Simply put, this is an incredible time to buy a car. The economy is strong, gas is cheap, and most importantly, cars are generally safer, faster, and more fuel efficient than ever before. There are sports cars, capable trucks, stylish sedans, and capable family haulers available for almost every budget. People are buying more premium cars than ever before, and in an attempt to grab more market share, brands like Audi and Mercedes are introducing even more affordable models. Add the rapidly growing number of hybrids and pure EVs into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for serious success.
As a result, most automakers are in the midst of a boom that would’ve been unimaginable during the recession six or seven years ago. March 2016 was the 27th consecutive month of expansion in the auto market. April will likely be the 28th. But in a market as big and competitive as this, some cars slip through the cracks. And once they do, it’s a long way to the bottom.
Websites like Good Car Bad Car track monthly auto sales in the U.S. and Canada, making it an invaluable resource for determining the state of the auto industry. And while it mostly focuses on what’s working, it also keeps track of what doesn’t. Looking at last month’s collected data (for February 2015), we found 9 cars that are current production models that are slipping dangerously in this boom market. With so many cars finding eager new owners, here are 9 that people seem to go out of their way to avoid.
1. Mini Paceman
Mini is in the midst of refocusing its lineup and quietly moving upmarket. As a result, much of its quirky lineup (like the Coupé and Roadster) are gone. One of the last holdovers of that era is the Paceman, a compact, three-door crossover that’s like the regular Hardtop, but just more… crossover-ish. And because of its odd-man-out position in the lineup, dealers are having a tough time finding buyers. Just seven Pacemen (Pacemans?) found a new home in February, down from 63 in February 2015.
2. Audi R8
The R8 is the rare supercar that owners could comfortably and reliably drive everyday. But it’s also been around since 2007, and while Audi launched a new second-generation model in 2015, it’s still largely being rolled out. In the limbo between the two generations, Audi only managed to sell nine R8s in February, down from 52 that time last year.
3. BMW Z4
BMW’s roadster usually gets forgotten whenever there’s a discussion about the brand’s best performance cars. But it’s still a unique, cheerful little roadster that offers an exhilarating driving experience. Unfortunately, the message isn’t getting out there: BMW sold just 55 Z4s in February. A year before, it had sold 286 of them.
4. BMW 6 Series
You could say the 6 Series has good genes, but that would be an understatement. While it can trace its roots to the iconic E9 coupes, the model line is now available as a coupe, convertible, and four-door Gran Coupe. Despite the diversification, it’s had a rough go of late; in February BMW moved just 265 6 Series models. In that span last year, it sold a much healthier 1,237.
5. BMW i3
Penned by Richard Kim (now chief stylist at Faraday Future), the i3 is a masterpiece of modern city car design. But it doesn’t exactly fit in with BMW’s “Ultimate Driving Machine” image, its 81 mile range (without the optional range extender) makes it impractical for people with a commute, and its $40k-plus price tag makes it prohibitively expensive for most EV buyers. As a result, BMW sold only 248 i3s in February. That time last year, it sold 1,089.
6. Nissan GT-R
Nissan’s giant slayer is as impressive as ever: A 545 horsepower, hand-built twin-turbo V6, a 190-plus mile per hour top speed, and zero to 60 in right around three seconds. But on the surface, it isn’t much that different from when it took the world by storm back in 2008. With early used models trading hands for below $60k, finding buyers willing to fork out $100k for a new one is becoming a challenge. The mighty GT-R found just 30 new owners in February, down from 118 in February ’15. That said, we’d be willing to bet that the face-lifted ’17 model will bring some of the faithful back.
7. Mazda CX-9
First off, the current CX-9 is ancient. It’s still being built on the Ford CD3 platform from 2006, and with the three-row SUV segment as hot as it is, it isn’t much of a contender anymore. Mazda sold just 461 CX-9s in February, compared to 1,677 of them last year. Now here’s the good news: The company has an all-new CX-9 hitting dealerships now, and after spending some time with it at the New York Auto Show, we’d be shocked if it doesn’t become the new standard-bearer of the segment.
8. Fiat 500L
Unfortunately, the quirky 500L hasn’t gotten the “Papal Bump” from the Pope’s U.S. visit that FCA would’ve liked. Instead, Fiat’s crossover has continued to free-fall at dealerships, finding just 365 buyers in February. In comparison, it found 956 of of them in February 2015.
9. Chrysler 200
The 200 isn’t a bad car – maybe it’s a little boring – but it’s by no means a lemon. Still, Chrysler dealers were already having a hard time moving them when FCA boss Sergio Marchionne publicly gave the car the kiss of death. There’s currently a production freeze on the 200 until existing models get sold off, but with only 335 cars finding buyers in February (as opposed to 676 a year ago), that may be a while. Now here’s the real bad news: Chrysler dealers are still on the hook to move these things until 2018.
Additional Reporting by James Derek Sapienza
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