage of overall sales. A big question mark overall is “what percentage of Impala sales (not just to fleets) are of the W-Body, fleet only, ‘Impala Limited'”? GM won’t break out their numbers from the […]

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rentalcars

 

Courtesy of the New York Times and Polk, a chart showing the top rental cars in 2013, as a percentage of overall sales.

A big question mark overall is “what percentage of Impala sales (not just to fleets) are of the W-Body, fleet only, ‘Impala Limited'”? GM won’t break out their numbers from the Epsilon II-based model that replaced it, but either way, at least half of the Impala’s volume (roughly 156,000 units were sold in 2013) went to rental fleets. The Impala and the Dodge Charger, two heavy hitters in the ever-shrinking full-size car segment, are well represented, along with the Chrysler minivans, the now defunct Dodge Avenger and GM’s full-size SUVs. Mazda also appears to be dumping volume into daily rental, with the Mazda2 and Mazda5 making an appearance.

Ranking ahead of the Impala was the Toyota Yaris. Even though nearly 60 percent of Yarisis (Yari?) go to rental fleets, Toyota just spent what must have been a huge sum of money flying journalists and their guest of choice to a week-long drive event in Hawaii to preview the new Yaris, as well as the Sienna and refreshed 2015 Camry. TTAC was not invited, but perhaps we can do two rental reviews, for less than the cost of one night’s stay on the Big Island.

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The Impreza Is Subaru’s Top Seller, Sort Of http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/impreza-subarus-top-seller-sort/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/impreza-subarus-top-seller-sort/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:39:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930370 Subaru USA didn’t sell as many Imprezas in 2013 as they did in 2012. By Subaru’s reporting methods, Impreza sales have fallen this year, as well, sliding 0.3% through the first three-quarters of 2014. But Subaru narrowly defines the term, “Impreza.” That’s a good thing, as too many automakers don’t provide us with longed-for breakdowns […]

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ImprezaSubaru USA didn’t sell as many Imprezas in 2013 as they did in 2012. By Subaru’s reporting methods, Impreza sales have fallen this year, as well, sliding 0.3% through the first three-quarters of 2014.

But Subaru narrowly defines the term, “Impreza.” That’s a good thing, as too many automakers don’t provide us with longed-for breakdowns in their monthly sales releases. (Examples: F-Series, Silverado, Ram, the four-bodystyle E-Class.) However, this means a cursory glance will suggest that the Impreza range is increasingly less relevant in Subaru showrooms.

In fact, that’s not the case at all.

31.6% of the new Subarus sold in the United States this year have been proper Imprezas, not just Impreza-related cars or Impreza-based cars, but true Imprezas: Imprezas with more power and more wings and Imprezas with black-rimmed wheelarches and taller ride heights, yes, but Imprezas nonetheless.

That’s up from 31.3% during the first nine months of 2013.

subaru-xv-crosstrek-hybridThe Impreza that Subaru calls an Impreza, with a naturally aspirated 2.0L four-cylinder powerplant, as a sedan and hatchback, is Subaru’s fourth-best-selling model, on its own.

Subaru’s third-best-selling model is the increasingly popular XV Crosstrek, a genuine Impreza hatchback with a tougher exterior and added ride height (XV Crosstrek ground clearance: 8.7 inches. Ford Explorer AWD ground clearance: 7.6 inches.).

The WRX and STi, Subaru’s sixth-best-selling model line, is not nearly as liberated from the Impreza’s foundation as the WRX Concept from 2013’s New York International Auto Show indicated it would be, either.

For the record, I’m not calling out Subaru’s strategy, as this is brilliant marketing. I wouldn’t suggest the XV can’t crawl a rock or two, because it can. I won’t say the WRX isn’t a rocketship, because it is. Subaru’s decision to differentiate the models has clearly been a fruitful one. This is simply a presentation of numbers so we can more clearly see one core element which drives Subaru’s growth.

Individually, XV Crosstrek sales are up 43% to 54,303 units in 2014, Impreza volume is down 0.3% to 46,445 units, and WRX/STi sales are up 33% to 17,884, more than double the number of WRXs and STis sold by Subaru in all of 2010.

