By The Numbers: No Valentines This February

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
by the numbers no valentines this february

In February, lovers old and new turn their attention to matters of the heart. No 'bout a doubt it: automakers weren't feeling the love. Overall U.S. light vehicle sales dropped 6.3 percent in February and 5.3 percent for the year. With precious few exceptions, sales were down across the board. And this time, the usually impervious foreign nameplates and transplants felt the pain along with their Detroit counterparts (although not quite as badly). Let's take a closer look at the love's labor lost.

Pickup Trucks

As you'd expect, as gas topped $3 a gallon, pickup truck sales tanked. Chevy's Silverado plummeted 24.9 percent compared to last February, down 17.4 percent year-to-date. Ford's F-Series didn't suffer quite as badly, losing just 4.9 percent from last February and 6.5 percent on the year. The Dodge Ram finished the month 20.9 percent below February ‘07, dropping 19.7 percent for the year so far. Toyota's Tundra showed a 48.9 percent gain on last February. The Texas-built pickup gained 65.6 percent on the year. However, ToMoCo was introducing the new model this time last year; sales were low for the first few months.

Passenger Cars

Chevrolet must still be having production problems with their "everyone wants one" Malibu. The new 'Bu only managed to increase sales 6.5 percent over the old model's February sales (a good January pushed sales up 29.1 percent year to date). Ford's Fusion recovered from a slow start in January, finishing February 12.1 percent higher than last year, with year-to-date sales up 1.2 percent. Chrysler's 300 continues its nosedive, down 11.6 percent in February and 10.8 percent for the year. The Toyota Camry was one of the few cars showing sales growth. The perennial sales champ finished the month up 8.6 percent, 4.6 percent ahead of last year. The newly-renlarged Honda Accord isn't doing so well. Sales are down nine percent for the month and eight percent for the year.

Truck-Based SUVs

Truck-based SUVs… ouch. The Chevy Tahoe continues selling at sub-2007 levels, dropping 26.4 percent in February and 20.4 percent year-to-date. Sales of FoMoCo's Explorer showed roughly the same performance, declining 27.1 percent from the month last year and 23.7 percent so far this year. The Dodge Boys might want to put a bullet in the Durango's head before it embarrasses them any more; model sales sank by 39.5 percent for the month and 35.8 percent drop for the year. The recently reviewed Toyota Sequoia sales increased 13.2 percent for February and 14.3 percent for the year. But like the Tundra, the numbers compare the new model to the old– and sales volumes are so low that we're only talking about a difference of 300 trucks in February.


Although overall crossover sales were down from January, GMC's Acadia was still up 38.5 percent for the month and 122.1 percent for the year. The Edge was Ford's bright spot, racking up a 45.9 percent increase over last February and increasing sales for the year by 66.1 percent. The restyled Toyota Highlander jumped 12.2 percent for the month and 16 percent for the year. The old-style Honda Pilot did even better, growing 24.3 percent compared to last February and 7.7 percent compared to last year.


Even though gas prices went up in February, Prius sales went down 10.9 percent. They're still up 8.5 percent overall above last year so far, but sales were so robust in the first half of 2007 they may continue at sub-'07 levels for the next few months. At least until gas starts climbing to the $4/gallon mark.

Total Sales

GM's turnaround must have turned around. After blowing their horn over a black January, GM turned in a Valentine-red February. They were down 12.9 percent from February of last year. So far this year, the General's down six percent from last year. Ford didn't do quite as badly, turning in a 6.7 percent drop for the month and a 5.5 percent decrease for the year . Chrysler performed about as expected sliding 14 percent in February and 13.1 percent year to date. Even normally bullet-proof Toyota suffered in February, down 2.8 percent for the month, trailing last year by 2.4 percent. Thanks to CR-V and Civic sales, Honda managed to show growth in February, up 4.9 percent in 2008. HoMoCo finished 1.5 percent ahead year to date.

The Future

Even as new versions of the F-Series and Ram warm up in the bullpen, it doesn't look like anything will pull the truck market out of its tailspin. The CUV market will continue to grow, as Honda brings on its new Pilot and Chevy steals market share from the other Lambdas with the Traverse. In the passenger car market, attention's shifting to small cars– where Ford and Chrysler are woefully lacking and GM offers the the Korean Aveo. Add in GM's and Chrysler's supplier problems and Ford's financial difficulties and the future looks pretty bleak they're pulling the shades. Can any of them tame the shrew haunting the U.S. new car market? Watch this space.

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2 of 34 comments
  • Jthorner Jthorner on Mar 13, 2008

    "The newly-renlarged Honda Accord isn't doing so well. Sales are down nine percent for the month and eight percent for the year." Yep, Honda blew it. The new Accord has worse fuel efficiency than the old one. The prior Accord is a very comfortable car for four full sized adults to travel in, making it bigger was dumb, and the new styling is just weird. Honda fell into the Super Size Me trap which has engulfed so much of the auto industry. That and the competition for Accord is improving. Camry, Altima, Fusion, Malibu and Aura are all worthwhile competitors now. As far as trucks, we are on trend for trucks to return to the 20-25% of the US light vehicle market they held for over 50 years. The marketing driven craze for big SUVs and pickup trucks has run it's course just like every fad does. As fuel prices keep climbing the sales of those big dogs is going to fall even more. In fact, sales of trucks could end up under the long term average for quite some time as the used vehicle market is flooded with trade-ins of lightly used trucks. Farmers and contractors rejoice. Now, where is the modern equivalent of a 1972 Toyota Hilux? You know, a rugged little truck you can buy for the price of a stripped Corolla, take care of work with and get 30 mpg doing it with the 4 cylinder engine and 5 speed manual transmission?

  • EJ_San_Fran EJ_San_Fran on Mar 13, 2008

    GM clearly has a big problem: the honeymoon with the GMT-900 platform is over. There is no other big profit maker for them. Toyota also has a big problem: importing 1M vehicles is no longer fun with a crashing dollar. They need to raise prices on imported small vehicles and should probably start manufacturing the Prius in the US.

  • Jkross22 Most cars would be better with a manual. Maybe not the large SUV/sedan classes of cars, but everything else would be better/more enjoyable. Everything smaller than a Camry would drive better with a manual.
  • Tassos this "tease" is not worth the paper it's printed on. As is the vast majority of such "teases" that do not reveal a single spec or decent photo of the vehicle.
  • Tassos Even when new, these were tiny, worthless, unsafe, unstable pieces of JUNKTO ask.. $7,200 (don't forget the $200) for this utterly worthless 38 year old rustbucket is a testament to what a total fool must one be to be buying any car today. My advise to all of you who are eager to buy anything today is W A I T. Wait two years. Keep what you have, it could not possibly be worse than this worthless piece of excrement.Oh, and BTW,, I DID drive this worthless thing, had to rent it on a 5 day vacation on an island in the Mediterranean. So don't tell me I don't know it.
  • Mcc65704141 Looks like another unwanted four door
  • 28-Cars-Later Nice Tundra silhouette.