The Truth About Cars » auto sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:53:31 +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 » auto sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Mercedes-Benz’s S-Class Is Selling Like It’s 2007 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-benzs-s-class-selling-like-2007/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/mercedes-benzs-s-class-selling-like-2007/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:16:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934466 Mercedes-Benz USA has already sold more copies of the all-conquering S-Class in 2014 than in the full calendar years of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. By the end of October, Mercedes-Benz USA’s S-Class sales total will be in excess of 2008’s total, as well. Not since 2007 have S-Class sales been this strong. Mercedes-Benz […]

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2014 Mercedes-Benz S-ClassMercedes-Benz USA has already sold more copies of the all-conquering S-Class in 2014 than in the full calendar years of 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. By the end of October, Mercedes-Benz USA’s S-Class sales total will be in excess of 2008’s total, as well.

Not since 2007 have S-Class sales been this strong. Mercedes-Benz sold 30,886 S-Class sedans in the United States in 2006 and 26,081 in 2007 after averaging little more than 20,000 annual U.S. sales between 2002 and 2005.

(Mercedes-Benz’s decision to throw the CL-Class coupe nameplate under the S-Class’s banner doesn’t mean much in this historical context, as the CL-Class has always operated in a narrow niche in the market. It accounted for 4% of all S/CL sales in 2006 and 3% last year. The coupe only accounts for 2% of the currently inventoried S-Classes.)

While this category has traditionally belonged to the S-Class, so much so that any new entry is considered as much an S-Class fighter as it is a flagship luxury sedan in its own right, there have been times in the recent past when alternatives have led the way. Going back as far as 2002, both the BMW 7-Series and even better-selling (and more affordable) Lexus LS outsold the S-Class. (They both did so again in 2005.) In fact, the LS outsold the S-Class in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2009.

The S-Class has beaten off all challenges from top-level, premium brand sedans in each of the last four years, however, and through the first three-quarters of 2014 it has sold more than twice as often as any direct rival.

S-Class sales have risen 122% to 16,915 units so far this year. BMW 7-Series sales are down 27% to 6264 units, the Lexus LS is down 22% to 5904, the Audi A8 is down 12% to 4060, and the Jaguar XJ is down 15% to 3468.

It’s estimated that Tesla has sold around 12,000 copies of the Model S in the United States during the first three-quarters of 2014. BMW’s 6-Series range, now available as a four-door, is 371 sales ahead of the 7-Series. The Audi A7 and Mercedes-Benz CLS sit in between the E-Class/5-Series/A6 and S-Class/7-Series/A8 lineups. Their sales are up 6% to 6386 and up 4% to 6149, respectively.

In other words, the S-Class doesn’t simply outsell its rivals, it roundly trounces them.

It helps to be the newest, it helps to be the progenitor, and it helps to offer a broader lineup of available sedans. S-Class volume has now increased in twelve consecutive months.

Through three-quarters, BMW USA has outsold Mercedes-Benz USA (excluding Sprinter) by 3380 units. Yet while BMW generates 2.6% of its volume with the 7-Series (Lexus is at 2.7% with the LS; Audi ‘s at 3.1% with A8; JLR’s at 6.9% with Jaguar XJ), Mercedes-Benz produces 7.3% of its volume with the S-Class.

That figure has grown from 3.5% last year, but it’s down from 10.3% in 2007, the last time S-Class sales were this high, before the brand produced 12.9% of its volume with vehicles like the CLA and GLA, as Mercedes-Benz did in September.

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: $85K Viper Sells Like It’s March 2008 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-85k-viper-sells-like-march-2008/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-85k-viper-sells-like-march-2008/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:15:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934234 This is what you read two months ago on TTAC: “FCA won’t build this car forever if it remains unwanted. Long live the Alfa Romeo 4C?” The mission for the Viper team then became, how do we make it desirable? Better yet, how do we make it desirable tomorrow? Over the span of a few […]

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2015 Dodge Viper SRTThis is what you read two months ago on TTAC: “FCA won’t build this car forever if it remains unwanted. Long live the Alfa Romeo 4C?”

The mission for the Viper team then became, how do we make it desirable? Better yet, how do we make it desirable tomorrow?

Over the span of a few days or weeks, the Chrysler Group wasn’t going to inject a barrel full of cash into R&D for a new Viper, perform stress tests, crash tests, performance tests, complete styling mock-ups, consult the Viper-owning faithful, and begin delivering cars to dealers.

But they could drop the price by $15,000, creating a base MSRP of $84,995. Suddenly for September, the Viper was priced like it was two decades ago, adjusted for inflation.

Suddenly, U.S. sales rose to the highest level the Viper has seen since January 2009, when 127 were sold, a follow-up to the Viper’s 152-unit December 2008 performance.

The Viper topped 100 units on six occasions in calendar year 2008: in March, April, May, August, and December.

One month does not offer enough evidence for a thorough sales analysis, but the turnaround is still too distinct to ignore. August sales had fallen to the second-lowest total since the latest Viper arrived early last year. The summer season generated just 158 sales between June and August, a 21% year-over-year drop from the 200 sold during the same season one year earlier.

