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. Tue, 25 Nov 2014 20:00:42 +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 Small/Midsize Truck Sales Up 19% In October 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/smallmidsize-truck-sales-19-october-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/smallmidsize-truck-sales-19-october-2014/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:48:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948881 U.S. sales of small/midsize/non-full-size pickup trucks jumped 19.4% in October 2014, a gain of 3672 units compared with October 2013. Sales of the Toyota Tacoma were up 5%. Nissan Frontier sales shot up 25%. Not surprisingly, the slowly disappearing Honda Ridgeline was down 35%. GM’s new pickup trucks contributed an extra 2158 sales. Even without […]

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2015 Chevrolet ColoradoU.S. sales of small/midsize/non-full-size pickup trucks jumped 19.4% in October 2014, a gain of 3672 units compared with October 2013.

Sales of the Toyota Tacoma were up 5%. Nissan Frontier sales shot up 25%. Not surprisingly, the slowly disappearing Honda Ridgeline was down 35%. GM’s new pickup trucks contributed an extra 2158 sales. Even without those additional Colorados and Canyons, the category would have risen 8% despite the Ridgeline’s sharp but relatively inconsequential decline.

With those extra GM truck sales, these not exactly small pickups accounted for 11.2% of the overall pickup truck market in October 2014, up from 10.3% a year ago. Overall, pickup truck sales were up 10% in October and have grown 5% this year. We covered the full-size portion of the category earlier this month.

We know that the launch of the new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon will reveal far greater sales figures over the coming months. They will steal market share. Indeed, they already have. At this early stage, however, they haven’t stolen sales – or at least not a sufficient number of sales to slow YOY growth – from the Tacoma and Frontier, as both of those older established pickup trucks posted meaningful gains in October.

The Tacoma’s share of this pickup truck sub-segment fell from 65.5% to 57.7% in October. The Frontier’s share grew from 27.8% to 29.1%.

Heading into November, Automotive News reports that GM dealers had 4300 Colorados in stock and 1800 Canyons, plus 274,000 Silverados and Sierras. Clearly then, we’ll be waiting a while if, in fact, it’s possible for us to ever see Tacoma and Frontier-beating numbers from these trucks.

Auto
October
2014
October
2013
%
Change
10 mos.
2014
10 mos.
2013
%
Change
Toyota Tacoma
13,010 12,351 5.3% 127,739 134,123 -4.8%
Nissan Frontier
6,568 5,242 25.3% 61,931 51,423 20.4%
Chevrolet Colorado
1,491 29 5,041% 1,600 3,404 -53.0%
Honda Ridgeline
802 1,239 -35.3% 12,373 14,807 -16.4%
GMC Canyon
667 5 13,240% 683 923 -26.0%
Suzuki Equator
448 -100%
Total
22,538
18,866 19.5% 204,326 205,128 -0.4%

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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Tales Of Redesign Timing: Two Traditional Detroit Products Get Refreshed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/tales-redesign-timing-two-traditional-detroit-products-get-refreshed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/tales-redesign-timing-two-traditional-detroit-products-get-refreshed/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:04:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948721 Ford’s facelifted 2016 Explorer debuted at the auto show in Los Angeles this week. Admittedly, it’s more than a facelift for the Explorer, as a better EcoBoost four-cylinder will serve as the vehicle’s smallest powerplant. Ford will also begin selling a higher-grade Platinum trim level and, in all models, an improved interior will take centre […]

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Explorer 300 sales chartFord’s facelifted 2016 Explorer debuted at the auto show in Los Angeles this week. Admittedly, it’s more than a facelift for the Explorer, as a better EcoBoost four-cylinder will serve as the vehicle’s smallest powerplant. Ford will also begin selling a higher-grade Platinum trim level and, in all models, an improved interior will take centre stage.

At the same auto show, the 2015 Chrysler 300 also appears quite similar to the outgoing model, although the changes underneath are perhaps more thorough. The exterior, while not wildly different, is certainly altered to the point that you’ll know the difference.

These two redesigns of two prototypical Detroit products with wildly different backgrounds occur at very different life stages for these product lines as the two vehicle lines head in opposite directions.

The Explorer, which has not been a true truck-based SUV for years, carries on with one of the most successful and iconic SUV nameplates in history. The 300 initially grew out of Mercedes-Benz “partnerships”, but as a vast, rear-wheel-drive car, it probably represents America’s big sedan history more accurately than any other vehicle currently on the market.

2016 Ford ExplorerBut while the Explorer is America’s fifth-best-selling SUV/crossover nameplate and sales have risen 9% this year, the fifth consecutive year of improved Explorer volume, 300 sales are tumbling. Sales of the big Chrysler fell 18% last year, a loss of 23,023 units. 300 volume is down 9% through the first ten months of 2014. It’s currently America’s 42nd-best-selling car. It ranked 14th in 2006.

Like the 300, the Explorer doesn’t sell like it once did. As recently as 2002, Ford reported more than 400,000 Explorer sales in America. The nameplate then decreased in volume in seven consecutive years.

Nevertheless, these two vehicles are on different tracks travelling to different destinations. America’s passenger car market is hardly growing despite steady increases in the size of the overall new vehicle industry, and the 300 is just one of many big cars with falling sales. Azera, Taurus, Impala, Avalon, LaCrosse, and the 300’s Charger twin are all down this year, as well.

2015 chrysler 300The Explorer, on the other hand, is part of a utility vehicle sector that’s rising 12% this year, earning more than 470,000 extra sales for the industry over the last ten months.

A new 300 isn’t going to return Chrysler to the days of 140K annual sales rates, nor will a facelifted Explorer cause Ford to sell more than 400,000 per year.

One redesign stands a chance at stemming the tide; the other should help maintain its heady position.

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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Audi USA Sold More A3s Than A4s In October 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/audi-usa-sold-a3s-a4s-october-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/audi-usa-sold-a3s-a4s-october-2014/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 13:41:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948681 Are times changing, or was October nothing more than an optimal arranging of circumstances in favour of Audi’s smallest sedan? Audi USA sold more A3s than A4 sedans in October 2014, a serious shift from a year ago when the old A3 hatchback was dead and Audi sold 3040 A4s. Before we assume this will […]

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2015-Audi-A3-beauty-exterior-005Are times changing, or was October nothing more than an optimal arranging of circumstances in favour of Audi’s smallest sedan?

Audi USA sold more A3s than A4 sedans in October 2014, a serious shift from a year ago when the old A3 hatchback was dead and Audi sold 3040 A4s.

Before we assume this will be the new way forward for Audi in America, remember that the A4 is at the end of its rope. The next generation A4 has already been spotted in camo form, and while the current car clearly remains competitive in the marketplace, it is an older design.

The A3, on the other hand, was released in the United States in new sedan form earlier this year.

Additionally, the A4’s figures don’t take into account the Allroad (basically a jacked-up and cladded A4 Avant, which is no longer available in North America) and the A3 lineup’s second offering, a convertible, began reaching showrooms this fall. Include the Allroad in the A4’s total and the A3 trailed the bigger car by 292 units in October. The A3 Cabriolet, meanwhile, makes up 17% of all A3 inventory as we speak.

Nevertheless, it’s a meaningful moment in time, a snapshot of a downward-stretching “luxury” market that needs additional entry-level models to create greater volume. Along with the 2380 A3s Audi sold in October 2014, there were another 683 Q3 crossovers. Together, they accounted for one in five Audi sales last month.

The brand’s best-selling Q5 was up 6% to 3571 units, equal to 24% of all Audi sales. Top-end models – A6, A7, A8, Q7 – collectively rose 7% to 4671 October sales, 31% of the brand’s total. Equivalent lineups at Mercedes-Benz – E-Class, CLS-Class, S-Class, GL-Class – have produced 40% of the brand’s (significantly higher) sales through the first ten months of 2014.