2015-Subaru-WRX-STI-drivingAs a unit, they’re up 21% to 118,632 units in 2014 as the top-selling representative of an automaker which has climbed 20% in 2014. Among America’s ten-best-selling auto brands, only Jeep is growing faster. While a quick look at the figures suggest the Impreza is a drain on the ticket, a secondary scan offers up convincing proof that the Impreza is an essential part of Subaru USA’s lineup, especially when Subaru turns the Impreza into a more expensive XV.

Of course, now we can play the same game with the Legacy’s figures. Sales of Subaru’s midsize sedan are small in number (rising 4% to 34,718 in 2014), but the Legacy is the donor vehicle (or vice versa) which helps to create the Outback, Subaru’s second-best-selling model. Outback volume is up 8% to 97,266 units in 2014. Together, they form 35.2% of Subaru’s U.S. sales output. Subaru has also sold 117,940 Foresters in 2014 along with 6245 BRZs and and 684 Tribecas.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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9% Of Canadians Are Thankful For Their Civics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/9-canadians-thankful-civics/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/9-canadians-thankful-civics/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:55:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930338 Happy Canadian Thanksgiving. Around turkey-laden tables across the country today, Canadians will utter their thanks for family, cranberry sauce, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, warm socks, and Honda Civics. In each of the last 16 years – a streak which began in 1998 – the Civic has been Canada’s best-selling passenger car. If Honda Canada stopped selling […]

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2013 Honda Civic sedanHappy Canadian Thanksgiving. Around turkey-laden tables across the country today, Canadians will utter their thanks for family, cranberry sauce, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, warm socks, and Honda Civics.

In each of the last 16 years – a streak which began in 1998 – the Civic has been Canada’s best-selling passenger car. If Honda Canada stopped selling the Civic now, the lead built up by this hugely popular nameplate would nearly be sufficient for the Civic to end 2014 as Canada’s best-selling car.

For a vehicle which suffered declining sales following the heydays of the eighth-generation car between 2006 and 2008, when Honda sold an average of 71,000 per year, 2014 is looking especially bright. Honda sold fewer than 59,000 Civics per year, on average, between 2009 and 2011 but has topped 64,000 units in each of the last two years. Whether Honda sells 69,000 or 71,000 Civics in 2014, we know the figure will result in at least a six-year high.

51,936 Civics have been sold during 2014’s first nine months, an 8% year-over-year improvement.

Yet Canada’s passenger car market is down 1% over the span of 2014’s first nine months. As a result, the Civic’s share of the car market has improved, noticeably so. 8.6% of the cars sold in Canada this year have been Civics, up from 7.9% at the three-quarter mark a year ago. When Honda sold 72,463 Civics in 2008, the Civic was responsible for 8.2% of the car market, and cars accounted for 54.3% of the overall new vehicle market. Traditional passenger cars generate 42.3% of the industry’s volume in 2014.

The total number of Civics sold in Canada in 2014 exceeds the number of cars sold by Ford and Lincoln and is nearly double the number of car sales reported by the Chrysler Group.

The story is pertinent at this time not because of Thanksgiving but because, in September, the Civic was also Canada’s second-best-selling vehicle overall, well back of the all-conquering Ford F-Series but ahead of the usual number two, Ram’s truck lineup. This marked the first such occasion since October of last year.

The Civic was Canada’s top-ranked vehicle line in 2008, but Canada’s taste for full-size pickup trucks has accelerated since then, rising from 190,000 units in calendar year 2008 (11.6% of the overall industry) to 242,000 units in just the first nine months of 2014, equal to 17% of the industry’s total new vehicle sales volume.

How does this compare with U.S. results? Consider the midsize Camry, America’s perennial best-selling car. 5.5% of the passenger cars sold in 2014 have been Camrys, but cars are more favoured in the growing U.S. market, accounting for 48.7% of the overall market. Full-size trucks generate just 12.1% of the industry’s volume.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Cain’s Segments: Subcompact Cars In September 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/cains-segments-subcompact-cars-september-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/cains-segments-subcompact-cars-september-2014/#comments Sun, 12 Oct 2014 12:57:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928265 In a U.S. auto industry that’s seen total new vehicle sales rise 5.5% over the first nine months of 2014, car sales are up just 1% year-over-year. Subcompacts are performing slightly better, rising 2.8% through the end of September. During the month of September, specifically, the subcompact category grew 4.9% as overall car sales rose […]

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2015 Honda Fit greyIn a U.S. auto industry that’s seen total new vehicle sales rise 5.5% over the first nine months of 2014, car sales are up just 1% year-over-year.

