By on March 1, 2018

2015 Escalade/Escalade ESV

With only 24 selling days in which to make a buck in February, the nation’s automakers found themselves staring down the tunnel of a short month. In many parts of the country, the weather at this time of year doesn’t help matters, either.

Most major OEMs saw fewer machines wend their way off dealer lots, with a few notable exceptions.

Let’s first look at the bright spots. Mazda, the sporty lone wolf of today’s car racket, witnessed their best month since 1994, when showrooms were filled with 323s, 626s, and the scattered (fabulous) 929. An increase of 12.7 percent compared to the same month one year ago is good news for fans of the zoom-zoom brand; year-to-date numbers are up by roughly the same amount as well. Mazda credits their CX line of crossovers with this success. It should: the CX-5 is up 64 percent to 26,679 units so far this year. The cars? Down a quarter.

Credit where it’s due – Mitsubishi also saw double digit increases last month, with both the Outlander and Outlander Sport selling at significantly increased paces so far in 2018. Fred Diaz will find the car portion of the company to be in poorer shape, as the Mirage sold at less than half (1,323) the rate it did this time last year.

Scion tC Release Series 10.0

Toyota also recorded gains, a not-insignificant 4.5 percent increase to 182,195 vehicles delivered in the month of February. This is the largest of any company in America save for Ford and GM. Toyota’s car business was largely flat but its light-truck division roared ahead like gangbusters, with the Tacoma and Tundra up 18 and 10 percent respectively. In fact, the Tacoma is up more than 25 percent so far this year. Its SUVs and crossovers are similarly strong. Someone in America also bought the final new Scion tC. *sheds single tear*

On the negative side of the ledger, Honda suffered a drop in its numbers, led by the (gasp!) Accord and CR-V. Shocking, as the new Accord is an alarmingly good car. The sedan is off about 13 percent so far this year and the CR-V is faring no better. Combined, both models have bled over 16,000 units in 2018. If not for the Pilot, which has single-handedly picked up about half that volume, the Big H would be in even more dire straits.

In Michigan, light trucks (but not necessarily pickups) saved the Detroit Three from experiencing more red than a ketchup convention. The General saw year-over-year declines of about 7 percent, a figure that includes fleet sales. Deliveries to retail customers were down 10.5 percent. The lone bright spot at Ren Cen was Cadillac, where every vehicle save the CTS recorded a gain. The crest-and-wreath was up 14 percent in February and over 5 percent in the first two months of this year. Average transaction prices of an Escalade are now an eye-watering $82,700.

2018 Ford F-150 , Image: Ford

At Ford, total sales were also down about 7 percent, just like its crosstown rival. Comparing apples to apples, the Blue Oval’s retail deliveries were down by 8.5 percent to 123,073 units. Ford says their average transaction price has jumped to $36,200, about $4,000 more than the industry average. Breaking the Glass House down into segments, both cars and SUVs were off by about 12 percent last month while pickups were up 1.2 percent. A total of 68,243 F-Series trucks left dealer lots in February. Assuming a 12-hour workday for each of the month’s 24 selling days, that works out to an F-Series being sold roughly once every fifteen seconds.

Fiat Chrysler was virtually flat in February compared to the same timeframe 12 months ago, but is down by 7 percent in the first two months of 2018. Jeep, perhaps unsurprisingly, saved the day at FCA, jumping a full 12 percent on the strength of Compass and Wrangler sales. Both of those machines have been recently refurbished. Ram sold 15 percent fewer pickups last month as truck fans held onto their wallets until the new 2019s hit dealer lots.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Ti Sport - Image: FCA

I was going to refer to Alfa’s contributions to FCA’s bottom line as “miniscule” but, thanks to the new Stelvio selling 695 units, that marque moved more metal in February than Fiat (1,568 vehicles vs 1,241 respectively).

We’re still waiting on a few stragglers to post their results and will update this post accordingly.