Can the now $85K Viper maintain this heady level of output? Assuming Dodge/SRT sell another 324 more in the fourth-quarter of 2014, the Viper will have enjoyed its best sales year since 2008, although the total in that assumed case (870 units) would be down 26% from ‘08 levels, when 1172 were sold.

Keep in mind, 2008, when sales jumped 169% year-over-year, was not an especially good time for the Viper. 1511 Vipers were sold in 2002, 2103 in 2003, 1782 in 2004, 1652 in 2005, and 1455 in 2006.

Nevertheless, the year-over-year growth achieved by the Viper in September 2014 is notable. Volume shot up 140%, a gain of 63 units. Automotive News reports that Dodge will begin building Vipers again in mid-November after the price cut began moving substantial portions of dealer inventory. By that time, Viper production will have been idled for more than one-third of 2014.

With Viper numbers ascending, we can’t ignore the upward movement from two other sports cars. Nissan GT-R sales more than doubled to a Viper-besting 159 units, a gain of 83 sales compared with September 2013. GM, meanwhile, sold 2467 Corvettes in September alone, a 197% year-over-year increase, equal to 1636 units.

Only four other passenger cars produced greater year-over-year gains than the Viper in September. Audi’s A3 (up 33,329%) wasn’t really on sale a year ago. The Mitsubishi Mirage (up 6600%) did not put a full month under its belt last September. Mercedes-Benz’s scarcely available B-Class EV was up 3150%. And the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (up 393%), with 1909 September sales, continued to teach every automaker a lesson in how to sell $94,400-$222,000 cars.

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: 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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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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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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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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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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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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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: 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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September 2014 Sales: Even Uglier For Volkswagen USA http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-got-even-uglier-volkswagen-usa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-got-even-uglier-volkswagen-usa/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 12:02:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926513 Following 17 consecutive months in which year-over-year volume at the Volkswagen brand declined in the United States, sales fell 19% in September 2014. These September results ended a third quarter in which VW USA sales fell 15% and a nine-month period in which sales were down 14%. Few brands have experienced such a drastic decline in […]

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Golf lineupFollowing 17 consecutive months in which year-over-year volume at the Volkswagen brand declined in the United States, sales fell 19% in September 2014.

These September results ended a third quarter in which VW USA sales fell 15% and a nine-month period in which sales were down 14%.

Few brands have experienced such a drastic decline in America’s expanding automobile market in 2014. Mini, which is slowly providing dealers with new versions of their core Hardtop model, has fallen 21%. Scion – a trio of outdated models, a city car that’s roundly outsold by the Smart Fortwo, and the FR-S – is down 15%. Even Volvo, struggling Volvo, is off 2013’s (rather awful) pace by just 9%; and September Volvo sales were up 11%.

Volkswagen is therefore among disappointing and disappointed company. In terms of September sales alone, Volkswagen’s U.S. volume fell to a four-year low: down 19% year-over-year, down 28% compared with September 2012, down 4% compared with September 2011.

Two years ago, in September 2012, the Volkswagen brand owned 3.1% of the U.S. market. Fast forward to last month, and the brand’s market share had fallen by a full percentage point to just 2.1%.

At the end of the first quarter last year, Volkswagen sales were up 4% compared with the first quarter of 2012, the year in which annual VW sales in America ended up rising to their highest level since 1973; more than doubling the brand’s 2009 output. By this stage last year, we knew something was amiss. Through the first three-quarters of 2013, America’s new vehicle market had grown 8% and Volkswagen sales were down nearly 3%.

“Amiss” turned into “ugly” by year’s end. Sales fell 7% from 2012’s near four-decade high.

Nine months later, the introduction of Volkswagen’s global favourite, the seventh-generation Golf, has not been nearly enough to overcome the losses at the rest of the brand.

September sales of the Beetle plunged 49%. (Included in that total is the Beetle Convertible, sales of which nose-dived 52% last month.) The CC was down 56%. Sales of the cancelled Eos were down 27%. Passat? down 8%. Tiguan? Down 30%. Touareg? Down 2%. The defunct Routan resulted in 232 fewer sales.

Volkswagen USA sales chartTotal Jetta sales fell 23%, as sedan volume dropped by 22% and the SportWagen slid 32%, losses equal to 2474 and 590 units, respectively. The Jetta range was America’s 21st-best-selling vehicle line in September 2013; 37th one year later. From 24th on year-to-date terms in 2013, the Jetta dropped to 29th over the last nine months.

Total Golf sales rose by just 1360 units as Volkswagen’s other models combined for 7284 fewer sales, a 24% loss. GTI volume shot up 48% to 1600 units, 46% of the Golf’s total. (It’s the better seller over the last nine months, with 57% of all Golf sales.) Non-GTI Golfs were up 93% to 1887 in September.

Thus, Volkswagen’s steady decline in the United States stands at 18 months and counting. The whole Subaru vs. Volkswagen thing is increasingly invalid. Meanwhile, across the northerly border, Volkswagen sales jumped 12% last month to the brand’s highest September total ever. The Volkswagen brand’s Canadian market share held steady at 3.8%. It was Volkswagen Canada’s sixth consecutive month of growth; the 42nd in the last 45; and sales are up 7% this year in a market that’s up less than 6%.

