US sales 2015 full year Large segment

US Large

Sales in the large segment fell by 12% compared to 2014, the worse performance of all mainstream segments, worse even than the 8% fall in sales registered by the subcompact and minivan segments. As a result, large cars fell further behind those two segments and is now the second smallest mainstream segment, ahead of only minicars, and selling only a fifth as well as the only slightly smaller mid-sized cars.

Chevy SS

In fact, it’s the mid-sized cars that have been ruining the large segment’s game for many years, growing in size and inching ever closer in terms of desirability to their larger siblings, all for considerably less money. In light of this, it comes as no surprise that all three cars that managed not to lose a lot of sales over the last year were all very different from their smaller siblings by the virtue of offering rear-wheel joys in a segment dominated by front-wheel drive. Heck, the Chevy SS even managed to grow its sales by 17%; it’s just a pity it’s squarely stuck in last place, at fewer than 3,000 units per year.

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat
Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat

The other two models to do OK were the FCA twins:Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, with sales up by 1% and down by 1%, respectively. In fact, this performance was enough for the Charger to close to a little over 20,000 units of the segment leader, Chevy Impala, while the 300 actually advanced one spot to fourth, at the expense of the aging Ford Taurus. And while the twins are getting on in age, entering their sixth year in production, recent facelifts have kept them well in the game. This is especially true for the Charger, whose 2015 edition not just looks much better thanks to a Dart-inspired front, but also benefits from the halo effect of the 707hp top-end Hellcat model.

From among the FWD large sedans the Toyota Avalon did least bad, losing 11% of sales over the course of the last year. This is because of two factors: first, it is an entirely different proposition to the RWD hooligans, offering a spacious and comfortable option for the older drivers, and second, it is arguably a much better car than its smaller, boring Camry sister.

Nissan Maxima

The remaining models performed similarly badly, consistently losing between 17% (Chevy Impala) and 23% (Hyundai Azera). Most of these models are aging and/or facing competition from newer, smaller stablemates, so it should come as no surprise they’re losing sales. The performance of the Nissan Maxima seems to be the largest disappointment of all, as the model lost 20% of sales despite the new-for-2015 model going on sale in early June. However, after a slow start over the summer, when the new model lost 17% of sales compared to the previous model between June and September (problems with supplies, possibly?), sales finally picked up in the final quarter, growing by 27% compared to Q4 2014. It will be interesting whether this is a sign of a revival for the once-popular 4DSC (four-door sports car), or a false-dawn for a wannabe sports saloon trying to compete with more prestigious, RWD competition from the large luxury segment.

Note: clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off

  1. Too bad GM doesn’t break out the difference in sales between the old Impala “Classic” and the Impala built on the same platform as the Cadillac XTS. As they are built in different factories, it appears that 80% of the Impalas are of the old “classic” variety and they are built cheaply as straight to rental fleet vehicles.

    btw Shouldn’t there be some law against any care built strictly for airports being called “Classic”?

  2. As luck would have it, the Automotive News with North American Production figures for 2015 showed up in the mail after my post above. We’ll have to assume that every new car produced eventually finds an owner…. whether in a fleet or the prized possession of Jane Doe. Since few countries sell many full size cars outside of North America, here are the the production stats. #1 Dodge Charger: 124,448 (103,687 in 2014); #2 Chevrolet Impala Classic: 104,022 (155,084); #3 Ford Taurus: 74,358 (73,355); #4 Chrysler 300: 74,018 (59,498); #4 Toyota Avalon: 69,077 (72,277); #5 Nissan Maxima 55,240: (58,156); #6 Chevrolet Impala: 36,559 (18,896): Buick LaCrosse: 29,630 (51,847).

  3. Hi Stephen,
    thanks for that addition!
    It is indeed striking to see that GM “secretly” still sells builds three times as many old Impalas than the new generation. Those Impala Classics are all shipped directly to rental companies.
    In that light the performance of the new generation Impala is very depressing, as it’s actually a pretty nice car, but just 36.559 sales??? That’s just embarrassing.

    I must say I say quite a few of these American large sedans in the streets of Dubai and Abu Dhabi two months ago, so exports to the Gulf States (and Canada and perhaps a few others) are likely the difference between your production figures and the US sales figures in our stats.

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