October Auto Sales Screech to a Halt

FORD -30%
Ford -28%
Mercury -47%
Lincoln -28%
Mazda -26%
Volvo -52%
Highs: Mazda5 +244%, Fusion -3%
Lows: Taurus -53%, Explorer -59%, MKX -61%, Edge -58%, XC70 -55%, C30 -50%
Although off from last year, the F-series has bounced back from its spring lows and the '09 model is just coming into showrooms. The Fusion was off only slightly and it received a boost from Consumers Reports. Ford's SUV sales were down by half, but that's about par for the SUV course. More distressing is that the Edge and the MKZ are struggling, and the Flex is off to a very slow start, probably due to price resistance. Mazda's CX-7 and CX-9 crossovers are slumping too, both down more than 40%. But the Mazda5 minivan is absolutely on fire, more than doubling this month and up more than 50 percent year to date. Volvo, in contrast, is ice cold. Even its newest products, the V70/XC70 and the C30, have seen sales slow to a crawl. Finally, the Town Car had a huge month, thanks to livery fleets.

Nissan division -34%
Infiniti -29%
Highs: Maxima +33%, Rogue +11%, Versa +3%
Lows: Titan -80%, Xterra -77%, Pathfinder -78%, Armada -79%, Quest -79%
Infiniti suffered across the board, mitigated only slightly by the addition of the EX35, which is off to a slow start, although it posted better numbers than the tanking QX56. Nissan's car sales aren't horrible, aided by a strong start for the new Maxima, but its truck and SUV sales are a horror show - even in the context of a crumbling market. Nissan has already acknowledged that it won't bother to develop a next-generation Titan; instead it will adapt the Dodge Ram for Nissan duty (although it's possible a Chrysler merger/sale/bankruptcy could potentially upend those plans). In an attempt to cash in on Americans' downward mobility, Nissan just introduced a new, lower-priced version of its Versa subcompact, with a smaller, 1.6-liter engine and reduced content. Its $10,685 base sticker (including destination) makes it the lowest priced car in America.

HONDA -28%
Honda division -28%
Acura -25%
Highs: Fit +28%, TL +22%
Lows: RDX -68%, TSX -23%, Accord -38%
Honda's fuel-sipping Fit, bolstered by a new redesign, continues to be strong. The Accord fell back but the Pilot saw only a minor slowdown. Acura's mainstay TL enjoyed a boost from its a redesign but the TSX, also new for '09, did not. And the RDX compact crossover is slipping under the waves, with sales less than 1/3 of what they were a year ago.

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