Back in the USA and elsewhere in the Volkswagen Group, Audi sales were up 14% in September and Porsche sales jumped 17%. Audi generated 23% of the brand’s volume with the A3 and Q3. More than half of Porsche’s sales are derived from the Cayenne and Macan.

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America’s 10 Best-Selling SUVs & Crossovers In September 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/americas-10-best-selling-suvs-crossovers-september-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/americas-10-best-selling-suvs-crossovers-september-2014/#comments Sun, 05 Oct 2014 12:52:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=924129 After a brief one-month hiatus in which Toyota’s RAV4 took over the title, the Honda CR-V was back on top of America’s SUV/crossover leaderboard in September 2014. CR-V sales were up 11%, year-over-year, to 23,722 units, the CR-V’s highest September sales result in the history of the nameplate. The CR-V’s 2015 revamp brings with it […]

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2014 Nissan RogueAfter a brief one-month hiatus in which Toyota’s RAV4 took over the title, the Honda CR-V was back on top of America’s SUV/crossover leaderboard in September 2014. CR-V sales were up 11%, year-over-year, to 23,722 units, the CR-V’s highest September sales result in the history of the nameplate. The CR-V’s 2015 revamp brings with it more LEDs.

America’s second-ranked utility vehicle in September, the Toyota RAV4, is 28,093 sales back of the second-ranked Ford Escape on year-to-date terms. The RAV4’s quite helpful 43% year-over-year improvement last month equalled 6798 extra sales for Toyota during a month in which total Toyota passenger car sales (Lexus and Scion included) were down 9%. In addition to the RAV4’s big leap, sales of the Highlander rose 22% to 10,542 units and 4Runner sales shot up 76% to 5659.

In September 2014, for the third time in three months, the Ford Escape ranked third among SUVs and crossovers competing for sales in the United States. But while July sales jumped 19% and August Escape volume was up 9%, Escape sales in September slid 4% to 21,718 units, a three-year September low for the smallest Ford utility.

The Escape was joined in the top six by the Ford Explorer. Civilian Explorer sales were up 1% to 13,770 units in September; Police Interceptor Explorers were up 55% to 2025 units, 134% more than the total achieved by the Taurus-based Police Interceptor sedan.

Rank
Auto
September 2014
September 2013
% Change
9 mos. 2014
9 mos. 2013
% Change
#1
Honda CR-V
23,722 21,439 10.6% 241,015 229,082 5.2%
#2
Toyota RAV4
22,724 15,928 42.7% 202,069 160,242 26.1%
#3
Ford Escape
21,718 22,607 -3.9% 230,162 228,290 0.8%
#4
Chevrolet Equinox
17,266 15,443 11.8% 184,805 185,420 -0.3%
#5
Nissan Rogue
17,229 11,353 51.8% 154,568 124,669 24.0%
#6
Ford Explorer
15,795 14,965 5.5% 158,652 145,934 8.7%
#7
Jeep Cherokee
14,639 128,133
#8
Jeep Wrangler
13,955 11,984 16.4% 134,068 119,941 11.8%
#9
Jeep Grand Cherokee
12,854 14,906 -13.8% 136,310 128,697 5.9%
#10
Subaru Forester
12,584 10,620 18.5% 117,940 84,372 39.8%

U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Equinox were up 12% in September. (Meanwhile, GMC’s Terrain, an Equinox twin, was up 16% to 8310 units.) The Equinox’s rise was part of a GM boost that saw the automaker’s September sales climb by 36,242 units – more than the totals achieved by Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, BMW, or Mazda, for example –  compared with the same period one year ago. The Equinox played a small role in this; the Silverado’s 54% leap was more certainly the more lucrative improvement.

At Nissan, where brand-wide sales have been steadily growing for a full year, Rogue volume jumped 52% in September 2014. Year-to-date, Rogue sales are up 24% to 154,568 units, 16% of the Nissan brand’s three-quarter volume. The Altima, Nissan’s best seller, accounts for 26% of Nissan’s sales. The Rogue slots in second, ahead of the Sentra (14%) and Versa (11%).

That Jeep, an SUV/crossover builder through and through, could land three nameplates in the top ten is not surprising. Although the Cherokee’s rise to the top of the Jeep heap has been steady, September does mark the first occasion in which the top-selling Jeep in America has in fact been the Cherokee. The new one, the one with the face.

Rounding out the top ten in September was Subaru’s best-selling model, the Forester. U.S. sales of the Forester have increased in 19 consecutive months. By the end of October, Subaru will have sold more Foresters in America in ten months than in all of 2013, a record year for the Forester.