Subcompacts are performing slightly better, rising 2.8% through the end of September. During the month of September, specifically, the subcompact category grew 4.9% as overall car sales rose just 2.2%.

Yet the majority of cars in the subcompact segment are selling less often in 2014 than in 2013, not just in September but over the course of 2014’s first three-quarters.

Yaris volume has tumbled 46.3% this year as Toyota approached the launch of a refreshed 2015 model. In the meantime, sales of the Prius C have fallen 4.7%. The Mazda 2’s 40% burst means little given the low-volume nature of the car, but we expect greater things from Mazda when the next 2 arrives.

Despite increases from its Hyundai platform-sharing partner, the Kia Rio is down 11.6% to 29,387. The Rio and Hyundai Accent have combined for market share of 18.5% this year, down from 19.6% at this stage a year ago. (Their September share dropped from 19.0% to 13.9%.)

 

Car
Sept. 2014
Sept. 2013
% Change
9 Months 2014
9 Months 2013
% Change
Chevrolet Aveo

2 -100%
Chevrolet Sonic
8,328
7,335 13.5% 77,947 69,649 11.9%
Ford Fiesta
4,185
5,043 -17.0% 52,403 57,618 -9.1%
Honda Fit
6,628
3,981 66.5% 39,618 41,021 -3.4%
Hyundai Accent
3,662
4,999 -26.7% 46,405 45,112 2.9%
Kia Rio
2,240
2,695 -16.9% 29,387 33,238 -11.6%
Mazda 2
1,585
1,916 -17.3% 12,697 9,069 40.0%
Nissan Versa
12,072
8,776 37.6% 110,272 91,535 20.5%
Toyota Prius C
3,192
3,283 -2.8% 31,564 33,133 -4.7%
Toyota Yaris
598
2,465 -75.7% 10,339 19,254 -46.3%
Total
42,490
40,493 4.9% 410,632 399,631 2.8%

 
With their latest efforts, Detroit has their first two credible contenders in the subcompact segment in decades,or perhaps ever. Though it’s the only vehicle in the category with a true performance halo variant, Ford Fiesta sales are down 9% this year. The Fiesta has been on sale in America since June 2010. Over 271,000 have been sold since then, with annual sales peaking at 71,073 in 2013.

The Chevrolet Sonic, on the other hand, is up 12% to 77,947, the segment’s second-best nine-month result. The Sonic is a distant second to the Nissan Versa, of course, but this is nevertheless a welcome result for General Motors. Chevrolet averaged 6771 Sonic sales per month in 2012, 7137/month last year, and 8661/month in 2014.

Nissan’s Versa plays both value and space cards, and it does so to great effect. Over one-quarter of all subcompact sales in America go Nissan’s way. The Versa is also the only car in the class which sells anywhere near as often as its compact sibling. (Examples: the Focus outsells the Fiesta by more than 3-to-1. The Cruze outsells the Sonic by 2.7-to-1. Civic to Fit equals 6.4-to-1. Sentra sales are up 43% to 141,216 this year.)

The Fit is the most interesting nameplate in the subcompact class this year as Honda launched the car in third-gen form in the late summer/early fall. Fit sales jumped by 2647 units in September as the car’s market share in the category grew from 9.8% in September 2013 to 15.6% last month. U.S. Fit volume peaked at 79,794 units in 2008 but Honda has averaged fewer than 57,000 annual Fit sales since then.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Chart Of The Day: What Are America’s Leading Automakers Selling? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-americas-leading-automakers-selling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-americas-leading-automakers-selling/#comments Sat, 11 Oct 2014 13:51:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928241 American consumers are on pace to buy and lease more new vehicles in 2014 than at any point since 2007, if not earlier. The seven largest automakers in the United States generate 77% of the market’s volume. For each of those seven, this chart breaks down the vehicle categories where their volume is created. For […]

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2015 Hyundai SonataAmerican consumers are on pace to buy and lease more new vehicles in 2014 than at any point since 2007, if not earlier. The seven largest automakers in the United States generate 77% of the market’s volume. For each of those seven, this chart breaks down the vehicle categories where their volume is created.

