On September 22nd, the season transitions to the Southward Equinox. Spelling the end of summer in the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere residents enter (often with reluctance) into autumn or otherwise known as fall. Having created nearly 10 months of memories in 2012, the good as well as bad moves made this year is now weighed down by a season that will turn the air colder and the shortening span of sunlight will leave us finding warm solace in positives.
In the United States automobile industry, this year has presented a field of experiences that are likewise as diverse as the feelings we have felt. With many successes with domestic and import automotive brands all seeming to have some highlight in their lineup, 2012 has also been a rough year for certain once-popular products. The present automotive landscape offers a brilliant assortment of cars, trucks and crossover vehicles that seemingly cater to every motoring appetite. The past several pasts have seen automakers getting very clever in the experimentation of size and capabilities. In case of several vehicles that have so far flopped in 2012 sales, there is a price to be paid for being too clever. Whether affected by changing American driving tastes of this year, increased competition or through other means, the first 8 months of auto sales have unveiled several vehicles experiencing a considerable drop in United States demand.
The following four vehicles are some of the more extreme examples of vehicles that have apparently lost favour in the United States:
US Sales Drop in August 2012 Compared to Previous Year Term: 36.3%
Buick survived the 2009 consolidation of General Motors firmly positioning itself between Chevrolet and Cadillac in the car brand lineup. With Buick’s popularity in the highly important China market helping to leverage promise for the 109-year old carmaker, General Motors has been making every attempt to assist regaining similar fame in North America. Released in 2011, the famous Buick moniker Regal returned in order to promote a new way of looking at the United States upscale vehicle market.
Based on the Opel Insignia sedan, Buick touted the European inspiration as a primary selling point for what would become their mid-sized car offering when the Verano was introduced this year. Connecting well with customers, 40,144 Buick Regal sedans were sold during the 2011 calendar year. Presenting eAssist technology and a GS model equipped with a 270-horsepower Ecotec engine, the 2012 model year was fall of promise for the mid-sized sedan. However, as of the end of August 2012, sales of the Buick Regal have taken a drop of almost 11,000 vehicles compared to the same time a year ago. Some of the loss in Regal sales could be the results of the slight smaller Buick Verano’s launch that has currently amounted to over 25,000 vehicles produced.
Seeking to curb sales charts back into an upward direction, General Motors has recently indicated the Regal will be one of 9 Buick or GMC models that will undergo a redesign in the next 12 months.
US Sales Drop in August 2012 Compared to Previous Year Term: 59.9%
For many years, North American buyers had been begging Japanese automaker Nissan to send the unique utility vehicle called the Cube across the Pacific Ocean. In late 2009, the wish was granted as the funky looking small Nissan Cube arrived for sale attracting a niche market status in retail and commercial arenas. However, 3 years since its arrival in North America, it appears that the Nissan Cube is now out of shape.
While the overall sales volume of Nissan North America has taken a 7.6 percent uptick, sales volume of the Cube has tanked in the first 8 months of 2012. Down 59.9 percent over the previous year, only 5,797 examples of the Nissan Cube left dealerships up to the end of August. The downward trail in sales is considered even more alarming since, like most Japanese-built vehicles, the Nissan Cube’s production was affected by the Earthquake and Tsunami.
Usually a sure-fire sign that either a major change or discontinuation awaits a vehicle, Nissan has slashed choices for the Cube in the 2013 model year. The base and Indigo Limited Edition have been removed from the 2013 lineup alongside the Cargo Version Package.
US Sales Drop in August 2012 Compared to Previous Year Term: 67.6%
The first major automaker to bring a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle to the United States, Honda gave motorists in the Americas their first taste of high fuel efficiency driving with the three-door Insight. Abandoning the dedicated hybrid car line in 2006, Honda would reintroduce the Insight in 2009 as a five-door hatchback against arch competition Toyota began to gain traction with the Prius. One year later, an attempt to excite the image of their gasoline-electric hybrid with a three-door was revealed by Honda borrowing inspiration from the classic CR-X sport compact.
In the Honda CR-Z, the tribute to the CR-X radiates heavily in its design. However, while the CR-Z looks the part of a performance car, the 122-horsepower output from the combined efforts of electric motor and gasoline engine leaves much to be desired for meaningful speed. Despite the sport hybrid theme playing as somewhat lame for some performance car fans, the Honda CR-Z Initial global demand two years ago was three times higher than anticipated. Selling 9,635 examples in the United States for the first 8 months of 2011, the 2012 sales year has seen the hybrid sport compact take a huge 67.6 percent plunge in sales. With just 3,126 Honda CR-Zs sold up to the end of August of this year in the United States, the magnitude of the sales drop is equal to its sister vehicle the Insight.
The CR-Z could be a casualty of Honda’s new hybrid and electrified vehicle strategy that will include a plug-in hybrid Accord in the near future.
US Sales Drop in August 2012 Compared to Previous Year Term: 25.7%
Part of Ford Motor Company’s global brand lineup since 1976, the subcompact Fiesta has been a source of great pride for the Blue Oval badge in Europe. In the aftermath of 2008’s sudden gas price surge and a major economic slowdown, Ford decided the time has come to bring the B-segment Fiesta to North America. The Ford Fiesta was previously sold in the late 1970s but lasted a short three-year run. The early 2010 arrival of the Ford Fiesta was to counter the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa as well as provide some room for the then-upcoming 2012 Focus to achieve higher strata in the compact car arena.
Upon introduction, Ford made sure the subcompact car would provide buyers with an experience that lived up to the vehicle’s name. Presenting a large assortment of optional equipment as well as many factory-authorized custom accessories, the new Ford Fiesta sedan and hatchback launched with a party-like reception in mid-2010. Two years passing since the arrival of the Fiesta, the celebration has taken a more subtle tone in the United States. Selling 53,258 units by the end of August in 2011, the Ford Fiesta sales after the first 8 months of 2012 is down near 13,700 vehicles. In the past year, the subcompact market had become a place saturated with several all-new products including the Chevrolet Sonic as well as refreshed versions of the Kia Rio and Nissan Versa.
Changes slated in the 2013 model year for the Fiesta will simplify the trim levels ahead of Ford’s 2014 redesign of the vehicle.
Information source: American Honda Motor Company, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Nissan North America
Photo source: Chris Nagy, Ford Motor Company, General Motors