Yet so often this year, the more interesting shift in the premium market has seen Audi consistently outselling Cadillac: in April, May, June, August, September, and October, and by 4681 sales year-to-date. Cadillac outsold Audi by nearly 25,000 units in the U.S. last year, when Cadillac sales jumped 22% and Audi rose 13%. One key difference between the two brands is the breadth of Audi’s lineup at the top and bottom of the range. While not Mercedes-Benz-like, Audi’s broad range makes the narrow scope of the Cadillac portfolio all the more apparent. Cadillac lacks products which could directly take on the TT, R8, A8, A7, Allroad, and Audi’s new entry-level cars, the A3 and Q3.

Together, those vehicles were responsible for 28% of Audi sales last month. At Cadillac, their non-existent rivals produced 0% of the brand’s October sales.

12a4allroadCadillac’s missing parts creates a story for another day and an issue their new boss, Johan de Nysschen appears willing to take a look at only if it means Cadillac will make more money.

Back among German automakers, the A3 trailed Mercedes-Benz’s CLA by 216 units in October 2014 but leads the CLA by 1512 sales since the beginning of April, when the A3 arrived in real numbers. The GLA, in its second month, outsold the Q3, in its third month, by 1324 units in October.

When luxury automakers dive down to this price bracket, volume certainly matters. How much relevance Audi places on the A3’s A4-beating performance in October is another matter, of course, not just because of the A4’s age. With numerical assistance from a wagon, the A4 was actually the more popular product last month. Imagine that, a wagon, of all things, helped the A4 rise to the top of Audi’s car leaderboard.

Regardless of their position in the rankings, the new A3 has undeniably been a far more successful car for Audi USA than the old hatchback. Audi has already sold twice as many A3s in the last seven months than the old model ever managed in a full calendar year.

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: Jaguar vs. Land Rover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/chart-day-jaguar-vs-land-rover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/chart-day-jaguar-vs-land-rover/#comments Sat, 22 Nov 2014 13:10:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=947857 The reasons for the drop of the red line and the steady rise of the grey line on today’s chart are perhaps too numerous to count. Additional product for one brand. Less intervention at another. A move toward high-riding vehicles helped one brand. A move away from traditional cars harmed the other. These two factors […]

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Jaguar vs Land Rover sales chartThe reasons for the drop of the red line and the steady rise of the grey line on today’s chart are perhaps too numerous to count.

Additional product for one brand. Less intervention at another.

A move toward high-riding vehicles helped one brand. A move away from traditional cars harmed the other. These two factors are made all the more apparent when one brand employs a full lineup of SUVs/crossovers and the other has yet to bring its first utility vehicle to market.

One brand’s message has been artfully constructed over a few decades; the other’s has been muddied for at least a generation.

Both have been labelled as dreadfully unreliable at different points. One brand has had trouble discarding that label; the other has succeeded in spite of it.

Both British brands were Ford-owned but now find themselves under the wing of India’s Tata Group.

These lines could yet head in similar directions. Jaguar will begin to sell a crossover and a lower-priced sedan. Land Rover’s Discovery Sport could buoy the brand’s lower range, as the majority of the company’s U.S. sales are produced by the trio of Range Rover-branded products.

At the moment, however, Land Rover USA sales are better than they’ve ever been thanks to a market which is increasingly keen on this type of vehicle and the brand’s broadest product range ever. Jaguar USA, on the other hand,  sold nearly 16,000 S-Types in 2002 but might not sell that many XJs, XFs, XKs, and F-Types in total this year.

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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Versa Still Rules Roost As Fit Sales Reach 42-Month High In October http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/versa-still-rules-roost-fit-sales-reach-42-month-high-october/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/versa-still-rules-roost-fit-sales-reach-42-month-high-october/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:21:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=947057 American Honda reported the Fit’s best October ever last month. At 6851 U.S. sales, Fit volume was up 83% year-over-year to the highest total since April 2011, when Fit sales shot up 73% to 8116. The new Fit, the third version of Honda’s sub-Civic car for North America has certainly been well-received early on in […]

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Honda Fit EXLAmerican Honda reported the Fit’s best October ever last month. At 6851 U.S. sales, Fit volume was up 83% year-over-year to the highest total since April 2011, when Fit sales shot up 73% to 8116.

The new Fit, the third version of Honda’s sub-Civic car for North America has certainly been well-received early on in its tenure. With Honda sales rising to the highest October level ever and a new Mexican-built version of the brand’s least costly car finally readily available, seeing the Fit rise to new heights was not an unexpected occurrence.

It’s no E-Type on the outside, but the Fit’s purposeful design pays dividends inside for owners and even passengers. It is in some ways a mini-MPV with a very monobox shape. It’s not conventional, but its flexibility makes it strangely desirable as a result. Honda’s share of the subcompact category grew to 17.8% in October 2014, up from 10.8% a year ago and 10.6% in calendar year 2013 as a whole. It’s worth noting, as well, that the Fit is available only as a hatchback, while the four other members of the subcompact category’s October top five are sold as hatchbacks and sedans.

It’s also worth noting that the category continues to be controlled in large part by the cheap-and-roomy Nissan Versa, sales of which improved 29% in October 2014 to 11,097 units, 28.8% of the segment’s total.

With a higher price tag and fewer build options, it’s hard to see the Fit unseating the Versa any time soon, even on a semi-long-term basis.

Added competition may pose the greater danger to the Fit over the next few years, however. And we don’t mean competition from more subcompact hatchbacks. While Nissan Canada has seen Versa sales tumble 43% over the last three months as the Micra slotted in below and stole sales (and added many more), Honda will challenge their own Fit and Civic with the new HR-V, set to be displayed in detail at the Los Angeles auto show this week.

It’s a long-running theme. America’s new vehicle market is expanding at a 5.5% clip in 2014, and while subcompact sales shot up 11.5% in the month of October, specifically, subcompact volume is up just 3.4% this year. That outpaces the overall passenger car market, which is up just 1.2%. But combined sales of the Buick Encore, Mini Countryman and Paceman, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Nissan Juke, and Subaru XV Crosstrek are up 28.2% to a combined 181,370 units. Sure, as a group they’re not as popular as subcompact cars – they’re certainly more costly, too. Yet their growth does represent a real turning of the tide.

Nissan Versa NoteBack in the here and now, Detroit subcompacts, in the form of the Chevrolet Sonic and Ford Fiesta, have earned 31% market share in 2014. Sales of the Hyundai Accent rose 34% to 4839 in October and are up 5% this year; Kia Rio volume was down 12% both in October and through the first ten months. Combined Prius C/Yaris sales are down 19% in Toyota showrooms in 2014. Mazda 2 sales have increased 34% in advance of the next 2’s arrival, but October volume plunged 38% to just 457 units.

Meanwhile, America’s four top-selling compacts – Corolla, Civic, Cruze, Focus – combine to outsell the whole subcompact category by more than two-to-one.

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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Nissan Quest U.S. Sales Reach 45-Month Low In October 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nissan-quest-u-s-sales-reach-45-month-low-october-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nissan-quest-u-s-sales-reach-45-month-low-october-2014/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:03:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946689 October 2014 was the lowest-volume U.S. sales month for the latest, fourth-generation Nissan Quest since the van debuted nearly four years ago in January 2011. Minivan sales in America slid 2% in October 2014 but have risen 5% this year. Quest volume plunged 54% in October. Quest sales are down 23% this year. No minivan […]

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Nissan Quest sales chartOctober 2014 was the lowest-volume U.S. sales month for the latest, fourth-generation Nissan Quest since the van debuted nearly four years ago in January 2011.

Minivan sales in America slid 2% in October 2014 but have risen 5% this year. Quest volume plunged 54% in October. Quest sales are down 23% this year. No minivan sold less often than the Quest in October, not even the cancelled Mazda 5.

Year-to-date, the Quest leads the Kia Sedona by a slim margin of 633 units, but that figure will swiftly flip: the Sedona outsold the Quest by 2006 units in October thanks to the arrival of an all-new third-gen model.

