Cain's Segments: Euro Sports Cars In September 2014

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

The Jaguar F-Type continues to be the car of the moment as coupes become a more common sight and as the car continues to be an absolutely essential part of the Jaguar lineup. September sales of the F-Type jumped 91% compared with September of last year, which still stands as Jaguar USA’s second-lowest-volume full month. F-Type sales peaked at 501 units in July of this year and have, on four other occasions, topped 400 units.

400? That’s a figure untouched by BMW’s Z4 since July 2011, more than three years ago. Year-over-year, Z4 sales actually increased in September, rising by seven units, falling 9% (or 17 units) compared with September 2012. These aren’t cars one judges on a moment’s figures, however, and certainly not in early autumn.

On the other hand, even taking a broader time period into account, the Z4 is wildly less popular than it once was. BMW USA reported sales of more than 20,000 units in 2003 and averaged 11,520 annually between 2004 and 2007. Sales have declined in three consecutive years, falling to 2480 units in 2013. 2014 will likely make it four consecutive years, as BMW’s pace currently makes 2100 sales unlikely.

The disease is wreaking havoc on the sales figures of Z4 rivals, too. Admittedly, the Audi TT is now an old car that’s about to be replaced by the third-gen model. But do you really think the next TT can average 7500 annual sales in the United States as the TT did between 2002 and 2004? Audi sold 4355 TTs in 2007, 4486 in 2008, and then averaged fewer than 2200 between 2011 and 2013.

CarSept. 2014Sept. 2013% Change9 mos. 20149 mos. 2013% ChangeAudi TT42178-76.4%1,0981,530-28.2%BMW Z41701634.3%1,6171,953-17.2%Jaguar F-Type32917291.3%2,9451,49097.7%Mercedes-Benz SLK48940421.0%3,5953,5690.7%Porsche Boxster275302-8.9%3,0243,759-19.6%Porsche Cayman245311-21.2%2,5682,4315.6%—— —————Total1,550 1,530 1.3% 14,847 14,732 0.8%

What of the SLK-Class Benz? It’s a top seller, and SLK sales have improved in 2014. But it’s still a car that sells half as often now as it did a decade ago. Mercedes-Benz USA averaged 7866 SLK sales per year between 2002 and 2008 but likely won’t sell 5000 this year.

Back to the present, Boxster and Cayman sales decreased by 93 units in September and are down 10% this year as a pair. Although the SLK outsells the Boxster and the F-Type outsells the Cayman, the two nameplates combined achieve numbers far in excess of both the SLK’s and F-Type’s: 5592 so far this year.

Not lost in these numbers are higher-priced coupes and roadsters which sell in greater numbers. Mercedes-Benz SL-Class sales are down 33% this year, but at 3758 units (and 584 in September), it’s slightly more popular than the smaller SLK. The 911, of course, may be the more direct F-Type rival from Porsche: 911 sales are up 3% to 7758 in 2014, more than the Boxster, Cayman, and Z4 combined.

Then there’s Detroit’s finest, the Chevrolet Corvette. In this first full year for the C7, U.S. Corvette sales have more than tripled to 25,950 sales through nine months.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

Timothy Cain
Timothy Cain

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  • FormerFF FormerFF on Oct 19, 2014

    The market for sporty cars, both moderately priced and expensive, seems to have shrunk badly over the last five years, with the exception of the Detroit ponycars and the new Corvette. I wonder how well the new MX-5 will do. I'm going to guess that it will not match the sales of the previous version when it was new.

  • Chan Chan on Oct 20, 2014

    Anyone think price bloat is at least partially responsible for this? Just because I could afford a $40k Porsche Boxster 10 years ago doesn't mean I can afford a $50k Boxster today. There's also so much content in today's mainstream cars that your average buyer is more impressed with the infotainment in his $23k Accord than the "Bulls-eye climate control vents" in a $60k SLK. 20 years ago standard equipment in a typical car was A/C, a tape player and maybe some airbags and ABS. Nowadays a US-market Corolla has more standard equipment than a 3-series starting at twice the price.

  • Analoggrotto Maybe Eminem will buy it.
  • Analoggrotto I did a dozen or so laps around Atlanta Motorsports Park for a charity once. Camber and toe on my car were horribly wrong and made the entire experience awful.
  • Tassos Jong-iL The Peninsula of One Korea.
  • Eric No, I just share my opinions. I have no use nor time for rhetoric from any side.
  • Redapple2 Jeez. This is simple. I 75 and 696 area. 1 nobody -NOBODY wants to work in downtown Detritus. 2 close to the tech ctr. Design and Engineering HQ. 20 miles closer to Milford.3 lower taxes for the employees. Lower taxes for Evil GM Vampire.4 2 major expressways give users more options to suburbs. Faster transport.Jeez.
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