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: U.S. Auto Market Share – September 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-u-s-auto-market-share-september-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-u-s-auto-market-share-september-2014/#comments Sat, 04 Oct 2014 12:35:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=923969 Auto sales in the United States rose 9.4% compared with September 2013 to 1.245M in September 2014. Pickup trucks climbed above 190,000 units for the third consecutive month. The Honda Accord unseated the Toyota Camry for the second time in two months. Chrysler Group used pickup trucks, minivans, and Jeep to generate 68% of the […]

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U.S. Auto brand market share sales chart September 2014Auto sales in the United States rose 9.4% compared with September 2013 to 1.245M in September 2014. Pickup trucks climbed above 190,000 units for the third consecutive month. The Honda Accord unseated the Toyota Camry for the second time in two months. Chrysler Group used pickup trucks, minivans, and Jeep to generate 68% of the company’s volume as their car sales slid 7%.

Chrysler Group’s market share increased to a Toyota-beating 13.6% from 12.6% a year ago and 12.5% in August of this year. GM’s market share grew to 17.9% from 16.4% in September 2013 as Silverado volume shot up by more than 50%. Ford Motor Company, on the other hand, suffered a decline in market share, falling from 16.2% in September of last year and 15.5% in August of this year to 14.4% in September 2014.

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: Outgoing F-Series Not Responsible For Ford Decline http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/fords-f-series-brought-blue-oval-september-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/fords-f-series-brought-blue-oval-september-2014/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 12:56:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=924393 The Ford Motor Company’s namesake Ford brand suffered a September 2014 sales decline of 3% as the industry reported gains in excess of 9%. First thought? The F-Series, not just Ford’s best-selling model line but the country’s most popular vehicle range, was revealed in new, high-tech form months ago, and we’re rapidly approaching the replacement […]

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2015-ford-f-150-platinumThe Ford Motor Company’s namesake Ford brand suffered a September 2014 sales decline of 3% as the industry reported gains in excess of 9%.

First thought?

The F-Series, not just Ford’s best-selling model line but the country’s most popular vehicle range, was revealed in new, high-tech form months ago, and we’re rapidly approaching the replacement phase. Some members of the media have even been driving the new truck.

In other words, with factories being overhauled and buyers interested in waiting for a more efficient F-150 with a better power-to-weight ratio, sales of the current model would naturally decline, bringing down a brand that relied on the F-Series for more than three out of every ten sales last year.

Indeed, F-Series sales did decline in September. But only slightly.

At least up until this point, Ford has matched the appropriate level of incentives to the appropriate level of production in order to maintain F-Series sales leadership, while clearly sacrificing some market share.

Through the first nine months of 2014, F-Series sales are down just 0.4%.

On the other hand, the overall Ford brand is off last year’s pace by 1%. September 2014’s 3.2% drop for the Ford brand involved a 1% decline in F-Series sales, equal to 593 fewer units, but a 5.5% decline in Ford car sales, equal to 2952 fewer units.

The C-Max slid 18%, Fiesta sales fell 17%, Focus volume was down 8%, Taurus sales fell 15%. These weren’t anomalies, either, as all four of those cars have reported year-over-year declines over the last nine months. (Not unpredictably, Mustang sales fell 29% in September; they’re up 1% this year.)

Meanwhile in the SUV and crossover corners of the showroom, Ford utility vehicle sales were down 1.9% in September, having risen just 1% through three-quarters despite a massive boom in SUV/crossover sales.

There are reasons for all of this, of course. Moreover, there is one key exception which we’ll get to later. The car lineup is anything but new. The Fiesta’s introduction in its current form preceded new introductions of virtually all direct Fiesta rivals. The Focus is being freshened for 2015, but the segment leaders, Corolla and Civic, are much newer. The Taurus is part of an increasingly less desirable segment. The embattled C-Max – “Where’s my as-advertised fuel economy?” they’ve often asked – has never approached Prius-like sales volume, and it trailed the Prius V by 960 units in September.

TTAC_Ford-sales-article-chart-September-2014Ford’s Edge, of course, is approaching replacement, having been around since late 2006 with small updates scattered throughout its tenure. Expedition sales are up 19% this year, but the 3% decline in September comes as GM’s popular full-size SUVs compete against the outgoing, V8-engined Expedition.

Explorer Police Interceptor sales provided a boost to the overarching Explorer nameplate in September, but sales of the civilian Explorer were up just 0.8%, well off the 5.5% pace achieved through the first three-quarters. More troubling was the Escape’s 3.9% loss. The Escape, last America’s top-selling utility vehicle in 2011, set a sales record in calendar year 2013. Based on the three-quarter performance (sales are up 0.8% this year), it could do so again in 2014. But its competitors are quickly garnering larger portions of the segment.

Escape sales fell by 889 units in September. Of greater numerical significance last month was the 2151-unit decline in full-size commercial van sales at Ford. As the E-Series winds down, with a 38% drop to 5549 units in September, the Transit has not yet wound up. 1225 were sold last month, up from 1099 in August and 496 in July. It’s very early, but if we exclude those numbers, and if we assume Ford will get its full-size commercial van groove back, the brand-wide numbers certainly change. Without the E-Series and Transit, Ford sales fell 2.1% in September.

Regardless, to blame the F-Series for Ford’s stagnation in 2014 is to ignore the responsibility other models have of carrying fair shares of the load. The Fusion, sales of which jumped 9% to 21,693 in September and 6% to 240,585 so far this year, isn’t going to carry the passenger car load on its own.

