By on January 24, 2011

Ignore the commas in the X-axis labeling, and you’ll see that this graph compares total sales volume for last year against each model’s year-of-introduction as we hunt for the missing links between product cadence and sales performance. Above, you can see that none of the major D-Segment competitors was introduced before 2007, and that newness alone is not linked to sales volume. In fact, in the D-Segment, volume seems to decrease with newness (although historical data indicates that this is a brand-loyalty issue rather than a consumer preference for older vehicles). Moreover, it appears that more recent introductions are merely narrowing the competitive gaps in the midsized sedan segment (although we’ll need new Accord and Camry replacements to tell if that trend is for real).

The compact segment, on the other hand, shows a far less surprising correlation between year-of-introduction and sales, as sales grow in a fairly consistent manner as you move across the x axis from older to newer nameplates. The major lesson from these graphs: Honda and Toyota continue to enjoy a “reverse perception gap” in which their aging models tend to most dramatically defy volume expectations relative to the age of the competition. But with more competition coming this year, as Chevy’s Cruze, Hyundai’s Elantra and Ford’s Focus come into the market, the consumer’s tendency to give Honda and Toyota “the benefit of the doubt”  could well be tested. And once perceptions start shifting, there’s no telling where they might end up.

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9 Comments on “Chart Of The Day: Does Age Matter? Edition...”

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Most companies would be well advised to do relatively frequent refreshes/improvements to their models and infrequent complete redesigns. Give the latest model some new features, better fuel economy with new powertrains, etc. …. but don’t dump mega bucks into ALL-NEW! just for grins.

  • avatar

     I suggest adding the sales momentum, in the form of % change in sales from year earlier.  This will show the Sonata taking share.  Also, if you can add the average rebate amount per brand, it will give perspective.

  • avatar
    George B

    Does the graph just show that manufacturers of competitive cars in the mid-size market will add incentives as necessary to keep the factory running at roughly 300k units a year for the Camry and Accord, 200k units a year for the 2nd tier competitors?  I would guess that the first units sold have higher profit margin per unit, but that lower profit 3rd and 4th year volume is essential to cover the development cost even if some of those cars had cash on the hood or went to rental fleets.
    It will be interesting to see what Toyota does with the 2012 Camry.  In my opinion, the current Camry is held back by ugly styling, especially the nose bulge.  Fix the front fascia and hood and give the 4 cylinder SE model more power and I’ll consider it.

  • avatar

    >_< No-no-no. We do not label years with commas!

  • avatar

    I agree with John Horner.  The other fact missing here is the effectiveness of the new model.  2008 Accord was a nice improvement over the prior.  The 2010 Fusion fixed a very ugly front end on the prior and an outdated interior.  The Malibu got better, but was just less far behind than before.   The 2007 Camry?  It got bigger and uglier.  The Altima just got bigger and looks the same.  The Sonata change was truly dramatic in every way, inside, outside, drivetrain.
    New only helps when it helps.  Ford was smart.  The shape and size was good.  The headlights and interior were not.  So they fixed what was broken.  There are few innovations needed now.  You can no longer buy a new car because it has ABS and your old one doesn’t.  Maybe the iPod connection is similar, but for the most part, cars today have everything needed and then some.

  • avatar

    For the record, the Altima actually got slightly smaller in exterior dimensions from the previous generation.
    Other than that the years appear to be meaningless. The Camry and Accord have been sales leaders for years…When they introduce new models this will probably continue.

    What the graph fails to note because of its short time duration is that 5-6 years ago Chevy and Ford were hardly players….The vastly improved Malibu and the second generation Fusion have proven the Americans are now players.

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