5 Cars Americans Didn't Want in February

DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- February was a great sales month for a couple cars, like GM's ( GM) Chevrolet Equinox and the Ford ( F) Fusion, but not every vehicle saw sales soar.

Automakers, of course, tout their successes each month. And as auto sales have steadily climbed recently, there have been lots of successes.

But sometimes the story can skew to the sad side. Models go away. Historic brands go away. Fuel prices fluctuate, minimizing the appeal of bigger vehicles. Fleet sales rise or fall.

All of these things happened in February.

Probably the most dramatic decline in the U.S. auto landscape came from the disappearance of Ford Mercury, which was founded in 1939.

Ford's Mercury to Follow Olds, Pontiac

Ford announced in June 2010, after an annual spring product review, that it would close Mercury. "We decided we would focus our efforts, our resources, to continue to grow the Ford brand and to accelerate Lincoln," said Mark Fields, Ford president for the Americas, at a news conference.

Ford sold 7,456 Mercury vehicles in February 2010. It did not sell a single Mercury last month.

Chevy Cobalt

GM also had a discontinuation in February. Sales of the Cobalt, which has been replaced by the Cruze, declined precipitously.

The Cruze, launched in September, has been well received. In February, Cruze was the best selling Chevrolet, with 18,556 models sold.

Meanwhile, Cobalt sales totaled just 153, down from 14,101 in February a year earlier.

Toyota Yaris

The Toyota ( TM) Yaris is a popular small car, benefiting from the rise in fuel prices, but its sales fell sharply in February.

Yaris sales in February fell 53% to 1,946, down from 4,138. In February 2010, Yaris sales fell 13.4% from the same month a year earlier. February 2010 was a month when Toyota's overall sales fell by 8.7% amid widespread publicity around the company's 5.5 million recalls.

Truecar.com analyst Jesse Toprak said consumers may be waiting for a new Yaris. The car "is in its last generation with the 2011 model," he said. "It's expected to be refreshed sometime this year."

Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac Escalade isn't a big selling vehicle these days -- it's a symbol of a time when gas prices were not so high.

Interestingly, overall sales of GM full-size utilities, which include the Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, rose 50% during the month. But Escalade sales fell by 9.8% to 1,279.

"A lot of large SUVs are going down the same path as gas prices rise and consumers move from larger SUVS to smaller CUVs," Toprak said.

Ford Focus -- Fleet Sales

Sales of the Ford Focus declined by 20.6% to 10,879 cars. But Focus retail sales actually rose 43%; the decline came in fleet sales. These facts underscore the reality that it is wrong to make too much of any single set of numbers -- liars figure and figures lie.

It is also worth noting that Focus sales rose 38.4% in February 2010, and that some consumers are waiting for the new Focus that will arrive in dealerships this spring. "Last February Focus was one of the beneficiaries of the Toyota recalls," Toprak said. "This February, it suffers because the new Focus is just coming in."

Small Cars Boost Ford Sales in February

Rated at 28 miles per gallon for city driving and 40 mpg on the highway, the new Focus seems to have the timing down as far as when to come to market.

Next February its sales may really soar, given the low basis for comparison.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte .

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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