By on October 19, 2017

2017 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription - Image: VolvoThrough the end of September 2017, Americans have registered 13 times more Volvo V90 CCs than Volvo V90s, clarifying with purchasing habits what every auto industry observer, casual or professional, already knew.

Volvo’s surely not surprised, either. After all, if you want to acquire a low-slung Volvo V90, Volvo forces U.S. customers to actually order the car. (Perish the thought.)

Even less surprising is the frequency with which Volvo now sells wagons. Combined, the four V60 and V90 variants account for fewer than one-in-10 Volvo USA sales through the first three-quarters of 2017. (Read More…)

By on October 19, 2017

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid - Image: ToyotaFor five consecutive years between 2012 and 2016, the Honda CR-V has been America’s most popular utility vehicle.

In fact, the CR-V has topped America’s SUV/crossover sales charts in nine of the last 10 years, a streak of dominance that began in 2007.

It appears increasingly likely in 2017, however, that the Honda CR-V’s streak will be broken by the Toyota RAV4. Thanks to 20-percent year-over-year growth through the first three-quarters of 2017, the RAV4 leads the CR-V by more than 31,000 sales and the Nissan Rogue/Rogue Sport by more than 15,000 sales with scant time remaining for the RAV4’s rivals to make up the gap.

The difference maker? Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid. (Read More…)

By on October 19, 2017

2012 Lamborghini Urus Concept - Image: LamborghiniThe company that sells SUVs together stays together.

So it goes, or is likely to go, with Lamborghini. Keep in mind that the Volkswagen Group supercar manufacturer has already seen massive sales growth. During the half-decade before Stephan Winkelmann took over as boss at Lamborghini in 2005, the brand was selling only 800 cars on an annual basis. But by the time Winkelmann was done a decade later, Lamborghini was averaging 2,300 annual sales. In 2016, Lamborghini sold 3,457 vehicles around the world, including more than 1,000 in the United States.

Those figures will soon seem paltry because the unfortunately named Urus SUV will double the brand’s volume. But what does such a massive change do to Lamborghini’s operations? (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Cassino Italy assembly plant - Image: FCAAlfa Romeo is on track to sell between 130,000 and 140,000 vehicles around the globe in calendar year 2017, a far cry from the 170,000-unit performance Sergio Marchionne expected Alfa to put together.

U.S. sales remain predictably low by the standards of rival brands but are rising quickly now that the Stelvio SUV is in action. But on the other side of the Pacific, new rules that limit automobile manufacturers from forcing dealers to accept stock, Automotive News Europe reports, has sorely limited sales in China. Thus, rather than the 2,666 Alfa Romeo Stelvios shipped to China in July, only 227 landed in China in August.

The result? Alfa Romeo is cutting back production of the Stelvio and Giulia in Cassino, Italy. (Read More…)

By on October 12, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica - Image: FCAMinivan sales tumbled 16 percent to only 33,358 units in September 2017, the lowest total for America’s people-carrier sector since January 2015.

Between the disappearance of two nameplates (Nissan Quest and Mazda 5), limitations on Dodge Grand Caravan sales during a period of plant transition, and further decreases from the aging Kia Sedona and new Honda Odyssey, minivan volume fell 6,460 units below September 2016’s total and nearly 11,000 units shy of September 2015’s tally, and more than 10,000 units short of 2017’s monthly average through the first two-thirds of the year.

A positive spin is difficult to find. (Read More…)

By on October 11, 2017

Beijing Cadillac Arena Wukesong - Image: CadillacBy the slimmest of margins, Cadillac’s U.S. operations put an end to China’s repeated dominance of Cadillac’s sales charts in August 2017.

But after Americans acquired two more Cadillacs than the Chinese did in August, normal order returned in September 2017. 49 percent of the Cadillacs sold around the world last month were delivered in China, where volume rose 38 percent, year-over-year.

Perhaps of greater consequence to Cadillac’s New York HQ is the fact that September sales not only increased in China but also in the U.S., Canada, and in its rest-of-the-world markets.

September was the 16th consecutive month of global Cadillac sales improvement. Naturally much of the credit belongs to the Cadillac XT5. (Read More…)

By on October 6, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt and 2017 Chevrolet Volt - Images: GMIf plug-in hybrids were meant to function as a stop-gap between ICE-powered cars and fully electric cars, it may be time to consider Chevrolet gapless.

The Chevrolet Volt appeared in first-gen form in late 2010. By 2016, with the arrival of a second-generation edition, Volt sales climbed to record levels in the United States, albeit still not at the level GM originally hoped to see.

The Volt was and is a plug-in hybrid, an electric car with a range-extending gas-powered engine.

But with nationwide availability of the Chevrolet Bolt — change that V to a B for pure electricity — we’re now watching as Chevrolet Volt sales tumble. It turns out General Motors now has far more U.S. demand for its electric car than its ICE-accompanying electric car.  (Read More…)

By on October 5, 2017

2018 Hyundai Sonata Sport - Image: HyundaiEver more minor midsize players continued to see their share of America’s midsize sedan segment dwindle in September 2017. The cause: domination on the part of America’s two major midsize cars.

The all-new 2018 Toyota Camry enjoyed its first full month of meaningful availability in September and produced a 13-percent year-over-year U.S. sales improvement as a result. Meanwhile, Honda is clearing out remaining 2017 Accords in advance of the all-new 2018 Accord’s arrival this fall. Honda’s efforts produced a 10-percent uptick compared with September 2016.

