U.S. car sales numbers are coming in, and if you’ve been following the ongoing disasters in autodom, there won’t be too many surprises here. The best news came in December, as things began to improve, particularly for Ford, Toyota, and Hyundai.
For Audi, December saw sales up 17.1 percent, and the company claimed “the biggest 2009 U.S. market share gain of any imported luxury car brand,” which translates to around 8 percent of the U.S. lux-car market. People also bought more TDI diesels, Q7s and A3s, in 2009. As the table below shows, Audi sales were down 5.7 percent for the year, which surely ain’t bad, all things considered.
|2009 Sales, Top 10 (%)*
||2009 Sales, Bottom 10 (%)*
|*adapted from Autospies figures; see also Inside Line.|
Can you believe Subaru finished up 15 percent? There is a story here that nobody in the auto press has properly covered (at least that I’ve seen).
In Japan, the bestselling car by far was the Toyota Prius, up nearly 300 percent over a year ago, with 208,876 vehicles sold. The Honda Fit was way behind in second place with 157,324 cars; the Toyota Vitz was third with 117,655. Of the other hybrids, Honda’s Insight was fifth, with 93,283 cars sold. Let us remember, as TTAC author Bertel Schmitt pointed out, hybrids are tax-exempt in Japan.
Our lead prognosticator tgriffith noted today that unless gas prices start climbing again, which is doubtful, hybrids and micro cars will be a tough sell. It’s hard to believe that the Prius will continue to zoom ahead in Japan, where the market must be nearing saturation. In the U.S., however, my humble opinion is that there is room to grow, and green cars will become a more viable niche. It all depends on whether the companies are willing to put serious money into marketing them.
Can and should auto industry leaders do more to promote green cars? Will green cars make them more green (money)?