Compared with February 2016, March 2016’s U.S. sales at the Volkswagen brand jumped 21 percent.
So everything’s back to normal, right? The diesel emissions scandal’s impact has clearly waned, right? Volkswagen’s U.S. team obviously figured out how to market, price, and stock a gas-only lineup, right?
No. This is why we examine an automaker’s sales volume on a year-over-year basis, and why understanding the seasonality of the auto business is essential. (Read More…)
After finishing a close third behind the plunging Ford Explorer and Chevrolet TrailBlazer in 2006, the Honda CR-V went on to claim the top spot among SUVs/crossovers in America in eight of the following nine years, including the last four consecutive years.
A victorious ending to 2016 appears less certain for the CR-V. In the last five months, the best-selling utility vehicle in America was the Toyota RAV4, sales of which rose 14 percent in the first-quarter of 2016 as CR-V volume slid 3 percent.
Incidentally, the last SUV to unseat the CR-V on a calendar year basis was the Ford Escape. Back in 2011, the Escape was available with a hybrid powertrain, an option not offered by rival small SUVs. Fast forward to 2016, and the vehicle most likely to unseat the CR-V — the surging RAV4 — is likewise available with a hybrid powertrain. A meaningless, low-volume variant meant to bolster an automaker’s green cred? Perhaps that was the case with the Escape in 2011, but there’s an entirely different story to tell with the RAV4 five years later. (Read More…)
Against expectations that auto sales would rise by at least 7 percent, March 2016 volume in the United States increased just 3 percent. Modest growth at General Motors and noteworthy drops at Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz didn’t stop auto sales from increasing by more than 50,000 units, year-over-year. But the possibility that auto sales in March would climb to one of the highest levels ever failed to materialize despite an additional two selling days compared with March 2015.
Indeed, the daily selling rate achieved by the auto industry decreased even as March 2016 hosted 27 official selling days on the auto sales calendar, up from 25 one year ago. (Read More…)
If your neighbor tells you they’re thinking of buying or leasing a new midsize sedan, you wouldn’t be crazy to assume that they’ve likely visited the local Toyota, Honda, and Nissan dealers.
Yet the majority of U.S. midsize car buyers do not, in fact, choose the Camry, Accord, or Altima.
Diversity wins. The dominator isn’t all-conquering.
The tiny, centre-mounted screen is controlled by a wheel and a mound of buttons. Controls for power seat memory protrude from the driver’s door, demanding the attention that protruding things tend to demand. Rubbing the driver’s right knee is plastic surrounding the centre console that would seem out of place in a car costing 10 grand less. The 3.7-liter V6 ignites with a level of coarse grumbliness that suggests Infiniti spent slightly more time on NVH than Blue Bird does on school buses. The faux wood applique — with which Infiniti liberally encompassed the shifter, climate, and audio controls — may be the same stuff Hyundai once used to make the XG300 appear upmarket.
Yet the QX50, riding as it does on only a slightly elevated 370Z architecture, is ridiculously fun to hustle down an empty rural road. The level of standard horsepower, 325 ponies at 7,000 rpm, shames its competitors. And for 2016, the Infiniti QX50 can ferry live human passengers in its rear seat.
As a result, U.S. sales of the Infiniti QX50 jumped 473 percent over the last five months. (Read More…)
Competition improves the breed?
In order to tighten its grasp on the American midsize truck market, the Toyota Tacoma was thoroughly refreshed for model year 2016, a necessary development following the arrival – finally – of all-new competition at the end of 2014.
Evidently, Toyota did not need to debut an all-new pickup truck in order to fend off new General Motors challengers and keep its hold on a segment Toyota has led since 2005.
Want proof? Nearly half the non-full-size pickup trucks sold in the United States in the first two months of 2016 were Toyotas. (Read More…)
Through the first one-sixth of 2016, U.S. sales of passenger cars sold by so-called premium brands plunged 17 percent. That year-over-year loss of nearly 25,000 sales occurred over the course of the auto sales calendar’s two lowest-volume months.
Lost in the story of booming auto sales volume in February 2016 — the highest-volume February since 2001 — was the underachieving premium market. Auto sales jumped 7 percent in February, a gain of 86,000 units, but 19 premium brands — from sector-leading Mercedes-Benz to one-model Alfa Romeo — combined for only a 1-percent year-over-year uptick during the same period.
Why, in such an apparently healthy market, are premium auto brands collectively losing market share? (Read More…)
The good news? Volkswagen of America sold more new vehicles in February 2016 than the company managed to sell in January 2016.
The bad news? Improving upon January’s results was a given. February volume was significantly stronger across the industry, just as it always is. Even as industry-wide sales grew 17 percent compared with January, Volkswagen sales grew 11 percent. And while the industry surged to its best February results since 2001, Volkswagen brand sales still fell to the lowest February total in five years. (Read More…)
When is a Gregorian calendar not a calendar? When December 2015 ends on January 4, 2016.
AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson brought greater attention to the subject of the unnecessarily convoluted auto sales calendar when, in a conversation with Automotive News reporter Amy Wilson, Jackson said, “It’s ridiculous that I have to get on the air and explain the industry calendar to make sense of sales.” (Read More…)
Minivan sales in America fell 8 percent to only 513,000 units in 2015, less than half the number of MPVs sold in the United States a decade ago. Yet the number of sales produced by the three biggest players, across four nameplates, are more than healthy enough to suggest Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is wise to reinvest in their Windsor, Ontario, plant and the all-new Pacifica van.
Of course, the degree of wisdom employed by FCA as the automaker goes about reinventing its van is up for debate. Switching from Town & Country to Pacifica? Leaving the Dodge Grand Caravan to lumber along in previous-gen form? Neglecting all-wheel-drive in a gaga-for-SUVs market? There are upsides and downsides to each of these decisions.
But FCA’s decision to stick with a segment from which Ford, General Motors, Hyundai and Mazda fled is a wise one. The minivan market is much, much smaller than it was a decade ago. But if half a million people in America want to buy a minivan every year, the automakers which historically controlled the sector will want to own as large a chunk of that market as possible. (Read More…)