Historically, Nissan has sold Quests in much greater numbers, but it’s never been a pillar of the minivan movement. When 46,430 Quests were sold in calendar year 2004, that represented just 4.2% of total minivan sales. (It’s unlikely Nissan will even sell 10,000 in 2014.) The Quest’s market share during the first ten months of 2014: 1.8%.

It’s too early to say Nissan USA has given up on the Quest. There is a MY2015 variant. Indeed, that 2015 model accounts for 38% of the current stock listed on Cars.com. But this isn’t a product you’ll find in large numbers in Nissan showrooms across America.

North of the border, in the much stronger minivan market that is Canada, the Quest was first moved to special order status and has since been removed from the company’s consumer website. It’s not even mentioned in the company’s 2015 product plans.

2014 Nissan Quest grey rearThe numbers? In the U.S. in October 2014, only 370 Quests were sold, down from 812 in October 2013 and 395 in September of this year. Nissan has reached four digits with the Quest only three times this year after averaging 1073 monthly Quest sales in 2013, 1523/month in 2012, and 1131/month in the latter 83% of 2011.

The vast majority of automakers would truly struggle to break into this category. The fact that Nissan’s been a long-time player seems to make little difference, perhaps because of the avant-garde styling of the last two iterations. Even during a month in which sales of the fifth-ranked van (Sedona) jumped 251% to 2376 units, the top four owned a staggering 92% of the segment, with Chrysler and Dodge grabbing slightly more than half of all minivan sales.

The fourth-gen Quest has flopped, and now it’s being kicked while it’s flat on the mat. Is it the looks; the difficult task of balancing low demand with the need to increase supply if greater volume is to be generated; the simple fact that it’s not a Grand Caravan, Town & Country, Sienna, or Odyssey; or something else altogether?

It’s not as though the overall Nissan brand is struggling to conquer greater swathes of the U.S. market. Few brands with mainstream appeal are growing faster.

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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Canada Auto Sales Recap: October 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/canada-auto-sales-recap-october-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/canada-auto-sales-recap-october-2014/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 13:29:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946657 In October 2014, for the first time since March of this year, the Chrysler Group outsold all other automobile manufacturers in Canada. The margins were slim: only 259 units separated Chrysler Group’s five brands from the Ford Motor Company; only 301 stood between the Chrysler Group and General Motors. But these are celebratory moments for […]

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October 2014 YTD Canadian auto brand market shareIn October 2014, for the first time since March of this year, the Chrysler Group outsold all other automobile manufacturers in Canada.

The margins were slim: only 259 units separated Chrysler Group’s five brands from the Ford Motor Company; only 301 stood between the Chrysler Group and General Motors. But these are celebratory moments for an automaker which owns 15.6% of the Canadian market. Chrysler Group’s market share in its “home” U.S. market stands at 12.6% through the first ten months of 2014.

Pickup trucks, minivans, and utility vehicles continue to be the driving force for Chrysler in Canada. The Ram P/U, Dodge Grand Caravan, Chrysler Town & Country, Jeep brand, and Dodge’s Journey and Durango generated 83% of Chrysler Group sales in Canada in October, and this during a month in which the company says its car sales grew 34%.

Indeed, the Chrysler 200 was Canada’s top-selling midsize car last month, a story we covered last week. Non-200 Chrysler Group car sales were down 6%.

2015 Nissan MicraBoth pickup trucks and minivans are greater volume producers in Canada than they are in the United States. Pickups accounted for 17.2% of all new vehicle sales last month; minivans another 4.4%. (Those groups owned 15.8% and 3.2% of the U.S. market in October.) Chrysler is consistently poised to take advantage of those Canadian tendencies. Ram P/U sales jumped 15% to 6591 units in October, 25% of the truck market. The Grand Caravan was responsible for 62% of the country’s “full-size” MPV sales, Mazda 5, Chevrolet Orlando, and Kia Rondo excluded.

Jeep, meanwhile, is at the forefront of the continued SUV/crossover craze. Canada’s new vehicle market has expanded 5.6% through the first ten months of 2014, surging to record high levels after record volume was created in calendar year 2013. But pickup truck sales are up just 3% and, according to Automotive News, car sales are down slightly less than 1%.

Utility vehicles have more than made up the slack, and the sector has undeniably been hugely helped by the mostly Cherokee-powered surge at Jeep, Canada’s second-fastest-growing brand. (Maserati sales are up 141% to 417 units this year. Jeep is up 62% to 59,728.)

Total SUV/crossover sales are up nearly 16%, equalling 32.6% of the overall new vehicle industry’s volume, up from 29.8% during the first ten months of 2013. Jeep’s Wrangler, Cherokee, and Grand Cherokee rank seventh, eighth, and 13th among SUVs and crossovers.

Canada’s top-selling utility in October was, of course, the Ford Escape. Though sales dipped 5% in October, Escape volume is up 17% this year to 45,152 units, more than any other SUV or crossover will manage in the full twelve months of 2014. The Escape has been the category’s best seller every month this year after conquering all SUVs and crossovers in ten of 2013’s twelve months.

Taking all vehicles into account, the Escape is Canada’s fourth-best-selling nameplate, ahead of all but two truck lines and one car.

October also marked a slowdown for Honda’s Civic, perpetually Canada’s best-selling car, although the compact Honda managed to lead all cars despite its 14% year-over-year decline. Civic sales are up 5% this year in a stagnant car sector – October flipped these results, with the Civic’s decline and a 2% improvement in total car sales. In fact, all of Canada’s six best-selling cars and eight of the top twelve posted decreased October sales.

Helping to push the car market forward last month was volume generated by a number of cars which didn’t exist (or barely existed) in the Canadian market at this time a year ago. Canadians registered 2366 combined copies of the Nissan Micra, Acura TLX, BMW 2-Series, BMW i3, Cadillac ELR, Dodge Viper, and Audi A3 in October, a combined 9000% year-over-year increase.

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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Chronicling The Captiva Sport’s Brief U.S. Sales History http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/chronicling-captiva-sports-brief-u-s-sales-history/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/chronicling-captiva-sports-brief-u-s-sales-history/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:26:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944961 The esteemable Jack Baruth backed one up toward an odd-looking statue back in March. Sales then boomed in April and May. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. In truth, Jack was no fan of the Chevrolet Captiva Sport he rented earlier this year, saying, “It won’t strike the desirability chord in anyone’s heart,” and, “This is […]

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Captiva import?The esteemable Jack Baruth backed one up toward an odd-looking statue back in March. Sales then boomed in April and May.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

In truth, Jack was no fan of the Chevrolet Captiva Sport he rented earlier this year, saying, “It won’t strike the desirability chord in anyone’s heart,” and, “This is a car to avoid at all costs.”

Fleet buyers, including most especially the rental car companies in the United States, did not avoid the Captiva Sport. They flocked to the reclothed Saturn Vue in large numbers.

Nevertheless, as was reported on these pages earlier this month after a virtual disappearance from GM’s sales reports in September and October, GM is done with the Chevrolet Captiva Sport. The upcoming Trax will, in addition to potentially satisfying some potential Buick Encore buyers who would rightly spend less money, also cater to rental companies in the Captiva Sport’s stead.

Now that it’s gone, consider just how many of these overweight but not completely unpleasant SUVs were sold: 7038 in the final quarter of 2011; another 36,935 in 2012; 47,600 more in 2013. Through the first seven months of 2014, before GM began running out the clock, Captiva Sport volume was up 22% to 33,308 units. The Captiva Sport’s best ever month was May 2014, when sales shot up 22% to 6204 units. On four occasions, more than 5000 were sold in a single month. Through the first five months of 2014, the Captiva Sport ranked 29th overall among SUVs and crossovers, ahead of some 60 different nameplates.


These aren’t insignificant figures. In other words, there’s a reason you see’em around. Even after two months in which only 74 were sold, the Captiva Sport’s year-to-date figures at the end of October show a vehicle which sold as often as the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and Nissan Juke; nearly as often as the surging Kia Sportage; 38% more often than the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport; 69% more often than the Volkswagen Tiguan.

