The annual sales figures are in! I could recount which vehicles were the best sellers in the nation, but I'd rather concentrate on how last year's main vehicle review subjects fared in 2011. Also, I try to analyze how each vehicle could fare in the coming year.
NISSAN ROGUE – 124,543: Sales for Nissan's small-ish high riding crossover jumped 25% from 2010 to become the brand's (and Nissan’s North America's) second-best selling model. It is a heck of an accomplishment considering the challenges the company had throughout the year. The Rogue is a basic and competent crossover for starter families or empty nesters. It will continue its pace in 2012, though the competition is getting better by the month.
KIA OPTIMA – 84,590: In 2010, Kia sold just over 25,000 Optimas. Everyone knew the new family sedan was going to be a hit. Being a bit devilish embracing some sportiness and chutzpah, selling almost 85,000 units was apropos for Kia. There is talk is moving production to their West Point, Georgia facility. If they do that, I would expect Kia to hit over 100,000 units in 2012 with this beauty. Then again, there’s more in store with the competition heating up in the family sedan segment.
TOYOTA COROLLA – 240,259: This came as a partial shock as one would think that its newer competitors would conquest sales from the old war horse. In comparison with 2010, Corolla sales saw a 10% decrease. Yet, it outsold the Chevrolet Cruze, making it still relevant in the segment. It proves that people in this country will still buy a tried, tested and true car over a new-fangled one.
LEXUS IS 250 C – 29,669 (Total of all IS models): Once seen as the one of the BMW 3-Series' biggest rivals, the mighty may have slipped a bit. From 2010, the IS line took a 13.4% decrease. Yet, selling below 30,000 units is not the end of the world. There is talk a new IS forthcoming, but it's only talk at this point. The IS can still do the job – it just needs buyers to see how tried and true – and sporty – it is.
FIAT 500 – 19,769: There were hopes that it would sell much more, but a few things held back this lovely subcompact. Fiat studios are still opening up across the country, while the Abarth awaits its showroom debut at any moment. Also, the NHTSA crash tests were not as encouraging as the ones done by the IIHS. For the 500 to gain momentum in 2012, marketing needs to be aggressive and more outlets need to be open to welcome this nice alternative to the MINI hardtop and convertible, along with other three-door fun-to-drive subcompacts.
BUICK REGAL – 40,144: The number may seem reasonable, but you'd think Buick would have sold more of its smallest sedan. With production shifted to Oshawa and the GS has begun to arrive at dealerships, there is an expectation that Regal sales will grow in 2012. It has one small problem though – the Verano. Yet, one would think that the Verano would compliment Regal sales, not gut them. After all, the Regal is the reigning VOTY…why would it sell more than 40K in 2012?
CHEVROLET SILVERADO 2500HD – 415,130 (Total of all Silverados): Chevy's truck is the second-best selling vehicle in the USA and GM's biggest seller. Yet, it begs the question of whether it could hold up this volume until the new version arrives in a year or two. It is still a good truck and has plenty of advantages over the Ford F-Series and RAM pickups.
GMC ACADIA – 79,288: Though sales grew by 16% from 2010, the Acadia relinquished its second position in the brand to a smaller product. Throughout the year, it held its own as the balancer between the two remaining full-sized Lambda crossovers and having the Denali version on board certainly helped matters at GMC showrooms. I certainly agree this is the better of the three Lambdas overall. Fingers are being crossed for the updated versions coming within the year.
HYUNDAI ELANTRA – 186,361: Perhaps deep down inside I was hoping Hyundai's compact would sell more. The model had its best sales year ever, which is a truly a victory for quite a good car. There were some challenges, such as the shift in production to Montgomery, Alabama and a gap in supply to meet demand for the model. This coming year should be another good one for the Elantra, as it is very competitive with the segment. Don't count this one out!
CHEVROLET CRUZE – 231,732: Here's the news: This is the second-best selling vehicle at GM in 2011! In two months out of this past year, the Cruze was the best selling passenger car in this country. Can you say "success story?" Now, all it has to do for 2012 is to continue bringing compact buyers to the showrooms by equalizing supply with demand.
SAAB 9-5 – 1,396 (through November, 2011): It is not worth noting the events of last month that put Saab's automotive unit in the hands of the courts. The fact is that only a handful found the 9-5 to their liking, but I had to question whether this number if for real or not. It appears to be the only number out there amongst the plethora of news sources. It's been said that there will be a final build this month of about 100 units to meet final deliveries before the company is available for purchase again. There are also other units on dealer lots worth buying – some going on a fire sale. It's still a good car – a shame, really.
SCION tC – 22,433: Though the annual sales number seems rather small, it is somewhat of a win for Toyota’s cool brand. On the flip side, it indicates a change in the habits of consumers in the $20K range. There seems to be fewer that want sport coupes, despite the tC being very practical and roomy. It could see more of the same in 2012, but never pass this one up if you are considering an inexpensive, fun machine.
GMC TERRAIN – 83,179: While the Sierra enjoys being the brand's best selling spot, the Terrain is slotted right under it. Sales did increase by 37.4% from 2010. The segment will continue to be competitive, but the Terrain is a very good position to attract buyers in the "middle" looking to standout amongst the rest.
LEXUS CT 200h -14,381: The sales figure is not because people do not want hybrids. There seems to be some sticker shock, but that is also not the reason. Supply issues stemming from the natural disasters in 2011 culled the potential for the CT to yield more than its share of the urban upscale hatchback market. This coming year should prove to be a better for one of V&R’s favorite "green" rides. After all, why not have a hybrid that is very fun to drive – even between $30-38K?
CHEVROLET VOLT – 7,671: While a lot of naysayers proclaim it a failure in its first year, the Volt's sales figure is a realistic and reasonable number. Now that the controversies seem to be off of the table, perhaps a few tweaks to placate the naysayers could attract more buyers to the Volt. The coming year should yield more sales through consumer confidence in the product. Compared to a full EV, the Volt makes sense in places where an EV infrastructure may not be fully implemented.