NEWS: July 2008 Sales: No Relief in Sight

August 8, 2008
0808 01z+2008 Ford F150 Crew Cab+pulling Old F100
After crashing and burning in June, the new-car market remained splayed out on the floor in July, with anemic sales across the industry. Every automaker has been affected, not only the Big Three. The themes of last month largely continued, with trucks, SUVs, and many crossovers seemingly bolted to showroom floors, while small cars remain in demand and new or redesigned models are still able to stir interest.
July was not a carbon copy of June, however. A look at the 5 best selling nameplates shows that there's been some movement at the top. The July top 5 list reverts to a more traditional lineup, with the F-series back on top and the midsize Camry and Accord ahead of their smaller siblings, the Corolla/Matrix and the Civic.
1. Ford F-series (up from fifth place in June and May, although still off substantially from a year earlier)
2. Toyota Camry
3. Honda Accord
4. Toyota Corolla/Matrix
5. Chevrolet Silverado
[All figures below compare July 2008 sales with July 2007. Source: Automotive News]
WHO'S HURTING, BAD
With the pain so widespread, again this month we're looking at only on those nameplates that suffered a 50 percent chop or worse.
The expected SUVs and pickups
0808 02z+2008 Land Rover LR3+side View Off Roading
Land Rover LR3 -62%
Land Rover LR2 -54%
Range Rover -54%
Three out of four Land Rover models are on the critically injured list (and the Range Rover Sport didn't miss by much). The fact that even the compact LR2 is hurting suggests that the whole off-road romance has gone sour. For Land Rover, a production version of the small, on-road-themed LRX concept can't arrive fast enough.
Hummer H3 -65%
The brand environmentalists love to hate continues to get hammered (H2 sales are way down as well). And given the current environment, it's hard to see the H3 pickup helping out very much.
0808 03z+2008 Jeep Commander+front Three Quarters View
Jeep Commander -54%
The Commander is leading Jeep's downhill ride, but the Grand Cherokee, the Liberty, and even the Compass are close behind. The Wrangler is slipping too. Only the Patriot was able to eke out a tiny sales gain.
Dodge Durango -84%
Dodge Nitro -62%
Durango sales collapsed in July, slipping behind even the slumping Aspen. Both will get hybrid versions in the fall, but if GM's experience with hybrid-powered full-size SUVs is any indication, that's not likely to help much.
0808 04z+2008 Ford Expedition+front View
Ford Expedition -57%
Ford Explorer -52%
Mercury Mountaineer -61%
While the washout of the big Expedition is perhaps to be expected, what's more dramatic is how rapidly the Explorer is becoming a niche model. In May, it was only outsold by crossovers like the Hyundai Santa Fe and Nissan Rogue but also by cars such as the Nissan Versa, the Mercedes C-class, and the Dodge Charger.
0808 05z+2009 GMC Envoy Denali+front Three Quarters View
Chevy TrailBlazer -73%
GMC Envoy -80%
Chevy Suburban -52%
GMC Yukon XL -56%
Chevy Uplander -56%
Last month, the TrailBlazer and the Suburban were able to defy gravity, thanks to 0% financing, but that probably only worsened the pain this month. Their GMC twins are suffering right along with them, as is the ancient Uplander minivan.
0808 15z+2008 Toyota FJ Cruiser+front Three Quarters View
Toyota FJ Cruiser -62%
Toyota 4Runner -54%
Infiniti QX56 -56%
Mitsubishi Outlander -51%
Mitsubishi Raider -53%
Mazda B-series -57%
Bought for looks rather than need, the FJ Cruiser is falling harder and faster than more practical SUVs (like Toyota's own 4Runner). Without even the reflected glow of celebrity to underpin it, Infiniti's big QX56 is in free fall. The Mitsubishi Outlander is one of the compact crossovers hurting as badly as larger SUVs, while the Raider pickup and the Mazda B-series both look increasingly pointless.
Cratering crossovers
0808 06z+2008 Hyundai Veracruz+side Three Quarters View
Hyundai Veracruz -60%
Audi Q7 -52%
Subaru Tribeca -53%
Hyundai, Audi, and Subaru aren't brands that are top-of-mind for buyers shopping three-row crossovers, and the Veracruz, Q7, and Tribeca are suffering for it.
Sickly Swedes
Volvo S60 -81%
Volvo S40 -72%
It's perhaps not surprising that sales of the Volvo S60, an aged player in a hyper-competitive segment, have plummeted, but to see the compact S40 whacked so hard has got to send shivers all the way to Gothenburg. The worse part is that, except for the C30, all Volvos are down, even the new V70/XC70. And the situation at Saab is just as grim.