Perhaps non-truck Fords are simply levelling off before the overall industry does so in 2015 or 2016. Perhaps we can expect surprising growth from Ford when the next Edge arrives. Perhaps we should recognize the F-Series for what it is: Ford’s engine.

Setting aside guessing and surmising, we are able to grasp some facts firmly in our minds. Even if Ford F-Series sales had increased 1% in September rather than declining 1%, overall Ford brand sales would still have decreased by 2.6% last month. And if we exclude the F-Series’ actual tally from Ford’s September results, the brand’s figures look rather worse, falling 4.4%, rather than 3.2%.

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Lotus Isn’t Healthy In Its Home Market, Either http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/lotus-isnt-healthy-home-market-either/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/lotus-isnt-healthy-home-market-either/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 12:28:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917154 Brits love British cars. Even if the vast majority of traditionally British brands are now foreign-owned – Tata runs Jaguar and Land Rover, for example, and Rolls-Royce and Bentley belong to BMW and Volkswagen, respectively – the loyalty carved out by these famous automakers is tangible. Lotus’s forthcoming departure from the American market is of little […]

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Lotus assembly plantBrits love British cars. Even if the vast majority of traditionally British brands are now foreign-owned – Tata runs Jaguar and Land Rover, for example, and Rolls-Royce and Bentley belong to BMW and Volkswagen, respectively – the loyalty carved out by these famous automakers is tangible.

Lotus’s forthcoming departure from the American market is of little surprise to enthusiasts familiar with the company’s situation. Malaysia’s Proton owns the company, but unlike the aforementioned British brands, Lotus has not held on to any meaningful trace of the UK car market.

Of course, this has plenty to do with the actual Lotus sports car range and very little, perhaps nothing, to do with the location of the brand’s HQ. This is a brand that has basically existed in a form of turmoil from the get-go. The most recent plans to produce a relatively massive five car lineup, after being roundly mocked for their extravagance, were squashed. Just last week Lotus announced that the size of its workforce may need to be dramatically reduced.

Thus, there’s nothing to suggest that Lotus should be anything but a low-volume sports car brand. But an extraordinarily low-volume sports car brand? A totally forgotten sports car brand? A mostly ignored sports car brand? And in their home market?

This year, the U.S. market is slightly more than seven times the size of the United Kingdom’s car market. The UK industry is somewhat more comparable to the Canadian market in terms of total sales. Yet Bentley sales in the U.S. aren’t even double what Bentley achieves in the UK. This year, Jaguar sales in the UK are up 14%, and Jaguar is selling more cars in the UK than in the United States. Land Rover UK volume is on par with Land Rover volume in America. U.S. sales at Mini are only 32% better than Mini sales in the UK.

But Lotus has only sold 153 cars in the United Kingdom this year. That represents a 22-unit increase through eight months. In fact, Lotus sales in August were reportedly up 167% to 24 units. Yet at levels this low, the “trend” is hardly applicable. This is simply not the kind of volume an automaker requires to stay alive in a market which is chugging along at nearly 200,000 monthly units.

We don’t have access to Lotus’s U.S. sales – that’s not something they publish. (Automotive News reported an estimate of 112 sales in the first two-thirds of 2014.) The issue isn’t the cross-Atlantic comparison, but rather the gradual decline of Lotus closer to its Hethel home. During the first eight months of 2008, for instance, Lotus had sold 479 cars in the UK. Lotus had sold 628 cars in its home market through the first eight months of 2004, just one decade ago, 2.7 times the total achieved by Aston Martin. Yes, Aston Martin does fairly well in the UK, too, though sales are down 10% this year. For every one Lotus sold in the UK this year, according to the SMMT, Brits buy 3.6 Astons.

The concern here isn’t for the enthusiast who is just now realizing he may never drive a reincarnated Elan around Elkhart Lake’s Road America. (News that Lotus may return to the U.S. in 2016 with the Evora, requiring dealers to soldier on with no road cars, led Jalopnik’s Patrick George to rightly ask, “Can they make it?”)

Instead, the concern should justifiably be that, in the very near future, Lotus will be nothing more than the suspension tuner for the Hyundai Genesis, with perhaps no car lineup of its own.

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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America’s 10 Best-Selling Cars In August 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/americas-10-best-selling-cars-august-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/americas-10-best-selling-cars-august-2014/#comments Sun, 07 Sep 2014 12:55:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906713 Honda sold more Accords in the United States in August 2014 than at any other point in the model’s rather illustrious history, securing a place as the top-selling passenger car in America last month. Year-to-date, the Toyota Camry leads the Accord by 35,045 units heading into September. For the Accord to overtake the Camry, the […]

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2015 Honda Accord coupe and sedanHonda sold more Accords in the United States in August 2014 than at any other point in the model’s rather illustrious history, securing a place as the top-selling passenger car in America last month.

Year-to-date, the Toyota Camry leads the Accord by 35,045 units heading into September. For the Accord to overtake the Camry, the Accord’s margin of victory in each of the remaining four months on the calendar would have to be even stronger than it was in August, the first time since February that the Camry wasn’t America’s top-selling car.