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

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43 Comments on “February 2018 U.S. Auto Sales: Tough Break for Two of the Detroit Three...”

  • avatar

    “Shocking, as the new Accord is an alarmingly good car” – I would say
    “…as the new Accord is an alarmingly [UGLY but] good car

    • 0 avatar

      Despite the similarities with basic shapes, styling still sells. Defining a car with just new front and rear clips alone aren’t enough. If they can’t change the basic common shape, there will have to be other ways to differentiate, maybe side spears and two-tone paint? They should bring back a rainbow of interior crushed velour while they’re at it.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        It will cost buckets to change a vehicle as you are wishing for. It would almost be a platform redesign. So, this leaves the designers with not much more than a fender, grille/frontend and new plastics and LEDs on the tail lights.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree that Honda can’t design a good looking car, the whole lineup is incredibly ugly. Yet, I really like the way the new accord looks. It looks amazing, even the top of the line directional wheels look great. The rear end looks like a new volvo, and the front end looks like a bigger more attractive civic. However, while the front grill is the least attractive part of the car, I still don’t think it’s ugly, I kinda like it; like maybe she’ll talk to me with those messed up teeth, like it.

      • 0 avatar

        The incrediblly bad sales start for this generation Accord is shocking. Compare that to Camry’s skyrocketing sales and you have the making of one of the biggest automotive stories of 2018.

      • 0 avatar


        when somebody says, “I kinda like it”, this is like saying, “I want to like it but I don’t. But I will make myself say “I like it” anyways”

    • 0 avatar

      Lots of cars are ugly. The designers are trying too hard and failing.

      Is it just my taste, or does anyone else agree that those two Cadillacs have very unattractive front ends? They look like the shape was created by running them into a brick wall.

      And that Alfa has a terrific color, but that style grille went out of style with the Edsel.

  • avatar

    That red Scion on top looks so good. Too bad it is still $h1tty inside.

    Mazda…. Yea! Mazda!

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I would of thought TTAC would of placed an article on Trump’s Chicken tax on steel by now and its impact on the auto industry.


    • 0 avatar

      You beat me to it!

      I heard a news snippet on a financial TV channel this morning where Trump said that there would be several policy announcements made next week, among them taxes on imported items and a realignment of “Most Favored Trading Nations.”

      For a guy who doesn’t like to reveal what he is planning to do, he sure knows how to make others squirm.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Well, just look at Ford. Ford had a great (not) year with profitability, didn’t it. No.

        Ford’s official statement was the price of commodities was the reason, but yet no other vehicle manufacturer had the same issue with commodity prices.

        Like I’ve been stating, those aluminium F Series might be selling, but you need to make a profit and they are costing more than many of the TTAC commenters are recognising.

        With a chicken tax on metals will bring the US manufacturing sector down significantly. An advanced economy makes more out of value adding to processed materials, not processing them.

        Not only that the Metal Chicken Tax will likely start a trade war between all nations and the US. The outcome will be the US will gradually become isolated globally in trade.

        The tyre impost the US had several years ago with the Chinese kept US jobs, but at an estimated cost of $1 million per job! This new Chicken Tax will save a few mill jobs, but cost 100s of 1000s jobs.

        Some spoke to me about the rust belt the other day. I wonder how much more Detroit’s population can shrink?

        Yup, MAGA! US Alone!

        • 0 avatar

          This is what the big guy campaigned on. This is what got him elected. So this is what he is pushing. A man of his word.

          And he is not delicate about it either.

          He said the tariffs were coming, and now they’re here. And the guy is just getting started. No doubt many more changes to come.

          For decades the US has been disadvantaged in trade agreements, always taking in more than sending out.

          Seems to me Trump has turned the table on the rest of the planet.

          There’s an old saying about how well economies are doing, “if the US economy has a cold, the rest of the world’s economies have pneumonia.”

