Compact Car Mixup: Honda Civic Takes Top Spot, Chevy Cruze Has Slowest Month of 2011

Sales of compact cars slowed slightly last month, with overall volumes for the segment’s top six models falling compared to earlier in 2011. November also saw the 2012 Honda Civic best its perennial rival from Japan, the Toyota Corolla. As to American automakers, Ford’s new Focus was once again trounced by the hot-selling Chevrolet Cruze. The segment’s six top sellers are listed below in order of descending sales.

Honda Civic -- 17,133 sold

Despite criticism from the media and an admission from executives that it is disappointing, the 2012 Honda Civic managed to earn the top spot in November’s compact-car sales results. The Civic also broke the 200,000-sales milestone last month, posting 200,690 sales for the first 11 months of 2011.

The Civic was Honda’s top-selling car in November, although the company says overall volumes will continue to improve as its factories fully recover from natural disaster-related delays. “We're looking forward to closing the year on a strong note as production recovers,” American Honda vice president of sales John Mendel said in a statement.

Toyota Corolla -- 16,115 sold

The Corolla fell behind its longtime rival, the Honda Civic, last month, with sales dropping 4.5 percent year-over-year to just 16,115. Even so, Corolla sales for the year still outpace the Civic, with the Toyota sedan recording 219,250 deliveries through the end of the November. Toyota executives expect that momentum to continue through 2012; “As the automotive retail market continues to improve, we believe we're in an excellent position,” Toyota Motor Sales vice president Bob Carter said in a statement.

Chevrolet Cruze -- 13,238 sold

The Chevrolet Cruze dominated the compact segment for much of this year, only to see its sales drop to third place in both October and November. In fact, last month’s sales figure of 13,238 was the worst for the Cruze all year. However, the compact car’s yearly sales tally of 215,057 units outpaces the Honda Civic and is only slightly behind that of the Toyota Corolla. As such, the Cruze also is the second best-selling GM product of 2011 -- trailing only the perennially popular Silverado pickup trucks.

Hyundai Elantra -- 12,414 sold

After two months behind the German entrant, the Hyundai Elantra once again saw its sales figures outpace those of the Volkswagen Jetta. Though it may sit in fourth place within the segment, the Elantra’s 12,414 sales last month represent a 44-percent year-over-year volume increase. That brings the car’s annual sales through November to 173,336 -- up nearly 46 percent compared to the same period in 2010.

Hyundai, however, feels it could do better, noting that its relative shortage of new vehicles means that some customers might have struggled to buy a new Elantra last month. “Our 35 days-supply level today is low by most standards,” Hyundai North American CEO John Krafcik said in a statement. “Accent, Elantra and Veloster remain in short supply.”

Ford Focus -- 11,735 sold

Ford saw sales of the Focus slip 9.9 percent year-over-year to just 11,735 units, representing the car’s fourth slowest sales month of 2011. Last month’s figures bring total Focus sales thus far in 2011 to 161,436. Ford, however, remains confident that its array of fuel-efficient cars will continue to draw buyers. “Consumers continue to value fuel economy – no matter what size or kind of vehicle best meets their needs,” Ford sales vice president Ken Czubay said in a statement. “Most Ford products deliver best-in-class fuel economy.”

Volkswagen Jetta -- 11,131 sold

Though it once again fell to the sixth rung in the compact-car sales battle, the Volkswagen Jetta continues to be a strong seller for the brand. Monthly sales of 11,131 cars equate to a year-over-year gain of 24.3 percent, and through the first 11 months of this year, Jetta sedan sales are up 58.9 percent compared to a year prior. With just 138,092 Jettas sold this year, though, Volkswagen trails far behind the Ford Focus in 2011 sales.

November 2011 Monthly Sales

1. Honda Civic - 17,133

2. Toyota Corolla - 16,115

3. Chevrolet Cruze - 13,238

4. Hyundai Elantra - 12,414

5. Ford Focus - 11,735

6. Volkswagen Jetta - 11,131

November 2011 Year-to-Date Sales

1. Toyota Corolla - 219,250

2. Chevrolet Cruze - 215,057

3. Honda Civic - 200,690

4. Hyundai Elantra - 173,336

5. Ford Focus - 161,436

6. Volkswagen Jetta - 138,092

Source: Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Ford, Volkswagen

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