By on November 2, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel

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, a loss of 26,000 sales compared with October 2015, due to sharp declines in its car and utility vehicle divisions.

It’s certainly not unusual to see perennial leader General Motors, Chevrolet’s parent company, outselling all other automobile manufacturers in the United States. Not since March 2011 has the Ford Motor Company outsold all of General Motors in the United States, and even then, only for a brief moment.

But Chevrolet has not in recent years been the major force it was even at the dawn of this century. Sharing space under the GM umbrella with Pontiac and Saturn and Oldsmobile, Chevrolet still managed to earn 16.2 percent of the overall new vehicle market in 2004.

Last year, with far fewer familial rivals, Chevrolet’s market share was four points lower.

Best-selling auto brands chart October 2016

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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23 Comments on “Chevrolet Best-Selling Brand for First Time in Over Five Years...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Aside from brand loyalty, what’s the impetus to purchase a Camaro over the superior Mustang? Discounts?

    • 0 avatar
      DevilsRotary86

      If you are in a position where you can safely expect to be the only driver of the car, the Camaro is the superior sports car over the Mustang.

      http://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/2016-chevrolet-camaro-ss-vs-2015-ford-mustang-gt-final-scoring-performance-data-and-complete-specs-page-4

      The Camaro is lighter than the Mustang, brakes better, handles better, and out accelerates it. Where the Camaro starts to fall apart vs the Mustang is if you expect to carry people with you on a regular basis. And the Mustang is more comfortable to live with day after day, week after week.

      But again, if you just want a sports car, I find it hard to argue against the Camaro.

    • 0 avatar
      SD 328I

      Actually, I think Chevrolet greatly increased the incentives on the Camaro which eclipsed Mustang incentives.

      They were stuck with a huge supply of 2016 and even some 2015 models, while 2017s are ramping up.

      There are examples of $10,000 off MSRP on new Camaros right now.

    • 0 avatar
      Frylock350

      @CoreyDL,

      Drive a Camaro SS; I test drove one and fell in love. The Mustang GT isn’t as good. The drivetrain, chassis, and suspension are perfect.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    GM please stick a real gas truck motor in your midsize twins. The 4.3 available in your 1/2 tons would be absolutely perfect!

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Generic Motors, appliances for everyone!

    If that’s what you have to become to be #1, I never want to buy the most popular car from the most popular brand, ever.

    • 0 avatar

      I lost five IQ points reading that comment.

      And do we really want to discuss appliances when most of AMC’s offerings were exactly that?

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        Actually AMC dared to be a little different back then (they had no choice, like FCA< they were really too small to compete straight-up with a Toyota or a GM). They arguably invented the crossover long before it was fashionable.

        Besides, I've never owned one, I just like the logo, and the Eagle.

        • 0 avatar
          Zackman

          “Besides, I’ve never owned one, I just like the logo, and the Eagle.”

          We have. We owned a 1976 Gremlin (used) and Wifey and I both had a ball driving it for almost 3 years 1977-1980. Mom bought a 1979 Concord brand-new and she kept it until she stopped driving in 1990. A Sherman tank of a car.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      Back about 1980 I drove a 75 AMC Matador for a month or so while waiting for a new car I had ordered. A friend at work had the Matador and did not trade it when he bought a new Chrysler Cordoba. The Matador was basically a mixture of everyone else’s parts. It had Ford electronics, a Chrysler transmission and maybe even GM steering components. The thing drove rather poorly, but had comfortable seats. Ugly as sin, also.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      “Generic Motors, appliances for everyone!”

      Sure that’s just what I say to myself everytime I slip behind the wheel of my Gen 1 Chevy VOLT. Or do I say, “best damn car on the road and man I love it!” ……LOL

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “On an annual basis, Toyota hasn’t been the top-selling auto brand in America since 2009.”

    That was during the last Carpocalypse. I think we’re going to see lead changes as the entire market slows – just as cars slow at different rates and change lead while approaching a stop light.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    I’m not sure if this is good or bad news for GM. The bad news is that their car line-up is basically entirely new and this is as good as they can do? The Sonic is their oldest car; only half way through its model cycle. All the other cars are new or only a few years old. Its not like GM is splitting the pie anymore with Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and to a lesser degree Buick.

    The good news is that new crossovers are around the corner. The new Equinox should sell well enough, and a new Traverse will help a too. If GM is smart they will bring back the Trailblazer as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Tumbling-Dice

      “The Sonic is their oldest car; only half way through its model cycle.” The Sonic enters its sixth model year for 2017. Unless the General is planning to give it the Olds Ciera treatment, are you sure about that?

  • avatar
    Zackman

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

    That’s exactly how it should be always. Heading toward 30% market share again! Woo-hoo! (I wish…)

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    All things equal I prefer Fords. However, I have own several vehicles from other brands. (my Honda, wife’s Buick, kids Honda) Ford only makes one car with good room front and back for my family. The Fusion.

    The back seats in the Fiesta and Focus make those two cars non starters. I have always liked the looks of the Taurus and MKS but big on the outside and cramped on the inside takes them of the list. GM made the same mistake for most of their fleet for most of the last few years. They seem to be coming around to the idea of offering adult size rear leg room in their sedans. I don’t know how much this issue is impacting the market share loss but I don’t think I’m the only one who has passed on a Ford for the passenger room issue.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    81% of GM sales in October were retail also.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      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.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Where is BAFO saying , “I told you so?”

    Ford slayed by a 9/10th’s pickup.

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