Biggest automotive sales disappointments of 2016
Trucks good. Cars bad?
Once it's all said and done, Americans will have bought well over 17 million new cars, trucks, and SUVs in 2016. A little over 800,000 of those will be Ford F-Series pickup trucks, as that model line will again be the best-selling in the United States. The Chevy Silverado and Ram truck line are, unsurprisingly, right behind the Ford. Suffice it to say, it's been a great year for trucks. Crossovers and SUVs, too, have benefited from relatively cheap gas and low interest rates.
It hasn't all been rosy for automakers in 2016, though. Some models have fallen hard, for a number of reasons. We scoured the sales tables from every automaker doing business in America and identified a handful of cars that have been huge sales disappointments in 2016. They're not necessarily the cars with the lowest sales figures overall, but also those that have seen big sales dips. Click on the image above to get started.
Acura RLX and ILX
Apparently, Acura is really only good at selling crossovers these days. The Japanese luxury brand will sell around 50,000 units of the MDX and RDX in 2016, which is a decent showing, but sales go south quickly when you look at the rest of the lineup.
Acura's best-selling sedan is the TLX, which is the brand's mid-level model. The ILX serves as Acura's entry point, and that model is on pace to deliver a 19-percent drop versus the previous year. Things are even worse for the flagship RLX. Acura will be lucky to sell 1,500 RLX sedans in 2016, which is a massive 37-percent year-over-year decline.
Acura RLX Information
Alfa Romeo 4C
There are no more excuses for the Alfa Romeo 4C's dismal sales figures. Alfa may have initially pinned slow sales on limited supply, but the coupe version has now been on sale for two model years. You (or Alfa dealers) could have also argued that the lack of a convertible model at launch hurt the numbers, but the topless Spider model failed to ignite a sales boom.
Alfa may sell 500 4Cs in America in 2016, but only if the brand has a good December. For some perspective, Porsche is on pace to sell 3,500 Caymans and 2,700 Boxsters. And while the 4C is not a direct competitor to the Mazda MX-5 Miata, that car's 9,000 sales this year show that there are buyers out there for two-seat sportscars. Just not the 4C.
BMW 3 Series, 4 Series, and X4
Not even the vaunted BMW 3 Series is immune to a sales slowdown. Through November, BMW's mainstream model's 64,000 sales represented a nearly 30-percent decline over 2015. The 4 Series, which BMW chose to split out from the 3 in 2014, hasn't fared much better, with a 20-percent sales decline so far in 2016.
Sure, crossover sales have helped prop up the German marque's bottom line, but not enough to overcome the poor performance of its sedans. Through November, the X4 was down 17 percent, and the X5 was down 15 percent. On the positive side, at least X1 and X3 sales are good.
We almost forgot about the Cadillac ELR, and apparently, so did pretty much everyone else. GM's flagship division stopped production of the slow-selling ELR in 2014, and had enough leftover inventory to keep selling them through 2015 even though there wasn't an actual 2015-model-year vehicle.
Cadillac brought the ELR back for 2016 with a powertrain tweaked for better performance, revised suspension settings, and a big drop in price. It didn't help. Just over 500 total ELRs had been sold in America through November, which amazingly was a 40-percent decline over 2015. And remember, there was no 2015 ELR - all the ELRs sold in 2015 were leftover from 2014. It doesn't get much worse than that.
Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart
FCA's struggles in the compact and midsize sedan segments are well documented, so we won't go too far in depth here. Suffice it to say that Sergio Marchionne knew what he was doing when he announced that the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart would be put to pasture after the 2016 model year (there were apparently a few 2017 200s built, but production has since stopped).
Dodge is likely to sell fewer than 45,000 Dart models through 2016, which represents a 50-percent drop from last year. The 200's sales are even worse. Through November, Chrysler had sold almost 55,000 200 sedans, a 65-percent decline. Yowza.
Chrysler 200 Information
Fiat 500L and 500
Fiat sales are a disaster in 2016. The Italian automaker will probably sell around 15,000 500 hatchbacks and convertibles this year, which is a 37-percent decline. The larger 500L's 3,000 sales represent a nearly 60-percent drop.
Fiat's 500X crossover has helped some, but overall, 2016 has been a year to forget for Fiat. Here's hoping 2017's price adjustments are enough to right this sinking ship.
Fiat 500L Information
Lexus GS, IS, LS, CT, and RC
We were a bit surprised by this one. Through November, Lexus sold 13,553 GS sedans. That's a 30-percent drop compared to 2015. The two-door RC is down by more than 20 percent, and the CT hybrid has fallen even further, suffering a 40-percent dropoff. Even the flagship LS sedan is down in 2016 by over 20 percent.
There is some good news for Lexus, though. SUV and crossover sales – particularly the NX and LX – are strong, and the ES sedan is only down by eight percent.
Lincoln MKT and MKS
What's this? A crossover that isn't selling well? We had to check to make sure that the MKT still shows up for sale on Lincoln's website for 2016. It does, which makes its 3,379 sales through November a massive disappointment. It's never been a hot seller, but 2016's result equals a 21-percent decline over 2015. And remember, nearly every other automaker has seen double-digit sales increases in the crossover category.
It's a similar story for the outgoing MKS sedan, which was never good enough to go head-to-head with competition like the Audi A6. Lincoln will sell fewer than 5,000 MKS models in 2016; lucky for the brand, that model is being replaced by the new Continental for 2017, which should bring a sales uptick, at least initially. The reborn Conti is A hit that Lincoln so desperately needs.
Lincoln MKT Information
Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ
We can't help but be disappointed in the Toyota 86 and its sibling from Subaru. These are legitimately good cars that are a turbocharger away from greatness. Slow sales mean that's probably never going to happen.
The 2016 totals for the outgoing Scion FR-S and its replacement from Toyota will likely equal about 7,000 units. That's down by 30 percent. Subaru has done a bit better with the BRZ, relatively speaking, moving around 4,000 units for a much smaller 20-percent drop when compared to the previous year.