July 2008 Sales: No Relief in Sight

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

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.

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.

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.

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