The leader in February, Nissan’s Altima, is America’s fourth-best-selling car so far this year and the fifth-ranked car in August. Altima volume rose 4% last month. Sales of the next-best-selling Ford Fusion jumped 20% in August, rising to 29,452. Ford is on pace to sell more than 310,000 Fusions in 2014, the first year in which Fusion sales will have climbed above 300,000 units.

Rank
Auto
August
2014
August
2013
%
Change
8 mos.
2014
8 mos.
2013
%
Change
#1
Honda Accord 51,075 38,559 32.5% 271,426 256,926 5.6%
#2
 Toyota Camry 44,043 44,713 -1.5% 306,471 287,119 6.7%
#3
 Honda Civic 34,032 39,458 -13.8% 231,167 230,578 0.3%
#4
 Toyota Corolla/Matrix 33,088 26,861 23.2% 238,275 210,296 13.3%
#5
 Nissan Altima 32,153 30,976 3.8% 235,260 228,297 3.0%
#6
Ford Fusion 29,452 24,653 19.5% 218,892 206,321 6.1%
#7
 Chevrolet Cruze 23,435 23,909 -2.0% 189,699 183,045 3.6%
#8
 Hyundai Elantra 22,845 24,700 -7.5% 157,555 174,902 -9.9%
#9
 Ford Focus 22,079 20,372 8.4% 160,759 171,921 -6.5%
#10
 Hyundai Sonata 21,092 16,917 24.7% 150,016 138,830 8.1%

America’s fifth-best-selling midsize car in August was the Hyundai Sonata, the tenth-ranked car overall. Sonata volume jumped 25% year-over-year and its year-to-date 8% improvement outpaces the gains made by all its better-selling rivals.

There is a faster-rising small car, however. Toyota Corolla sales shot up 23% in August and have risen 13% so far this year. The Corolla leads the Honda Civic by 7108 sales heading into September, a slight decrease from the lead it held a month ago after the Civic finished August with a 944-unit gap. Civic sales plunged 14% compared with August 2013. But it’s worth remembering that the Civic’s results at this time a year ago were an anomaly: August 2013 Civic volume was 22% better than any other Civic sales month in 2013.

With the Civic’s decrease and the Honda CR-V’s slight 2% drop, plus declines reported by the CR-Z, Fit, Insight, Crosstour, Pilot, and Ridgeline, the Accord carried Honda in August. Honda brand sales rose 1.5% year-over-year; 5.2% on a daily selling rate basis. The Accord generated 33.7% of Honda sales, up from 25.8% a year ago and 28.4% in July of this year. The Toyota brand relied on the Camry for a comparatively small 21.3% of its August 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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Russian Government Moves Ahead With Revived Cash For Clunkers Program http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/russian-government-moves-ahead-revived-cash-clunkers-program/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/russian-government-moves-ahead-revived-cash-clunkers-program/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903274 A few days ago, we reported the Russian government was considering bringing back its cash for clunkers program to help spur domestic auto sales in the face of Western sanctions. The government as since decided to go forward with the scheme. Reuters reports the Kremlin will pledge P10 billion ($273 million USD) for the program, […]

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Lada Coupe

A few days ago, we reported the Russian government was considering bringing back its cash for clunkers program to help spur domestic auto sales in the face of Western sanctions. The government as since decided to go forward with the scheme.

Reuters reports the Kremlin will pledge P10 billion ($273 million USD) for the program, which is expected to subsidize over 170,000 new vehicles at a minimum discount of P40,000 ($1,086) for scrapping a passenger car, and P350,000 ($9,506) on up for commercial vehicles. Additional discounts from P40,000 to P300,000 ($1,086 – $8,148) will be made to consumers who trade-in vehicles six years of age or older.

The new program begins September 1, and will run through to the end of the year. A decision to revive the program in 2015 will be made no earlier than the middle of September of that year, according to Industry Minister Denis Manturov, and will be based on market conditions at that point in time.

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Russian Government Considering Revival Of Cash For Clunkers Program http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/russian-government-considering-revival-cash-clunkers-program/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/russian-government-considering-revival-cash-clunkers-program/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=899986 In an effort to combat plunging auto sales, the Russian government is deliberating on a decision to bring back its cash for clunkers program, last seen sending Ladas, Volgas and GAZs to the crusher back in 2010. Just-Auto reports current geopolitical conditions — Ukraine, Crimea, sanctions by Western powers — are leading the path toward […]

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russias-cash-finished-programme-511.si

In an effort to combat plunging auto sales, the Russian government is deliberating on a decision to bring back its cash for clunkers program, last seen sending Ladas, Volgas and GAZs to the crusher back in 2010.

Just-Auto reports current geopolitical conditions — Ukraine, Crimea, sanctions by Western powers — are leading the path toward a 25 percent to 30 percent fall in auto sales to date. Thus, the Kremlin is considering bringing back the program, through nothing more has come according to a Ministry of Trade and Industry representative.

