Name the Top 10 in the auto sales game
John K. Teahen Jr. is senior editor of Automotive News
In this sports-mad nation, we are obsessed with rankings. If your college football or basketball team is in the Top 10, you know it's one of the country's elite squads.
The same is true of the minor sports such as soccer, volleyball, lacrosse and hockey and with individual endeavors such as tennis and golf.
So why doesn't the Top 10 mania extend to auto industry sales, which are certainly as competitive as any of the games mentioned above? I wish I had an answer, but I don't. It's a fact, though, that in new-car and -truck sales, only the leader is celebrated.
I think it's about time to recognize the other guys, the brands that make up the rest of the Top 10. Among the Detroit 3, that's easy because they offer only 10 brands -- four for General Motors, four for Chrysler Group (now that Ram trucks are considered a separate make) and two for Ford Motor Co.
For the first five months of this year, Ford holds an overpowering sales lead over Chevrolet — 117,197 units. You might as well pack up the winner's trophy and send it to Dearborn. Ford had 898,761 unit sales for five months; Chevy, 781,564.
There's a steep dropoff among the domestic brands after the two big boys. Dodge is third with 217,263 followed by Jeep, GMC, Chrysler, Ram, Buick, Cadillac and Lincoln. Several changes in position from last year: Jeep moved up to fourth; GMC fell to fifth; Chrysler rose to sixth; and Ram dropped to seventh.
The import-badged brands are more fun to rank. The Automotive News sales tables lists 29 brands. I imagine most auto folks could name the three best-sellers without any trouble -- Toyota, Honda and Nissan. But how about the rest of the Top 10?
Here they are: Hyundai is fourth followed by Kia, Volkswagen, Subaru, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Trucks only? Try this lineup: Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda, Jeep, Nissan, GMC, Ram, Dodge and Kia.
In case you're interested, here are the Top 10 brands for the U.S. market, Detroit 3 and imports combined, for the first five months of 2012: Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Dodge, Jeep and Volkswagen.
The ups and downs
In January-May of this year, 28 of the 34 major brands reported sales increases. Automotive News considers a make with sales of 1,000 or more a month to be a major brand.
Fiat posted a gain of 432 percent, selling five times as many cars as last year, but Fiat was just entering the U.S. market a year ago. Other major gainers were Chrysler, up 77 percent; Volkswagen, 36 percent; Jeep, 29 percent; Toyota, 25 percent; and Subaru, 22 percent.
Year-to-year losers were Mitsubishi, down 23 percent; Cadillac, off 22 percent; Buick, 9 percent; Volvo, 6 percent; Suzuki, 4 percent, and Lincoln, 1 percent.
Pity the poor Cadillac dealer. The DTS (DeVille) and STS (Seville) are gone, and the single replacement for them -- the XTS -- is just now being shipped to dealers. The CTS has been Cadillac's only car line for months.
In next month's SalesTales column, I will make my sales prediction for 2012. Since Jan. 1, sales guesses have been swirling around the industry like a tornado above a cornfield. Some experts, or would-be experts, think a new estimate is called for each time the monthly sales figures are reported. I don't play that game. I make one prediction and stick to it.
Last year, I guessed 12.6 million. The final tally was 12.8 million, so I missed by 1.6 percent.
I'm waiting for someone to say, "That ain't bad."
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