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Biggest Sales Losers in March

Yesterday we broke down what was selling in March (fuel-efficient and new cars) and what wasn’t (big trucks and SUVs). There were quite a few noticeable exceptions, though, that stood out as losers not because of our current economic outlook, but perhaps more because of their general underachieving nature.

While even some of the least-intriguing compact cars, like the $12,895 Kia Spectra, saw sales gains, the Chevy Aveo — which costs even less at $10,235 — dropped a whopping 45.6%.

We would feel bad for Chrysler if it didn’t disappoint so often. The 1-year-old Dodge Nitro has few excuses for its 34% slide, nor does the redesigned Jeep Liberty for hitting a 24% sales dip. You could say, “Hey, no one’s buying new SUVs these days.” But the similarly priced and thirsty Ford Edge is enjoying healthy sales. Edge sales were up 23.8%; it even outsold the Nitro and Liberty combined (13,508 versus 12,347).

The Hyundai Entourage, one of the safest minivans on the market, saw sales drop 53%. Even though minivan sales are down overall, most aren’t seeing slides like that. Scion’s once-top-selling tC saw a sharp decline of 30.4%. The xB is now the line’s best-selling model. The funky Toyota FJ Cruiser continues to lose fans, as it seems most buyers were early adopters. The SUV saw sales slide 41.6%.

Another small surprise was the all-new Volvo XC70 losing 10% in sales compared to its outgoing 2007 model. Normally a new design equals better sales. Maybe it just takes awhile for Volvo; the same thing was initially true for the S80, but it’s now seeing better sales in March versus last year.

Note: We tried to include models with losses so big that even reduced fleet sales — those to government, rental-car companies, etc., which aren’t broken out by automakers, wouldn’t save them.