For Hyundai and Kia, this means 77% of their sales are generated by traditional passenger cars, and 37% of their own car volume with the Sonata and Optima. At Ford Motor Company, 30% of their U.S. volume is derived from pickup truck sales, the F-Series lineup. At the Chrysler Group, minivans are responsible do 14% of the load-lugging.

Select from the dropdown menu at the top left of the chart to cycle through the seven largest automakers.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Early Results: The TLX Might Be A Hit, By Acura Standards http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/early-results-tlx-might-hit-acura-standards/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/early-results-tlx-might-hit-acura-standards/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:02:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928209 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 […]

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2015 Acura TLXOn 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.

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September 2014 Sales: A3 And Q3 Quickly Become Heavy Lifters For Audi USA http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-a3-q3-quickly-become-heavy-lifters-audi-usa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-a3-q3-quickly-become-heavy-lifters-audi-usa/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:04:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928073 Audi sales in the United States grew 14%, or 1852 units, in September 2014, the first full month of sales for the Q3, Audi’s new entry-level crossover. The Q3, along with Audi’s entry-level sedan, the A3, contributed 3425 more sales to the Audi ledger than they did a year ago, when the Q3 didn’t exist […]

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2015 Audi Q3Audi sales in the United States grew 14%, or 1852 units, in September 2014, the first full month of sales for the Q3, Audi’s new entry-level crossover.

The Q3, along with Audi’s entry-level sedan, the A3, contributed 3425 more sales to the Audi ledger than they did a year ago, when the Q3 didn’t exist in America and the A3 hatchback (seven September 2013 sales) was on its way out.

The maths are simple. Non-A3/Q3 sales at Audi dropped 12% in September, a loss of 1573 units.

This isn’t exactly trouble in paradise. Month after month after month, Audi dealers in the United States are selling more cars. The current streak of year-over-year monthly sales increases dates back to January 2011.

Annually, Audi sales have improved in four consecutive years and will undoubtedly increase in 2014, as well. Through nine months, Audi USA volume is up 14%. Non-A3/Q3 sales are up 1% over the last nine months.

The overall A4 family’s 6% decline this year – and its more severe 21% drop in September – relate to the car’s age and the fact that the A3 sedan is apt to steal sales. Surely A4 volume wouldn’t have tumbled this far had the A3 not developed into an A4-circa-1999. Likewise, while Q5 sales are up 5% this year, the 2% and 1% declines in August and September, respectively, may not have occurred had the Q3 not arrived with its undercutting sticker price.

But there is no doubt that the new entry-level models quickly became key elements in Audi’s U.S. lineup. They generated 23% of Audi USA’s volume in September. Tickling your fancy, Audi also reported that 7.3% of the 2340 A3s sold in September were diesel-powered.

2015 Audi A3 sedan whiteAt Mercedes-Benz, the CLA and fresh-off-the-boat GLA were responsible for only 13% of non-Sprinter sales in September. Mercedes-Benz has blessed itself with a broad product range and has been blessed with ready acceptance of their higher-end products.

The S-Class outsold the Audi A8 by nearly four-to-one in September, for example, and the E-Class and CLS-Class (two sedans, one wagon, one coupe, one convertible) outsold the A6 and A7 by nearly three-to-one. Audi’s Q7 has been around in first-gen form for nearly a decade. 1365 were sold in September; 13,105 year-to-date. Mercedes-Benz USA reported 2154 GL sales and another 3460 MLs in September.

Audi has proven to be very successful at bringing the cachet of their established premium products to lower price points. In the United Kingdom, where Audi also markets the A1 range and where the A3 is the eighth-best-selling vehicle so far this year, Audi is the fourth-best-selling auto brand, claiming 6.5% of the market, in excess of BMW’s 5.8% and Mercedes-Benz’s 5.1%.

In the U.S., Audi’s little ones are clearly capable of running with their most direct rivals, as well. 13,806 A3s have been sold since April, a figure which compares favourably with the 12,258 CLA-Class Benzes sold during that period. Mercedes-Benz has outsold Audi by more than 102,000 units already this year; BMW by nearly 106,000.