The Captiva Sport, like the Vue which came before it, is not the kind of vehicle that will stand out in our memory for its goodness or popularity. But as a fleet-only experiment, obsessive observers of the auto industry will hark back to the Captiva Sport’s presence in the U.S. market as a means of justifying that Nissan should sell a Rogue and a Rogue Select, that the current Impala should stay on board when they introduce an eleventh-gen sedan, and that the W124 E-Class should still be on sale today.

The Captiva Sport was an anomaly, the kind of vehicle we’ll re-eulogize the next time a brand is killed off. And in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t rare.

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: The Pickup Truck Portion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/chart-day-pickup-truck-portion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/chart-day-pickup-truck-portion/#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 13:08:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944833 Pickup truck sales increased 10% in the United States in October, an 18,590-unit jump in a market which grew 6%. Besides drawing attention to the, “The people buy trucks because the fuel is cheap,” argument, which is not at all completely false nor entirely true, the 10% increase drew our attention to the massive figures […]

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TTAC sales chart trucks and best-selling SUVsPickup truck sales increased 10% in the United States in October, an 18,590-unit jump in a market which grew 6%. Besides drawing attention to the, “The people buy trucks because the fuel is cheap,” argument, which is not at all completely false nor entirely true, the 10% increase drew our attention to the massive figures generated by the biggest nameplates and their expansive product ranges.

We’ve covered truck sales already this month, so rather than taking another deep dive into October’s specifics, consider instead the percentage of America’s growing auto market that belonged to the pickup truck category last month: 15.8%.

That’s not a small number. Indeed, it’s a significantly larger number than the one achieved by the category through the first ten months of 2014: 13.8%. For perspective, however, think back one decade. In 2004, 19% of the new vehicles sold in America were pickup trucks.

Although this chart provides another line at which to gander, we’re not suggesting that buyers of dual-rear-wheeled Ram 3500s are switching over to Honda CR-Vs, only that times are changing. Pickup trucks remain vital to the health of the American auto industry, more significantly because of their profit generation than with their outright volume. But the market isn’t returning to a 16 million+ annual sales pace because of the strength of passenger cars, or minivans, or pickup trucks. It’s the ess-you-vees.

The Honda CR-V, Ford Escape, and Toyota RAV4 are all on pace for another record sales year, a follow-up to 2014’s record sales year for each of those nameplates. Ford should also sell more than 750,000 F-Series pickups, a startlingly high number compared with the totals achieved by other vehicle lines, but not exactly the 939,511 sold in 2004.

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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Nissan Defies Trends, Keeps Selling More Cars In America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nissan-defies-trends-keeps-selling-cars-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nissan-defies-trends-keeps-selling-cars-america/#comments Fri, 14 Nov 2014 13:09:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944801 In the steadily growing U.S. new vehicle market, car sales have increased just 1% through the first ten months of 2014. Nissan, however, says their car sales have grown 15.5% in 2014, surging forward by more than 90,000 units to 669,538. In calendar year 2013, total new vehicle sales were up nearly 8%, but car […]

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Nissan Sentra - 4. Picture courtesy NissanIn the steadily growing U.S. new vehicle market, car sales have increased just 1% through the first ten months of 2014.

Nissan, however, says their car sales have grown 15.5% in 2014, surging forward by more than 90,000 units to 669,538.

In calendar year 2013, total new vehicle sales were up nearly 8%, but car sales grew just 4% during a year in which, for example, pickup trucks were up 12%.

2014 hasn’t been so kind to cars, with the Chrysler Group’s passenger cars collectively falling 15%, Ford Motor Company car sales sliding 4%, GM cars up less than 2%, American Honda car sales up less than 1%, Hyundai car sales down 3%, total Toyota/Lexus/Scion cars up just 1%, and the Volkswagen brand’s cars down 12%.

According to Automotive News, in an industry that’s expanded by 720,125 units, total new passenger car sales are up by fewer than 77,000 units. Cars accounted for 50.6% of all new vehicle sales in the first ten months of 2013; just 48.5% in 2014.

That approximate 49% mark isn’t an unusual one for the auto industry in the United States. Americans are expected to register more than 16 million new vehicles in 2014, the first such 16K+ year since 2007, a year in which 48.8% of the new vehicles sold were passenger cars, down from 49.1%.

But Nissan is a much different seller of cars now than they were in 2007, when they sold 542,258 cars in the full calendar year, a figure which they eclipsed in the first eight months of 2014. (Nissan’s car division in 2007 was made up of a Z, Altima, Maxima, Sentra, and Versa. In addition to those five cars, Nissan now also lists the Cube, GT-R, Juke, and Leaf among their cars.)

Setting aside the historical significance, though, just look at Nissan’s current car performance, excluding the Juke for relatively obvious reasons. The brand’s car sales are thus up 16% to 635,517 units. 44% of that volume comes from the Altima, America’s fourth-best-selling car overall and third-best-selling midsize car. The Altima competes in a stagnant segment, but sales of this intermediate Nissan are up 3.4% in 2014. The brand’s two core small car nameplates, Versa (which includes the Note in Nissan’s release) and Sentra, combine to sell about as often as the Altima, generating another 43% of the brand’s car volume.

The Versa, up 21% in 2014, is America’s leading subcompact. Sentra sales are up 44% in a competitive set that’s risen around 3% this year. The Leaf is Nissan’s fourth-best-selling car. Sales are up 35% to 24,411 units, making the Leaf America’s 66th-best-selling car in 2014, just behind the Hyundai Veloster; just ahead of the Ford C-Max. This leaves less than 2% of the brand’s car volume for the 370Z (up 13%), Cube (down 28%), and GT-R (up 9%), and another 7% for the Maxima.

Sales of the Maxima are up 9% in this run-out-the-clock year, a real rarity in a declining category of big, volume-brand cars. The Maxima sells slightly more often than the Buick LaCrosse; slightly less often than the Chrysler 300.

These car nameplates have generated 59% of the Nissan brand’s year-to-date sales, up from 58% last year. Fortunately for Nissan, the Frontier, Juke, Murano, NV, NV200, and especially the Rogue have produced significant improvements, as well. Those vehicles, along with the declining Armada, Pathfinder, Quest, Titan, and Xterra, are up 11% to 436,947 units this year. Total Infiniti sales are up 4% to 93,925, 8% of the overall company’s volume.

And where does the Nissan brand rank in the grand scheme of automakers competing for passenger car sales in America this year? Automotive News says the Toyota brand leads the way, followed by Chevrolet, Honda, and then Nissan, which is nearly 17,000 sales ahead of FoMoCo’s Ford division. Of course, Ford has managed to sell 620,447 F-Series pickups this year, a massive figure which once again puts the car market into perspective.

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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Now Is The Acura TLX A Hit? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/now-acura-tlx-hit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/now-acura-tlx-hit/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 13:59:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944073 In September we asked if the TLX could restore Acura’s car business. In October, we realized that by Acura standards, the TLX could quickly end up as a hit. And now in November, with October 2014 U.S. sales results in hand, the Acura TLX is a hit. We could apply all manner of qualifying statements: […]

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2015 Acura TLX silverIn September we asked if the TLX could restore Acura’s car business. In October, we realized that by Acura standards, the TLX could quickly end up as a hit. And now in November, with October 2014 U.S. sales results in hand, the Acura TLX is a hit.

We could apply all manner of qualifying statements: it’s early; other cars are transitioning to a new model year as Acura ramps up the TLX; year-over-year comparisons only highlight the dire straits which were afflicting the TLX’s predecessors; the TLX is relatively inexpensive and thus obviously a more justifiable proposition for buyers moving up to “luxury” cars.

Or, the TLX is exactly what potential Acura customers had been desirous of for years. Not too big, not too small. A choice between an efficient four-cylinder or a similarly efficient but far more powerful V6. Front or all-wheel-drive. Transmissions which, at least in terms of ratios, leapfrog the competition. Somewhat subdued but not unattractive styling. And an advertised base price below $31,000.