          I think that Trump’s strategy will have individual trading partners rushing to get a new, more equitable trade agreement with the US, during Trump.

          For decades Americans have bemoaned the fact that there was no level playing field for them to compete on in global trade because US goods were so heavily taxed and tariffed by our trading partners.

          I heard on NBR today that the new metal tariffs would result in a $37 increase per car sold in America.

          So, Mexico and Canada may be OK for now because of NAFTA, but China, India and other exporters of metals to the US may have a day of reckoning soon.

          A chance for them to schit or get off the pot, so to speak. Either drop the tariffs on US made goods they import or face the wrath of Trump as he escalates the punishing tariff trade war.

          This is just the beginning, don’t you know? There’s more to come. Much more to come. Stay tuned.

          Rich people won’t be affected. But people of lesser means will have to forego things as they become financially out of reach when these tariffs kick in.

          The changes keep coming.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Some mistruths are given regarding Chinese involvement and percentage of US imports.

            Big fncking lies. Have a read.

            “It is unclear if Australian companies, which export about $270 million worth of steel and $275 million of aluminium to the US each year, will be hit by the tariffs.

            Canada, which supplies 16 per cent of US demand and is by far the largest steel exporter followed by Brazil and South Korea, was also quick to issue a sharply worded response.

            “Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminium products, Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers,” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said.

            Although China only accounts for 2 per cent of US steel imports, its massive industry expansion helped produce a global glut of steel that has driven down prices and hurt US producers, creating a situation the Commerce Department calls a national security threat.

            China only represents 2% of US steel imports and the Canadians 16%.

            So, I guess Trump is not very good at maths.

            Remember most of what Trump states is more than likely not the truth. He’s good at this.


          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Oh, so what if the US reduces imports of steel. The rest of the world will not follow suit. And at best Trump will only allow for uncompetitive suppliers into the US market.

          • 0 avatar

            I think that is the aim of this policy, to reduce steel and other metal (titanium, aluminum, gold, silver, copper, zinc, etc) imports by the US.

            During one of his rants, President Trump stressed that he wanted more US steel incorporated into infrastructure projects, like US-Made steel pipes for oil transport, US-made steel for bridges and railroads, etc. The list was long.

            Trump stated on more than one occasions (according to the clips of talking heads on financial TV) that he wanted to revive the US-metals business, to include steel and aluminum, thus returning more factory jobs to the US (even though US metals may cost more than imports.)

            I think this is all calculated and part of a much larger strategic approach to undo the damage of the last guy’s economic policies.

            Other trading partners can always choose to opt out and take their trade elsewhere.

            That hasn’t happened since the end of WWII.

            But I don’t think that is going to happen now either.

            Other countries will just have to adjust to the new American economic policy of Trump.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Don’t change the direction of the conversation. Obama has a low base to start from. Trump has done little to put the US where it is now.

            Many on this site spruik about how cheap gasoline is now due to the US fracking and dumping oil on the global market. So, why is it different if the Chinese are doing it with metal?

            The world is benefiting from cheaper fuel prices as it is with cheaper metal prices.

            Oh, the US military’s need for metal is 3% of the metals used in the US every year. So, I wouldn’t classify this as a strategic requirement either.

          • 0 avatar

            “For decades the US has been disadvantaged in trade agreements, always taking in more than sending out.”


            Talk about “FAKE NEWS”

            “always taking in more than sending out”

            That *IS* why the USA is the wealthiest country in the world.

            Someone needs to lay off the orange cool-aide!

          • 0 avatar

            Guys, the changes are happening, whether we like them or not.

            It’s quite a conundrum for many partisans because with today’s announcements the ‘crats are overjoyed and the Repugs are in consternation.

            Goes to show, Trump is not a conventional politician, and is only interested in what benefits the American citizenry.

            Whether you love or hate Trump, he’s changing the economic AND political landscape, muy pronto!

