Posted by: Dan Beucke on January 4, 2012 at 3:30 PM
Yes, Virginia, people buy cars at Christmas. And last month, they bought a lot of them. Just not that many Lexuses.
As you no doubt recall, last month we examined the frenzied response to Lexus’s Christmas advertising, and what it says about wealth envy. The “December to Remember” ads bring out something not so merry in many folks. Part of it is the characters, who seem so self-satisfied. Also, some just can’t believe that anyone actually gifts a car to their loved one.
Well, U.S. sales results are in and they show that many carmakers had a blow-out December. General Motors (up 4.5 percent), Ford (up 10 percent), Chrysler (up 37 percent), and Nissan (up 7.7 percent) all showed substantial gains for the month. Lexus car and truck sales, on the other hand, tumbled 8 percent (parent Toyota was flat overall).
How much of this has to do with the Christmas advertising? TV ads beat the discount drum and drive showroom traffic. However, car buyers were already primed — the average age of a car on the road has climbed to 10.6 years, according to Experian. And year-end price cutting began early last year — in November, actually — and hasn’t let up.
Lexus is suffering from Toyota’s quality and production problems, which do more to explain its struggles vs. Mercedes and BMW than any dislike of the red-bow families. That doesn’t mean some won’t find deep satisfaction in Chevy’s Salesman Santa ads (video, above) trouncing what one reader refers to as the Lexus “insufferables.”