By on May 2, 2018

This marks the first full 30 days since General Motors deemed us slovenly journalists unworthy of a monthly sales report. We’ll live, of course, as estimates are a wonderful thing. To be fair, their move wasn’t entirely without precedent: the industry used to report sales on a 10-day cycle, then twenty, before finally settling on a monthly statement.

As for concrete numbers, all other OEMs are still providing them (for now). Given the sea of red in some corners, there are a few who probably wish they weren’t.

Leading the way last month for the Detroit Three was FCA and its merry house of brands, recording a 4.3 percent jump in April. Sergio has Jeep to thank for this result, with that marque alone counting for nearly 14,000 extra units. That’s a record April, by the way. Chrysler, Ram, and Fiat all took dives. The company is largely flat through the first quarter, but a double-digit decline at Ram must be keeping execs awake at night. Imagine if they didn’t try to goose the numbers.

Ford experienced a decline both on the month and on the year, to the tunes of 4.7 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. Ford said April car deliveries dropped by 15 percent while utility (crossover and SUV) sales fell 4.6 percent. Trucks edged up about a single percentage point. As for the General, best estimates peg their performance as slightly off in April but up about 20,000 units to date in 2018.

Japanese brands had a rough month, with even the mighty Honda and Toyota recording drops in volume. One should note, both to the credit of the winners and in consideration of the losers, that there were two fewer selling days in April 2018 compared to the same period of 2017. None of the major brands fell more than Nissan, which slid a whopping 28.1 percent compared to the same month last year. Quarterly performance is not as dire but still off about 35,000 vehicles or 6.5 percent.

The Koreans were no better, showing declines at Kia and Hyundai. This is not a blip at the latter, as the company is off by roughly 11 percent both last month and year-to-date. Your author is flummoxed by that development. Sister brand Kia is also slightly adrift, but by much smaller numbers.

Those who are buying cars are spending more. Industry boffins at J.D. Power say the average new vehicle transaction price in April was $32,544, more than a grand above the previous high of $31,414 set in April 2017.

The market as a whole declined by almost 5 percent last month and is currently flat through the first quarter of this year.

[Image: Nissan]

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41 Comments on “U.S. Auto Sales Brand-by-Brand Results: April 2018 (a Best Guess Tally)...”


  • avatar
    Jack Denver

    Most of the up vs. down results can more or less be explained by each brand’s mix of SUV vs. sedan. Have lots of SUVs (Jeep, Land Rover) – you’re doing great. Have none (Jaguar, Genesis) = you’re in trouble. Have a mix (Mercedes) – you’re flat. The sedan decline has become a sedan rout. Sedans are becoming increasingly radioactive. Soon sedans will join minivans on the list of vehicles that most people would not be caught dead driving, if they haven’t already.

    • 0 avatar
      EX35

      Genesis is also way overpriced given the quality of the vehicle they are selling. On the surface the G80 and 90 seems great but dig a little and the quality issues become apparent. I was interested in picking up a used 2016 Hyundai Genesis (essentially a G80) but comments on the forums about constant issues involving unresolved vibration issues and dealer refusals to honor warranty repairs scared me away.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Denver

        I’m not sure what quality issues you are talking about. I have a 2016 and I haven’t had any problems. The sticker is already well well below a comparably equipped say Audi and the quality of the Audi is no better, probably worse (take it from a former Audi owner). The real world prices are even lower – the used ones go for a song and there are even bargains to be had on new ones (I got mine as a leftover for many many thousands off the sticker).

        The dealer experience does suck but you get what you pay for.

        • 0 avatar
          EX35

          A simple search on genesisowners.com and gencoupe.com yields many threads on highway speed and idle vibrations, among other issues that Hyundai refuses to address.

          A warranty is only as good as the manufacturer is willing to address. I agree that prices on used Genesis’ are great, which is what drew me to research the car. But I won’t trade annoyances that go unresolved just to save a. Little bit of money. Been there done that and will never make that same mistake again (I’m looking at you, Infiniti!)

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “many threads on highway speed and idle vibrations”

            Personally, this sort of thing would not scare me away from buying a Genesis; but if what you’re looking for is high-level build quality and a stellar reputation you should be shopping a Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Jaguar has two CUVs so your argument doesn’t hold. Also the Mazda 6 was flat with last year, as was the CX5. Since whilst the market is moving away from sedans it is not a uniform move.
      Nissan has plenty of SUVs/CUVs and fell a lot, can you explain?

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Would be nice to have an accurate percentage of fleet sales per vehicle and company.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Yowza, that is precipitous drop in sales for Nissan. I wonder if that reflects less sales to fleets or if in-store traffic is down that much. Typically we don’t see drops like that unless it is a niche company like Fiat, down 44% but only 1135 units.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I suspect it may have been a big fleet dump last year that boosted up the numbers last spring, year-to-year is not anywhere as dramatic overall.

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        Kind of like Camry fleet sales dump. 9% fleet sales to over 13% ?

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Sure? Is that supposed to be some sort of gotcha?