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            How does making the US manufacturers even more uncompetitive help its citizens?

            Come on, I know you are a Trumpeter, but look at this objectively.

          • 0 avatar

            That all remains to be seen.

            I see this as a new approach. A tack away from the past. A maneuver away from the failures of the earlier administrations.

            I, for one, am very energized by this new fellow in the White House. I was not fired up about anyone since Reagan, but now is different.

            This guy talks the talk and walks the walk.

            Lotta changes ahead. Yawl brace yourselves, ya heah?

          • 0 avatar

            “This guy talks the talk and walks the walk”

            That is if you have the memory of a goldfish, the attention span of a squirrel on acid and is spiteful as a snake.

    • 0 avatar

      Would you? Of?

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Yes, are you TTACs Demi God?

        What I requested will have far greater impacts on the US auto sector than those terribl Mexicans and NAFTA.

        TTAC was sure quick to put out NAFTA and VW and Tesla articles.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Would it be so hard to arrange the chart such that the umbrella brand is positioned in bold *above* the sub-brands (indented), rather than *below* them? Excel can do that these days.

    (side note): Tim’s Cain’s departure from GCBC has left that site in shambles, and I miss his contributions here.

  • avatar

    I like the new, cleaner format for the table, but SCE to AUX, you have a point.

    Subaru continues its relentless ascent (without the Ascent) — 80 months straight or something like that?

    Stick a fork in them, they’re done — Fiat and Smart.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Ford with its massive transaction insrease, very high compared to its peers still had those profit issues due to commodity prices (metals) as Ford claimed.

    Aluminium, way to go Ford!

  • avatar

    China tariffs? GOOD!
    They ve been cheating long enough.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Blacksmiths used to be the best place to find iron products, but that’s changed …………. hasn’t it?

      Plus you appear to be one of those who requires education. Read below to see why and where the jobs are;

      “While American steelmakers have lost three quarters of their jobs between 1962 and 2005, a major study by the American Economic Association showed that much of this had been due to improved production technology as output per worker rose fivefold.”

      Like agriculture, which used to employ over half the work force 150 years ago, manufacturing is heading the same way. It isn’t others “stealing” jobs, its technology and the US will need to grapple with this technology, like everyone else on the planet. No one owes the US, Australia or any country anything.

  • avatar

    Buy castings from China?
    Get them for the price of the aluminum – (almost).
    And they ll throw in the tooling for Free.
    OBVIOUS DUMPING. Come on man.

  • avatar

    Looks like the new Tiguan is doing pretty well for VW and the Atlas isn’t far behind. Passat, Golf and Jetta sales have tanked compared to 2017.

  • avatar

    Fiat is about to get a tap on the shoulder from a skeleton carrying a scythe.

  • avatar

    We are finally getting some snow here in the Sierra foothills. I’ve read some posts about how terrible their car is in the snow. I’m wondering if with the thaw people buy more Subaru’s and Jeeps, both of which are very popular here.

  • avatar

    Anyone else notice Subaru outsold Hyundai? Considering how limited their product line is, that’s eye-popping.

    The Accord should be doing better than it is. Anecdotally, I’ve seen tons of new Camry’s on the road. I just saw my first new Accord yesterday. Maybe it was the color (matched the Oregon sky- Gray), but that bodystyle isn’t doing it for me.

  • avatar

    28-cars-later: But VW Group’s sales increased over 9%, while Subaru’s were under 4%.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    When a see a new BLACK Suburban or Suburban variant, I can only think of 1 word – Hearse

  • avatar

    The Accord 2.0T is amazing driving car. On the road it handles very well and takes any bumps smoothly and the ride quality is very good. The interior is modern, luxurious and roomy with nice technology for the $36K. I did find that the shape of the Accord should be a liftback like that of the Stringer or A5 Sportback which would provide a lot more utility. I will buy it if it goes on “special” like a rebate of some sort in the near future? Great car IMO!

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