For BMW and Benz-like volume overall, Audi clearly needs the brand’s more costly products to pick up steam, either encouraging the broadening of those respective product ranges or as a consequence of bolstered lineups. Oh, and new versions of old cars would help, too. A new Q7 is expected to bow in Detroit this winter. We’re at least twelve months away from seeing new A4s in U.S. showrooms.

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Marchionne: New No. 1 Manufacturer Could Arise From Mergers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/marchionne-new-1-manufacturer-arise-mergers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/marchionne-new-1-manufacturer-arise-mergers/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 14:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928018 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne — who will be retiring from the company after the next five-year plan runs its course after 2018 — believes mergers between automakers will one day result in a new No. 1 automaker. According to Bloomberg, the driving factor in creating an automaker above Toyota on the global manufacturer […]

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Sergio Marchionne - FCA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne — who will be retiring from the company after the next five-year plan runs its course after 2018 — believes mergers between automakers will one day result in a new No. 1 automaker.

According to Bloomberg, the driving factor in creating an automaker above Toyota on the global manufacturer podium will come down to money and competition, as automakers will likely need more of the former to develop and produce new vehicles while also fending off all comers, merging with potential partners as needed.

As far as FCA is concerned, chair John Elkann says the company would be ready to consolidate resources with another within the next five to 10 years “if it makes sense” to do so. The company would look outside of Europe for a partner if and when the time comes.

For now, FCA plans to take sixth place by expanding sales on the strength of new models, such as the upcoming Jeep Renegade and the reintroduction of Alfa Romeo to the United States market. The automaker aims to deliver 7 million units in 2018, compared with 4.4 million in 2013.

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Aston Martin Gains Some Footing In 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/aston-martin-gains-footing-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/aston-martin-gains-footing-2013/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927970 Aston Martin saw its pretax loss fall by a third in 2013 to £25.4 million ($41 million) over the same period in 2012. Reuters reports the drop was backed by an 12.6 percent increase in revenue in 2013, topping out at £519 million ($839.5 million). Sales also increased that year, with 4,200 units sold worldwide […]

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2014 Aston Martin Vanquish

Aston Martin saw its pretax loss fall by a third in 2013 to £25.4 million ($41 million) over the same period in 2012.

Reuters reports the drop was backed by an 12.6 percent increase in revenue in 2013, topping out at £519 million ($839.5 million). Sales also increased that year, with 4,200 units sold worldwide over 2012’s 3,800.

Though still on shaky ground — especially in light of U.S. safety regs threatening to block further imports, as well as a February 2014 recall of 17,690 over counterfeit plastic parts from a Chinese supplier — the automaker is moving toward its goal of profitability, with new CEO and former Nissan exec Andy Palmer leading the way. According to CFO Hanno Kirner, that goal would be reached as early as 2016, thanks to a £500 million ($808.8 million) investment program.

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September 2014 Sales: CX-5 Tops Mazda USA Sales Charts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-cx-5-tops-mazda-usa-sales-charts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-cx-5-tops-mazda-usa-sales-charts/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 12:21:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927474 In September 2014, for the third time ever and the third time this year, the Mazda CX-5 outsold the Mazda 3 in the United States. The difference was minimal: just 238 units in September compared with a CX-5-favouring 2067 units in February and 1319 in March. Year-to-date, the 3 leads the CX-5 by just 2069 […]

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2014 Mazda CX-5 greyIn September 2014, for the third time ever and the third time this year, the Mazda CX-5 outsold the Mazda 3 in the United States.

The difference was minimal: just 238 units in September compared with a CX-5-favouring 2067 units in February and 1319 in March. Year-to-date, the 3 leads the CX-5 by just 2069 units.

Together, they account for 65.8% of Mazda USA’s volume over the course of the last nine months, up slightly from 64.5% at this point a year ago.

While the U.S. sales gap between the two cars is narrow, the CX-5 and 3 are travelling in opposite directions on the same highway. After hitting record highs in 2012, sales of the 3 declined 15% in 2013. Through the first nine months of 2014, year-over-year volume 3 sales are down 2% in 2014. Q3 sales slid 3%.

