5 Best-Selling Small Cars in May

DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- This time, when fuel prices rose dramatically and demand rose for compact cars, Detroit automakers were ready.

In May, for the first time in five years, GM ( GM) made the best-selling compact car in the U.S., as its Chevrolet Cruze sold 22,711 units. The Ford ( F) Focus was second, at 22,303 units.
Chevy Cruze
Chevrolet Cruze sales soared in May.

Of course, production woes in Japan put a temporary ceiling on the Honda ( HMC) and Toyota ( TM) production. But it is clear that the success of the Cruze and the Focus reflects not only a temporary setback for rivals, but also gains for Detroit in the areas of competitive worker compensation and commitment to better small cars.

Compact cars represented 16% of U.S. sales in May, up 19% year-to-date.

Read on for the top five small cars in the U.S. in May.

No. 5: Toyota Corolla

The fifth best-selling compact was the Toyota Corolla, long a segment leader.

Corolla sales fell 31.7% in May to 16,895.

Toyota's biggest loser was the Prius. Its sales lost a whopping 47%, even more than the Corolla, because production of the car, which is made in Japan, fell off after the earthquake and tsunami.

Year-to-date through May 31, Corolla sales were down 0.6% to 117,875.

No. 4: Honda Civic

In May, sales of the Honda Civic fell 30.2 to 18,341, although year-to-date Civic sales were up 2.8% to 110,086.

Overall, Honda's U.S. sales fell 16% in May to 81,773, even though the sales of the newly redesigned Odyssey minivan gained 5.5% to 9,428, while Honda Fit sales rose 46.3% to 5,921. Despite the decline, Civic was still the leading Honda product.

No. 3: Hyundai Elantra

Built in Montgomery, Ala., the Elantra was redesigned late in 2010.

May sales rose 104% to 20,006. Year-to-date sales totaled 83,309.

"With high gas prices continuing to alter consumer behavior, car buyers are increasingly looking at Hyundai's fuel-efficient line-up, with the all-new Accent, Elantra sedan, and Sonata Hybrid all delivering 40 miles per gallon, standard," said Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai executive vice president of national sales, in a prepared statement.

No. 2: Ford Focus

The No. 2 top-selling compact in May was the Ford Focus.

Focus May sales rose 31.7% to 22,303. Year-to-date sales total 76,639, up 2.7%.

For Ford, May was the best small car month since May 2008. The Fiesta and Focus combined for 29,423, up 74% from a year earlier. Focus sales rose 32% to 22,303.

Sales of the mid-sized Ford Fusion, Ford's best-selling car, rose 10% to 24,666. Eighty percent of Fusion buyers chose a four-cylinder engine, up from 50% five years ago.

No 1: Chevy Cruze

The Cruze's May sales totaled 22,711. Year-ago- sales of predecessor Cobalt totaled 16,173. Year-to-date Cruze sales total 98,076, making Cruze the third best-selling U.S. compact.

"The launch of the Cruze has exceeded all of our expectations," said Alan Batey, U.S. vice president, Chevrolet sales and service, in a prepared statement. "Cruze launched as a brand-new vehicle, with a brand-new name, in one of the most competitive segments in the industry."

The Cruze has increased Chevrolet's share of the compact car segment, even as the segment grew by 19% year-to-date. So far in 2011, Chevrolet has accounted for 11.9 % of the compact car market, up from 9.5% a year ago.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C. P/>>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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