By on October 5, 2012

Independent sales analyst Tim Cain has released his Worst Selling Vehicles list for September 2012, with not just one but three measures of poor performance.

While sales of the Mazda3 were up 57 percent, every other Mazda was in the dumps; the CX-9 was down for its 8th consecutive month, while the Mazda5 performed dismally in a Chrysler-dominated minivan market.

The Acura RL is suffered its most ignominious defeat this month, being outsold by the Suzuki Grand Vitara by a 10:1 ratio, while also being bested by the Mitsubishi i-MiEV in the monthly sales tally. Also worthy of being singled out for poor performance; the Porsche Cayman. Sales of the baby P-car fell 84 percent in September 2012, with just 15 units sold.

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42 Comments on “September 2012’s Sales Losers: Mitsubishi i-MiEV Outsells Acura RL...”

  • avatar

    No incentives on the Acura?

  • avatar

    So does that mean I can get a Mazda5(stick) for a steal? Would be awesome to have 13 passenger capability in the family…

  • avatar

    I’m surprised about the Cayman, hasnt it gotten pretty great reviews???

  • avatar

    I agree that the Mazada5 is the definition of a niche vehicle that will never sell stateside and the RL is a bit of a bomb, but the rest of the article comes to some pretty stilted conclusions. The Mazda6 was never a top seller, but I’d smack a friend upside the head if he bought one today with the new one already in test drives. The Cayman is due to be replaced in a few months, which is a marginally longer expiration date but still a likely deal-killer for an $80k toy/status symbol that not a single human being will ever buy out of need. And the CX-5 is selling in low numbers because of low supply: it was the 15th-fastest-selling vehicle in the country in August (last month with numbers available), according to this very website. Statistics are dangerous things without context or knowledge on how to use them.

    • 0 avatar

      The Mazda5 seems to sell fairly well in Canada. Not Grand Caravan well, but I still see lots of them. (Wagons and hatches seem to do well here too.) However, the recent uglification when it was redesigned in 2011 has seemed to take some of the wind out of its sails.

    • 0 avatar

      +1 @Astigmatism regarding statistics. Thanks for supplying a little backstory.

      As for the Mazda5, the local Mazda dealer mentioned to me that they are also very popular in Europe, and among Europeans who have relocated to the US.

      I also noticed the TSX was a low seller percentage-wise. This is most likely due to the introduction of the ILX.

    • 0 avatar

      Not only is there a new Mazda6 on its way, they already shut down production of the old Mazda6, so it’s not like they have many to sell even if people wanted them. (Note that Mazda6 sales are UP 19% YTD compared to 2011, even after the dismal Sept.)

      We keep hearing how CX-5s are still in short supply, but searching dealer inventory reveals that there are more CX-5s on lots than Mazda6s in my area.

    • 0 avatar

      There is only one problem with the Mazda 5: the MPG and cost are comparable to a full sized minivan. Fix the MPGs, and it becomes competitive more or less instantly.

      Skyactive-D would do wonders for it. Or, they could call up their exes at Ford and license the C-Max powertrain. Problem solved, and my wife will.have hers in silver.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    I can’t be the only one surprised that the 370Z is that slow a seller. I know it’s not a volume model, but still. Perhaps time for a reboot again [smaller displacement; lower price].

    Mazda5….so long. I maintain that if Toyota/Honda/Nissan/Hyundai had that kind of vehicle here (mini-minivan w/ sliding doors), it would sell a little better. Mazda doesn’t need to be the one pushing that boulder up a hill. If it was a Scion, still relatively niche product, but better sales for sure.

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      I was hoping the North American Ford C-Max would have sliding doors, but it ended up with forward hunged doors. Apparantly Ford believed this vehicle would sell better if looked like a small CUV rather than a compact minivan.

      Perhaps I am confusing the C-Max with the Grand C-Max.

      • 0 avatar

        The C-Max is being positioned against the Prius V. You’re thinking of the Grand C-Max. Who knows, with gas prices over $5 in some parts of California, a 7 passenger hybrid might not be a bad idea. So maybe we’ll eventually see the Grand C-Max and it’s sliding door here.

      • 0 avatar

        The C-Max that we get is two rows only. It’s a compact wagon, so regular doors work OK. It’s a very nice little wagon that gets near-Prius mileage, so I think they’ll sell a lot of them.

        I was bummed that we won’t get the three row version. My wife really wants a tiny vehicle with three rows that is as much like Tue Prius as possible. Alas, the Mazda 5 gets about half of the mileage we’re used to, so it’s out. A bigger hybrid C-Max would be in the running – and the existing C-Max is in the running to replace my Escape.

