By Kelsey Mays on January 16, 2012
Fueled by holiday-themed sales events and bullish shoppers, December sales helped the U.S. auto industry sell 12.8 million light vehicles in 2011 — up 10% from 2010 and the best year since 2008. Not surprisingly, cars sold fast in December as dealerships opened 2012 with a 52-day supply of cars. That's the lowest January inventory on record, Automotive News reports.
Days-to-turn average measures how long it takes a car to go home with a new owner relative to when it arrives at a dealership. For December's list we looked at 2012 models, as dealers had cleared out most of the 2011 inventory. That trend usually makes December's average plunge, but even then it's low at 29 days to turn versus 35 days in December 2010. That's dramatic. If you include 2011 models, the days-to-turn average comes in at 86 days, which is closer to November's 75 days.
New or recently redesigned cars sold the fastest in December, with the redesigned Honda CR-V and newish Nissan Leaf taking just six days apiece to move. The redesigned 2012 CR-V hit dealerships in December, but Jan. 1 inventories, which don't break out model years, indicated just 18 days' supply at Honda dealers, according to Automotive News. Meanwhile, the Leaf hit dealerships in 30 states by early December en route to a 50-state rollout by March.
Other hot newbies included the Subaru Impreza, Toyota Camry Hybrid and Land Rover Range Rover Evoque. But a few older luxury SUVs appeared, too: the BMW X6, the Audi Q7 and the Acura MDX. All three have aged at least five years since a redesign or introduction. What gives? Incentives, perhaps. Acura offered discount financing on the MDX through year's end, and BMW slashed up to $2,730 in dealer incentives on the X6 on top of discount financing.
Despite mild December weather across much of the country, the losers include plenty of sunny-weather cars. Convertibles and sports cars comprised five of the bottom 10, up one from four cars in December 2010. Curiously, a few new all-season cars — the hybrid Infiniti M35h and the Nissan NV — made the list, as well. And Fiat's troubles continue with the 500 sliding to the bottom ranks. The Mini Cooper, to cite a competitor, took just 21 days to move.
Oh, and say goodbye to the Mitsubishi Eclipse — a longtime M&L loser — as Mitsubishi plans to kill the slow-selling, if venerable, nameplate. Qualifying Losers can't be in their swansong year.
December 2011 Movers
December 2011 Losers
*We should note the Porsche 911 includes the outgoing car (the 997, to Porsche enthusiasts) and redesigned (991) versions among its 2012 models. It's hard to quantify just how many 997s are slowing the car's sales pace, but either way, the 911 ranks at the bottom.
About the Lists
The Movers and Losers list reports the average number of days it takes to sell models from the day they arrive on the lot until the final paperwork is signed by a buyer. This is not a days-of-inventory list like you may find on other sites. We're now focusing on only 2012 model years.
For Movers, we only list vehicles that pass a certain threshold of sales in order to weed out limited editions, ultra-high-performance cars and others that might skew the numbers or otherwise inaccurately portray popularity. For Losers, we have removed any threshold to reflect 2012 models that may have the greatest incentives.
Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays likes quality, reliability, safety and practicality. But he also likes a fair price. Email Kelsey