In what some in the industry were hoping was going to be a “bounce back” year for new car sales, for some current on-sale models, the first 10 months of 2011 have been anything but.
Between the natural disasters in Japan and Thailand that shut down assembly and parts plants around the world, and lingering global economic concerns, some new car models have suffered major sales drop-offs compared to the same period last year.
Here are the top 10 sales losers in Canada through the end of October:
10. (tie) Acura TSX, Ford Flex — Down 41%*
The Acura TSX compact sports sedan has never challenged segment sales leaders like the BMW 3 Series. But the made-in-Japan car’s limited availability this year saw its sales drop down to only 1,036 units.
The Ford Flex three-row’s Ontario plant never closed this year. But buyers continued to stay away from a vehicle that’s neither a minivan nor an SUV.
With only 2,483 examples sold this year, the Flex is Ford’s worst-seller.
9. Honda Fit — Down 42%
You can’t blame the product for flailing Fit sales, down to only 2,719 units sold in 2011.
Despite newer competition from Ford, Hyundai, Kia and Mazda — among others — the subcompact Honda four-door hatchback still ranks high in its class when it comes to roominess, flexible cargo space, build quality, fuel-efficiency and fun factor.
8. (tie) GMC Yukon, Lincoln MKT — Down 47%
It’s hard to blame the disasters in Japan or Thailand for the sales slumps of these two large, North American-made cars (the Yukon in the U.S., the MKT in the same Ontario plant as the Ford Flex).
Except for the discontinued Town Car, with only 424 sold this year, the MKT — the Lincoln version of Ford’s Flex — is the least popular model in the Ford luxury brand’s showroom, as is the full-size Yukon SUV, with only 874 units moved.
7. (tie) Toyota Prius, Lexus GS — Down 48%
This pair of Toyotas share similar sales declines, but for different reasons.
With only 1,440 copies sold this year, the Prius hybrid got hit with the double-whammy of production shortages due to the Japanese manufacturing crisis this year, and slowing sales of hybrids in general.
The mid-size Lexus GS sports sedan (only 112 sold this year) was also hit by production woes this year, and by Lexus’s heavy promotion of the next-generation GS, due early next year.
6. Nissan 370Z — Down 49%
Never a high volume model to begin with, Nissan’s two-seat sports car has found only 420 buyers so far in 2011.
Like the also-made-in-Japan Honda Fit, it’s not like the Zed car is a bad ride.
In fact, it’s a great performance bargain if you’re looking at a Porsche Cayman or base-model 911 Carrera.
But you can blame the limited supply due to plant closures earlier in the year for the slide in Z-car sales.
5. Honda Ridgeline — down 54%
Despite a report in Automotive News that Honda’s mid-size pickup is not long for this world and might be replaced by a compact pickup/lifestyle vehicle based on the compact CR-V chassis, the automaker has officially said, “To the contrary, Ridgeline has a significant role in the Honda lineup and it is expected to continue in the foreseeable future.”
Unless something changes in the marketplace, the U.S.-made Ridgeline’s future seems to be destined as a low-volume model.
Only slightly revised since its introduction in 2005, Honda Canada sold only 1,314 copies this year.
4. Lexus HS 250h — Down 55%
Like the Prius it’s based upon, the little Lexus hybrid sedan’s sales have tumbled this year, with only 280 units sold.
And, like the Ridgeline, the HS 250h’s future has come into question.
Ward’s Auto is reporting that Toyota is looking to kill the HS 250h after sales in the U.S. dropped nearly 73 per cent compared to the same period last year.
3. Honda Insight — Down 76%
For 2012, Honda is rejigging the Insight’s exterior styling, upgrading interior materials, adding a bit more room inside, and claiming the five-passenger, four-door hatchback is less noisy.
With only 232 copies sold so far this year, these changes — and more availability — should help the Japan-made Insight post better sales results over the next 12 months.
2. Acura ZDX — Down 82%
I guess there really is a limit to the number of four-passenger, SUV/coupes you can sell.
Despite being priced more than $10k less than a $66,650 BMW X6 xDrive 35i — the Acura’s only direct rival — the ZDX crossover-cum-coupe’s sales have never met expectations.
And so far this year, sales have been worse.
With only 111 units sold through the end of October (compared to the 908 copies of the equally irrational X6 that have been moved in Canada), the ZDX is verging on either collector car status or the soon-to-be-cancelled list.
1. Nissan Cube — Down 85%
I still like the Cube as an economical (prices start at $17,598), fuel efficient (rated as low as 6.3 L/100 km on highway with available CVT), and surprisingly roomy and manoeuvreable urban driving machine.
Yet as the 10th Japan-made model on this list, once again, the manufacturing crisis in Japan this year has severely limited the supply of the box-on-wheels compact Cube.
By this time last year, Nissan had sold almost 2,500 Cubes, almost 10 times the amount (only 385) moved this year.
*All figures from Automotive News Data Center and Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada and company sources.