The Ford F-150's fall from the top of the sales stack is common knowledge, but total sales also slipped almost 16% in May. Toyota's overall numbers are down despite moving the Corolla and Camry into the top three for the month. Chrysler is down 25% compared to last year, and General Motors is doing even worse at 27.5% behind last year's figures, according to figures provided by Automotive News. It's safe to say there aren't many happy faces in Detroit right now, at Toyota or the Big Three.
The talk has been largely about how small, fuel efficient cars are replacing bigger SUVs and pickup trucks as the hot items, and that's certainly true. However, some manufacturers - primarily small-volume carmakers - not known for their economy cars are also finding bright spots in the current market's cloudy conditions.
Luxury makers did surprisingly well on sales, as did the smaller sedan and mid-size SUV makers. It appears that any company without a significant focus on pickups is doing better than the market. BMW Group, which includes Mini and Rolls-Royce, posted a sales increase of 3.1% in May, raising total sales to 31,818. On the year as a whole, however, the company is down 2.4%. Daimler AG, which includes Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach, is up 12.4% on the month and an even 10.0% on the year, though total volume was just 24,495 in May. Mazda sold similar numbers with 27,921 cars moved from dealer lots, making for an improvement of 4.2% over last year, and brining the year-to-date gain to 1.9%. Subaru's AWD line-up and revamped Impreza sedan and hatchbacks also found a sweet spot in May, jumping 13.2% for the biggest small-volume maker improvement of the month, lifting the year's tally to 4.2% above 2007.
Sedans and their makers did do well in May, and the sales numbers at the bigger carmakers reflect the growing preference in their bottom lines. Honda saw the biggest gains overall in May, rising 15.6% against May 2007 to 167,997 cars sold, nearly a third of which were Civic sedans. Combined with the Accord Sedan, the two models accounted for 57.8% of the company's total sales. Nissan saw a rise of 8.4% in May, bringing its total to 100,874 cars sold. Hyundai's 7% rise to 77,462 helped the company mitigate previous losses to bring the year's sales just 1.6% short of 2007 levels.
Notable losers besides Toyota and the Big Three include Mitsubishi, down 23.6% to just 10,430 cars sold in May. The company is also down 19.1% on the year so far, despite the new Evo's debut. Porsche is likewise down in the double digits, with a 16.5% decrease in sales for the month and 14.8% for the year.
Overall volume of the U.S. market in May reached just 1,397,410 cars sold, a 10.7% drop from May 2007. Year-to-date figures show the total is down 8.4% to 6,224,718 units. This puts the year's volume on track for sales below at or below the 15 million mark, which was considered a very conservative forecast just a few months ago - and that's if sales don't continue to slow. Standard & Poors' analysts have the year's sales pegged at 14.8 and Ford is betting the total market volume won't pass 14.7 million units, numbers that will bring the market to its lowest point in 15 years.