The Biggest New Car Flops Of 2016 – Forbes

Posted: Monday, January 09, 2017

Alfa-Romeo sold only 480 units of the low-slung 4C sports car last year, and that’s after adding a convertible version to the model line. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)

As many of our esteemed colleagues are being shepherded like cattle from one upbeat presentation to another at the harried North American International Auto Show in Detroit, we’ve chosen to remain chained to the desk and comb through final calendar-year 2016 sales figures to uncover the darker side of the industry’s otherwise stellar performance.

Whether one feels the new-car business is close to achieving “mass auto” or there’s a “vehicular recession” coming about a half mile down the road, industry-wide sales set another record in 2016 with 17.55 million cars and trucks delivered to consumers, which is up a half tick up from 17.5 million vehicles in 2015, according to AutoData.

As the old saw goes, a rising tide can be expected to lift all boats, but we still found an oddball assortment of 20 cars and trucks that managed to free-fall their way to the bottom of the sales charts. Though the full-size Ford F-150 pickup truck again lead the industry last year with 820,799 sold – a healthy 5.2% increase over 2015 – we found a few models that couldn’t even manage one day’s worth of the F-Series’ volume, namely 2,248 units.

For the most part, the biggest losers last year were passenger cars of all stripes, with small car sales down by 8.4%, midsize models falling by 8.1%, and large cars plummeting by a steep 44.7%, according to AutoData. Truck sales were up virtually across the board, with the big winners including large SUVs (up by a healthy 21.6%), crossover SUVs (8.5%) and minivans (surprisingly up by 8.0%).

Some of the worst of last year’s performers are vehicles that haven’t been redesigned in several years, or are stuck at the bottom of a dwindling or limited segment. Other more recently introduced models have either yet to find their stride in a highly competitive marketplace, or are just plain duds that resulted from an automaker’s total misread of consumer tastes.

We’re featuring the full list of 2016’s new-car flops in the accompanying slideshow and video in alphabetical order. For the sake of fairness, we gave a pass to exotic cars at $100,000 or more that historically sell in limited numbers, as well as those that recently debuted, discontinued, or substantially redesigned during the course of 2016.

Among them are a few rip-roaring sports cars that perhaps have already found as many buyers over the years as could be expected. For example, Dodge could unload only 630 of its venomous Vipers during 2016, while Nissan found new homes for only 698 GT-Rs. But the biggest disappointments have to be a pair of luxury cars for which their respective makers had once pinned high hopes. Acura delivered only 1,478 units of its flagship RLX sedan last year, and that was down by 32.7% over 2015’s dismal results; Kia sold an even smaller handful of it’s top model, the unfortunately named K900, with a mere 834 models leaving dealers’ lots through all of 2016.

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