August Auto Sales: Cash for Clunkers' Climactic Conclusion

2006 Toyota Corolla

Mazda +12%
Nice gains by the Mazda3 (+33%) and the Mazda5 (+45%) and, to a lesser extent, the Mazda6 (+11%) and the Tribute (+33%), overcame declines in the rest of the lineup, particularly the CX-9 (-39%).

Mercedes-Benz -8%
It's no surprise that the new E-class (+74%) turned in the best performance at Mercedes-Benz this month; it even outsold the C-class (-39%). At the high end, the S-class was off (-39%) as were the coupes and convertibles. Among the SUVs, the GLK fell behind the GL (-19%) and the M-class (+6%). Meanwhile, sales of the R-class (-92%) have all but stopped.

Mercury +8%
The Milan (+112%) and Mariner (+50%) tracked their Ford counterparts (Fusion and Escape), but the other models were way down. The Mountaineer (-28%) fared better than the Grand Marquis (-71%) and the Sable (-76%).

Mini -7%

Mitsubishi -26%
A strong showing by the Outlander (+68%) couldn't overcome weakness in the Eclipse (-64%) and the Galant (-63%).

Nissan -0%
Big ups and downs leave Nissan flat in August. The Versa (+132%), the Sentra (+78%), and the Rogue (+58%) received big Clunkers-fueled gains. And the Cube kicked in 5,347 sales, which put it ahead of both the Maxima and the Murano. But the good news was negated by a collapse in demand for Nissan's trucks and SUVs: the Xterra (-84%), the Titan (-74%), the Pathfinder (-80%), the Frontier (-58%), the Armada (-69%), and the Quest (-72%).

Pontiac +23%
Monday-morning quarterbacks -- or is that Monday-morning CEOs? -- who have criticized GM's decision to permanently bench Pontiac can gloat over the August sales figures, which show Pontiac with the biggest gain of any GM division. Credit the Vibe (+38%), the G6 (+26%), and the addition of the G3 Wave (an Aveo twin).

Porsche +9%

Rolls Royce -19%

Saab -68%

Saturn -58%
Saturn, which had several Clunkers-eligible models, nonetheless turned in a dismal performance in August. Even the Astra (-47%) fell off a cliff. It's hard to see how even Roger Penske can restart this brand.

Scion -10%
Cash for Clunkers should have been a home run for Scion, with its lineup of three fuel-sippers, but only the xD (+11%) made any headway. The xB was flat and the aging tC coupe (-31%) lost ground.

Smart -33%
High gas prices last summer surely inflated Smart's year-ago sales, and one would think that Cash for Clunkers would have provided a similar boost this year. Not so -- and it may be an indication that Smart's moment has passed.

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