June Auto Sales Wrap-up

As the summer of 2008 heats up, the U.S. consumer economy is moldering like an egg salad sandwich left out in the sun. If job losses, soaring food and fuel prices, and a stock market that's sliding downhill have sapped consumer confidence, the unremitting banking crisis and resultant tight credit have all but stepped on the neck of the housing and new-car markets.

It's not just that expensive gasoline (and diesel fuel) is choking off sales of big pickups and SUVs - although that's certainly happening. A huge swath of the new-car market was bloodied in June. It's so bad that we're confining ourselves to talking only about nameplates that saw their sales cut in half, or worse. (Figures are versus June 2007. Source: Automotive News)

As everyone knows, pickup sales have tanked, with the vaunted Ford F-series having fallen last month from its seemingly permanent perch as the best-selling vehicle in the USA all the way to the number-five spot, where it remained in June. But although pickup sales are weak - and these figures don't count the heavy-duty versions - only two full-size pickups are on our list of the truly hurting:

Nissan Titan -71%
Toyota Tundra -53%

The Titan has always been a marginal player in this market, but the Tundra is the all-new-for-2007 biggie that everyone thought was going to slaughter the domestics. Evidently, stealing share from the U.S. big pickups isn't as easy as expected. And, if the whole market continues its downhill slide, it may not be worth the bother.

Two mid-size pickups also make our list:

Nissan Frontier -58%
Mazda B-series -57% (increasingly pointless twin to the ancient Ford Ranger)

Yes, there's blood on the floor in SUV showrooms across the land. It's a long list of sport-utes that are down 50 percent or more. We'll start with the faddish off-roaders:

Land Rover LR3 -73%
Jeep Commander -68%
Nissan Xterra -68% (doesn't anyone mountain bike any more?)
Toyota FJ Cruiser -62% (fading surprisingly fast)
Hummer H3 -60% (falling even further than its bigger brother)
Hummer H2 -56%

There are some big SUVs on the list, although fewer than you might think:

Dodge Durango -67% (the Chrysler Aspen just barely escaped inclusion)
Nissan Armada -63%
Infiniti QX56 -61%
Ford Expedition -60%

Lots of midsize mainstream models have swooned:

Nissan Pathfinder -72%
Saab 9-7X -70%
Mercury Mountaineer -62%
Isuzu Ascender -56% (Isuzu has already announced it will quit the U.S. new vehicle market in January.)
Dodge Nitro -55%
Toyota 4Runner -55%
Lexus GX470 -53%
Ford Explorer -52%

Crossovers have not been immune:

Mitsubishi Outlander -70%
Mitsubishi Endeavor -61%
Suzuki Grand Vitara -60%
Mazda CX-7 -52%
Saturn Outlook -58%
Hyundai Veracruz -56% (and the Veracruz, Outlook, and CX-7 are all well-reviewed, relatively fresh entries)
Mercedes-Benz R-class -56% (the only Mercedes model to suffer the indignity of being on this list)
Land Rover LR2 -54%
Kia Sportage -51%

Although cars are once again the majority of the U.S. new-vehicle market, their sales are still pretty sickly, none more so than these:

Volvo S40 -63%
Volvo S60 -62%
Chrysler 300 -62% (2004 seems like a long time ago)
Saab 9-5 -56%
Saab 9-3 -55% (despite the summer solstice, these are dark days in Trollhatten)
Ford Taurus -54% (would it have done worse if it were still called the Five Hundred?)
Cadillac DTS -54%
Chevrolet Impala -53% (the hot-selling Malibu may have stolen some sales here)
Nissan 350Z -53% (being sporty is no defense)
Chrysler Sebring -50% (its twin, the Dodge Avenger, isn't doing much better)

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