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How to Kill Small-Car Sales

U.S. auto sales are looking a bit better this year. Trucks in particular are doing well. But one category is moving in the opposite direction. Why? Some blame has to go to the fall in gas prices from a peak of more than $4 a gallon. That’s right: it’s the tiny, gas-stingy cars that aren’t moving off the lot. Forbes took a look at the 10 worst-selling cars of the year and found that the Smart ForTwo is tied for first:

The quirky two-seater from Germany’s Daimler AG is down 60% this year, on top of a 41% decline in 2009. Penske Automotive Group, which distributes the vehicle in the U.S., is now testing Car2Go, a car-sharing concept for Smart, and plans to market an electric Smart soon.
Small cars in general aren’t selling as well now that gas prices have fallen and pickups and larger vehicles are making a comeback. It doesn’t help if your company has taken a beating on quality issues, either. Toyota’s Yaris subcompact, for instance, is down 37.6% and its Scion xD is down 31%. Both are about two years old, and face stiff competition in a newly crowded market segment. They’ve been tarnished, too, by Toyota’s widely publicized quality recalls. Overall, Toyota sales are down 0.8% so far this year.