By on November 1, 2017

2017 Dodge Challenger GT AWD, Image: FCAIf the Detroit Three want to keep wind in their sales sails, it sure won’t happen on the strength of traditional passenger cars.

Several brands from Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posted U.S. sales declines in October 2017, all thanks to the slipping popularity of regular cars. In many cases, the continued strength of the crossover/SUV/truck market wasn’t enough to tip the scales back in the automakers’ favor.

2018 Ford F-150 - Image: Ford

Let’s start off at the top, because that’s where Ford Motor Company sits. The company’s Blue Oval brand recorded an October U.S. sales increase of 6.6 percent, year-over-year, though the same can’t be said for the Lincoln brand — the premium division’s sales sunk 1.8 percent compared to the same month last year. (Year-to-date sales are reversed, with Ford down 2.2 percent compared to 2016 and Lincoln still beating last year’s tally by 2.4 percent.)

So, where is the volume coming from?

Do you even have to guess? Overall FoMoCo car volume sunk 2.4 percent in October compared to a year prior, but SUV sales rose 5.3 percent. With a refreshed Ford F-150 and revamped Super Duty out for 2018, Ford truck sales shot up 11.4 percent.

Breaking it down even further, the pattern remains crystal clear. Fusion sales are down 6.2 percent, year-over-year, with sales over the first 10 months of 2017 dipping 22.6 percent from last year. The Taurus sank 5.4 percent in October. One bright spot is the Focus, which recorded a 7.8 percent increase. Still, this year’s Focus sales remain 10.4 percent lower than last year’s.

Lincoln saw its MKZ and Continental sedans record year-over-year drops 10.9 and 18.5 percent, respectively, in October. Meanwhile, Navigator sales rose 9.7 percent, the compact MKC crossover rose 10.3 percent, and the midsize MKX improved by 17.8 percent.

2017 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty, Image: FCA

Over in Auburn Hills, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles saw overall sales sink by 13 percent. The mighty Jeep and Ram brands both lost 3 percent of their U.S. volume last month, compared to October 2016, while Chrysler dropped 22 percent. Fiat fell 33 percent. Dodge recorded a 41-percent drop in year-over-year sales. Only Alfa Romeo, something of a fledgling brand, saw its sales rise following the introduction of the Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV. With 1,205 vehicles sold in October, Alfa’s tally represented a 5,139 percent year-over-year increase.

Across the board, the only FCA models to see year-over-year sales increases in October were the Jeep Compass, Cherokee, and Renegade (up 81, 19, and 9 percent, respectively), the Dodge Charger and Durango (up 19 and 11 percent, respectively), the Ram pickup line (up 1 percent), the Fiat 500L (up 34 percent to a whopping 159 units), and the Alfa 4C (up 96 percent to 45 units). Of these vehicles, however, only the Renegade and Ram pickup closed out October with more year-to-date sales than in 2016, and only by a small margin.

2018 GMc Acadia - Image: GMC

At General Motors, the passenger car slump weighed heavily. With all GM divisions combining for a 2.2 percent year-over-year sales decrease, last month saw GMC become the only brand to increase its tally compared to October 2016. The truck-and-SUV-only division posted a sales increase of 4.6 percent, spurred by a 25.5-percent uptick in Sierra sales. Acadia sales rose modestly (5.2 percent), while Canyon sales rose 2.7 percent. This compensated for year-over-year losses with the Terrain, Yukon, and Yukon XL.

So far, GMC sales in 2017 are up 3.7 percent.

The same picture is not as rosy over at Chevrolet, which posted a 3.8-percent year-over-year dip. Despite sales increases of the Equinox crossover (up 28.5 percent) and the Silverado pickup line (up 6.8 percent), it wasn’t enough to keep the brand in the sales black. Sonic sales sank 66.4 percent, year-over-year, and Cruze sales plummeted 35 percent. The Malibu ended the month down 9.3 percent. In fact, and this goes against the industry’s grain, the only Chevrolet car to post a year-over-year sales gain in October was the full-size Impala, which rose 24.1 percent.

