2009 December Auto Sales - Special Year-End Edition!

FORD MOTOR COMPANY -16%
For all the happy talk this year about Ford, America's favorite not-bankrupt auto company, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that Ford sold 16% fewer cars in 2009 than in its not-so-great 2008. Nonetheless, the company's financial solvency (not to be confused with financial health) allowed it to bask in the warm glow of approval from a public disgusted with other industrial giants hitting it up for cash. December 2009 looked particularly strong, with an increase over a miserable December 2008 of 33%, equal to white-hot Subaru but on much larger volumes. Even with its full-year sales decline, Ford was able to win market share for the first time in years, and new products due in 2010 may allow it to extend those gains.

DAIMLER A.G. -18%
Mercedes-Benz and Smart finished the year just slightly better than the industry average 21% decline and - perhaps more important given the intense rivalry - just slightly better than the BMW Group. December sales were flat versus the year prior.

AMERICAN HONDA -19%
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA -19%
Honda and Nissan, two major Cash-for-Clunkers beneficiaries, saw equal declines this year. Both companies were dragged down somewhat by their luxury brands, Acura (off 27%) and Infiniti (dropping 28%). Honda's performance, though, was still better than average and was easily enough to blow past faltering Chrysler to move into fourth place in the industry, while Nissan remains unchanged in the number-six spot. Both companies finished the year with better-than-average gains in December.

BMW GROUP -20%
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES -20%
BMW and Toyota's bad 2009 was just slightly less bad than the industry average. BMW was helped out a bit by Mini, and Toyota got a hand from Lexus - but not Scion. Toyota's decline comes despite a Cash-for-Clunkers-fueled bonanza this summer (its Corolla was the most popular government-incentivized purchase). BMW finished the year with a relative whimper, a 9% gain (weaker than the industry average 15%), while Toyota powered to a 32% increase for the year's final month.

The following automakers are the ones who would most like to put 2009 far behind them:

MAZDA -21%
Mazda's 21% sales decline exactly matched the overall market. But Mazda fell behind the pack in December, squeaking out only a 2% increase for the month where the industry as a whole posted a 15% gain.

PORSCHE -24%
Porsche's bad year ended on a bad note, a 2% decline in December versus the year prior. And that's with the addition of the Panamera to the lineup.

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