Monday, July 16, 2007

Brands that made our day, and didn't, in '07

John K. Teahen Jr. is the senior editor of Automotive News.


John K. Teahen Jr.
Automotive News
July 16, 2007 - 12:01 am

It's the midway point of 2007, so let's have a look at brand-by-brand sales to see who's hot and who's not this year. With apologies to Clint Eastwood, we call our rating system The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good are those that have exceeded their 2006 sales; the Bad are down, but no more than 1.5 percent, which was the first-half decline for the entire U.S. market. The Ugly are down more than 1.5 percent.

Seventeen brands earned a Good rating - headed by Saturn, up a rousing 21.4 percent on the strength of the new Aura sedan, Sky roadster and Outlook crossover. Next in line were Mitsubishi, up 20.6 percent (credit the Lancer and Outlander); Lincoln, up 14.5 percent on the shoulders of the MKX crossover; and Jeep, up 13.4 percent with the new Wrangler four-door carrying the load.

The Bad category was small in number in the first half - only three entries: Land Rover, off 0.1 percent (21 units); Volkswagen, down 1.0 percent; and Mini, a loss of 1.3 percent.

The Ugly class was equally as crowded as the Good segment, with 17 brands that performed worse than the market as a whole. The ugliest of all was Scion, down 28.9 percent. Scion is in the midst of a model changeover.

Buick, which has no such excuse, plunged 27.9 percent. And Jaguar continued its free fall, down 27.4 percent.

Two of the Detroit 3 belonged in the Ugly category. Sales of domestic vehicles dove 11.3 percent at Ford Motor Co. and 6.8 percent at General Motors. Chrysler group sales declined 1.5 percent. For each company, some of the decline was due to fewer sales to car rental companies.

How many for 2007?

First-half sales this year totaled 8,248,420. So how many new cars and light trucks will be sold in the full year?

Try 16,320,578.

No crystal ball involved. In the past 10 years, the first half has brought in 50.54 percent of the year's sales. Apply that number to first-half sales and you get 16,320,578 for the year. Quod erat demonstrandum, as the old Romans used to say when they weren't busy throwing Christians to the lions.

Tundra on schedule

Toyota's new and much-ballyhooed Tundra had up to $3,500 on the hood.

So the Tundra is less than Toyota expected, right? Well, look at it this way: Toyota set a sales goal of 200,000 a year for its new full-sized pickup. That's 16,667 a month. May sales were 17,727, just over quota. But June sales were a smashing 21,727. In other words, the Tundra is up to snuff in just five months on the market.

Cars vs. trucks

Light-truck sales increased their mastery over car sales in the first half of this year. Trucks held 50.8 percent of the U.S. market, compared with 50.4 percent at the midpoint of 2006.

You can blame the Detroit 3 for the slippage. The car market was down 98,726 units so far this year. Detroit 3 car sales were down 210,958.

It is, unfortunately, another indication that what goes around, comes around. The Detroit 3 quit on cars in the 1980s and 1990s in favor of pickups and SUVs. They are trying to get back in the car game now, but it's tough when you don't have the product.

You may e-mail John K. Teahen Jr. at

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
The Good
First-half sales higher than in 2006
6 mos. 2007 % change
Toyota Division12.4
BMW division5.4
Honda Division4.7
Nissan Division3.9
Hyundai division1.1
The Bad
First-half sales down 1.5% or less
6 mos. 2007 % change
Land Rover–0.1
Volkswagen division
The Ugly
First-half sales down more than 1.5%
6 mos. 2007 % change
Source: Automotive News Data Center

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