The result? Only four premium brand cars – 3-Series/4-Series, C-Class, ES, 5-Series – and only six premium brand vehicles – RX and MDX included – outsold the TLX in October 2014.

4890 TLXs were sold in October, a 95% year-over-year increase compared with the combined total of the TL and TSX in October 2013, a 26% increase compared with the TLX’s own total from September of this year. During a month in which brand-wide Acura sales rose 8%, the TLX accounted for 31.7% of all Acura sales. These were tremendously useful figures for Acura last month, as the ILX, RLX, TL, TSX, MDX, RDX, and ZDX all posted year-over-year decreases.

Non-TLX sales were down 26%.

What of the TLX’s competitors? The vast 3-Series/4-Series range is virtually a brand unto itself, with more permutations than Law & Order, CSI, and NCIS put together. As a result, the 3-Series/4-Series lineup (up 16% to 13,621) sells in brand-like numbers, with more October sales than Cadillac, Infiniti, or Lincoln; more than Volvo, Posche, Land Rover, and Jaguar combined. Mercedes-Benz sold 7412 copies of its new C-Class in October – no one would deny the C-Class is a long-time success.


Lexus’s ES, meanwhile, was down 1% to 5932 units. (The IS was up 6% to 3771 October sales.) Nissan sold 4188 Maximas; Buick sold 4071 LaCrosses; Infiniti reported 2964 Q50 sales. Audi and Cadillac both reported fewer than 2700 total A4 and ATS sales, respectively. Mercedes-Benz CLA sales were down to 2596, a 47% drop compared with its peak month of October 2013.

It will take more than a year, at least, to see if the TLX has the long-lasting appeal of venerable German nameplates or even Lexus’s more comfort-oriented ES. If we can judge cars based on three months of results – admittedly, it’s early – the TLX is an undeniably potent force for American Honda. Moreover, on the subject of premature heralding, any suggestion that these strong results are symptomatic of pent-up demand for a long-awaited car only serves to point out that Acura may possess a larger, more fervent fan base than we would have believed; that the TLX has been deemed by many to be a car worth waiting for.

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The 911, Not An SUV, Was Porsche’s Best-Selling Model In October 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/911-suv-porsches-best-selling-model-october-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/911-suv-porsches-best-selling-model-october-2014/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 13:04:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943521 What was once the norm is now so rare that October 2014’s results are bizarrely backwards. The 911 was Porsche’s best-selling model in the United States in October 2014. Stop the presses. Hold the cheese. Alert the medic. Release the proverbial hounds. The 911 is by all accounts a sports car, even if it’s softer […]

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2014 Porsche 911 Turbo whiteWhat was once the norm is now so rare that October 2014’s results are bizarrely backwards.

The 911 was Porsche’s best-selling model in the United States in October 2014. Stop the presses. Hold the cheese. Alert the medic. Release the proverbial hounds.

The 911 is by all accounts a sports car, even if it’s softer and plusher and more hushed and more PDK’d than ever before. Indeed, the 911 is not an SUV, the type of vehicle which normally dominates Porsche’s sales charts.

Nevertheless, we can’t expect to see the 911 riding high atop the Porsche leaderboard for long. October’s results for the Cayenne came, Porsche says, “ahead of the introduction of the comprehensively revised 2015 model which goes on sale in November.” Inventory was low; customers want the newer model; the Macan stands in the way for some consumers.

But Porsche fans and crossover haters and rear-engine aficionados can still point to October 2014 as a month in which American consumers registered more new 911s than any other Porsche. With 974 sales, it was the 911’s third month above 900 units this year and the second-best month of 2014. October marked the end of a four-month growth period in which 911 volume shot up 22%.

On an annual basis, surpassing 2013’s 911 sales performance won’t be easy. The 911 is on pace to do so, rising 6% through ten months. But 911 volume took off in November of last year, surging to the model’s best month ever with 1368 sales. At the current rate, Porsche should sell around 10,500 911s this year, a slight increase compared with last year.

Back to October more specifically, an increase in Boxster volume, nothing more than a slight decrease from the Cayman, and five more 918 Spyder sales meant Porsche’s sports cars accounted for 45.8% of brand-wide sales.

The Cayenne, suddenly (and temporarily) down 57% to 712 units, and the Macan, at 741 sales, generated 39.6% of Porsche USA volume. The Panamera was up 6% to 533 units, 14.5% of Porsche’s 3667-unit total.

The sports car group was up from 39.1% one year ago; the SUVs were down from 46.9%.

As for rivals, the 911’s direct opponents are difficult to define, so broad is its range. Chevrolet sold 2959 Corvettes in October, yes, but the all-American is a much more affordable car. BMW’s 6-Series range, sedan included, was down 20% to 740. Mercedes-Benz SL sales fell 33% to 347. Jaguar sold 342 F-Types, a 3% drop. BMw sold 204 i8s. Nissan sold 140 GT-Rs, a 26% jump. Dodge Viper volume was up 16% to 80. Audi R8 sales slid 38% to 40 units.

This sterling performance from the brand’s most iconic nameplate and its two-seat cohorts is not in keeping with conventional outcomes, of course. Not since February 2012, when Porsche said the Cayenne’s 30% drop to just 657 units related to, “limited supply and low dealer inventory,” has the 911 or any non-SUV Porsche been the brand’s top seller.

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Chart Of The Day: U.S. Auto Market Share – October 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/chart-day-u-s-auto-market-share-october-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/chart-day-u-s-auto-market-share-october-2014/#comments Sat, 08 Nov 2014 13:27:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940337 One month after the Chrysler Group outsold Toyota USA and grabbed 13.6% of the U.S. auto market, Toyota, Lexus, and Scion (14.1%) combined to outsell Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram (13.3%) by 10,000 units in October 2014. As is the norm, this month’s chart shows something of a Big Four, or an Expanded Big […]

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Auto brand market share chart October 2014One month after the Chrysler Group outsold Toyota USA and grabbed 13.6% of the U.S. auto market, Toyota, Lexus, and Scion (14.1%) combined to outsell Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram (13.3%) by 10,000 units in October 2014.

As is the norm, this month’s chart shows something of a Big Four, or an Expanded Big Seven. GM, Ford, Toyota, and Chrysler generated six out of every ten U.S. auto sales in October. Throw in Honda, Nissan, and Hyundai-Kia, and there’s only around 15% of all auto sales left over for the Volkswagen Group, BMW, Daimler, Subaru, Mazda, and a handful of truly niche auto brands.

Compared with October of last year, Nissan’s market share (Infiniti included) grew from 7.5% to 8.0%. The Chrysler Group’s year-over-year market share growth meant a surge from 11.6% in October 2013 to last month’s 13.3% as they managed to sell 30,000 more vehicles in October 2014 than in October 2013.

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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The CR-V Tops Honda’s October 2014 Leaderboard, Outsells Accord And Civic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/cr-v-tops-hondas-october-2014-leaderboard-outsells-accord-civic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/cr-v-tops-hondas-october-2014-leaderboard-outsells-accord-civic/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 12:50:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=942529 In October 2014, for the first time since March 2012 and just the sixth time in the last five years, the Honda CR-V was American Honda’s best-selling model. Finishing the month ahead of the Accord and Civic, given their longstanding status as two of America’s best-selling cars, is no easy feat. Only a handful of […]

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2015 Honda CR-VIn October 2014, for the first time since March 2012 and just the sixth time in the last five years, the Honda CR-V was American Honda’s best-selling model.

Finishing the month ahead of the Accord and Civic, given their longstanding status as two of America’s best-selling cars, is no easy feat. Only a handful of new vehicles typically do so every month, including the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, Toyota Camry, and Ram P/U. (The Civic also trails the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Altima this year.) Yet in October, the CR-V outsold the Accord by 2129 units and the Civic by 15,103.