Domestic car trouble
0808 07z+2008 Chrysler 300C+front Three Quarters View
Chrysler 300 -58%
Cadillac DTS -56%
Buick Lucerne -51%
Buick LaCrosse -50%
Although cars as a whole are outselling trucks once again, plenty of sedans have slipped into a funk. The fall of the once-hot Chrysler 300 has been particularly brutal, but the Lucerne is also looking weak for a relatively new model.
Other unfortunates
0808 12z+2008 Hyundai Entourage+front Three Quarters View
Hyundai Entourage -69%
Lexus SC430 -53%
Honda S2000 -52%
The Entourage continues to get slaughtered in the minivan market. The SC430 is the most-troubled Lexus, which wouldn't be so worrisome if every other Lexus car weren't down as well. The S2000, on the other hand, is the one underachieving child in the otherwise happy family of Honda cars.
0808 08z+2008 Lexus LX570 Front Three Quarters View
WHAT'S UP
Of course, it's not all bad news out there. The following models managed to make some meaningful headway in July (with sales up 10% or more):
The new and improved
Lexus LX570 +309%
Suzuki SX4 +136%
Chevrolet Malibu +79%
Toyota Land Cruiser +75%
Toyota Sequoia +63%
Subaru Forester +51%
Mercedes-Benz C-class +45%
Cadillac CTS +38%
Acura TSX +26%
Chrysler Town & Country +24%
Infiniti FX +19%
Ford Focus +16%
Toyota Corolla/Matrix +16%
BMW X5 +12%
Honda Accord +11%
The LX570 (a big percentage jump but on very small volume), Land Cruiser, and Sequoia show that redesign can boost even fortunes of even the biggest SUVs. The Malibu and the CTS continue to be the brightest stars in GM's lineup. And the Chrysler Town & Country is still moving ahead, but its Dodge sibling already is slipping.
Small is still beautiful
0808 14z+2008 Honda Fit+front And Rear Three Quarters View
Honda Fit +93%
VW GTI/R32 +46%
Subaru Impreza +19%
Chevy Aveo +17%
Pontiac G5 +16%
Nissan Sentra +16%
VW Jetta +15%
Nissan Versa +14%
Do the throngs of buyers mobbing Honda showrooms know that the Fit is about to be replaced with a new version? Do they even care? Probably not.
Premium small cars are no longer an oxymoron
0808 09z+2009 Audi A3+front Three Quarters View
Audi A3 +30%
Mini Cooper +24%
Competitors have been dismissive of the Audi A3, but it has become an important car for the brand, outselling the A5/S5, the A8/R8, the TT, the R8 (no surprise), and is poised to overtake the Q7. The Mini Cooper, meanwhile, might have posted even bigger numbers, but it's effectively sold out. And the Volvo C30 (not listed here because it was only trickling into dealerships last July) now outsells the S60 and the V50, and has pulled even with the slumping S40.
Korean, and loving it
0808 13z+2008 Hyundai Accent+rear Three Quarters View
Hyundai Accent +96%
Hyundai Elantra +31%
Kia Optima +49%
Kia Rio +22%
The undeclared recession continues to be kind to Hyundai and Kia.
Arise, mini-minivans
Mazda5 +40%
Kia Rondo +15%
"Who wants a small minivan?" many once asked (including some of Mazda's U.S. managers, when told they would be getting the Mazda5 to sell). But the Euro-style people movers suddenly look sensible.
Nissan's big bounce
0808 16z+2009 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab+front Three Quarters View
Nissan Frontier +24%
Nissan Quest +15%
Nissan Xterra +17%
All three of these nameplates were in our loser's circle (off 50% or more) last month.
All's well on fleet streetFord Crown Victoria +39%
Is Mercedes-Benz recession-proof?
0808 10z+2008 Mercedes Benz E550+rear View
E-class +53%
GL class +28%
G-wagen +25%
SLR +44%
We can understand a big jump in sales of the C-class (which was redesigned this spring), but the E-class? The GL is also showing strength considering how most big, luxury SUVs are swooning. The G-wagen and SLR, however, posted their big percentage jumps on tiny volumes, and the S-class, CL, SLK, and ML have all taken a hit.
Simply defying gravity
0808 11z+2008 Porsche Boxster+front Three Quarters View
Porsche Boxster +32%
Mitsubishi Galant +30%
Buick Enclave +28%
Mercury Grand Marquis +26%
Saturn Aura +24%
Mitsubishi Endeavor +23%
Dodge Viper +19%
Mitsubishi Eclipse +16%
Saturn Sky +14%
Audi A6 +14%
VW Eos +13%

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