September Sales: Honda Falls 20 Percent, Toyota Drops 13 Percent, Nissan Skids 7 Percent

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

The three Japanese majors saw September sales slides that were generally closer to Ford’s mild Clunker hangover than GM and Chrysler’s cliff dive belly-flop. Honda‘s 20 percent overall decline was the worst of the bunch, and was led by a 30 percent drop in Acura sales. In contrast, Toyota-brand vehicles fell 19.1 percent while Lexus actually recorded a 7.3 percent increase. Nissan-brand sales declined a mere 5.8 percent, while Infiniti fell 15 percent.

Honda saw declines for every nameplate except Pilot (+.5 percent) and the new-model Insight which sold 1,746 units. Accord dropped 10.6 percent, Civic fell 28.4 percent while Fit flopped by a staggering 51 percent, probably on low post-Clunker availability. The previously unstoppable CRV shed 12.3 percent, its first decline in many months. Ridgeline (-42.2 percent), Odyssey (-48.9 percent), and Element (-54.1 percent) all dropped with the the alacrity of a Chrysler nameplate. On the Acura front, TSX was the only glimmer of hope, slipping by a mere 5.8 percent. TL fell 35.4 percent, RL slumped 44.4 percent, RDX was off 20.5 while MDX tanked by 41.9 percent.

Toyota saw a similar Clunker crash in its car sales, especially the Yaris which tanked by 68 percent. Corolla saw a mild decline, down 6.6 percent, while Camry fell 16.2 percent. Avalon dropped by 45.3 percent, while the new Venza logged a disappointing 4,738. Even Toyota’s rock-solid Prius and Rav-4 were off by 3 percent. Land Cruiser increased by 20 percent, but volume was a mere 233 units. Highlander fell only 12.6 percent, but Sienna fell 36 percent, and Sequoia was down 45.6 percent. FJ Cruiser and 4Runner were down 74.8 percent and 78.4 percent respectively. Tundra and Tacoma each fell by about 21 points.

Toyota’s Scion division continued to be a huge disappointment, with no nameplate falling less than 50 percent. The less said there, the better. Lexus saw a 5.5 percent increase from IS sales and a staggering 70 percent bump in RX sales. ES was down 27.7 percent, LS fell below four-digit-sales with a 39.7 percent decline, and GS was down 50.8 percent. LX and GX SUVs were off by 54.4 percent and 65.8 percent respectively.

Compared to its Japanese competitors, Nissan’s car sales were quite steady. Versa lost 23.9 percent but Sentra was down only 5.8 percent and Cube added 2,230 units. Maxima increased 18.1 percent, while Altima slid 24.3 percent and 350/370Z (combined for some reason) were up 53 percent. Frontier saw a staggering 41 percent sales increase, although this was offset by a 33.8 percent decline in Titan sales. Pathfinder increased 37.3 percent, Quest rose 36.1 percent, Xterra was up 8.7 percent and Rogue edged up .7 percent. Murano fell 12.9 percent and Armada was off 13.1 percent.

At Infiniti, a 14.3 percent increase in G-series coupes was accompanied by a 5.8 increase in G-series sedan sales and an inconsequential doubling of QX56 sales to 677 units. On the downside, M-series fell 58.5 percent, EX dropped 56 percent and FX was off 31.3 percent.

The minor slides endured by the Japanese majors proves two points with crystal clarity: first, that Cash For Clunkers pulled sales forward and caused a minor depression in its wake, and second that GM and Chrysler are in a special hell of their own making. Honda’s decline was the worst, but it also disproportionally benefited from C4C. Toyota and Nissan saw smaller increases during C4C and endured smaller declines on the backend. These firms have shown that though the market may swing up and down, their market shares are relatively safe. The same can not be said of GM and Chrysler.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Canucknucklehead Canucknucklehead on Oct 02, 2009

    Japanese majors fall off a cliff? What about Government Motors?????

  • John Williams John Williams on Oct 03, 2009

    @ Autosavant: "It is estimated that when Honda dropped the “Legend” brand, it lost $1,000,000,000 in name recognition-value." It wasn't just the brand recognition. When the Legend nameplate was dropped (in favor of the RL nonclementure), the car itself was transformed from an athletic, somewhat competitive 2- and 4-door near-luxury performance sedan (available with 5 and 6 speed manuals!) to something of a LS400/S-Class expy with a lackluster engine, bereft of any sporting potential. The Vigor was dropped in favor of a softened-up TL. Ever since then, Acura's been climbing that greased-up slope of near-luxury, not sure of how to pull people in when you're literally sitting on the fence between luxury and performance. I bet a lot of people who wanted a Legend but found the RL instead bought themselves a nice Audi or BMW. Now Acuras have become visually repulsive as well as only semi-appealing performance-wise. Honda really doesn't know what to do with this brand or how to take it any further. I don't expect them to hang it up, but something has to give or someone had better come up with a good idea. Getting rid of the cartoonish grilles will be a good step in the right direction. The Infiniti G series is literally the spiritual successor of the Legend. Nissan probably won't fall into the same trap, since they pretty much started off with alphanumerics in the first place. "Lincoln took it even further with the meaningless alphanumerics, and new Lincolns are Butt-ugly Ford Edsels, obese too, cartoon-like grilles, and prices of a V8 but have a V6 instead. Very appealing.. NOT!" Lincoln is just as confused. They want to be an American Acura, but the products are pretty much Mercury-grade, just a step above the nicest Ford. This might be why Mercury's being shoved out of the picture. It's good for volume, but bad if you have two brands with roughly the same luxury qualities and cachet coexisting with one another. If Mercury goes, Lincoln won't have a chance of clawing its way back to the full luxury ranks.

  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.
  • The Oracle These are all over the roads in droves here in WNC. Rarely see one on the side of the road, they are wildly popular, capable, and reliable. There is a market for utilitarian vehicles.