U.S. Auto Sales in 2017 - Year's End Delivers Letdowns As Market Shrinks
Automakers released 2017 year-end numbers today and, despite lower or near flat year-over-year volume for most, the performance beat the expectations of most analysts.
Still, American new vehicle sales slipped a hair under 5 percent in December, dropping by 1.75 percent to a total of 17.245 million for all of 2017. This brings the parade of annual growth to a screeching halt, as the industry has posted year-over-year gains ever since the dark days of 2009.
The top selling individual nameplate in the industry for 2017 was the Blue Oval, selling 2,464,041 machines in a performance that largely mirrored last year’s results. Toyota and Chevrolet also cracked the two million mark and, in a surprising revelation, Subaru sold more cars than Kia in 2017.
As a corporation spanning four brands, GM topped three million units, moving a total of 3,002,237 vehicles off showroom floors in 2017. That’s off 1.3 percent, year-over-year. Cadillac was off by a remarkable 28.6 percent in the final month of last year, dragging the entire nameplate down by a total of 8 percent compared to the entirety of 2016. Buick was largely flat, while GMC saw a gain of 2.5 percent.
FCA sales free-fell by over 8 percent, year-over-year, thanks to a mass exodus of customers from the Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, and Jeep brands, which all saw double-digit declines. Ram ended the year up 2 percent, and Alfa added 12,031 cars to the bottom line.
The two largest Japanese brands were also largely flat in 2017 compared to the previous year, with Honda showing a 0.2 percent increase over all (+0.7 percent Honda, -4.2 percent Acura) and Toyota edging down a mere 0.6 percent, largely thanks to a near 8 percent dip at Lexus. Gains at the Toyota brand itself were offset by the axing of the Scion brand.
Month-over-month comparisons are always tricky as a single good month in a calendar year can skew percentages quite wildly. December 2016 was notably strong, for example. Year-to-date comparisons provide a much more realistic picture of the state of the industry.
Challenges lie ahead for the auto industry, with rising interest rates and other tests on the horizon. There is a decent chance that incentives will rise next year on some high-margin vehicles as manufacturers stretch themselves to closely match 2017’s performance.
Hedging its bets, GM said in a release it expects the industry to sell fewer than 17 million vehicles in 2018, lower than what will likely be the final total for 2017 and more than half a million units off the heady days of 2016.
No surprise to anyone reading this website, American car buyers have shown a clear preference for crossovers, pickups, and SUVs. Some in the industry, such as FCA boss Sergio Marchionne, have said the shift may be permanent.
We’ll update the charts listed above as the remaining manufacturers release numbers.
[Source: Automotive News] [Image: Honda]
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