May 2011 Auto Sales

As bad as May was for Toyota, it would have been a lot worse had the automaker not reversed course and ramped up its marketing and incentive spending at the end of the month. As it was, Toyota was just barely able to hold off the Koreans -- by less than 1000 units. The good news is that supplies will start to recover in June, and should increase from there -- marketing is already bouncing back.

Toyota -33%
After last year’s recall disaster, May was a new nightmare scenario for Toyota. Both the Camry (-36%) and the Corolla (-37%) found themselves off of the Top Ten Bestsellers list. The Camry was passed by three different midsize competitors: the Chevy Malibu, the Ford Fusion, and the Nissan Altima. The Prius and the Tundra fell by half. Only one Toyota, the Tacoma, was up over last year (+5%).

Lexus -45%
Hobbled by supply shortages and an aging lineup, Lexus is now probably out of the running to challenge BMW and Mercedes-Benz for the title of bestselling luxury brand this year, for the first time in over a decade. All Lexus models were off by 1/3 or more. The worst was the HS (-84%) and the GS (-60%).

Scion +14%
The new tC coupe was still able to double the weak sales of a year ago, but the other two models declined.

Is anyone surprised that the Koreans saw the disaster in Japan as an opportunity to seize even more U.S. market share? Probably not. Of course, it helps that they’ve recently introduced several hot new products.

Hyundai +21%
Hyundai could boast that the Sonata (+7%) outsold the weakened Camry and Accord, but since the Malibu and the Fusion did too, it seems like less of an accomplishment. More impressive was that the new Elantra doubled its sales.

Kia +53%
The new Optima tripled year-ago volume, but it alone did not power Kia to a 53% gain. Credit also the Sportage (+98%), the Soul (+82%), and the Sorento (+46%).

The Ford Fusion is IMPORTED from Mexico. :(The Accord, Camry, & Sonata are assembled in USA by Americans who propagate their income into the US economy. :)The Accord feels too heavy and too long and also has an awkward gauge placement that becomes blocked when the steering wheel is positioned comfortably (fully-down-and-pulled-out).The Camry's floaty suspension feels disconnected while simultaneously transmitting odd handling artifacts that are subtle but quite distracting.None of the cars mentioned are quite tall enough to provide easy ingress/egress.

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