The delay of action is also delaying many a consumer’s decision in buying a new vehicle, especially since the original program paid P50,000 ($1,680 USD in 2010 dollars) for a vehicle 10 years old and over. Consumers are also wondering what vehicles would be available under the new program, as well as engine size.

The 2010 program proved successful, though the Russian government spent up to $2 billion back then for 200,000 vehicles to be replaced with newer models. Whether it wants to do so again may not matter as sales continue to fall.

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A Contrarian View Of Subprime Auto Loans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/contrarian-view-subprime-auto-loans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/contrarian-view-subprime-auto-loans/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 14:53:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=883713 The topic of subprime auto loans has been a hotly contested one at TTAC, with numerous commenters defending both the practice and the stability of recent run-up in subprime lending. Over at the Autos and Economics blog (operated by contributor Mike Smitka), David Ruggles (better known as “ruggles” around here) provides a well-reasoned defense of subprime lending, […]

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subprimechart

The topic of subprime auto loans has been a hotly contested one at TTAC, with numerous commenters defending both the practice and the stability of recent run-up in subprime lending.

Over at the Autos and Economics blog (operated by contributor Mike Smitka), David Ruggles (better known as “ruggles” around here) provides a well-reasoned defense of subprime lending, and why he thinks we are not headed for a subprime lending bubble. Despite that, other voices seem to think we are heading for one, if not in subprime then in the broader market.

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America’s 10 Best-Selling Cars In July 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/americas-10-best-selling-cars-july-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/americas-10-best-selling-cars-july-2014/#comments Sun, 03 Aug 2014 14:05:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=879866 In the prelude to the introduction of Toyota’s revamped 2015 Camry, the current Camry has been selling at a prodigious rate. July 2014 marked the fifth consecutive month that the Camry has been America’s best-selling car; the tenth such month in the last year. During these last five months, Toyota has averaged 42,000 Camry sales […]

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2014 Toyota Camry SE

In the prelude to the introduction of Toyota’s revamped 2015 Camry, the current Camry has been selling at a prodigious rate. July 2014 marked the fifth consecutive month that the Camry has been America’s best-selling car; the tenth such month in the last year.

During these last five months, Toyota has averaged 42,000 Camry sales per month, up 17% compared with the average monthly sales output from the same period one year ago.

Although not the most relevant figure when analyzing passenger car volume, the fight in which the Camry is currently participating doesn’t involve the second-ranked Honda Accord, so clear is its number one status. It has quickly become a foregone conclusion that the Camry will end 2014 as America’s best-selling car: the Accord would need to outsell the Camry by nearly 8400 units per month in each of the calendar’s remaining five months to make up the deficit.

Instead, the Camry is tangling with the Chevrolet Silverado to end 2014 as America’s second-best-selling vehicle line overall. The Camry is currently 20,453 sales back of the Chevy pickup. On a monthly basis, the Camry last outsold the Silverado in May. On a yearly basis, the Camry most recently outsold the Silverado in 2009.

Rank
Auto
July
2014
July
2013
%
Change
7 mos.
2014
7 mos.
2013
%
Change
#1
Toyota Camry
39,868 34,762 14.7% 262,323 242,244 8.3%
#2
Honda Accord
35,073 31,507 11.3% 220,351 218,367 0.9%
#3
Toyota Corolla/Matrix
30,833 23,357 32.0% 205,122 181,982 12.7%
#4
Honda Civic
30,038 32,416 -7.3% 197,135 191,120 3.1%
#5
Nissan Altima
26,654 29,534 -9.8% 203,107 197,321 2.9%
#6
Ford Fusion
23,942 20,522 16.7% 189,440 181,668 4.3%
#7
Hyundai Sonata
22,577 18,903 19.4% 128,924 121,913 5.8%
#8
Hyundai Elantra
22,213 23,958 -7.3% 134,710 150,202 -10.3%
#9
Chevrolet Cruze
20,926 25,447 -17.8% 166,264 159,136 4.5%
#10
Ford Focus
17,724 16,764 5.7% 138,680 151,549 -8.5%

Most assuredly, the Chevrolet Malibu is not the top GM rival for the leading Toyota. The Malibu was America’s 16th-best-selling car in an improved July, but sales are down 5% this year after falling 5% (from 2012’s 210,951-unit peak) in 2013.

Chevrolet’s Cruze, on the other hand, has made its way to the top of the passenger car leaderboard in the relatively recent past, if June 2011, can be called recent. (The Malibu was America’s best-selling car in May 2011.) The Cruze ranked second behind the Camry in June of last year. Cruze volume jumped 3% in 2012, 4% in 2013, and sales had risen 18% through the first five months of 2014. Cruze sales then plunged 21% in June.

The Cruze joined three other members of this top ten list – Civic, Altima, Elantra – in recording year-over-year decreases last month. Of those four cars, only one, the Elantra, has recorded a year-over-year decline through the first seven months of 2014. Cruze sales are up by 7128 units so far this year, but maintaining growth has clearly proven difficult over the last two months, what with stop-sale orders and all.