Compared with 2011, when the CR-V managed this feat on three occasions, circumstances have changed dramatically. Or rather, the numbers have dramatically improved.

Honda averaged fewer than 20,000 CR-V sales during the three months in which it topped the Honda leaderboard that year, as the market was still in recovery mode.

Moreover, the CR-V didn’t even end that year as America’s top-selling utility vehicle, as the Ford Escape – which outsold the Honda in two of the months in which the CR-V led all Hondas in 2011 – took over the crown that had been worn by the CR-V in the four previous years.

Now, however, the CR-V is routinely putting up big numbers, averaging slightly more than 27,000 monthly U.S. sales, topping 30,000 units twice this year, achieving its best ever October in October of all things, and finishing six of the last seven months as America’s best-selling SUV/crossover.

American Honda Sales Chart October 2014 YTDIs there a deeper meaning behind October’s results? It’s not as though the Accord was unpopular, with an 8% increase and a position as America’s second-ranked passenger car. The Civic has struggled of late to match last year’s pace – sales have declined in four consecutive months compared with particularly lofty results a year ago – but with more than 24,000 October sales, the Civic is an extraordinarily common car. But yes, of course there is a deeper meaning.

Car sales in October were up nearly 3%, which was a surprisingly strong increase given the year-to-date improvement of just 1%. SUVs and crossovers, on the other hand, jumped 10% in October and are up 12% this year. The CR-V’s October status in Honda showrooms was simply a symbol, a rather large and shiny symbol, of a gradual changing of the guard in the market as a whole.

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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Volkswagen USA Ends 18-Month Streak, Sort Of Increases October Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/volkswagen-usa-ends-18-month-streak-sort-increases-october-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/volkswagen-usa-ends-18-month-streak-sort-increases-october-sales/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 13:08:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=942153 As Isaac Newton didn’t say, to go up, Volkswagen had to go down. U.S. sales of Volkswagen brand vehicles declined 18% in October 2013, year-over-year, a 6182-unit decline in a market which expanded by 114,000 units, or 10%. Looking back, October 2013 was Volkswagen’s seventh consecutive month of decline, a streak which would continue all […]

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Jetta TDI 2015As Isaac Newton didn’t say, to go up, Volkswagen had to go down.

U.S. sales of Volkswagen brand vehicles declined 18% in October 2013, year-over-year, a 6182-unit decline in a market which expanded by 114,000 units, or 10%. Looking back, October 2013 was Volkswagen’s seventh consecutive month of decline, a streak which would continue all the way through the third quarter of 2014.

Yet this sharp decline last year enabled Volkswagen of America to announce, “increased traffic in our showrooms,” and an 8% increase in total volume for October 2014. Increases, yes, compared with a period of dramatic decrease.

This is nothing new in the world of auto sales reporting. We examine year-over-year sales comparisons for seasonal purposes – month-over-month results are skewed by the fact that Americans buy far more cars in, for instance, March than in February. And in this case, year-over-year refers to a comparison between 2014 and 2013. Volkswagen is not lying or deceiving or following anything but standard industry practice by celebrating their increased showroom traffic and increased total sales as showroom traffic and total sales as October 2014 compares with October 2013.

But after a streak of some 18 months (a streak we discussed on TTAC last month, in a September Subaru-related chart, and in an August SUV article) we feel duty-bound to point out that, while the streak has ended, we did not just witness a Volkswagen USA burst.

With 30,313 October sales in 2014, Volkswagen’s volume last month was down 12% compared with October 2012. The brand’s market share fell from 3.14% in October 2012 to 2.33% in October 2013 and then rose only slightly to 2.37% in October 2014.

Volkswagen
October 2014
October 2013
October 2012
Jetta
14,607 11,710  13,476
Passat
6,513 7,258  8,355
Golf
4,076 2,249  2,914
Beetle
1,941 2,555  2,439
Tiguan
1,803 2,153  2,752
CC
593 1,289  2,238
Touareg
578 549 965
Eos
202 261 331
Routan
105 841
Total
30,313  28,129  34,311 

These figures are still disappointing for the brand, particularly when one takes into account the arrival of a new Golf. Total Golf family sales were up 81% year-over-year to 4076 units, a 40% increase compared with October 2012. But the Golf isn’t the major Volkswagen player in America that it is elsewhere, accounting for just 13% of the brand’s volume last month.

The Passat bears much of the responsibility for the low totals in each of the last two Octobers. 8355 were sold in October 2012, but Passat volume fell 13% to 7258 in October 2013 and then dropped to just 6513 units in October 2014. This marked the third occasion this year in which fewer than 7000 Passats were sold in a single month and the third-lowest Passat month since 2012 began.

The Jetta sedan is once again a savior for Volkswagen in the United States. 11,253 Jetta sedans were sold in October 2012, but sales slid 10% to 10,161 in October 2013. 13,372 were sold in October 2014.

Excluding the Jetta sedan and the Golf family from the equation, Volkswagen USA sales slid 18% in October 2014. That figure is relevant, odd as it may sound, as it reveals the decreasing appeal of Volkswagen’s other models. Beetle sales slid 24% in October 2014, the disappearing Eos was down 23%, Passat sales fell 10%, CC sales fell 54%, Tiguan volume was down 16%. Touareg volume was up 5%, or 29 units.

Moreover, it reveals a great deal about the brand’s current circumstances. October 2014 Volkswagen USA volume wasn’t particularly healthy; it just wasn’t as unhealthy as it was at this time a year ago.

But the streak has ended.

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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GM’s Big Crossovers vs. GM’s Big SUVs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/gms-big-crossovers-vs-gms-big-suvs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/gms-big-crossovers-vs-gms-big-suvs/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:41:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935722 General Motors has sold 189,354 copies of its big Lambda-platform crossovers in the United States this year. Combined sales of the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia have risen by a scant 137 units through the first nine months of 2014. GM’s six full-size, body-on-frame, pickup-based SUVs, on the other hand, have collectively increased […]

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2015 Chevrolet Tahoe whiteGeneral Motors has sold 189,354 copies of its big Lambda-platform crossovers in the United States this year. Combined sales of the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia have risen by a scant 137 units through the first nine months of 2014.

GM’s six full-size, body-on-frame, pickup-based SUVs, on the other hand, have collectively increased their U.S. volume by 22%, a gain of 32,652 sales, to 183,080 units in total.

These nine nameplates have generated 17% of GM’s 2.2 million year-to-date sales.

Examining each nameplate individually reveals multiple storylines wrapped inside the hefty numbers.

Enclave sales reached record highs in 2013, and 2014’s 1% decrease, if it holds, should still translate to the nameplate’s second-best year in the model’s eight-year history.

The Traverse hasn’t been around as long – 2014 will be its sixth full year on the market – but it’s the highest-volume Lambda product, accounting for 42% of the trio’s sales. Traverse volume has risen 6% this year to 79,560 units through nine months. Year end volume should reach a three-year high but it’s unlikely the Traverse will match its 2011 record-high levels.

GM SUV crossover sales chart 2014 Like the Enclave, the Acadia also produced best-ever sales in 2013, but 2014 sales are down 5.3%. Year end volume should top 80,000 units for the just the second time since the Acadia went on sale in late 2006.

Among the fresh-faced, truck-based SUVs in GM’s portfolio, long-wheelbase variants account for 37% of the sextuplet’s year-to-date volume. The Tahoe and Suburban are the two volume leaders, with 70,528 and 38,588 sales in 2014’s first nine months. These big SUVs aren’t quite as readily available as the big crossovers, which all possess abundant inventory. The Escalade and Escalade ESV, in particular, are rather rare, with just 25 days of supply as of the beginning of October.

So, Lambda wins the family fight? Not so fast. While through nine months the crossover trio has outsold the GMT900/K2XX family, that wasn’t the case in July and August, and they outsold the big SUVs by only 225 units in September. Third-quarter sales of the Escalade, Escalade ESV, Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon, and Yukon XL shot up to 72,216 units. The Acadia, Enclave, and Traverse managed 65,989 third-quarter sales.

