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Most Popular Cars of 2009

The year 2009 will go down in history as a watershed moment for the automotive industry. American icons General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection, seizing as much taxpayer money as possible in their efforts to fend off impending doom. Both survived, but under much different circumstances than anticipated decades earlier.

Going or almost gone from the GM’s portfolio were Hummer, Saturn, Pontiac and Saab along with a myriad of employees. Chrysler, sold to Italian automaker Fiat SpA, was now under the control of Canadian-born chief executive Sergio Marchionne and harboured an immediate need for new product. A summer launch of the Cash for Clunkers program would help both, but for how long?

2010 Chevrolet Camaro

Ford was in amazingly good shape, declining offers for government aid in an effort to keep its counterparts from going under. Ford realized, without a healthy GM and Chrysler, it too would be out of business, not large enough on its own to keep afloat the supply network necessary to run an entire industry. New products were streaming full speed into the market, with Taurus, Fusion and Flex leading the way.

Not surprisingly, Yahoo! Autos most searched for car brands in 2009 represent the strengths and sometimes failures experienced in the auto industry this past year. Toyota and Honda placed first and second on our list. Both companies shared the spotlight with successes in new products, the 2010 Toyota Prius, and continuing sales of mainstays such as the Honda Civic and Accord. Not all was roses, however, Toyota suffered from unexpected recalls while both companies encountered downward trends and the need to exit racing, specifically Formula 1, to conserve cash and develop new products faster.

Ford ranked third, with Nissan fourth and BMW fifth. Nissan did feel the pinch of a tighter economy, but under the strong leadership of CEO Carlos Ghosn, it seemed well positioned to tread carefully while others succumbed to economic pressures. BMW continued their A-plan of designing new and exciting vehicles such as the 535i Gran Turismo, and for the most part, consumers responded. With additional product set to launch, both Nissan and BMW appear poised for additional success in 2010.

When it came to ranking the most searched for individual models, it turns out that the enduring popularity of the iconic American muscle car, such as the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang, is still tough to beat. In fact, five of the top 10 most searched cars are American made. However, smaller, fuel-efficient models are still top of mind with consumers as evidenced by the continued popularity of the Honda Civic, Mini Cooper and Smart ForTwo.


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