September Sales: The financial crisis looks worse than the fuel crisis

WHAT'S DOWN [by 50% or worse]

The Hummer bummer continues.
H2 -66%
H3 -51%
GM probably wishes it had put this brand up for sale a year ago. Kind of like you wish you'd sold all the stocks and mutual funds in your retirement account a year ago.
Toyota FJ Cruiser -65%
Mercedes-Benz G-wagen -58%
As with the Hummers, these Tonka-like trucks have been forgotten, as buyers found something new to play with.

The SUV is no longer America's family car.
Ford Explorer -67%
Mercury Mountaineer -70%
Jeep Grand Cherokee -56%
Dodge Durango -78%
Chevy Tahoe -52%
GMC Yukon XL -54%
Toyota 4Runner -62%
Nissan Pathfinder -85%
Chevy Equinox -57%
Pontiac Torrent -56%
SUVs as a whole were still down more than any other group. They just had more company this month.

Two Jeeps too far.
Jeep Compass -65%
Jeep Commander -65%
Performing yet another monthly sales swan dive are Jeep's most ill-advised brand extensions from the go-go years when Dieter Zetsche was head of Chrysler, before he decamped for Germany to head up Daimler.

A hot August makes for a cold September.
Nissan Xterra -66%
Nissan Frontier -73%
Nissan Quest -83%
After an unnaturally fervid August - incentives, anyone? - these three Nissans collapsed in September.

Coupes falling out of fashion
BMW 6-series -64%
Scion tC -53%
Ford Mustang -52%
Mercedes-Benz CLK -51%

Suffering sports cars
Porsche Cayman -84% (and the Boxster and 911 just missed our cutoff)
BMW Z4 -66%
Honda S2000 -59%

There is no room at the margins.
Suzuki XL7 -78%
Subaru Tribeca -52%
Mitsubishi Raider -88%
Mitsubishi Endeavor -71%
Mazda Tribute -74%
Hyundai Veracruz -50%
Volvo S80 -56%
Volvo S40 -63%
Nissan Armada -64%
Infiniti QX56 -61%
Chrysler Aspen -66%
Lexus SC430 -57%
Chevy Uplander -84%
Lincoln Mark LT -52%
Isuzu I-series -56%
All of these models are marginal players in their field, and the tough times are having a disproportionate effect on them.

Miscellaneous laggards
Hyundai Tucson -65%
Ford Taurus X -64% (suffering in the switchover to the Flex)
Dodge Nitro -64% (born too late)
Toyota Tundra -61% (ambition thwarted)
Chrysler PT Cruiser -61% (once, there was a waiting list . . .)
Kia Sportage -58%
Mercury Sable -58%
Volvo XC90 -55%
Chrysler 300C -54% (see above)
Mercedes-Benz R-class -51% (the odd-duck Benz has been a laggard all year)
BMW 7-series -51% (slowing ahead of a redesign)
VW Passat -51%
Cadillac Escalades (all) -50%

Previously hot cars stumble.
The following models all had been running well ahead for the year to date, but in September they slipped backward. [This is the only instance where we're spotlighting declines of less than 50%.]

Volvo C30 -67%
Volvo can hardly afford any more bad news, and the C30 had been a bright spot.

Hyundai Elantra -49%
Kia Optima -36%
Kia Spectra -33%
Kia Rio -21%
The end of easy financing is bad news for brands like Hyundai and Kia, which have traditionally been home to lots of shaky-credit customers. The Elantra, though, had been riding high for much of this year, after a big endorsement from Consumer Reports.

Cadillac CTS -32%
Chevy Cobalt -17%
Saturn Aura -6%
Despite Employee Pricing, these GM cars declined. The CTS had been red hot, ever since last fall's successful redesign.

Honda Accord -36%
Honda Civic -13%
The Accord falters despite a relatively fresh redesign.

Nissan Altima -42%
Nissan Versa -12%
Toyota Yaris -4%
The Yaris slips just a bit, but it had been a darling back in the early summer, during the gas-price freakout.

Jeep Patriot -25%
The Patriot's slowdown started earlier, but it started off the year as a bright spot for acutely suffering Jeep dealers.

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