    • 0 avatar

      RE: 370Z, you hit the nail on the head – it’s all about price (for an already niche vehicle). The demographic that this thing appeals the most to (20-something single males) largely doesn’t have the resources for a $33k+ (Nismo MSRP is now $43k) dedicated coupe. Those who are in the market for this sort of car and do have the extra scratch will likely gravitate toward something either completely more powerful (Corvette) or with more brand cache (Porsche) or stay within the brand and get a bit more practicality/refinement/AWD for about the same price (G37 Coupe).

      In this regard, the FR-S is likely to hit a sweet spot, in that it has a) a vestigial rear seat and b) ~$25k MSRP.

      Also, aside from some early glowing reviews from the likes of C/D and MT, many journos have shat all over the Z, either for not being their beloved $60k-$80k Cayman, or for being something they ostensibly yearn for (loud, brash, unrefined) but then realize they’d rather have an Accord Coupe.

      Yes, I’m one of the few takers on a new 2013 Z, and it’s a blast. It’s actually been refined over the last couple years and makes a competent GT. I am interested to see where Nissan takes it as the current path is probably a dead-end. Like you mention, a smaller, cheaper, lighter and more efficient car akin to a successor to the Silvia/240SX would make sense against other more affordable 2+2s.

    • 0 avatar

      @Sammy B
      I’m surprised you’re surprised. As others have noted, the Z isn’t exactly cheap and doesn’t have a broad market to appeal to. Typically younger buyers would be ok with a noisy, harsh (not nearly as harsh as the 350z, though) coupe as their only car. However, a younger buyer usually doesn’t have the $33k. An older buyer looking for a fun car will tend to go towards a brand with more prestige or a model they coveted in their youth.

  • avatar

    Somebody bought an i-MiEV?! Seriously?!

  • avatar

    Never mind the Volt, never mind the Leaf, never mind the Model S, Honda needs to shoot the Insight in the head and put the Si engine in the CR-Z and give up on it being a “hybrid sports car.”

    Even when you combined the two the Leaf outsold it almost 2:1. Admittedly the Leaf sales goosed on by $99 lease deals.

  • avatar

    The Acura RL ought to be a lesson for any luxury manufacturer that a flagship needs to be in the F-segment full size category.

    I’m sure some marketing guru is thinking that development money is tight, the full size sedan is a declining market, and that a car that straddles mid and full-size is a good place holder. Hyundai Genesis, Cadillac XTS, Infiniti M, and Lincoln MKS pops into mind. Unfortunately, no one will cross shop them with an A8, 7-series, XJ, LS, or S-Class.

    It also needs to be AWD. In northern US, I’ve read that 82% of F-Segment luxury cars are AWD, and the 4Matic makes up 97% of its Canadian S-Class sales.

    • 0 avatar

      The RL is AWD… But nobody’s going to pay $50,000+ for a 300HP V6 Accord. Instead of dumping so much money into hybrids that nobody wants or buys, they need to design a consumer V8 or a reliable turbo V6.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Right you are. The TL (which is a rebadged Accord) is within inches of the RL in all dimensions, is available with the same engine, and, for the last couple of years, is also available with the “SH” all wheel drive system. Maybe the interior isn’t quite as spiffy, but the TL is significantly less expensive.

        The RL isn’t particularly fast, is not particularly fuel-thrifty and is not particularly big . . . so why buy it?

      • 0 avatar

        And that’s the problem. Acura made the TL bigger and equipped it with all the goodies that are on the RL. So what’s the compelling reason to buy an RL? Acura did the same thing with the TSX – made it bigger and gave it an optional V6 – and the price entered TL territory. The lines between the TSX and TL are blurred. Leave the product lines distinctive. The TSX is a 4-cylinder car. The TL is a V6 car. and the RL is a V8 car?

      • 0 avatar

        Personally, I like the approach they’re taking with the 2014 RL (the RLX concept) — keep the normally aspirated V6 (but make it direct injected — finally!), but add electric motors in back. I think they’re trying to match the TL in external dimensions, too.

        And I’ve heard rumors that, with the introduction of the ILX as the base model, Acura’s going to merge the TL and the TSX into a new, smaller model (whose working title is apparently the TLX, because the guy who came up with the model names apparently died a few years back.)

        On paper, at least, I’d be more than happy to replace my current TL with the new RL. (Assuming I don’t just bite the bullet and get an A6.)

    • 0 avatar

      The Acura RL is SH-AWD. “AWD” is a form of all wheel drive.

      Comparisons of sales of low volume cars leads to strange headlines. “ZZZ outsells YYY by 10 times” If YYY sells 10 cars and ZZZ sells 100 cars. A total of 110 cars in a US total sales of more than 10 million. Insignificant.