2018 Cadillac XTS, Image: General Motors

Over at Buick, sales sank 4.5 percent, year-over-year, in the month of October. While the imported-from-China Envision seems to have lost traction, slipping 2.3 percent, the redesigned Enclave and subcompact Encore crossovers soared by 30.4 and 25.2 percent, respectively. On the other side of the popularity coin, the LaCrosse sedan and soon-to-be-replaced Regal sank 43.7 and 40.5 percent, respectively. Sales of Buick brand vehicles are down 5.7 percent over the first 10 months of 2017.

Cadillac’s October volume almost equalled last October’s showing, falling short by 0.1 percent. While the popular XT5 crossover picked up steam (rising 19.5 percent, year-over-year), rear-drive sedan sales plummeted even further. The ATS dropped 41.7 percent, the CT6 flagship fell 39.5 percent, and the midsize CTS posted volume lower by 23.9 percent. Each model sold less than a thousand units in October.

However, as bad as those sedans performed, one four-door passenger car came reasonable close to outselling all three combined. The venerable front-drive XTS, recently spared from execution and refreshed for the 2018 model year, saw sales rise by 49.6 percent. Perhaps livery companies are stocking up?

It should be noted that October 2017 featured one less selling day than October 2016, which helps skew sales figures downward (though by how much, we don’t know).

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford, General Motors]

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34 Comments on “Detroit’s October 2017 Sales: Ford Soars, Fiat Chrysler Hits the Brakes...”

  • avatar

    Local FIAT dealer is selling new 2017 500 Pop for $9,999. Can’t hardly give ’em away.

  • avatar

    Does this trend help or hurt you if you want a sedan?
    Is there a glut of them on lots, or they just don’t have that many because they have adjusted manufacturing to reflect slowing sales of sedans?

  • avatar

    “Cadillac’s October… sedan sales plummeted even further…

    – the ATS dropped 41.7 percent.

    – the CT6 flagship fell 39.5 percent and

    – the midsize CTS posted volume lower by 23.9 percent. Each model sold less than a thousand units in October.”

    Just checking in.

    I’ve been so correct in analyzing Cadillac and its total incompetence that it’s SPOOKY SCARY!

    Those are MASSIVE declines, especially considering that they’ve been in perpetual free-fall YoY (CT6’s first year, but the depressing pattern will follow that of the ATS and CTS losers).

    Johan, Pen Boy Uwe & Melody dressed up as Tweet Curators for Halloween last night and hit all the best spots in SoHo.

    Now back to the grind.

    Super tired today. SUPER tired (and I don’t eat candy of any kind; refined sugar being approved as safe was a nefarious plot to poison Americans and destroy their health, as bad, if not worse than that which Big Tobacco – the remnants of which NOW OWN the largest junk/processed food corporations in the world – nice divestiture – and it succeeded).

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      “Super tired today. SUPER tired (and I don’t eat candy of any kind; refined sugar being approved as safe was a nefarious plot to poison Americans and destroy their health, as bad, if not worse than that which Big Tobacco – the remnants of which NOW OWN the largest junk/processed food corporations in the world – nice divestiture – and it succeeded).”

      Eat a Snickers.

    • 0 avatar

      Have you driven the CTS? Might surprise you a bit. The Camero underpinnings give these cars quite good handling and roadfeel. (and of course there are the V versions) The prices are way too high but the discounts bring them into reason. Drove the Jag E, Merc 300, BMW 3 and other before buying the Caddy. All in all it was a much better deal, and as good or better a car in many ways. At least it did not have an IPad glued to the top of the dash. And I do still own a Merc 300 and a Jag.

    • 0 avatar

      Eh, once again, one has to look at the other automakers for comparison.

      Cadillac sold 3,765 sedans in the mid-upper sedan segments.

      Compare that with:

      Audi – 1,940

      Genesis – 1,786

      Lexus – 886

      Infiniti – 378 (granted only 1 model)

      Lincoln – 996 (also only 1 model)

      Yeah, the CTS sales are down (779), but as stated numerous times, the CTS from the very start had packaging issues due to the Alpha platform.

      Still, it’s been outselling the Lexus GS (558) and for the month only about 100 sown from the combined sales of the GS and LS (so where’s all the gnashing about Lexus sedan sales in the mid-upper segments?).

