By on January 11, 2017

Acura MDX Honda Pilot Odyssey Ridgeline – Images: American Honda

Throughout much of the third-generation Honda Pilot’s tenure, U.S. sales have not measured up to the success of the previous-generation model, though not for lack of demand.

In a market gone mad for SUVs and crossovers, three other vehicles have constrained production of the Pilot in Lincoln, Alabama. In addition to the Pilot, American Honda builds the Honda Odyssey in Lincoln, along with the Acura MDX. The second-generation Ridgeline started rolling off the Alabama line in May 2016.

As a result, Honda dealers have had a difficult time getting their hands on enough Pilots to sate the predictably high level of interest in a respected three-row crossover nameplate. Heading into December, for instance, Honda only had 36 days of Pilot supply according to Automotive News, about half the current industry average.

But with an all-new 2018 Odyssey about to pick up steam and the Ridgeline reaching a second-gen high of 4,085 sales in December, the Pilot needs room to breathe.  (Read More…)

By on December 20, 2016

2016 BMW X1 and 340i - Image: BMW USA

BMW continues to spend industry-leading levels of money to lure luxury car buyers in the United States. Yet November was the twelfth consecutive month in which sales at the BMW Group declined, year-over-year, in the U.S..

Through the first 11 months of 2016, sales at BMW are down 10 percent compared with the same period in 2015; Mini volume is off 11 percent.

According to TrueCar, however, no automaker is spending more in incentives, on a per vehicle basis, than BMW of North America. November 2016 incentives at the BMW Group jumped 25 percent compared with November 2015 yet sales fell 16 percent.

How much cash on the hood do American luxury car buyers want? (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2016

2017 Cadillac XT5 rear

In 1999, GM altered the front fascia and slightly upgraded the interior of the GMC Yukon Denali to introduce the Cadillac Escalade. Although Cadillac was late to the Lincoln Navigator’s game, the biggest, baddest, boldest Cadillac quickly became an undeniable hit.

Now in fourth-generation form, U.S. sales of the regular-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade are on track to rise to an eight-year high in 2016.

Joining the Escalade in Cadillac’s SUV/crossover lineup in 2003 was the first-generation Cadillac SRX. With a two-row mainstream approach in generation two, the Cadillac SRX also became a huge success. Propelled forward in part by incentives, the SRX’s ability to claim its best ever U.S. sales total in 2015, its final full year, was nevertheless impressive.

Less than half a year into its run, the SRX-replacing Cadillac XT5 is likewise a formidable hit; yet more proof that Cadillac knows how to shake its moneymakers. Which makes you wonder why Cadillac hasn’t already brought to market more moneymakers for the brand to shake. (Read More…)

By on September 8, 2016

2017 Bentley Bentayga:Mercedes-Benz began selling the ML in 1997. Seemingly more of a stretch, along came the BMW X5 two years later.

Then Porsche, not just a luxury carmaker but the preeminent German sports car builder, pulled the same stunt with the Cayenne in 2003. The move doesn’t seem so crazy now that Porsche produces 60 percent of its U.S. sales by way of the Cayenne and its little brother, the Macan.

Indeed, there were no surprises when earlier this year, in one fell swoop, the F-Pace became Jaguar’s best-selling model in its first month on the market, outselling the newly re-launched XF and the brand new XE right from the start.

But can the same strategy be replicated further upmarket? Much further upmarket, at a $232,000 price point? At a brand which suffered a 46-percent year-over-year sales decline in 2016’s first seven months?

Most definitely. The Bentayga is to Bentley what the Cayenne became to Porsche, what the F-Pace has already become at Jaguar. Only more so. (Read More…)

By on April 25, 2016

2016 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription Car wash, Image: Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

We said the new Volvo XC90 would need to sell very well. It is, in fact, selling well. And given the sharp declines Volvo is reporting with every other model, we may have understated the need.

