If you’d just emerged from a a decade-long slumber and stumbled upon August new car sales numbers for the U.S. market, you’d probably think we were in a time of prosperity instead of plagued by ongoing economic malaise.
After all, the domestic big three automakers posted double-digit sales growth for the month, while numbers from Toyota, Volkswagen and Kia were also impressive. Is this a sign of things to come, or can it be explained by inventory sell-downs prior to the launch of new models?
This much is clear: there are few surprises with this month’s list of winners and losers. Once again, America’s best selling vehicle was the Ford F-Series pickup, amassing sales of 58,201 units, followed by the Chevrolet Silverado, with 38,295 trucks sold.
2012 Toyota Camry
That shuffles the redesigned Toyota Camry down to third place, with 36,720 units sold. Next up was another perennial favorite sedan, the Honda Accord, which found a home with some 34,848 buyers last month.
The first crossover to make the list is the Ford Escape, which sold 28,188 copies, followed by a newcomer to the best seller list. The Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan sold 25,975 units, trailed by the Nissan Altima, which racked up 25,889 sales.
2013 Chevrolet Cruze
Ram trucks came in eighth position, selling 25,215 examples, followed by the Honda Civic at 24,897 sales. Finally, the aging-but-still-popular Toyota Corolla / Matrix found 24,311 buyers last month, rounding out the top 10.
On the flip side, the slowest-selling vehicle last month (from manufacturers who break out unit sales, anyway) was the Lexus LFA. August’s sales of two units represented a 33-percent decline from July sales, although we doubt anyone at Lexus is losing sleep over that.
Porsche’s Cayman was next, amassing just 14 sales as buyers eagerly await the revised version. Third on the list was the oddly un-marketed Mitsubishi i, which attracted just 37 electric car shoppers last month.
2012 Mitsubishi i - First Drive, U.S.-spec MiEV
Acura’s RL flagship was next, selling a scant 41 units, followed by Audi’s range-topping R8 sports car with sales of 46 copies. Another luxury repeat offender was the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class coupe, which found only 64 garages to park in last month.
Sales of Acura’s controversial ZDX have slowed to the point where it makes the list, coming in eighth place with sales of 93 units, trailed by the Jaguar XK, with 110 units placed. Finally, the tenth-worst selling car in August was the Nissan GT-R, which moved just 138 units.
2013 Nissan GT-R
Overall, we think the takeaway is this: Americans will continue to buy trucks, regardless of what gas prices do (in the short term, anyway). Likewise, Americans generally favor Japanese sedans as family cars, while sales of high-end luxury and sports cars remain slow in the current economy.
We don’t expect significant changes to the lists between now and year-end, but we’ll be back next month to give you the detailed breakout.