Not Hot: 2009 Pontiac G3 Is Slowest Selling Car in America

June 15, 2009

Some times I like to get lost in numbers. For example, just a few weeks ago I posted a story on the 20 Best Selling Vehicles in May. Now it's time for a different take. Call it schadenfreude, that funny German word used to describe the enjoyment one gets from an other's misfortune.

While browsing through an issue of Automotive News (you can get an online subscription, you know), I came across a chart often placed near the back of the issues. The chart is titled "Inventory - U.S. Car and Light Truck." Simple enough. The column I looked through was "Days supply - May 1, 2009." The figures list how many days, at the current sales rate, it would take for all of a particular model to be sold.

Of course, hot cars are in demand, so there are fewer of them around. The dogs nobody wants are in plentiful supply. Low numbers are good. High numbers are bad. During more normal times, having an average of around 60-days supply was considered acceptable.

The Biggest Losers  I identified include:

  1. 2009 Pontiac G3; 608 day supply
  2. 2009 Pontiac G5; 544 day supply
  3. 2009 Chevrolet Aveo; 381 day supply
  4. 2008 Chrysler Crossfire; 262 day supply
  5. 2009 Dodge Avenger; 262 day supply
  6. 2009 Mitsubishi Galant; 282 day supply
  7. 2009 Pontiac Solstice; 261 day supply
  8. 2009 Mazda RX8; 241 day supply
  9. 2009 Saturn Sky; 236 day supply
  10. 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse; 225 day supply

Schadenfreude indeed.

So what can you take away from this list? First, Pontiac is going to need some really heavy incentives to rid their disappearing dealers of the all-new-for-2009 subcompact G3. That car stands out as a poster child for the major problems General Motors created for itself. In a perfect world, Pontiac (GM's one-time performance division) should have never fielded economy car. Unfortunately, GM's large dealer network required that Pontiac be a full-line brand to help individual franchises maintain profitability.

Another GM blunder is the Pontiac G5. The logic for that car mirrors that for the G3.

The market has spoken: Pontiac's G8 has only a 148 day supply, and a recent interview with a Detroit-area Pontiac dealer said that his G8 GXP models were going for MSRP. Where's John Delorean when you need him?

Obviously, the market doesn't care much for the G3's twin either -- the 2009 Chevrolet Aveo. While Chevy struggles to pump out the last of 20,000 pre-sold 2010 Camaro models, Aveo sedans and Aveo5 hatchbacks sit around unwanted. Maybe this will change as gas edges back over $3/per gallon?

Chrysler takes the next two spots, and one isn't even a current model, the 2008 Chrysler Crossfire. According to the data, there are still 300 unsold units on dealer lots across the country.

Sporty cars that editors enjoy from time to time fill out the list. The Solstice/Sky twins, even with their ability to generate good MPG, make the Top 10. The reason? I believe it's because of their lack of practicality (hardly any storage) and the complex top mechanism. By comparison, the more usable Mazda MX-5 has just a 51-day supply. Referencing Mazda, the RX8 is getting kind of old, which isn't a benefit when you're a halo performance icon for your brand, hence it's #8 positioning.

And what's to be said about the Mitsubishis? It seems that the entire organization is having trouble, because when you look at the data by manufacturer, Mitsubishi has the highest average day supply of any at 134 days. By comparison, BMW has the leanest stock situation, with only 51 days on hand.

So what vehicle has the least days stock on hand? That award goes to the Ford E-Series/Club Wagon, with only 21 days on hand. Numbers are funny things, and it's because Ford has reduced van production so that these bread boxes wouldn't be sitting around like G3s when their new 2010 Ford Transit Connect becomes available.

As for a more mainstream vehicles, the Honda Civic ranks near the top of the list with a 46-day supply followed closely at 48-days for the Ford Fusion. Showing that something is selling from Chrysler LLC, the Dodge Challenger shows a solid 54-day inventory.  This final fact bolsters my argument that if the market hadn't tanked, the combination of the new Challenger with the new Ram 1500 would have saved Chrysler....

This is what getting lost in numbers leads to.

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