Through the first one-sixth of 2014, typically the slowest time of the year for auto sales in America, the Nissan Altima is the best-selling midsize car, and the best-selling car overall. Altima sales are up 8.5%, having risen 11.3% to nearly 31,000 in February 2014.
Volkswagen’s Passat exemplifies the issues we’re currently seeing at VW of America. It’s a product that’s still fresh, it was much ballyhooed leading up to its arrival, it offers a diesel configuration that’s not seen in its rivals, but it doesn’t sell that well. Comparisons with the leading trio are difficult.
Toyota, Honda, and Nissan sell an average of 91,000 Camrys, Accords, and Altimas every month, put together. But Volkswagen has only crested the 10K monthly mark eleven times since the Passat went on sale some 30 months ago. In each of the last six months, Passat sales have decreased on a year-over-year basis.
The problem for Volkswagen isn’t the Passat’s inability to sell like an Altima, Camry, or Accord – that was never the short-term goal. It’s that the Passat can’t sell like a Malibu, Sonata, or Optima, let alone a Ford Fusion. To crack the 150K annual mark, Volkswagen would likely need a month or two above 15K and nothing below 10K. This Passat, admirable though it is in our eyes, has never sold more than 11,000 copies in the United States in a single month.
The Passat ranked tenth among conventional midsize cars in America in February 2014.
Among continuing nameplates, no midsize car suffered a year-over-year decline worse than the Subaru Legacy. The Legacy is about to be replaced by a new model, but as you can see in the image above, it doesn’t exactly shout, “This is a new thing!”
You can click any model name in the tables below to find historical monthly and yearly U.S. auto sales data. You can also select a make and model at GCBC’s Sales Stats page. These tables are now sortable, so you can rank midsize cars any which way you like. Suggestions on how GCBC should break down segments can be passed on through the Contact page.