Globally, Volvo reported an all-time record number of sales in calendar year 2015. In the United States, however, even with the second-generation XC90 displaying signs of recovery, Volvo sales in 2015 were half the total achieved by Volvo 11 years earlier.

But in early 2016, Volvo’s big new SUV isn’t simply “displaying signs of recovery.”

Nearly half of all Volvos sold in America in the first-quarter of 2016 were XC90s. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2016

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Image: Daimler

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…)

By on December 4, 2015

IMG_0113

We’re currently going through a period where conventional sedans and sports cars are losing favor with consumers relative to higher-riding SUVs and crossovers. That’s true from entry level brands to the top shelf. Ultra luxury and exotic car companies have noticed the kind of success that Porsche has had with the Cayenne and just about all the high end companies — with the exception of McLaren and Ferrari — are working on some kind of utility vehicles.

Lamborghini showed the Urus concept in 2012 and earlier this year said they’d be doubling the capacity at their Sant’Agata, Italy factory to put a SUV into production, starting in 2017. Bentley, like Lamborghini a part of the Volkswagen group, is coming out with the dubiously styled Bentayga, whose platform will be shared by the Lambo SUV and new generations of the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne.

The Urus, or whatever Lamborghini decides to call it, however, won’t be the first SUV to wear the Lamborghini brand. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2015

TTAC Volvo XC90 sales chart

We’re finally beginning to see the impact a new SUV can have in Volvo showrooms.

The second-generation XC90 posted a 209% year-over-year increase to 1,176 U.S. sales in July 2015. That equalled 796 more sales this July than last and the highest monthly total for the XC90 since December 2010.

So is Volvo back? Well, not quite. Not yet.

Because the auto market is so seasonal, year-over-year change is a valid figure to consider, but it’s less useful when the previous year in the year-over-year comparison was the 13th year in the model’s lifespan. XC90 sales in July 2014, for instance, were 88% lower than in July 2004. (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2015

2015 Porsche Macan S

In July 2015, for just the second time since arriving in America 15 months ago, the Porsche Macan outsold its bigger brother Cayenne.

Also in July 2015, for the first time since arriving in America 15 months ago, the Porsche Macan was the best-selling Porsche in America.

But is Porsche just using the Macan to appeal to Cayenne buyers who want something smaller or less expensive, thereby cannibalizing Cayenne volume in the United States? (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2015

 

Aston Martin DBX concept

Aston Martin DBX concept

In our post about McLaren having no interest in producing a sports car for the masses, I mentioned I didn’t ask Wayne Bruce, McLaren’s communications director, if the company was considering producing an SUV like many of the other expensive marques. Well, Mr. Bruce read the post and contacted me, saying that he wished I had indeed asked him that question because the answer goes to the heart of what the McLaren brand means to the company and to its customers. Other car companies might be well served to emulate the clarity with which McLaren understands their own brand. (Read More…)

By on May 1, 2015

Aston Martin Logo

Aston Martin is entering the high-end luxury SUV/crossover game, while Lamborghini is still debating whether or not the LM002 needs a successor.

(Read More…)

By on January 16, 2015

luxury suv market share by brand 2014Curious fact: America’s two best-selling premium brands and one of the two fastest-growing premium brands are the three premium brands which rely the least upon SUVs and crossovers in the U.S. market.

We correctly believe that much of the growth in the luxury vehicle sector over the coming half-decade will be in the CUV category, but there’s no denying that the major players established productive, popular, profit-generating passenger car lineups many years ago.


• Most new crossovers introduced in 2014 were “premium”

• Majority of Jaguar-Land Rover, Acura, Lincoln sales come from utilities

• Porsche and Cadillac generate half their U.S. volume with utilities


SUVs and crossovers are assisting these brands – BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi – in finding new avenues for growth, but their car divisions are large volume tools.

The same can’t be said for many of the mid-tier and low-volume luxury brands. Cars accomplish very little for Acura and Jaguar-Land Rover, generate only half of Cadillac’s volume, and produce only 45% of Lincoln sales. (Read More…)

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