2009 July Auto Sales: Thanks, Uncle Sam!

As Intended, Sales of Small Cars Surge

Suzuki SX4 +76%
Ford Focus +74%
Kia Soul +73%
Pontiac G5 +63%
Nissan Sentra +63%
Honda Fit +59%
Nissan Versa +56%
Nissan Cube +54%
Scion xB +52%
Toyota Corolla/Matrix +48%
Toyota Prius +48%
Mazda3 +47%
Honda Civic +43%
Chevrolet Cobalt +38%
Scion tC +34%
Audi A3 +26%

Swapping gas hogs for more efficient new vehicles was a major goal of the "clunkers" legislation. And the increase in the sales of so many small cars suggests that, to some degree at least, it succeeded.

Mostly Modest Moves for Mid-Sizers

Chrysler Sebring +59%
Mitsubishi Galant +38%
Mazda6 +37%
Chevrolet Malibu +34%
Toyota Camry +29%
Honda Accord +25%
Volvo S60 +25%

Clunkers trades also precipitated a move from trucks and SUVs to cars, and these mid-size sedans appear to have benefited.

A Boost for Compact SUVs and Pickups

Suzuki Grand Vitara +75%
Mazda Tribute +63%
Toyota RAV4 +58%
GMC Canyon +49%
Ford Ranger +45%
Nissan Frontier +44%
Honda CRV +40%
Mitsubishi Outlander +39%
Toyota Tacoma +39%
Chevrolet HHR +36%
Chevrolet Colorado +34%
Suzuki Equator +33%
Ford Escape +32%

With the majority of the clunkers trade-ins being SUVs and pickups, it was natural for their former owners to trade down to a smaller, more efficient version of the vehicle they previously owned.

Minivans: Both Up and Down

Mazda5 +61%
Dodge Caravan +44%
Toyota Sienna +30%
VW Routan -36%
Kia Rondo -37%
Honda Odyssey -54%

You'd think minivans would have enjoyed some clunkers bounce from families trading in SUVs, and that may have been the case for the economical Mazda5, the Dodge Caravan (but not its VW twin), and the Toyota Sienna. Compared to the Mazda5, the Kia Rondo suffered because it is classified as a passenger car rather than a truck and so must meet a higher mpg threshold (which only the four-cylinder version does) in order for buyers to collect clunkers cash. But what happened to the Honda Odyssey?

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