Chevrolet Best-Selling Brand for First Time in Over Five Years

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
chevrolet best selling brand for first time in over five years

In October 2016, after a 68-month gap, Chevrolet was once again the top-selling automobile brand in the United States.

Despite a modest sales slowdown, General Motors’ highest-volume brand increased its market share, outsold Ford Motor Company’s namesake Ford brand by 3,341 units, and produced the Bow-tie brand’s best October retail volume since 2004.

Ford, on the other hand, tumbled 13 percent, was four points lower.

In October 2016, however, Chevrolet increased its retail sales by 6 percent and reported a 7-percent overall increase in light truck volume. Although Chevrolet car volume plunged 14 percent to only 57,921 sales — less than one-third of the brand’s total output — total Chevrolet volume dipped just 1 percent in a market that fell 6 percent.

Moreover, October was an abbreviated sales month. With only 26 selling days on the calendar this year, October 2016 was short two days, or 7 percent, compared with October 2015. This means that on a daily selling rate basis, Chevrolet was up 7 percent.

Credit goes to the Cruze (which recorded its third consecutive monthly improvement), the Camaro (which outsold the Ford Mustang for a second consecutive month), and even the Sonic, Spark, and Volt (which collectively added more than 1,600 sales in a market that’s not favoring such cars).

On the light-truck side, the midsize Chevrolet Colorado pickup’s 50-percent leap more than counteracted the full-size Chevrolet Silverado pickup’s 4-percent drop. (Total GM pickup truck sales fell 2 percent.) The Suburban and Tahoe accounted for 10 percent of Chevrolet sales, up from 6 percent a year ago. Traverse and Trax sales were on the upswing, as well.

Meanwhile, at Ford, where the Blue Oval lost its best-selling auto brand crown after a 68-month stretch on top of the podium, the automaker blamed a sharp drop in fleet sales for much of the company’s October decline. Total Ford Motor Company fleet volume fell 24 percent after the company “front-loaded” fleet volume to daily rental companies earlier in the year, drove many new F-Series Super Duty pickups to the driveways of retail customers, and suffered a huge, 62-percent recall-inflicted Transit Connect wound. Ford lost 18,163 passenger car sales, 5,661 SUV/crossover sales, and 2,215 commercial van sales compared with October 2015.

Of course, F-Series sales increased, albeit by only 42 units, year-over-year.

With Ford operating cautiously, intent on decreasing inventories as the market slows, is Toyota’s turn to top the leaderboard upcoming? Not since March 2010, when Toyota outsold Ford by more than 4,000 sales, has the Toyota brand topped the U.S. sales charts. On an annual basis, Toyota hasn’t been the top-selling auto brand in America since 2009.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Xeranar Xeranar on Nov 02, 2016

    So you're saying 7 years after the GM death watch and bailout they're looking like a nominally healthy automaker? Is that surprising in any way, really? Shedding dead weight was depressing but a necessity since the Olds & Pontiac divisions had been so badly depleted to be nothing more than badges on the same car there was nothing to 'spin off' into a new company. I'm not a fan of Chevy, I don't think I'll ever buy a bowtie car except a Corvette but I respect they've managed to rebuild their line up intelligently. Though I have to say, they still feel like they're playing in a different world, atleast they're getting better at it.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Nov 02, 2016

      Estimates vary, but the most recent number I could find was that $11 billion of the bailout money for GM was never recovered. Some people reckon that's a good value, in order to re-invigorate GM and keep its 200k+ direct employees (not to mention suppliers) working and paying taxes, rather than the alternative.

  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Nov 02, 2016

    Where is BAFO saying , "I told you so?" Ford slayed by a 9/10th's pickup.

  • MaintenanceCosts I was reading, bobbing my head along, thinking "$5000 and whatever it costs to throw in a 1.8 gasser and we have a winner," and then you have to harsh my mellow by sharing the seller's delusions of grandeur.
  • MaintenanceCosts They can't keep selling through the current hodgepodge mess of desperate or disreputable dealers. Somehow the sales model has to change. Whether they become the Don Quixote that tilts at the franchise-law windmill to sell direct, or they cut a deal to get into another OEM's dealer network, something has to change.They've always been able to engineer competitive cars when they want to, but they haven't had a reasonable way to sell them since the Chrysler tie-up ended.
  • Sgeffe There’s a guy on YouTube who owns several Oldsmobile Diesel-equipped vehicles, including an A-Body with the 4.3 V6. Might be the Chevy.IIRC, Adam Wade on the “Rare Classic Cars” channel stated that this engine was also available in 1985 only in the redesigned C-Bodies (98 Regency, Electra, DeVille/Fleetwood).
  • Tassos It's a GREAT value, but what, if any, profit will GM make from this vehicle? When it prices it at only $30k, while the much smaller and much CRAPPIER FIAT 500E goes for OVER $40k????
  • Tassos The consumers (not the "market") DO trust EVs, but those that are superior and well-priced,THey buy millions of TESLAS and very few copies of all the other dozens and dozens of LEGACY BEVs.Makes sense to me. None of these experienced makers have YET succeeded to design and build a better Tesla, that is ALSO PRICED COMPETITIVELY.
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