Yet despite the big gains from the two major players, the upper class, the midsize segment still declined 7 percent in September because of sharp declines by many members of the middle class.

That means Camry and Accord market share continues to rise. That means the slice of the market earned by the middle class continues to shrink. (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry and 2018 Honda Civic - Images: Honda And ToyotaIn many ways, September 2017’s auto sales bucked the trend. After the industry combined for decreased volume, year-over-year, in each of 2017’s first eight months, auto sales in September rose 6 percent. Meanwhile, the shrinking car sector that tumbled 12 percent through the first two-thirds of 2017 was down only 3 percent in September.

There were two big reason the passenger car decline wasn’t worse: America’s two best-selling cars.

Excluding the Honda Civic and Toyota Camry, U.S. car sales fell 6 percent. But as the clear-out of remaining 2017 Honda Accords got underway and produced 10-percent growth, the launch of the 2018 Toyota Camry generated a 13-percent uptick. Meanwhile, the Honda Civic’s 26-percent surge allowed the compact Honda to expand its lead over the midsize Camry in the race to end 2017 as America’s best-selling car. (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2017

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass Trailhawk - Image: JeepSeptember 2017 sales at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles decreased on a year-over-year basis for a 14th consecutive month, extending a stretch of declines that began in August of last year.

For much of that time span, the U.S. automobile industry was reporting declining sales, as well. And for much of that time span, even as total U.S. auto sales kept on sliding, SUV/crossover sales were rising. For much of that time span, Jeep sales were falling.

Technically, officially, Jeep sales kept on falling in September 2017, the U.S. auto industry’s first month of improved sales this year.

But if you’d just ignore the Jeep Patriot for a moment, we can look at a clearer picture. (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2017

Fenton Nissan Texas showroom - Image: NissanIn September, for the first time in 2017, auto sales were higher this year than last.

Substantially higher.

Compared with September 2016, auto sales in America last month were 6 percent higher, far healthier than the modest sub-1-percent uptick analysts predicted. Booming pickup truck volume, big gains from America’s best-selling SUVs and cars, continued growth from trend-bucking Subaru, and rebounds at Volkswagen resulted in an industry that reported 1.5 million total sales, nearly 90,000 more than in September 2016.

The seasonally adjusted annualized rate shot up to 18.6 million, the best SAAR since July 2005, according to Automotive News. Over the last half-decade, Americans have averaged fewer than 1.3 million September new vehicle acquisitions. Last month’s result was 18 percent better than the September average.

Sunshine and roses? An end to the U.S. auto industry’s gradual slide? A sign of a perfectly healthy market? We have four reasons you should be skeptical. (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2017

2018 Subaru Outback - Image: SubaruU.S. auto sales exceeded analyst expectations with a big 6 percent year-over-year increase to 1.5 million units in September 2017, the first monthly improvement in 2017 so far.

After auto sales fell 3 percent during the first two-thirds of 2017, big September increases from Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors, Ford Motor Company, American Honda, Nissan’s trio of brands, and numerous smaller outfits brought the sales pace achieved through the first three-quarters of 2017 within sight of 2016’s record rate. By the end of September, U.S. auto sales are down by less than 2 percent compared with last year.

Pickup trucks played a major role in September’s improvements, growing at twice the rate of the industry at large. The Honda Civic expanded its lead as America’s best-selling car on a quest to end the Toyota Camry’s 15-year run. Minivan sales plunged to barely more than 33,000 units. The Toyota RAV4 topped 42,000 sales for a second consecutive month, leading a booming SUV/crossover class. (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2017

All-New 2018 Ford F-150 - Image: FordSeptember 2017 sales of pickup trucks rose to the highest level so far this year in the United States, jumping 12 percent to 257,864 units.

Prior to this point, truck sales had grown by less than 4 percent, year-over-year, averaging slightly more than 225,000 monthly units.

September’s big gain was fuelled almost entirely by improvements among the full-size pickup trucks that own 84 percent of America’s pickup truck market. And America’s full-size pickup truck gains were powered in large part by America’s best-selling line of vehicles: the Ford F-Series. (Read More…)

By on September 30, 2017

2017 Ford Fusion - Image: FordAcross the U.S. auto industry, there are a number of auto brands that are actually selling more passenger cars in 2017 than in 2016: Jaguar, Lincoln, Infiniti, Subaru, Volkswagen.

Some specific models, many with all-wheel-drive availability like the Audi A5, Subaru Impreza, and Volkswagen Golf, are enjoying far greater sales success this year than last.

But you know the story. Generally speaking, Americans are buying far fewer cars now than they used to. From more than 50 percent just five years ago, passenger car market share is down to 37 percent. Nowhere is this more obvious than at traditional domestic manufacturers, the Detroit Three. (Read More…)

By on September 29, 2017

2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Image: HondaGeorge W. Bush was finishing his second year as president of the United States when Toyota reported 434,145 Camry sales in calendar year 2002. No other passenger car generated more U.S. volume that year.

Or the next year. Or the next. Or the one after that. In fact, the Toyota Camry’s reign as America’s best-selling car continued for a decade and a half, stretching from 2002 through 2016.

Unless the launch of the all-new 2018 Toyota Camry results in a superior final third of 2017, however, Toyota’s tenure atop the leaderboard will end this year. Ahead of the Camry by 1,153 sales through the first eight months of 2017 is the Honda Civic.

With 2018 Civics arriving in Honda showrooms on October 3, 2017, Honda is determined to leave well enough alone. The recipe is unchanged. Honda will not mess with success. (Read More…)

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