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Best Selling Cars of 2008

I’m certainly not here to defend the big three US auto makers or to say that the huge hole they’ve dug for themselves isn’t completely justified, but I find it interesting that so many people are criticizing the companies for not listening to car buyers.  “If they listened to the consumer,” so many say, “they’d be building smaller cars.”

On the surface, this seems like a reasonable point of view, but the numbers don’t completely back this up.  In December of last year, three of the top ten selling vehicles in the US were trucks.  Yup, big fat American pickups.  And, five of the top ten vehicles were American.  Now, while there’s reasonable argument that American manufacturers should dominate this list, five out of ten isn’t horrible (I suspect, by the way, that sales of the Impala are probably driven by fleet purchases – this isn’t a negative, loads of Camry’s and Accords are also sold into fleets).  I also think this indicates that the companies were, in fact, listening to the buying public who was clamoring for pickups.  Keep in mind that half of Toyota’s products are trucks (and SUVs) and they are not on the list.

December 2008’s Top 10 Best-Selling Cars

  • Ford F-Series: 41,580
  • Chevy Silverado: 33,340
  • Toyota Camry: 25,275
  • Honda Accord: 22,348
  • Toyota Corolla: 22,129
  • Chevy Impala: 21,148
  • Chevy Malibu: 17,355
  • Nissan Altima: 17,311
  • Honda Civic: 17,302
  • Dodge Ram: 16,618

For the year, the leading pickups from the Big 3 are on the top ten list (the Ford F-150 is at the top of both lists as it has been for a zillion years), but America’s contribution to the list drops to 4/6.

The Top 10 Best-Selling Cars of 2008

  • Ford F-Series: 515,513
  • Chevy Silverado: 465,065
  • Toyota Camry: 436,617
  • Honda Accord: 372,789
  • Toyota Corolla: 351,007
  • Honda Civic: 339,289
  • Nissan Altima: 269,668
  • Chevy Impala: 265,840
  • Dodge Ram: 245,840
  • Honda CR-V: 197,279

As I’ve discussed before, while there are loads of real reasons that American cars don’t occupy the majority of slots on the list, the primary reason is the crappy perception Americans have of the quality of products from the Big 3. This perception comes from the fact that GM, Ford and Chrysler built garbage vehicles for almost two decades starting in the late 70s/early 80s.  Most people won’t cut these companies any slack and give their new offerings a spin, however, so recent products from Detroit haven’t gotten their fair shake or a chance to change people’s opinions.

My guess (and hope) is that the top ten list for 2009 will include more American cars, the same pickup trucks.  Some of this will be driven purely by economics – American cars are once again cheaper than market-comparable vehicles from other countries and exchange rates aren’t helping foreign manufacturers.  Some of this will happen because, inevitably, people will once again give American cars a chance and word will spread.  Of course, I expect the overall totals to be down significantly.


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 January 20th, 2009  
 Will  
 Stuff with a Motor  
   
 10 Comments

10 Responses to Best Selling Cars of 2008

  1. the day one of the big three makes a rival to the mercedes benz s-class is the day i’ll take any of their cars as seriously as i take their trucks

  2. the day one of the big three makes a rival to the mercedes benz s-class is the day i’ll take any of their cars as seriously as i take their trucks

  3. Henry,

    Big sedans *should* be the domain of American auto producers, but you’re right, they don’t even come close. Taking on the S-Class, 7-Series or A8 doesn’t even seem to be a target.

    I don’t know if I’d go as far as throwing the baby out with the bathwater, though. I can see the Americans making headway into other, more popular segments of the industry and being able to “take them seriously” for particular types of cars.

  4. Henry,

    Big sedans *should* be the domain of American auto producers, but you’re right, they don’t even come close. Taking on the S-Class, 7-Series or A8 doesn’t even seem to be a target.

    I don’t know if I’d go as far as throwing the baby out with the bathwater, though. I can see the Americans making headway into other, more popular segments of the industry and being able to “take them seriously” for particular types of cars.

  5. Issue is Mercedes, Audi, BMW are insanely expensive cars I mean I cant afford them but as far as American goes I think they have come a long way especially Ford I would buy a Ford any day for less then any Japanese car.

  6. Issue is Mercedes, Audi, BMW are insanely expensive cars I mean I cant afford them but as far as American goes I think they have come a long way especially Ford I would buy a Ford any day for less then any Japanese car.

  7. Jason,

    Agreed. It’s hard to beat the value that American cars represent these days. And I agree about Fords/Lincolns – some nice styling wrapped around very good platforms.

  8. Jason,

    Agreed. It’s hard to beat the value that American cars represent these days. And I agree about Fords/Lincolns – some nice styling wrapped around very good platforms.

  9. Henry,

    check out the new tarus SHO

  10. Henry,

    check out the new tarus SHO

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