New Models Not Breaking Through in Tough Market

We have a saying around here that new cars sell, meaning a new design or totally new model will usually draw in shoppers. Whether it’s thanks to a ridiculous amount of money spent on advertising, positive reviews in the press or just a head-turning man-on-the street reaction, these cars usually perform. However, some much-hyped new models are not selling well these days as Americans tighten their belts. Check out which models whose sales we found surprisingly lackluster for the month of May. 

Pontiac G8: 1,832 units sold
Last year at this time, the outgoing and completely outdated Pontiac Grand Prix, which the G8 replaces, sold 12,230 units. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that half of those were fleet sales (which is probably on the high side). That would still mean it sold three times as well as the all-new, very-well-reviewed Pontiac G8. For the past few years, GM loyalists have begged GM to build this car, but now it seems these people aren’t willing to part with their cash for this large sedan. The V-8 version gets 15/24 mpg and the V-6 gets 17/25 mpg, both near the top in the segment, but still not attractive in $4-a-gallon-gas territory. That could be one issue. 

2008 Volvo C30: 504 units sold
The staff at found the C30 an intriguing alternative for VW GTI and Mini Cooper buyers. It exudes style and has Volvo’s famed safety aura. As the least-expensive model in the company’s lineup you think it would outsell the aging S40 sedan, which itself only mustered sales of 918 units. Read the review here.

Land Rover LR2: 500 units sold
The small, luxury SUV is well-equipped at $35,000 but saw sales drop 51.2% from last May, one of its first months on the market. Being generally well-liked by the press, more efficient than larger SUVs, and gifted with Land Rover looks, it seems like the right product at the right time. As one editor mused, “Perhaps the mildly affluent are hedging their purchases.” Read the review here.

Saturn Astra:
1,091 units sold
In one of its first full months on the market, the Astra has not taken off as the “entry-level” vehicle at Saturn. Last year, the heavily discounted and extremely outdated Ion sold 6,822 units. Both Mike Hanley and Joe Wiesenfelder wrote positive reviews of the two distinct Astra models, but others on staff thought it was too expensive, that it felt too heavy and that its controls were too baffling to be a hit. It seems early reaction from buyers confirms that. Mileage is decent at 24/32 and 24/30 mpg for either the two- or four-door hatchback equipped with manual or automatic transmissions, respectively. That’s better than the Dodge Caliber’s fuel economy. Like the G8, this is a car that was heavily anticipated by car enthusiasts.

Saturn Pontiac Land Rover Volvo Car Buying

Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon.  Email David