It’s not as though America’s auto industry is regaining strength through compact cars – sales in the category are only slightly better than level this year and rose less than 1% in September – but the 3 is underperforming compared with key rivals. As accepted as the 3 is by the automotive press, its true rivals on volume terms aren’t big-name players like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, and Chevrolet Cruze but rather lower-tier cars like the Volkswagen Jetta (down 7% to 115,055 this year), Subaru Impreza (up 7% to 64,329), and Dodge Dart (down 8% to 60,763). 3 sales are down 2% to 80,259 over the last nine months.

The CX-5, on the other hand, is growing at an above-average pace in the small crossover battle led by the Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and Toyota RAV4. Combined sales of that trio are up 9% this year while CX-5 sales are up 29%. Keep in mind, the surging RAV4 (up 26% in 2014) sells more than twice as often as the CX-5; the stagnant Escape sells nearly three times more often, and the CR-V sells more than three times as often.

But the CX-5 is central to Mazda’s expansion. The brand is a truly low-volume player in the United States. We’ve examined its market share at TTAC in the past, which is akin to the share of the market owned by BMW. But Mazda USA volume is up 9% in 2014, a faster rate of growth than that which has been achieved by the overall industry.

2014 Mazda 3It’s not down to the 3. The unique-among-minivans 5 is surely not responsible for growing the brand. 2 sales are up 40% this year, a gain of 3628 units. 6 sales are up 29%, equal to a 9328-unit improvement. (Mazda says the 6 set a record for September sales last month, but they didn’t mean an all-time record. 6 sales in September 2005 were 1% higher; 6 sales in September 2004 were 26% higher. The 6 currently owns slightly more than 2% of America’s midsize market.) The CX-9 has aged, and sales are down 31% this year. As we approach its replacement, MX-5 sales are down 20%, year-over-year, after falling 66% between 2006 and 2013.

If the 3 can’t perk up, the responsibility pressed down on the CX-5’s shoulders will only gain weight. CX-5 volume has grown by 17,522 units to 78,190 in 2014. Only once in 20 monthly tries have CX-5 sales decreased on a year-over-year basis, and that drop was valued at just 5% in the market’s lowest-volume month this year, January.

Exclude the small crossover from Mazda’s lineup and 2014 YTD sales are up just 1.8%, rather than 9.3%. Remove the CX-5 from the equation in September, when it topped the Mazda sales charts, and sales would have decreased 1.9% rather than increasing 6.7%.

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Tesla Preparing To Enter CPO Market By 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-preparing-enter-cpo-market-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-preparing-enter-cpo-market-2016/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927409 Always wanted to own a Tesla Model S, but couldn’t get past the $71,070 base price? CEO Elon Musk has a plan to make it easier to bring one home: CPO sales. Automotive News reports the automaker is working on a certified pre-owned program that would be offered through its stores, competing against similar programs […]

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2013-Tesla-Model-S-Rear

Always wanted to own a Tesla Model S, but couldn’t get past the $71,070 base price? CEO Elon Musk has a plan to make it easier to bring one home: CPO sales.

Automotive News reports the automaker is working on a certified pre-owned program that would be offered through its stores, competing against similar programs by the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, as explained by Tesla’s vice president of communications, Simon Sproule:

With the Model S fleet now heading toward the first cars hitting three years old, we are looking at CPO and how best to structure.

In addition, Musk himself proclaimed in 2013 that he would personally honor the buyback guarantee his company issued to owners at the time of purchase, allowing them to recover 43 percent to 50 percent of the sticker price after three years. Should this group take him up, the first trade-ins would arrive for refurbishing in the spring of 2016 — if not earlier for those offloading their Model S for a Model X — with more to come the following year.

Just like with Tesla’s new cars, the CPO models would be sold at its stores, with the potential to capture as much as $10,000 per used model sold, much more than when the models first left the showroom according to TrueCar president John Krafcik.

Challenges for the company’s entry into the CPO market include: budgeting for model refurbishing and sales; more legal battles to be allowed to directly sell used models; the potential for depreciation to be lower than benchmarked — the Mercedes S-Class’ trade-in value formed the basis for Tesla’s buyback program; owners taking their vehicles to other used-car dealers or the private market; and the upcoming Model III.

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