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Maserati Is Surging In The United States http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/maserati-surging-united-states/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/maserati-surging-united-states/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 13:26:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935506 How does one make it in America? Grow your product portfolio by 50%. Grow your North American dealership network by 29%. Make all-wheel-drive a part of your business’s best practices. Spend $11 million airing a commercial during the Super Bowl while only bothering to display your product at the tail end of the ad. Name […]

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Maserati GhibliHow does one make it in America? Grow your product portfolio by 50%. Grow your North American dealership network by 29%. Make all-wheel-drive a part of your business’s best practices. Spend $11 million airing a commercial during the Super Bowl while only bothering to display your product at the tail end of the ad. Name your products after a Mediterranean wind, the number of doors they possess, or a video game.

And continue to place one of the industry’s coolest logos on a highly visible portion of all your products.

Cue year-over-year Maserati sales growth in the United States of 307% through the first nine months of 2014, a gain of 6884 units.

Maserati’s U.S. volume has grown in 16 consecutive months. Already in 2014, with one-quarter of the year remaining, Maserati sold more cars than in any year in the company’s not terribly illustrious history; more cars in nine months than in the previous 32 combined.

Yes, Maserati remains a very low-volume brand. Only 1318 Maseratis were sold during the month of September, the brand’s best-ever month of selling cars in America.

But they’re not the lowest-volume brand, either, at least not lately. We’re not just talking about the obvious bit players like Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, and Bentley, but Jaguar, too. Maserati outsold Jaguar by 49 units in August and by 176 units in September. Jaguar USA sold more than 61,000 new vehicles in 2002, a figure which tumbled in five consecutive years before rising slightly in 2008, falling to fewer than 12,000 units in 2009, and climbing back in 2013 to fewer than 17,000 sales.

Jaguar volume is down 5% through three-quarters of 2014 to 11,830 units, 2705 more sales than Maserati has managed. (Jaguar sells cars through 163 dealers in the United States, translating to eight sales per showroom per month.) We’ve already discussed the F-Type-centric nature of Jaguar’s current portfolio.

Naturally, Maserati’s goals are not Jaguar-based. Besides, Jaguar’s product lineup will expand in the near future with a far more affordable XE while the C-X17 Concept previewed a non-Land Rover crossover. Of course, Maserati plans to join the ess-you-vee game, too. In 2012, Maserati hoped to triple global sales between 2012 and 2015 to 50,000 units. The addition of the Ghibli makes this dream possible.

Maserati refused to provide model-specific sales data when asked last week, saying, “We are not able to disclose such granular information at this time.” If we use current Cars.com inventory levels as a general guide, the Ghibli would account for 59% of Maserati sales in the U.S., or around 5380 year-to-date sales. The Quattroporte would generate another 26% of the brand’s volume, or approximately 2370 year-to-date sales. Finally, the GranTurismo lineup would attract the remaining 15% of buyers, about 1370 sales so far this year.

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Subaru Legacy and Mazda 6: Low Volume Midsize Cars Making A Small Difference http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/subaru-legacy-mazda-6-low-volume-midsize-cars-making-small-difference/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/subaru-legacy-mazda-6-low-volume-midsize-cars-making-small-difference/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:36:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935482 America’s 35th president, John F. Kennedy, said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” Automobile manufacturing is not public policy. (Actually it is, basically all the time.) But virtually every automaker tries to make a difference in the midsize car sector, yet are the differences each manufacturer makes worthy of a mention […]

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2015 Subaru LEgacyAmerica’s 35th president, John F. Kennedy, said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”

Automobile manufacturing is not public policy. (Actually it is, basically all the time.) But virtually every automaker tries to make a difference in the midsize car sector, yet are the differences each manufacturer makes worthy of a mention here?

2014, like most years, is a time of great change for the segment. We’ve been steadily approaching a premature refresh of the Camry, America’s best-selling car. Chrysler Group replaced its Sebring-based 200 and Dodge Avenger with an Italian-based (can we call it that?) 2015 200. Hyundai’s avant-garde sixth-generation Sonata was replaced by a more conservative 2015 model.

Also recently launched was the sixth-generation Subaru Legacy. Subaru USA reported their best-ever Legacy sales month in September, when 6198 were sold.

Crossing the 6K threshold is no mean feat for a car which averaged fewer than 3800 monthly sales in 2012 and 2013.

With real volume coming from the company’s midsize car (plus improvements from the Outback, XV Crosstrek, and Forester) Subaru yet again reported record brand-wide sales: September 2014 was Subaru’s best-ever September. Sales have increased in 34 consecutive months.

Meanwhile, Mazda reported the 6’s sixth consecutive year-over-year monthly improvement as September sales shot up to 4263 units. 6 sales have now topped 4000 units in five consecutive months after crested the 4K mark only seven times in the previous 28 months.

2014 Mazda 6Measured by percentage gains, the 6 was America’s second-fastest-growing midsize nameplate in September, surging 35% as Legacy sales jumped 118%.

Perhaps neither car made a huge difference in the overall scheme of things – they accounted for just 0.8% of the new vehicles sold in the United States last month – but their impact on the midsize sector was notable. In September 2013, they generated just 3.5% of America’s midsize car volume; that figure rose to 5.9% in September 2014. With 10,461 sales between the pair, they combined to produce market share similar to the Chrysler 200 (10,995 September sales) and Kia Optima (10,908 September sales).

Nevertheless, the 31% year-over-year improvement from the Honda Accord, America’s best-selling car in both August and September, translated to 7780 extra sales compared with September 2013. In other words, Honda added more sales to an already high September 2013 Accord total than Subaru or Mazda’s midsize total. The Accord’s market share, on its own, increased by 3.7 percentage points to 18.5%.

America’s four best-selling midsize cars so far this year (Camry, Accord, Altima, Fusion) combine to sell 60% more often than the next eight-best-selling midsize cars (Sonata, Malibu, Optima, 200, Passat, Avenger, 6, Legacy).

This doesn’t translate to bad news for the two smaller Japanese automakers, not at all. Subaru will likely sell more than 50,000 Legacy sedans this year, a total not achieved by the Legacy nameplate since its sales figures were Outback-inclusive. Mazda has already sold more 6s through the first nine months of 2014 than in all of 2009, 2010, 2011, or 2012 and will likely produce the greatest year-end 6 volume since 2007, when 57,575 6s were sold.

Clearly, lower volume intermediate cars are having an impact as they utilize their unique strengths to attract attention in a stagnating segment. And yet even in September, a most difference-making of months, the Legacy and 6’s achievements pale in comparison to the Accord’s surge, like filibustering senators who aren’t blessed with veto pens in their desk drawers.

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September 2014 Sales: Honda CR-Z Takes Another Dive http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-honda-cr-z-takes-another-dive/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-honda-cr-z-takes-another-dive/#comments Sun, 26 Oct 2014 12:06:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934442 September 2014 was American Honda’s lowest-volume CR-Z sales month since December 2012. 248 CR-Zs were sold last month even as Honda dealers sat on sufficient inventory, at least by the standard of the CR-Z’s low desirability quotient, to sell more. According to Automotive News, Honda had a 79-day supply of CR-Zs at the beginning of […]

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2015 Honda CR-Z - Photo Courtesy HondaSeptember 2014 was American Honda’s lowest-volume CR-Z sales month since December 2012.

248 CR-Zs were sold last month even as Honda dealers sat on sufficient inventory, at least by the standard of the CR-Z’s low desirability quotient, to sell more. According to Automotive News, Honda had a 79-day supply of CR-Zs at the beginning of the month, and of the 963 new CR-Zs Cars.com is currently showing in its database, the vast majority were in stock during the month of September.

Through the first eight months of 2014, Honda was selling 337 CR-Zs per month. Honda sold 4550 CR-Zs in 2013, equal to 379 per month. Monthly volume peaked at 1819 units in April 2011. After 5249 CR-Zs were sold in the final five months of 2010, annual sales reached 11,330 units in 2011 and then plunged to 63% to 4192 units in 2012. 2013’s recovery, at less than 9%, was moderate.

