Restoration is, according to dictionary.com, a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition. One glance at U.S. auto sales data will tell you the restoration is underway, but not yet complete. The total market was worth 819,938 sales in January. That’s up from 2010; way up from January 2009. But compared with January 2001, the total new vehicle market last month was down 30%. Let’s call the situation “mid-reno.”
Fewer than one quarter of the automobiles on this list of America’s Top 30 Best-Selling Luxury Vehicles posted lower sales in January 2010 than they did in January 2009. Look further back, however, and the numbers remain discouraging in spite of year-over-year gains. Yes, the BMW 3-Series is up 6.4% over January 2010, but the 3-Series is down 31.3% compared with January 2003. Sure, there are numerous variables one must consider before comparing sales from eight years ago with data from today, not the least of which is a luxury market filled with niche players.
More importantly, automakers are adjusting to the smaller overall market. General Motors and its luxury representative, Cadillac, are a smaller company designed to compete in a smaller market. Indeed, this is a necessary step. While Cadillac is up 49.1% over last year; the company is down 10.5% from January 2003. The best news for Cadillac may be its across-the-board gains in January. Other than the STS and defunct XLR, ever model posted increases in January 2011. Two Cadillacs are in the top 10 below; the Escalade slid into 13th (up five spots from 2010’s year end numbers) and the DTS more than doubled up on January 2010’s figures.