      MB and BMW are the only automakers to do better than Cadillac and what BMW did (4.589) is less than a thousand ahead.

      Also, the Camaro borrowed the Alpha platform from Cadillac and once again, the “curse of the Alpha” strikes again as the current Camaro also has a cramped interior.

      JdN has worked to correct the mistakes his predecessors at Cadillac made.

      The ATS replacement will once again be closer in size to the 2G CTS and the CT6 will be repositioned as Cadillac’s mid-size offering (the next gen model may get a little smaller).

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Jeep’s in trouble, I’m tellin’ ya.

  • avatar

    Well the Compass and Cherokee saw big gains at jeep those were the ones lagging all year so that’s a good sign. GC and Wrangler are down a bit. GC has had a very good year so far (up 16% for the year despite Oct dip) and Wrangler is about to switch to a new model.

    Ram took a huge hit on promaster. I’m guessing that was a change in some fleet ordering like enterprise or U haul.

    I’m curious what cheap wheels the Caravan and Journey buyers are grabbing instead? Locally it seems to be alot of Pathfinders, but curious on a national level.

    • 0 avatar

      The plant that builds Grand Caravans was down from the end of Sept through October to retool to make that model FMVSS compliant for ’18MY and beyond. Inventory was thin before the plant went down, so the big slip in sales with that model was due to a lack of inventory.

  • avatar

    Ok Ford, be brave and put a Fusion (type) body on a Mustang chassis and let us hunt for BMWs. Caddy did it and it works.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      How has that worked for Caddy? The ATS and CTS are glued to the showroom floor. Their best selling sedan is the FWD XTS.

      • 0 avatar

        It could work if marketed properly as an american sport/muscle sedan. Give Charger customers a Ford option and it would work for police who still want sedans once the Taurus goes. FALCON! RETURN! Ford won’t do it, though.

  • avatar

    Take that, car companies held hostage by government CAFE regs that force upon the masses impractical sedans that should be successful, but due to coupe fastback styling, buyers go straight to CUVs because they can actually get in and out of them easily, plus being able to see out of their vehicles much better.

    Really saddens me, though.

    • 0 avatar

      “Take that, car companies held hostage by government CAFE regs that force upon the masses impractical sedans that should be successful”

      It’s actually the other way around. CAFE regulations encourage sedans to become CUVs as 4wd CUVs with minimum approach and departure angles classify as trucks and thus have a lower CAFE bar to step over before generating fines. FWD CUVs are still classified as cars but can achieve near-car mileage and design costs can be aligned with 4wd models. Sedans get fined sooner on the CAFE curve and generate greater penalties MPG being equal.

      The trend toward CUVs certainly isn’t all consumer preference. Consumers tend toward newer designs in general and if the OEMs have to change the form of their products to be profitable, they do.

  • avatar

    “With a refreshed Ford F-150 and revamped Super Duty out for 2018, Ford truck sales shot up 11.4 percent.”

    Paging Big Al……Paging Big Al…….

    Counter three has that serving of crow for ya!

  • avatar

    I bought a new Ford Fiesta last month. I do what I can to help.

  • avatar

    I wonder how the refresh is going to work for Mustang? Sales IIRC were trending down heading into MY18 and not to many people are digging the updated look but Mustang has a potent performer on its hands with the new power plant and A10 trans. Late Model Restoration got their hands on a GT with the regular performance pack and the automatic transmission. They scaled the car and it was a tick under 3900 pounds yet they ran a 12 flat at almost 117 mph in so-so weather (this fall at a good track like Bud’s Creek they should be into the 11’s). Pretty impressive for a car that is easily 150 pounds heavier than its chief competitor and only has 5 extra horsepower on paper.

    I priced a base GT out at the Ford website using the X-plan (easy enough to acquire since you just join a club like MCA pay 50 bucks and get about a 2k savings) with the automatic and it came in at 35k. Not bad for a car that is fairly well equipped even in rental spec form offering the same sort of performance that cost 45-50k less than a decade ago if you wanted something fast with a blue oval.

    GM is supposedly planning a similar rental spec V8 Camaro. It’ll be interesting to see how that pans out and how Mustang sales go as it heads toward the supposed new chassis in 2020.

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