The Chevrolet Cruze handily beat such long-dominant rivals as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry to become the nation’s best-selling passenger car – and third best-seller overall – last month.
The success of the compact Chevy shows that Detroit is making a serious commitment to crack the small car market long controlled by its Asian rivals. But analysts warn that Cruze and other domestic best-sellers, such as the new 2012 Ford Focus, could be facing renewed competition in the months to come as Asian makers finally overcome the setbacks created by Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Only two of the Top 10 vehicles sold in the U.S. last month bore import badges, and that included both the Toyota Camry, ranked eighth, as well as the number 10 Hyundai Elantra, one of an assortment of new entries from the U.S., Europe and South Korea aimed at breaking Japan’s long dominance of the American small car market.
“The month caps a successful first half of 2011 for us in the U.S. market — our sales are up and we’ve gained share profitably,” said Don Johnson, head of U.S. sales operations for General Motors.