August 2008 Car Sales: Funny, it sure looks like a recession

Aside from tiny volume players (Maserati, Lotus, Lamborghini, and Rolls-Royce), nearly every single brand saw sales sink in August. That means not just the domestics, but also Toyota, Lexus, Scion, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Audi, Acura, and more. The following five were the only meaningful exceptions:

Mini. Small cars weren't as strong as they had been, but they were strong enough to keep this small-car pure play in the black.

Subaru. Up on the strength of the new Forester.

Infiniti. Up thanks to the addition of the EX35.

Volkswagen. The addition of the Tiguan made the difference here.

Nissan. The addition of the Rogue was a major factor, with the remaining boost coming from suspicious jumps in sales of the Frontier and Xterra (both defying year-to-date declines). Incentives, perhaps?

The 5 Best Selling cars for August were:
1. Chevy Silverado
2. Toyota Camry
3. Honda Accord
4. Ford F-series
5. Honda Civic

Having a full-size pickup in the top spot feels like normalcy, but the fact that it's the Silverado handily outselling the F-series for the first time in recent memory has got to be giving Ford fits. Another sign of receding fear is that the Camry and Accord are ahead of the Civic and the (sixth-place) Toyota Corolla.

DOWN, DOWN, DOWN

Digging deeper, here's what we find for August. In the interest of brevity, this month we confine ourselves to moves of twenty percent or more. [All figures are percent changes in sales for August 2008 versus August 2007.]

Wall Street jitters hit early
The financial markets' meltdown didn't really get going until September, but these financiers' favorites started slumping ahead of time:
Porsche Boxster -47%
Porsche 911 -57%
Porsche Cayman -80%
Bentley (all) -37%
Mercedes-Benz M-class -21%
Mercedes-Benz E-class -28%
Mercedes-Benz S-class -31%
Mercedes-Benz CL-class -34%
Mercedes-Benz R-class -55%
Mercedes-Benz CLK-class -55%
Mercedes-Benz CLS-class -56%
Audi TT -40%
Audi Q7 -50%
Jaguar (all) -26%
Infiniti M -26%
Lexus GS -27%
Lexus SC -37%
Lexus LS -44%

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