Automakers’ First Quarter Sales Slide

Automotive analysts had a pessimistic outlook going into 2008. So far, it looks like they could be right.

While small-car sales have increased, Automotive News data shows first quarter 2008 automotive car sales slid by more than 3 percent compared to the first quarter of 2007.

A few interesting notes from the 2008 first quarter U.S. car sales statistics:

Some old dogs learns new tricks, some just don’t learn- The refreshed is outselling every car in its class except the . The Focus is also Ford‘s best-selling car model, thanks to a $14,395 base price and gas mileage of 24 city and 35 mpg highway.

– sales have dropped by more than 10,000 units compared to the first quarter of 2007, likely the result of an aging model and rising fuel prices. However, Ford continues to release more fuel-thirsty, V-8 performance Mustangs such as the Shelby GT500KR.

And you thought you had problems…- Not only is Chrysler‘s Sebring the brand’s best-selling car model, it outsold the Dodge Avenger by roughly 5000 units. Yet due to each vehicle’s poor interior quality and questionable styling, both models remain uncompetitive in their class. Chrysler is expected to make an emergency update (known as ‘Project-D’) on the models and may even cancel the Sebring or Avenger completely.

– More bad news for Chrysler – only 15,604 PT Cruisers have found homes since January. By this time last year, Chrysler had already sold more than 25,000 PT Cruisers.

Starved for new product- If it weren’t for its new XF, Jaguar would have barely sold 2300 units since the beginning of 2008 (that’s a paltry average of 25 Jaguar vehicles sold in the U.S. each day). Thankfully, the XF should be Jaguar’s life preserver as the company phases out its S-Type and X-Type sedans.

– Saab has only sold 5110 cars since January (all but 739 of which were 9-3 models).

The lowest of the low- Not including recent releases, some of the lowest-selling, mainstream car models of the year have been the Mazda RX-8 (912 units), Kia Amanti (556 units), Volvo V50 (492 units), Chrysler Crossfire (462 units), and the Cadillac XLR (387 units).

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