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These Are the Cars & Trucks Americans Are Buying the Least

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"Model age, direct competition, manufacturer...can all contribute to the collapse of a model’s sales."

The number of cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. fell 25 percent over the past five years, from over 16.4 million for the model year beginning September 2005 to 12.4 million in the last complete model year.

The sales of some models have fallen much more than that during the same period. To see why sales of some vehicles dropped so much, the writers at 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the sales of cars and trucks, provided by car industry research firm Edmunds.com, that have lost the most in unit sales between the two periods.

The auto industry has suffered greatly during the latter half of the recent decade. To ensure that the vehicles on the list did not simply suffer from just the economic downturn, those that lost the most in total unit sales, and those that have had sales drop of more than 50 percent–double the industry trend—were the ones that were most closely investigated.

24/7 Wall St. also added base vehicle prices provided by the manufacturers, EPA data on gas mileage, and quality and reliability ratings from JD Powers.

Model age, direct competition, manufacturer quality perceptions, car company balance sheets and gas prices can all contribute to the collapse of a model’s sales.

10. Buick Lucerne

Decrease in units sold: 62,266

Pct drop: 71.5 percent

Base car price: $29,730

Fuel efficiency: 17 city, 27 hwy

JD Powers quality score: 4/5

JD Powers reliability score: 4.5/5

The Lucerne was introduced in 2005. Sales have dropped so much that the car was discontinued this year and production stopped in the early summer. Buick may have positioned the car badly. It has been marketed as a full-sized sedan to compete with mid-priced luxury vehicles made by Lexus, Acura, Lincoln and Mercedes. The Lucerne may be less expensive than those models, but buyers do not consider it in the luxury vehicle class.

9. Chevy Colorado

Decrease in units sold: 62,977

Pct drop: 67.2 percent

Base car price: $17,395

Fuel efficiency: 18 city, 25 hwy (for 4-cylinder)

JD Powers quality score: 3.5/5

JD Powers reliability score: 3/5

The Colorado is Chevy’s mid-sized pickup, and within the GM family, it competes directly with the GMC Canyon. Both were introduced in 2004. The truck may have too much competition to lift current sales by any significant level. It sits in a segment of the SUV market that includes the Ford Ranger, the Toyota Tacoma, and the Nissan Frontier.

8. Toyota Avalon

Decrease in units sold: 64,325

Pct drop: 69.6 percent

Base car price: $33,195

Fuel efficiency: 20 city, 29 hwy

JD Powers quality score: 3/5

JD Powers reliability score: 4/5

The Avalon is Toyota’s mid-priced, large-sized sedan. Overall, Toyota sales suffered this year after much of the company’s Japan production was shuttered because of the March earthquake. It is only now resuming in full. The Avalon is in a highly competitive portion of the market. Every major car company has a vehicle with similar characteristics and comparable price levels. Hyundai’s success in this part of the market has been remarkable over the past three years. The Avalon was first introduced in 1994 and is on its third generation.

7. Dodge Dakota

Decrease in units sold: 70,039

Pct drop: 83.8 percent

Base car price: $23,210

Fuel efficiency: 15 city, 20 hwy

JD Powers quality score: 3.5/5

JD Powers reliability score: n/a

The Dakota, marketed under the Ram brand, is a mid-sized pickup. It was introduced in 1986. The current, third generation of the truck was launched in 2005. The version was offered with only a club cab with two rows of seats. The Dakota was discontinued this year, with the last one being produced in August.

6. Chevy Tahoe

Decrease in units sold: 75,814

Pct drop: 50.9 percent

Base car price: $37,980

Fuel efficiency: 15 city, 21 hwy

JD Powers quality score: 4/5

JD Powers reliability score: 3.5/5

The Tahoe is Chevy’s full-sized SUV. Fully loaded with factory-installed features, the Tahoe can retail for as much as $55,000. The Tahoe also has direct competition within the GM family — the GMC Yukon. In addition, virtually every other U.S. and foreign car company has a vehicle in the same market segment. The truck was first sold in 1995. The current generation of the Tahoe, and the Yukon, were both introduced in 2007.

5. Jeep Liberty

Decrease in units sold: 77,650

Pct drop: 55.9 percent

Base car price: $23,250

Fuel efficiency: 16 city, 22 hwy

JD Powers quality score: 2/5

JD Powers reliability score: 2.5/5

The Liberty is the mid-priced model among the six that Jeep offers. The company currently offers more than one incentive to draw buyers — usually a sign that demand is low. Among these offers are zero percent financing for up to 60 months, and a $3,000 cash allowance. The Liberty was first introduced nine years ago. A new generation of the SUV was launched in 2008. Sales have declined since their peak in 2004.

4. Silverado 2500HD

Decrease in units sold: 77,741

Pct drop: 53.1 percent

Base car price: $28,415

Fuel efficiency: 12 city, 15 hwy

JD Powers quality score: 3/5

JD Powers reliability score: 3.5/5

The Silverado is Chevy’s flagship pickup. It competes with the industry leading Ford F-series and the Dodge Ram, along with several other pickups made by foreign manufacturers. The Silverado HD is the heavy duty version of the truck. It can pull a load of up to 17,800 pounds. The first HD models were introduced in 2001. Sales of the less-expensive Silverado 1500 have fallen by 21 percent over the past five years.

See the top 3 here.

Update: Be sure to click on the above link to see which cars are in the top 3. You may be disappointed to find out that even Ford has not been unaffected by the recent downturn in car sales.

(Douglas A. McIntyre/Becket Adams –27/7 Wall St./The Blaze)

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