We’ve known for years that the CR-Z was not a CRX successor, but success could theoretically still have been located in some dark corner of the American car market if consumers had been convinced that the CR-Z represented something no other automaker offers. It’s an efficient two-seater with oddball styling, a desirable Honda badge, and some joy in its chassis.

Unfortunately, the CR-Z isn’t really all that efficient, with EPA numbers of less than 40 mpg on the highway. Manual-transmission CR-Zs are rated at just 31 mpg in the city.

In its record-setting month of April 2011, the CR-Z accounted for 2.6% of Honda passenger car sales, a figure which fell to 0.4% in September 2014, when sales were 86% down from that peak performance. Year-over-year, September sales were down 6%, a decline of 16 units as the overall auto industry grew 9%, as Honda brand passenger car sales jumped 17%, as Honda sold 1095 Accord Hybrids.

As for CR-Z alternatives, it’s difficult to know where to start, as there are no absolutely direct rivals. Fiat 500 sales jumped 29% to 2737 units in September. The Hyundai Veloster was up 22% to 2777 sales. Mini’s five-pronged Cooper range was down 42% to 2116 units. Scion tC sales fell 15% to 1404. Total Volkswagen Beetle volume was down 49% to 1821 units.

As for cars which sold in CR-Z-like numbers last month, that list includes the Porsche Boxster (275), Hyundai Equus (261), Jaguar XF (258), Porsche Cayman (245), the Nissan Cube (238), and Honda’s own Insight (240).

Ah yes, the Insight. We’ve already discussed its demise. As much as the CR-Z wasn’t as well executed as enthusiasts would have wanted, we can hope that Honda won’t force us to write a CR-Z eulogy any time soon. We can hope Honda will give it another shot, not with a supercharger, but with a completely new approach. There’s no need for Honda to give up. We’ve had about enough of the giving up with the dead and gone CRX, Integra, RSX, and Prelude.

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: Buick’s Fast Fall And Steady Rise http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-buicks-fast-fall-steady-rise/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-buicks-fast-fall-steady-rise/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 11:53:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934266 Through the first nine months of 2014, U.S. Buick volume is up 8% to 170,764 units, nearly 50,000 sales back of Lexus, sales of which have risen 16%. Though Buick, the 19th-best-selling auto brand in America, trails Lexus, the 18th-best-selling brand, by a wide margin, Buick has opened up a wide lead over America’s three […]

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Buick historical sales chartThrough the first nine months of 2014, U.S. Buick volume is up 8% to 170,764 units, nearly 50,000 sales back of Lexus, sales of which have risen 16%. Though Buick, the 19th-best-selling auto brand in America, trails Lexus, the 18th-best-selling brand, by a wide margin, Buick has opened up a wide lead over America’s three next-best-selling brands, Audi, Cadillac, and Acura. 

Three-quarters of 2014 tells us only a very little bit about Buick’s recent history. Compared with 2002, when today’s COTD begins, only one Buick nameplate still exists. And while Buick owned 2.6% of the overall U.S. market in 2002 – and GM 28.6% – Buick’s market share through the first three-quarters of 2014 stands at 1.4%.

Buick marketed four cars and an SUV in 2002; three cars and two crossovers from opposite ends of the size spectrum in 2014. Buick’s collapse began long before the size of the U.S. auto industry began to dramatically shrink in the latter portion of 2008. Buick sales slid 22% in 2003. (The four brands which currently sell in the most Buick-like numbers all posted increases in 2003, as the market fell 1%.) Between 2002 and 2007, Buick volume shrunk by 57% as the market slid 4%.

Since 2009’s crash, however, Buick’s U.S. sales have more than doubled, far greater than the growth achieved by the industry as a whole, which at approximately 60% could make 2014 the highest-volume calendar year since 2006.

Buick’s climb back up the leaderboard is not occurring as quickly as did its slide down the leaderboard a decade ago. Of course, we don’t expect Buick to sell more than 160,000 copies of something like the Century in 2014. GM has Buick’s sights set higher. (Granted, Buick generates 41% of its U.S. volume with its entry-level models, the Verano and Encore, but that’s down from the 47% produced by the Century and Regal in 2002.)

Buick passenger car sales are up 0.3% to 88,410 units in 2014. Enclave sales have fallen 1% to 45,921. Encore volume is up 59% to 36,433. Encore aside, Buick sales would be up by 221 units this year, a 0.2% gain.

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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Chrysler Group Outsold Toyota USA In September 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chrysler-group-outsold-toyota-usa-september-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chrysler-group-outsold-toyota-usa-september-2014/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:59:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934538 In September 2014, for the first time since September 2011, the Chrysler Group sold more new vehicles in the United States than Toyota USA. But while the results from three years ago involved post-tsunami struggles for many Japanese automakers and 27,000 extra Chrysler Group sales, September 2014’s numbers point more exclusively to the gains made […]

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The Chrysler Toledo Assembly Complex used to produce Jeep Cherokee in ToledoIn September 2014, for the first time since September 2011, the Chrysler Group sold more new vehicles in the United States than Toyota USA.

But while the results from three years ago involved post-tsunami struggles for many Japanese automakers and 27,000 extra Chrysler Group sales, September 2014’s numbers point more exclusively to the gains made at Chrysler’s five brands.

Once again, Chrysler Group sales increased by around 27,000 units, year-over-year. Toyota sales, including Lexus and Scion, also increased, rising less than 2% last month. In September 2011, total Toyota USA sales tumbled 17%.

In fact, the Chrysler Group outsold Toyota USA on four occasions in 2011: May, June, August, and September. (The earthquake-induced tsunami occurred in March.)

On an annual basis, the Chrysler Group hasn’t outsold Toyota USA since calendar year 2005, when 2.3 million Chrysler products and 2.26 million Toyota products were sold.

Fast forward two years from that point and we arrive at Toyota USA’s best-ever year. 2007 sales rose 3% to 2.62 million sales, 544,000 more than Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep managed that year. 2007 also marked the beginning of a three-year streak in which Toyota USA outsold the Ford Motor Company. On an annual basis, Ford hasn’t allowed that to happen since 2009.

Toyota Chrysler car sales chart September 2014Lest we assume September marks a return to the days of the Big Three being the quasi-Detroit Three, remember that Toyota, Lexus, and Scion have outsold Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram by nearly 239,000 units over the course of 2014’s first nine months.

Indeed, the gap in September equalled just 2611 units. Excluding commercial vans, the gap shrinks to 725 units. Excluding commercial vans and pickup trucks, the gap reverses in Toyota’s favour to 15,158 units.

The Chrysler Group is also a prominent builder of SUVs and crossovers, with 67,025 September sales from five Jeeps and two Dodges. Toyota and Lexus combined for 52,459 utility vehicle sales from the Lexus GX, LX, and RX and Toyota’s 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Highlander, Land Cruiser, RAV4, Sequoia, and Venza.

Toyota Chrysler Light Truck Sales Chart September 2014Do the math and you’ll end up with 85,499 Toyota car sales and 40,063 car sales at the Chrysler Group, Fiat 500L included.

The fact that Chrysler outsold Toyota was little more than an interesting tidbit of September 2014 auto sales news given that, up to this point, it’s only happened once in 36 months. Of far greater interest would be Chrysler Group sales results if the company’s passenger car volume came remotely close to matching industry leaders.

Even without cars, the Chrysler Group sold more trucks, minivans, SUVs, crossovers, and commercial vans in September 2014 than their total vehicle sales in September 2011. More “light trucks” were sold by the Chrysler Group than the complete new vehicle sales totals achieved in September 2014 by American Honda, Nissan/Infiniti, and Hyundai-Kia.

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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.

The post September 2014 Sales: Now Even The SRX Is Slowing Cadillac Down appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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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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