New car sales in October recovered from the summer break, boosted by pent-up demand for new models and a better choice than the Japanese brand cars after a devastating earthquake last spring. If the rebound continues, automakers will close this year with their best sales since 2008.
Unlike previous years, however, when import-brand vehicles dominate list of best-selling car in America, this year has seen an increase in popularity for domestic models. Six of the 10 most popular vehicles in America until October which is made by General Motors, Ford Motor or Chrysler Group, compared with only three years ago. Falling from the Top 10 is the Honda Civic and CR-V, two perennial favorites whose sales have been hurt by natural disasters in Asia, and the Hyundai Sonata, which nudged the more popular vehicles from Ford and GM. Pushing their way into the Top 10 are the Ford Fusion and Escape, and a new compact GM, Chevrolet Cruze.
No doubt the Detroit car companies benefit from the misery of their Japanese rivals. Toyota has been running for almost two years - first because of the quality of recall and then for lack of spare parts caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March. While struggling Toyota, Honda seems adrift, offers a boring vehicle that failed to capitalize on market opportunities. Then, also was forced to stop production in North America due to supply chain problems following the earthquake. The disaster struck as Honda launched its redesigned Civic. Now get ready to launch a new CR-V, but it could be delayed due to lack of spare parts caused by monsoons in Thailand.
Stepping into the void, of course, GM, Ford and Chrysler, with fuel-efficient vehicles that improve quality and more attractive styling and features. GM's Chevy Cruze is a good example. It hit the market in late 2010 with prices ranging from $ 16,525 and has turned into a barn-burner for GM, selling more than 202,000 this year. It features 10 air bags, stability control and traction control, and gets 38 mpg on the highway with the optional engine turbo-charged 1.4-liter Ecotec. Sales of the Toyota Corolla, meanwhile, dropped 11 percent so far this year. Still outsells Toyota compact Cruze, but only by about 1,000 vehicles, and the Cruze could overtake the Corolla by the end of this year to become the best-selling compact car country.
Likewise, the Ford Fusion midsize sedan and even utility vehicle Escape, which is scheduled for a makeover next year, has found a larger audience during the market turmoil.
Seasonally adjusted sales rate for August was 13.3 million vehicles, according to Autodata of Woodcliff Lake, NJ, with strong double-digit gains posted by Chrysler, Volkswagen, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Ford Motor and General Motors saw a more modest gains (6 percent and 2 percent, respectively). Toyota Motor Sales fell 8 percent, while Honda dropped 0.5 percent.
Ford F-series pickup (1), and GM's Chevrolet Silverado (2) the sale of American champs, as they have for years. Best-selling Toyota Camry passenger cars remained, although sales of the aging model is off 8.5% so far this year due to earthquake-related disorders. A redesigned 2012 Camry went on sale, which could help Toyota back on track.