Black Tar Friday: CUV Sales Down 11%
The crossover– crudely defined as a SUV-styled car– hasn't fared well in the Great Sales Meltdown of 2008. The Wall Street Journa l reports that the segment slipped 11 percent from last year. Thanks to a combination of high gas prices, atrocious SUV trade-in/resale values and generally high CUV prices, SUV owners are trading down to cars, rather than across to CUVs. Uh-oh. Carmakers were counting on larger profit margins on those CUV's to keep them afloat in these lean times. Even sales of small and relatively fuel-efficient CUV's (a.k.a. "cute utes") are lackluster. The Toyota RAV4 (12,006) is down 20.7 percent [unadjusted for sales days is how we roll]. Honda's CR-V (17,419) tumbled 15.3 percent. There are a few bright spots in the CUV market: the Nissan Rogue (6,525) and Subaru Forester (5,559). But their combined sales generated about the same volume as the RAV4. The Dodge Journey, at 3,306 sales last month and 26,180 for the year, is already is selling for thousands below MSRP. [BTW, the brand new Ford Flex barely edged its outgoing platform-mate Taurus X, 2,204 vs. 2,034.] Even with gas prices dipping, the CUV genre seems stillborn. GM identified the fourth Lambda-platformed Chevy Traverse (post-Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook) as the only key product launch in North America this fall. Not good on stilts.