  • avatar

    Mazda 5 sales.

    Mazda’s spent…basically nothing to market the 5, and when asked, are happy with the level of sales. So be it.

    We love ours (a 2010 Sport 5MT); seats 4 comfortably, 6 in a pinch. Highway commutes at 28-30mpg. Fold down all the seats and carry stuff. Love the sliding doors: want to stow/fetch something from the back? Just slide open and reach from right there by the driver’s door, no need to walk around another open door. Holds 3 large German shepherds. Same length as a Mazda 3 sedan. “Fun to drive” for what it is, fairly nimble…more so with the aftermarket rsb that I installed.

    It’d be a good choice for a lot of situations/uses. But as others have said, it doesn’t help that no one else sells anything similar. Most people I encounter have no idea what it is, or figure it’s just another minivan but…”wait, it’s a lot smaller that most others…”

  • avatar

    I like the Mazda5, I’d hate to see the concept of a mini-minivan fail, it’s a great idea. I could see it being a success had a company like Honda tried it out.

    Acura needs to decide if it’s going to run with top tier luxury makes like Mercedes and Lexus, or be a sort of Buick/Oldsmobile that’s a slight step up.

    From spending some time with a friends newer TL, I think the criticism that it’s a upgraded Accord is dead on the money, it’s basically for someone who doesn’t want the stigma of driving an Accord. The RL seems to be just the TL with a few extra inches in back.

  • avatar

    The Cayman isn’t exactly a brisk seller during normal times but with the release of the 981 right around the corner I suspect many buyers will “wait and see”.

  • avatar

    The Acura RL, falling flat on its face since 1996. Calling it “RLX” will change EVERYTHING though, clearly what was missing was the letter X. Its miserable sales have nothing to with the fact that its a glorified super Accord that is much uglier than the Accord and not much nicer. It’s all in that X.

  • avatar

    I think I see a pattern here.

    The RL is a midsized luxury sedan with bland styling and an ugly beak that starts at $48,000.

    The TL is a midsized luxury sedan with bland styling and a less ugly beak that starts at $36,000.

    The TL outsold the RL 94 times over. The two cars are simply too similar. Either make the RL larger and flashier and turn it into a true flagship, or kill it and just keep the TL.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The lack of Mazda5 sales is amusing. Personally I think the Skyactive system and power seats would help a little. I loved the size of last gen MPV, but like the 5 the mpg could have been better.

    Someone needs to make a midi-van….

  • avatar

    The SH-AWD TL actually puts out 5 more horsepower than the flagship RL for much less money.

  • avatar

    Acura is in trouble, and history will show that it started with the silver beaks.

  • avatar

    I took my wife to look at the new CX-5, and she hated it, for some reason. She preferred a 2011 CX-7. I thought the extra mileage of the CX-5 would make the difference, but she drives almost exclusively in town, max speed of 45 mph, so gas mileage and handling are not a concern. Whoda thunk it?

    Her last vehicle had problems keeping the Check Engine light off, she never ran it hard enough, or frequently enough to get the engine to clear it. I suppose I’ll have to give this one an Italian Tune-up, now and again.

  • avatar

    Bring back the Legend! I see it now, an anti-Camcord, a kick-ass LS460-esque flagship which is not simply a rebadged Japan only model (which the RL is or at least was until 2007 IIRC).

  • avatar
    Mr Nosy

    Now,now,be fair.The Mitsu freeway golf cart was not sold in 2011.The Acura RL is symptomatic of ACURA’s wholesale bland alphabet nomenclature,matched to anonymous product.Initially,their line up(Integra,Legend,Vigor)conjured up aspirations of performance,and cache.Now it’s marketing a line up with names that remind one of some necessary,but aggravating, government form-“Uh Sir?Sir!You’re going to need to submit an RL,or maybe an RDX,or a TSX,but definitely an MDX,with your form ZDX.”
    As for the Mazda5,there’s the CX5,that’s just name overlapping and confusing.Plus the new Maz5 looks like a 3/4 scale Nissan Quest with post lipo skin flaps.New Moms(& Dads)need no reminders.Duh.
    Well you go,Nissan GT-R!Sort of.
    Why is there a VW Eos? Bleach blond divorcees and retired sunbelt queens would be none the wiser if this were eliminated and replaced with the Golf Cabriolet.

  • avatar

    I love my little Miev for commuting – had it about a year. I used to spend $100/month on gas, but I haven’t noticed any increase whatsoever in my electric bill vs last year.

    The air conditiong isn’t bad even in Texas.

    In theory it should be possible to put solar cells on the roof to get even more miles, but 200w would only give you maybe 3 miles per day, and that would mean a modified charge adapter (OpenESE might do it).



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