Blog: America has a new No.1 car (by a whisker)
Glenn Brooks | 1 June 2011
Not only was the Camry deposed but Prius sales fell by 49% to only 6,924 units.
It had looked as though it was going to be a month of upsets in the US new car market and it has proven to be so. I was slightly off on a couple of predictions I'd made in the feature I wrote this morning, but the Camry and Accord, plus the Corolla and Civic were indeed dethroned. And it looks as though big-engined vehicles are falling from favour sooner than I had imagined they would too.
Here's the top-selling mid-sized models, which I've compiled from manufacturer press releases:
Chevrolet Malibu: 25,600
Nissan Altima: 25,525
Ford Fusion: 24,666
Hyundai Sonata: 22,754
Toyota Camry: 18,830
Honda Accord: 18,185
Chrysler's twins, the 200 and Avenger, managed 7,098 and 5,543 sales respectively. Worryingly, the Town & Country minivan and the 300 suffered significant sales declines. Ford says 80% of its Fusions were ordered with four-cylinder engines - the smallest engines in the Chrysler T & C and 300 are 3.6-litre V6s so rising fuel prices seem to be already causing problems for some vehicle makers. Toyota suddenly looks visionary for its decision to give the Sienna a four-cylinder base engine: it is the only full-sized minivan to offer one.
In the compact class, the upsets continue:
Chevrolet Cruze: 22,711
Ford Focus: 22,303
Hyundai Elantra: 20,006
Honda Civic: 18,341
Toyota Corolla: 16,985
VW Jetta: 16,671
That the Jetta nearly outsold the Corolla is quite something. Sales of the new model are up 59% for the year to date, so even when Corolla and Civic production return to normal levels, VW (and Hyundai) will still be newly-competitive rivals for this segment's traditional leaders.
Right now, the champagne corks will be popping at the RenCen as GM celebrates its achievement of leading not only the mid-sized but the compact class for the first time that this writer can recall.
Toyota and Honda will be back to form soon enough but a new Chevrolet Malibu will be with us in 2012 and most likely a new Ford Fusion too. As GM and Ford aim to build further momentum with these cars plus their smaller sedans, June and the second half of 2011 promise to be months of perhaps the most intense competition that the US car market has seen for many a year.
*update* For a great round-up of what happened in light trucks and the market overall in May, do have a read of Bill Cawthon's more comprehensive piece: US MAY SALES: Detroit cleans up after Japanese 'quake
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