VOLKSWAGEN GROUP +23%
Volkswagen's outsized plans to wildly increase its U.S. sales seem just a bit less hubristic after the company's performance in 2011. The Americanized new Passat is on a tear, the Jetta continues to do well, and the redesigned Beetle is off to a good start. Audi is also doing well -- and in the upper end of market where is has historically been weak. Credit the addition of the A7, but also the redesigned A6 and the new A8. Even Bentley, with its freshened Continental GT, is helping out.
Beetle -61% (but new version is selling at 3x the rate of the old model)
A8/S8 +275% (up from very small volumes a year ago)
A6 +28% (with the new version more than doubling sales of the old one)
A7 (accounted for 39% of Audi's year-over-year volume increase)
BMW GROUP +15%
They're celebrating in Munich -- and in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey (home of BMW North America). When the final tally came in, BMW emerged as the number one luxury brand in the USA for the first time ever. Lexus, which had held the title for years, fell away early due to supply problems, leaving BMW and Mercedes to duke it out.
Mercedes-Benz just narrowly missed being America's bestselling luxury brand despite a big December push that saw sales jump 27%. Obviously, the Mercedes brand is doing well -- it's Daimler's peripheral brands that are troublesome. The company has announced that it's finally pulling the plug on Maybach, long after sales had flatlined. And the smartest move we've seen regarding Smart was made by Roger Penske, who gave up on his distribution deal for the tiny two-seater.
Countryman (now accounting for half of all Minis sold)
The other Minis -9%
Maybach -38% (and death notice posted)
After several years of defying the economic downtrend and outperforming the industry -- thanks to well-timed launches of well-received new models -- Subaru hit some headwinds in 2011. The company was one of the lesser-known victims of supply shortages due to the disaster in Japan. But the new Impreza helped make for a big December (+26%), so perhaps Subaru can recover its momentum in 2012.
Impreza +58% (December-vs.-December)
Newly independent Mazda, no longer tied up with Ford, is hanging in there so far. A new CX-5 crossover is about to replace the ancient, Ford Escape-based Tribute, which should help for next year, and the SkyActiv technology could perk up the Mazda3.
Mazda2 62% (December-vs.-December)
Small volumes make for wild fluctuations for most Mitsubishi models. The thing to know here is that the Outlander Sport is now neck-and-neck with the Lancer as the brand's major player.
Outlander Sport +58% (December-vs.-December)
Volvo's increase over last year is wholly due to the return of the S60. It more than made up for the departure of the S40 and the V50.
S60 (far and away Volvo's bestselling model)
C30, V70 -11%
JAGUAR LAND ROVER +11%
At Jaguar, the increase in XJ volume didn't make up for the sales lost by the sliding XK and XF. Meanwhile, Land Rover was buoyed by rising volumes for all models except the LR2. The Evoque arrived too late in the year to be much of a factor; its affect will be seen next year.
Land Rover +20%
Range Rover Sport +24%
Range Rover, LR4 +12%
PORSCHE CARS NORTH AMERICA +15%
For a while, it looked like the Panamera might challenge the Cayenne as the bestselling Porsche model. But that moment has long since passed. The Cayenne was easily Porsche's biggest seller for the year, beating the second-place Panamera by nearly 2 to 1. Oh, and it beat the Cayman by a factor of 9. All Porsches, however, took a turn for the worse in December, with sales down 29%.
Tiny Suzuki managed to keep all 4 of its models in the black in 2011.
Grand Vitara +11%
Saab closed out what looks to be its final year up 3%, which is probably not much of a consolation given its recent bankruptcy filing in Sweden. For the record, the 3847 9-3s were sold (-15% vs. last year), 1496 9-5s (+84%), and just 267 copies of the 9-4X (a future collectible?).
TOP 10 BESTSELLING NAMEPLATES OF 2011
584,917 Ford F-series
415,130 Chevrolet Silverado
308,510 Toyota Camry
268,981 Nissan Altima
254,293 Ford Escape
253,599 Honda Accord
248,067 Ford Fusion
244,763 Dodge Ram
240,259 Toyota Corolla/Matrix
231,732 Chevrolet Cruze