Four different passenger car nameplates generated more than 30,000 July sales, up from three in July 2013 and zero in July 2012. These figures speak to the  recent growth in the overall passenger car market, which grew 5% in July.

Overall “light truck” volume was up 14%.

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SAAR Hits 17 Million On Strong June Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/saar-hits-17-million-on-strong-june-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/saar-hits-17-million-on-strong-june-sales/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 12:47:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857465 For the first time since 2006, the SAAR topped 17 million, as the first half of 2014 finished on a strong note. Buick, Audi and Jeep posted double digit gains, while Maserati sales rose 233 percent, on account of having more than two vehicles in its lineup. Volvo, the Chrysler brand, Smart, Acura and Volkswagen […]

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2014-Maserati-Ghibli-blue-Main_rdax_646x396

For the first time since 2006, the SAAR topped 17 million, as the first half of 2014 finished on a strong note.

Buick, Audi and Jeep posted double digit gains, while Maserati sales rose 233 percent, on account of having more than two vehicles in its lineup. Volvo, the Chrysler brand, Smart, Acura and Volkswagen brand were the big losers. The average transaction price rose to $32,342, a 1.4 percent increase since this time last year. For a full table, see Automotive News.

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Analysis: Google Cars Gets Ready To Retail Rumble http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/google-cars-retail-sales-rumble/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/google-cars-retail-sales-rumble/#comments Wed, 06 Mar 2013 07:25:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480094 Google’s autonomous car program tends to get the lion’s share of attention when discussing the tech giant’s auto initiatives. But lurking in the background is a more immediate project that has the potential to finally “disrupt” (as Silicon Valley types are so fond of saying) online automotive sales. The last party to attempt such a […]

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Google’s autonomous car program tends to get the lion’s share of attention when discussing the tech giant’s auto initiatives. But lurking in the background is a more immediate project that has the potential to finally “disrupt” (as Silicon Valley types are so fond of saying) online automotive sales.

The last party to attempt such a feat was TrueCar, an innovative and well-intentioned company that ultimately ran afoul of dealers, regulators and the OEMs. TrueCar was forced to pull itself back from the brink and re-invent itself as a more dealer-friendly company, a process painstakingly documented by Ed and Bertel before I ever appeared on the masthead.

What TrueCar did was distort the information asymmetry that car dealers rely on to make money. TrueCar was able to provide data on everything from dealer invoice to transaction prices and allowed dealers to compete with one another for a sale – a major taboo in the world of car sales.

Now, Google is rolling out a service, the imaginatively named Google Cars, beyond its initial Bay Area test market. Consumers will be able to log onto Google Cars and use the handy one-stop filter box (rather than clicking through various menus and sub-menus to boost a given site’s pageview count) and get inventory, pricing and retailer information for the exact car they’re looking for, down to the color. With 66 percent of dealer website visits arriving from Google, it only makes sense for the tech giant to try and capture some of that value. Under the Google program, users can shop for their cars via the first page of any given Google search. Google will get a minimum of $10 per lead, which is determined by a bidding system. One California Toyota dealer told Automotive News that he was paying $22 per car and $26 per truck or crossover, slightly more than the $20 paid to competing services.

Reviews have been mixed, according to AN. Some dealers like the flexibility of bidding for leads, while others expressed frustration that potential customers can contact dealers anonymously (via disposable phone numbers or email accounts, which expire after a set number of unanswered calls or emails), which they say diminishes the effectiveness of the leads.

Regardless of the potential issues, Google Cars cannot be ignored. Google’s massive size and resources will allow it to be far more aggressive than TrueCar ever was when interacting with dealers and OEMs. Regulators may be a thorn in Google’s side (never underestimate the lobbying power of NADA and other dealer bodies), but again, it has the resources to put up a proper fight against the usually dominant entities.

On a smaller scale, Google Cars is likely to cause a lot of headaches for the established players in the online auto retail spaces. Current juggernauts like Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, Cars.com and even TrueCar are all threatened by Google Cars, thanks to the strength of the Google brand and most of all, the superior user experience. Once consumers know that they can access a high-quality car shopping tool without ever leaving Google and have the benefit of Craigslist-style anonymity it will be a tough sell for the other sites to get their customers back. About the only criticism levied at Google Cars in this area is the lack of content, like car reviews and automotive news. But Google has never been a content company and they are wise in avoiding this space. Better to aggregate the near-infinite amount of automotive content (aggregation is one of Google’s strengths, after all) that will likely be consumed by dedicated auto enthusiasts rather than consumers. A successful Google Cars could also cause indigestion further down the on-line food chain, at sites that live mostly off selling leads, and who dress-up the lead generation with content, which all too often is not their own.

Aside from the millions it should generate for Google, the car shopping tool is yet another way for them to collect data on consumer purchases. In this case, Google will amass significant personal information relating to what is likely the second largest purchase of one’s life, data that goes beyond whether you like a tan interior or a manual transmission. Google already can sense purchase intent from your browsing data, actively perusing a shopping service would confirm this intent. Yes, it’s ironic considering that Google subscribes to the idea that “information wants to be free“, but there’s a reason behind the internet adage “if you’re not paying for it, you are the product”.

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