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Many enthusiast rides post strong sales in 2010

Thu, 06 Jan 2011

The fast and the luxurious models from a wide range of carmakers sold briskly in 2010, offering heart to enthusiasts that their favorite drives have bright outlooks and that the auto business is on the rebound.

Let's start with the muscle cars: As predicted in December, Chevrolet's Camaro sales topped the Ford Mustang's numbers for the first time in 25 years. In the Camaro's first full year since production ended after the 2002 model year, Chevy rung up 81,299 Camaro sales, beating Mustang by 7,583 cars. Experts attribute this to pent-up demand for the Chevy.

The third horse in the Detroit Three pony-car race, the Dodge Challenger, posted 36,791 sales for the year. That's a 42 percent increase from 2009.

German luxury brands also had a solid year. BMW Group saw a 10 percent sales increase from 2009, with 266,069 sales. Mercedes-Benz sales jumped 18 percent, reaching 224,944. Audi came in at 101,629 sales, a 23 percent gain from the previous year. Porsche made 25,320 sales, reflecting a 29 percent increase.

For the Italians, Maserati sped to a 49 percent sales increase from last year, selling 1,897 cars--that's 624 more cars than last year. Other exotics didn't do so well, but in this case, it's all relative. Lamborghini numbers decreased, with 29 fewer sales, and Ferrari sold 27 fewer cars than it did in 2009.

Another downer for fans of speed, Corvette sales dropped nine percent, to 12,624 sales--perhaps an indication of the lengthy life cycle of the current generation. Nissan GT-R sales fell by 43 percent, with 877 copies sold--that's 657 fewer sales than the year before.

Meanwhile, the overall market showed positive growth with remarkably steady increases. Last year lead off with sales of 10.5 million vehicles. That number rose by nearly 1 million by April. Sales were up another million by October, and by nearly another half million in the last month of 2010 for a total of 13,098,856.

The top-selling cars were the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord in first and second place, with the Camry posting sales of 327,804 and the Accord, 311,381. The rest of the top 10 were the Toyota Corolla/Matrix, the Honda Civic, the Nissan Altima, the Ford Fusion, the Chevrolet Malibu, the Hyundai Sonata, the Ford Focus and the Chevrolet Impala.

The Ford F-series and the Chevrolet Silverado were the top-selling trucks with 528,349 copies of the F-series and 370,135 Silverados sold.

The rest of the 10 best-selling trucks were the Honda CR-V, the Ram, the Ford Escape, the Toyota RAV4, the Chevrolet Equinox, the GMC Sierra, the Ford Edge and the Chrysler Town & Country.

The big-brand winners for 2010 were Buick, Maserati, Cadillac, GMC and Porsche--ranging from 52 percent to 29 percent in sales increases.

The brands that saw the largest sales drops were Smart, Suzuki, Saab, Scion and Volvo, with decreases ranging from 59 percent to 12 percent.

By Michelle Koueiter