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2010 Sales Stats Are In: A Look At The Winners & The Losers

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If you're old enough to read this, you're old enough to remember 2009's slumping auto market. Economists and auto analysts predicted that the U.S. would see a rebound in 2010, but now that the year has drawn to a close, inquiring minds want to know: were the pundits right? Let's take a look.

The Winners

A number of automakers did very well in 2010. In Detroit, GM saw a 7.2% rise in sales, Chrysler surged 16.5%, and Ford jumped a very impressive 19.5%. Many European automakers hit their stride, too: BMW was up 12%, Mercedes, 17.3%, and VW, Audi, and Porsche bounced 20.3%, 22.9%, and 28.6%, respectively (though Porsche's volume is obviously much smaller than the other brands).

Across the Pacific, results from Japanese automakers were a little more varied: Mitsubishi saw a rise of 3.1%, Honda clocked in at 6.9%, Mazda at 10.5%, Nissan at 18%, and Subaru at 21.8%. But the Korean powerhouse of Hyundai and Kia were full-steam ahead: Kia racked up 18.7% more sales in 2010, and Hyundai, 23.7%.

As far as segments are concerned, SUVs were the big story, with mid-size SUVs surging a ginormous 42.3%. (Most other SUVs were up, too, as were crossovers.)

When the talk turns to specific model lines, it's no surprise that the Ford F-series and Chevy Silverado were #1 and #2 on the sales charts, respectively, but they didn't see the most growth. That honor goes to the Hyundai Sonata (up 63.8%), the Jeep Grand Cherokee (up 68.2%), and the Chevy Equinox, which surged a staggering 74.1%.

The Losers

Sadly, 2010 wasn't good for everyone, and several automakers saw significant fallbacks. Ending the year in negative territory were Volvo (down 12.2%) and Saab (down (37.3%), both of which suffered from public uncertainty about their fate as they were sold off from parent companies Ford and GM. (Saab also suffered from production and supply problems.) But worst of all may have been Suzuki, which saw sales plummet 38%, even as it launched its sporty new Kizashi sedan. Only Smart may have fared worse, but Daimler hasn't broken out figures on the brand just yet.

We should point out that Toyota saw a slight dip in sales, too -- down .4%, but given its huge volume (over 1.7 million units) and last year's unsavory recall fiasco, it's impressive that the company maintained as well as it did.

On the segment front, the only real losers were large cars (down .7%) and small SUVs (down .5%). As gas prices continue to rise (or threaten to do so), we're guessing the former will continue to slip, but the latter may recover.

The Bottom Line

Now that the dust has begun to settle, it appears that the U.S. auto market did see a rebound in 2010. Consumers were in the mood to shop (thanks in part to loosening credit restrictions), and as long as automakers weren't facing PR problems (as Toyota, Saab, and Volvo were), chances were good that they'd have folks in the showroom. In all, sales of cars and light trucks totaled 11,588,783 -- up an impressive 11.1% over 2009's 10,430,752. That's in keeping with projections about short- and mid-term recovery that Bengt discussed last week.

We'll keep an eye on these numbers as the real economists begin to weigh in. Stay tuned.

[MotorIntelligence]

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Comments (6)
  1. A slightly disingenuous article, glossing over the Toyota fiasco.
    Sure, Toyota's overall sales were reported down 0.7% (above), but while talking about specific nameplates of other brands, the author gives favoritism to Toyota by NOT reporting that Toyota's 2 best sellers - the Camry and Corolla - each had an approximate 10% drop in sales.
    I'd expect better of TCC, and proper editing would have caught this.
     
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  2. It is matter of time to see Hyundai to reach the top five.
    Expectation for Chrysler sales to leap to either number four or the third spot in 2011; by Fiat and another brand to the mix.
    and another added brand coming soon.
     
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  3. Well if this numbers for Toyota are your concern, I have news for you: GM, Ford & Chrrysler have a big porcentage of their sales on vehicles that they sold to rent-a car & goverment agencies, NOT to particulars...So, numbers for the big three are not as good as it shows, neither.
     
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  4. Seems to me Pedro that a sale is a sale regardless of who it went to. What these numbers say to me is that the big three are making what we want and the quality is as good if not better than the "Foriegn" companies. Hyundai makes a good product with great design and alot of customer loyalty, they are alot like saturn was...(remember them?)
     
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  5. @Jon: Point taken -- though since this was just meant to be a summary of the stats, there are lots of items I left out of this article. For example: it's true that Camry and Corolla sales were down 8.1% and 10.4%, respectively, but on the other hand, the Prius was up .9%, and the RAV4 saw a very healthy 14.6% growth. So although Toyota definitely had a bumpy ride last year, it wasn't all downhill. If you read the stat sheets closely, you'll see that I'm not trying to play favorites; I'm just trying to pull out some general trends.
     
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  6. 'Saturn' and 'great design' in the same sentence. Perish the thought. Poorly made rubbish. Panel gaps you could stick your fingers through. About as reliable as a dead dog. Atrocious handling. Everything that was wrong with North American auto manufacturing.
    I remember them attempting to flog them in Japan when I was living there. If ever there was an exercise in futility, that was it. I was left awestruck at the insularity and sheer ignorance of the Saturn folk - they thought a snazzy ad campaign would help them sell.
    Locally made cars are on the up, because when you are down, the only way (usually) is up. And yes, plenty of gov fleet sales boost figures.
    Still a lot of awful dross in the American offerings, and most are only barely catching up to the global leaders in handling, quality, reliability and value for money. However, look abroad for innovation, technical excellence design leadership. A long way to go for American auto companies before they can claim to be setting benchmarks, unless it's for oversized, over-compensating SUVs and trucks.
     
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