The popularity of cars can be measured by several factors. Among these are total unit sales in a year, market share versus direct competitors, and sales improvement year-over-year.
The best measure is none of these. Rather, it is the availability of a particular model on any given day, week or month. The auto manufacturing industry calls this measure “days to turn” or “time on lot.” The average car or light truck takes 50 or 60 days to sell once a dealer gets it.
Some models can stay on lots for more than 90 days. The vehicles that are in really great demand are on lots for fewer than 20 days, and sometimes closer to 10.
An analysis of cars that sit on dealer lots for the least time finds that they fall into three groups. The first consists of extremely expensive cars, with sticker prices above $50,000 or even $100,000. The next group is inexpensive sports cars. The third is cars that get very high mileage, including hybrids.
Most of the cars and light trucks that have tight inventory have been on the market for several years. The Ford Escape and Subaru Impreza are examples of economy-priced cars that have sold well for five years or more.
The price range of vehicles that are in tight supply is surprisingly wide, and the range of car types is equally broad. The list includes cars that cost less than $25,000 and two that cost more than $100,000, as well as heavy SUVs and light economy cars with small engines.
Based on November 2012 days-to-turn data for vehicles sold in the United States, provided by Edmunds.com, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 models that spend the shortest time on the lot.
Edmunds also provided annual sales for these models dating back to 2007, as well as the first 11 months of sales for 2012. We also identified base MSRP of these models, as well as additional features from manufacturer websites.
10. Mercedes-Benz M Class
Days to turn: 18 (tied for 9th fewest)
2012 sales: 33,860
Mercedes has four lines of SUVs, including the M-Class, which is priced in the middle of its fleet. Like most vehicles from major manufacturers, the M-Class comes in a number of models.
The least expensive is the ML-350, which carries a 3.5-liter engine used in a number of other vehicles in the Mercedes model line.
Like most car companies, Mercedes offers the M-Class in several configurations and with several engines. The top-end M is the version made by the AMG high-performance division of Mercedes, which was established in 1967.
The ML63 has a base price of $96,100 and comes with a 518-horsepower engine.
9. Subaru BRZ
Days to turn: 18 (tied for 9th fewest)
2012 sales: 3,647
The Subaru and its nearly identical twin — the Scion FR-S — were designed and built in a joint venture between Subaru and Toyota Motor Corp.
The cars were launched to great acclaim. Recently, each was among the top picks by the car reviewers of The New York Times. One of the evaluations: “The BRZ’s chassis, steering, brakes and manual gearbox are all beyond reproach, and a compact boxer engine helps to keep the car low, balanced and planted on the pavement.”
The car is also inexpensive, which means it can appeal to a relatively broad audience. But it is rare among Subarus in not having all-wheel drive.
7. BMW M6
Days to turn: 17 (tied for 7th fewest)
2012 sales: 391
Configuration: two-door coupe
BMW’s M cars and SUVs are made by its high-performance division. The vehicles are rare and very expensive.
A case in point is the M6, the muscle version of BMW’s high-end two-door mid-sized coupe, which has a 560-horsepower engine. B
MW markets the car primarily against two other very high-end sports cars — the Mercedes-Benz CL63 and Audi R8 — each of which also has a base price well above $100,000.
Potential buyers of the M6 can get additional packages with amenities, including options such as a heated steering wheel for up to $5,300.
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