Everybody knew it was coming, but the extent of the disintegration of the US automotive market came clearly into view today as automakers reported their sales figures for June. During a month when the national average price of gasoline topped an average of four bucks, what does one expect? Well — how about an 18.8% decline in sales. Fercrissakes, the Hummer brand saw a year-over-year fall of almost 60%! Un-freakin'-believable. What we have here folks is an automotive bear market — actually probably the worst bear market in the history of the industry. And like all bear markets, there are some clever companies which manage to shine even during the worst of times. Follow along as we discuss today's car industry carnage. These numbers are sourced from Automotive News as well as directly from manufacturers and are unadjusted unless otherwise noted.
Honda was the sparkling bright light of hope amidst today's reports, announcing year-over-year sales figures which bucked the greater trend with a gain of 13.8%. The increases at Honda were led by a record breaking month for both the Honda Fit and the Honda Civic. Sales at the Acura division weren't so great, but when you're selling the brand for fuel efficient small cars during painful fuel times, that kind of thing gets overshadowed.
There's some kind of saying about how the rich get richer and the poor get... something, but it escapes our mind at the moment. We're watching Daimler's caviar-infused Kobe veal just now arriving. We're not the least bit surprised in the Daimler announcement of sales improvements around 12.9%, the idea of driving anything less than a Mercedes in these trying times is simply unnerving.
Maybe all those years of pitching responsible transportation and safety-inspired handling have netted benefits, as Subaru has reported a 5.3% increase in sales for June. Could also be the the new Subaru Forester crossover scores major points with the "I want an SUV but I'd love good fuel economy" crowd. Whatever the case, the Fuji Heavy industries subsidiary is making gains in a tough market.
VW must be doing something right, as they've managed to eke out a 0.3% sales increase where many others have not. Perhaps the concept of small, premium, sporty, fuel efficient cars isn't so far-fetched after all. Listen to us, we sound like smug Europeans.
It just goes to show that questionable styling, thirsty engines, and complex controls don't always a luxe brand make. BMW Group reported an unfortunate sales loss of 11% for June. Where the compact Mini brand saw a 24.8% bump in demand, the BMW brand dropped by 17% — we're betting those numbers pick up once the BMW X6 starts hitting — or rather bypassing showroom floors — as all of them are spoken for already.
Not all is well within the super number one best awesome brand from the land of the rising sun. June saw an overall decline of 11.5%*. Breaking that down — the Lexus Division was smacked pretty good with a 21.1% decline and the Toyota Division fell 10.3% relative to last June. Supply problems with what should be the all-star Prius forced a 25% sales drop for the headlining hybrid. What about them trucks though? Toyota truck sales were down a whopping 31.1% which, in our opinion bodes very poorly for the new Toyota Tundra. Consider the Ford F-150's sales flagged by only 5% more, and yet the Toyota is much newer with a new F-Series just over a pushed-back-by-two-months horizon. *Toyota reported figures adjusted for daily sales rate
Nissan North America
Apparently Nissan is no slouch in losing sales either. Carlos Ghosn's golden brand saw a decline of 17.7% this June. Sure, it's not as good as either Toyota or Honda, but it sure as hell isn't as bad as the traditional big three. As expected, sales of the company's small cars came on strong last month, but Nissan's trucks and SUVs took a solid faceplant. Nissan still has that all-electric wonder-car planned, so we're sure the greenwashing campaign will begin immediately.
The General isn't doing too bad compared to its cross-town rivals, but losing 18.5% compared to last years' June still stings. Sure, the Hummer brand lost an eye-watering 60%, but other vehicles made up for most of it, like the shockingly popular Chevy Malibu, and even the Cobalt is seeing renewed demand. And don't even talk to them about trucks and SUVs. But that's not to say GM is on solid ground, especially considering recent announcements from management on idling of plants.
Perhaps it's the pending release of a freshened Porsche 911, or the overall stagnation of the brand, or that Porsche sales are heavily weighted on the high selling, and uber-thirsty Cayenne, but Porsche announced a surprising drop of 18.9% in sales. Maybe even luxury buyers are tightening their belts when it comes to weekend toys.
Ford Motor Company
Ford did not have a very good month. With declines pegged at 28% and sales of the popular F-150 down a staggering 36% for the month of June, the big blue oval is taking one to the jaw on the sales front. It's worth a note though that the yucky-looking but fuel-efficient new Ford Focus is positively flying off the lots. Now if only they could get that new Ford Fiesta here on the double.
Chrylser LLC has posted a mind numbing 36% decline for June, and with numbers like that, and the decision to shutter the St. Louis minivan plant, Cerberus has got to be patting themselves on the back right about now. June was so bad, we heard the Chrysler dealers actually had to resort to brushing the spider webs off the doors during their lunch breaks. Despite its $2.99 gas deal, some of the SUV offerings were complete non-sellers, for instance: Jeep Commander — down 68% to 1,961 vehicles; Dodge Durango down 67% to 1,723 vehicles; Chrysler Aspen down 49% to 944 vehicles.
And today's winner is Mitsubishi, posting a breathtaking 42.4% decline in sales compared to last June. Here is where we insert jokes about lingering Chrysler interior quality, and the smashing success of the new Mitsubishi design language, but that just seems mean. Let's be serious for a second though, has anyone seen the interior of the Mitsubishi Endeavor? Oh wait, that answer is no.