When Americans want to buy a car, nearly one in six will consider buying a Ford. While not all buyers drive off with one, consumer consideration is a good measure of demand for the brand and sales.
Edmunds.com measured the number of visitors who looked at the pricing, reviews or details of all cars on the site. Based on visitor consideration, these are the cars most Americans are shopping for.
Buyers often look at multiple models before picking one. In general, though, the most commonly considered brands in the country are also the top-selling ones. The top six brands based on 2013 U.S. market share through May are also the six brands customers consider most.
In the case of some car brands, a large number of models account for their success. Edmunds.com analyst Jeremy Acevedo explained that Ford has a diverse lineup of vehicles that helped make it the top auto brand in the United States for consideration and sales last month.
However, he added, this is not the case for brands like Honda, which was number three in consideration and number four in May sales. “They’re doing that on the back of their core. The Accord, the Civic, and the CR-V are driving consideration that high.” Indeed, those three models accounted for more than 70% of Honda’s sales in May.
Relatively highly consideration does not necessarily guarantee high sales. Mazda and BMW were the seventh and eighth most considered brands in the country, respectively, but 17th and 16th in sales. Regarding BMW, “the entry-level luxury market is particularly competitive,” Acevedo said. Because it is such a competitive segment, he explained, more people may think about owning a BMW without that necessarily turning into sales.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the car brands buyers considered the most on Edmunds.com in May 2013. In addition to these figures, Edmunds.com provided sales and market share data for the first five months of this year. We also relied on company press releases and the auto sales data from The Wall Street Journal’s Markets Data Center.
These are the cars most Americans are shopping for.
> Consideration: 5.4%
> YTD sales: 169,835 (11th most)
> YTD market share: 2.6%
> Top model: Jetta
Sales of Volkswagen nearly doubled between 2008 and 2012, from 223,000 to 438,000. In 2013, however, this trend leveled off. The brand’s U.S. sales through May, were virtually unchanged from the same period the year before, while car sales across the country increased by 7.3%. Sales of the Jetta declined 4.5%. A year ago from May, Volkswagen was on 6.7% of car buyers’ short lists, compared to just 5.4% this May.
> Consideration: 5.9%
> YTD sales: 165,362 (12th most)
> YTD market share: 2.6%
> Top model: Outback
Subaru’s sales rose by 79% between 2008 and 2012, more than all but two other brands. At the same time, consumer interest also has increased. As of May, 5.9% of consumers looking for a car considered a Subaru, up from 4.3% the year before when the brand was just the 13th most-desired brand. The brand’s results so far in 2013 may be the most impressive sign of how increased consideration has led to rising sales; for the first five months of the year, sales rose by 21.1% from the same period in 2012.
> Consideration: 6.0%
> YTD sales: 113,357 (17th most)
> YTD market share: 1.8%
> Top model: 3 Series
Car buyers were more likely to consider a BMW than any other German car brand. However, in terms of actual sales, both Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen outsold the brand. Meanwhile, BMW sales rose by a modest 11% between 2008 and 2012. So far this year, BMW has sold 113,357 cars, up just over 8% from the year before. Sales of the make’s top-selling model, the 3 series, have slid by 4.5% through the first five months of 2013.
> Consideration: 6.4%
> YTD sales: 122,447 (16th most)
> YTD market share: 1.9%
> Top model: Mazda3
While only six car brands are considered by potential car buyers more frequently than Mazda, only slightly more than 122,000 vehicles have been sold this year. This was far fewer than a number of brands consumers were less likely to consider, such as Dodge, which sold more than 268,000 cars through May. While total light vehicle sales in the United States were up 7.3%, Mazda’s sales so far in 2013 have declined slightly compared to its sales in the first five months of 2012.
> Consideration: 7.1%
> YTD sales: 296,003 (6th most)
> YTD market share: 4.6%
> Top model: Elantra
Hyundai’s sales rose in every year between 2008 and 2012, from roughly 400,000 to 700,000 cars sold. Yet so far in 2013, sales growth for Hyundai has leveled-off. Total vehicle sales for the first five months of the year were almost identical to the year before, although May was especially strong for the company. The percentage of buyers considering a Hyundai fell from 8.6% in May 2012 to 7.1% last month. Among the bright spots for the maker, sales of its top-selling Elantra topped 100,000 for the year, and 25,000 in May. Sales through May were up 30% for the top-selling model.
> Consideration: 8.8%
> YTD sales: 477,466 (5th most)
> YTD market share: 7.4%
> Top model: Altima
For the past five full years of sales, Nissan has consistently been the number five auto brand in the country. It appears that it will continue along that track this year, being fifth best-selling brand in the first five months of 2013. The brand hit its record for May sales this year, shipping 106,558 models in the United States, compared to just over 81,000 in the same month last year. Among the car brands providing Nissan with boosts in sales were the Pathfinder and the Leaf, which have both tripled sales in the first five months of this year compared to last year.
> Consideration: 9.1%
> YTD sales: 821,674 (2nd most)
> YTD market share: 12.8%
> Top model: Silverado
Chevrolet has sold more than 820,000 cars through May, behind only Ford. Similarly, the Silverado pickup was one of America’s favorite cars in the first five months of the year with nearly 200,000 units sold, up 23.9% from the same period in 2012. But of General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) five brands, none grew at a slower clip domestically than Chevy. Sales so far this year through May were up just 5.1% from the same period in 2012, well below the 37.6% growth rate recorded by GM’s Cadillac.
> Consideration: 12.0%
> YTD sales: 545,447 (4th most)
> YTD market share: 8.5%
> Top model: Accord
Honda was one of just four car brands that had sold more than half a million vehicles in the first five months of 2013. The brand’s sales rose 5.6% in that period, versus the same period the year before. Currently, Honda has 8.5% share of the auto market. Although this is the fourth-highest U.S. auto market share, it is still well behind Chevy, Ford and Toyota, all of which had at least 12% of the market so far in 2013. One positive for Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) is that consideration among car buyers rose from 10.7% last May to 12.0% in May 2013, overtaking Chevrolet.
> Consideration: 14.6%
> YTD sales: 787,836 (3rd most)
> YTD market share: 12.3%
> Top model: Camry
The Toyota brand, which once had a tight grip on the number one spot in the U.S. auto market, has dropped to the number three spot in the past three full years of sales. However, sales appear to be moving in the right direction again for the Japanese auto brand. Sales of its two closest competitors, Chevy and Ford, grew by only 5% and 4%, respectively, between 2011 and 2012, while Toyota Motor Corp’s (NYSE: TM) grew by 26%. In May, Toyota came close to driving Chevrolet out of the number two spot in sales, and was second in the country for consideration as well. Some bad news for the brand include the decline in sales of two of its top nameplates, in the first five months of this year compared to the first five months of last year.
> Consideration: 15.0%
> YTD sales: 1,024,000 (the most)
> YTD market share: 16%
> Top model: F-Series
Ford is the best-selling car brand in the nation with more than 1 million vehicle sales this year through May. For this part of 2013, sales of the make were up 13.9% from the year before, driven especially by growth in the sales of its Escape, Explorer, Fusion and F-Series models, all of which were up by at least 20% from the year before. Especially impressive was the growth in the F-Series, America’s most popular car, with nearly 300,000 sold through May. Ford has also effectively converted possible buyers into actual car owners. While it frequently battles Toyota for the lead spot on customers wish lists, Ford Motor Co.’s (NYSE: F) 16% market share in 2013 sales is well above its rivals.