WHAT'S REALLY BAD
Again, the average decline from December to January was 27%, so those who did 10 points worse had a pretty scary month.
Bad times for the ultra exotics: Their volumes are tiny (fewer than 100 per month for each), but the pain is real. Maserati had the worst slide last month, but it's in the best shape year over year (-23%). Ferrari, which had sold more cars than Maserati one year ago, slipped behind it this past January (75 cars to Maserati's 96, a decline of 44% from last year). Bentley, though, is running at less than one third of last year's volume (93 cars in January versus 367 last year); the only good news for Bentley is that the Speed version of the Continental GTC convertible is on its way and a new Arnage is in the offing, but the latter is not for nearly another year.
Mainstream luxury marques are taking it in the chin. Although well reviewed, the Jaguar XF has not been able to lift the brand's fortunes. Mercedes-Benz has seen dramatic drop-offs all through its model line: Coupes, like the CL and CLK, are selling at less than half last year's levels; worse are the roadsters, the SL and SLK; the S-class is off by more than two-thirds, the M-class is almost as bad, and the R-class is at barely one-quarter of previous (low) volumes; at least the GLK appears off to a decent start. Audi's strong run appears to have run out of steam, with even the new A4 suffering, although the A5 and the R8 posted gains, and the Q5 is arriving at dealers soon. Lexus is the weak link among the three Toyota brands, with the GX470 SUV and the big LS sedans off by more than half versus a year ago; the RX is a bright spot here. Volvo starts off 2009 with another big decline, after a generally wretched 2008; at these levels one has to wonder whether Volvo is destined to remain part of the Ford empire.
After defying gravity throughout 2008 (bolstered by a combination of high gasoline prices in the first half of the year and by the addition of the Clubman body style), Mini took a tumble down to earth in the beginning of 2009. Gasoline that costs a buck-something can't be helping; maybe a redesigned convertible will.