          • 0 avatar
            VW4motion

            Facts are facts. Fleet sales keep the Camry up in the numbers. Do some research.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            VW4motion,

            You’re absolutely right and those fleet sales eventually wind their way to the (secondary) used-car market.

            A lot of people cannot afford to buy new, so they buy fleet program cars.

            That still takes away sales from all who are not Toyota.

            Pretty smart market strategy, and a smooth tactical marketing ploy.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            @VW

            At what point did I imply anything or say anything about Toyotas to begin with? I made a guess about the discrepancy in Nissan sales year to year and here you come foaming at the mouth “TOYOTA SELLS FLEET TOO HAHAHA!!11!1!”

            I’m well aware of their fleet presence with Camrys, Rav4s, Corollas, and even 4Runners.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            gtem, you aren’t feeling the proper amount of intended shame. The midsize family sedan class is a truly exciting and rapidly growing one, so there is no excuse for fleet sales. None! Second place in the retail race is just the first loser.

            If the Camry sells to fleets, it means NO ONE buys in private retail. Remember, 100% – 13% = 0%

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        Gtem, while i suspect you are correct it would be nice if Nissan would provide some clarity surrounding the substantial drop in sales.

        If the answer is/was the same figure to fleet as usual, then that leads me to think the sub prime banks really are starting to tighten. This is a whole different set of issues.

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    Very interested in VW’s sales over the next 12-18 months… if the “SUV Blitz” and “People First Warranty” strategy pays off or not. Now that the Atlas is in full production (more or less), is that plus the new Tiguan accounting for the 8.6% gain in sales? What effect will the new Jetta have? If sales increase enough, will VW have the guts to pull the trigger on a pickup for the USA?

  • avatar
    Ridgerunner

    Ford posts it fleet numbers and other details for public view on media.ford.com
    According to their April report, fleet sales were off 8.6% with a total of 67,602. Of their 204,651 sales, Rental comprised 13.3% of total sales (-2.1 YOY), Commercial 13.6% (+1.1 YOY) and Government 6.1% (-0.4).

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Any bets on how long until FCA puts Fiat in the US out of its misery? The brand appears to be on the same trajectory as Smart at the moment.

    Mitsubishi is almost certainly also a money-pit, but at least there’s evidence of effort to remedy the situation.

  • avatar
    ernest

    So basically, Jeep outsold Nissan as a brand. That’s astounding.

  • avatar
    EX35

    What’s up with RAM dropping nearly 13% year over year? Increase in gas prices hurting sales of full-size pickups? Ppl holding out for the 2019 model?

    • 0 avatar
      ernest

      Launch fustercluck with new model.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      2019 Ram 1500 production is struggling to ramp up, and availablity on lots is limited (only V8 crew cabs right now, with certain options unavailable). Also heavily skewed to more expensive models to get as much money out of people who have to be early adopters. Production of older model is limited compared to previous years due to transistion to 2019 model.

      I don’t think the RAM sales decline is keep execs up at night yet- the reasoning behind it is solid. It is if the 2019 model fails to gain a lot of traction and the sales decline continues as production ramps up and smooths out that will keep them up. Right now many of the Ram’s issues can be explained as a supply problem. It is when there is a demand problem that execs really get nervous-those are much harder and more expensive to fix as it suggests there is something fundamentally wrong with the product.

      • 0 avatar
        EX35

        I did a nationwide search on new RAM 1500s available at dealerships. 12k 2019 and over 54k 2017-2018 models available. Those numbers don’t seem to indicate a production problem, but rather an incentive issue. Why the hell isnt Dodge putting more money on the hoods to get rid of old model stock?

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          They are putting a ton of money on the old model to get rid of old stock. Remember that the 2018 model is still in production though, so a high number of 2018 models is to be expected. Also be careful with 2019 numbers. Many dealers advertise trucks before they actually have them. My local dealer is advertising 16 2019 models (and they are showing up on autotrader/cars.com etc), and has been for almost a month now. They actually only have 2 or 3 in stock, the rest are still “in transit” according to Ram. This is a common phenomenon with brand new vehicles. Dealers post and advertise ordered vehicles early to drive traffic into the store, even if the vehicle isn’t physically on the lot yet.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            And if they are lucky they will have a buyer’s deposit in the bank before the vehicle hits the lot.

          • 0 avatar
            EX35

            I have to imagine gas at 3.50 this summer will put a damper on sales. Maybe?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Tesla outsells 11 other brands (including Porsche and Jaguar), is up 36%, and dominates its market segment, but they’re bad because they’re liars and cheats.

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      SCE,

      You can sign in and listen to the “Tesla Good Times Radio Show”, hosted by radio legend Elon Musk, at 2:30 pm PST.

      Just tune your radio dial to this frequency:

      https://edge.media-server.com/m6/p/nwvzygvo

    • 0 avatar
      civicjohn

      SCE,

      You can sign in and listen to the “Tesla Good Times Radio Show”, hosted by radio legend Elon Musk, at 2:30 pm PST.

      Just tune your radio dial to this frequency:

      https://edge.media-server.com/m6/p/nwvzygvo

  • avatar
    vehic1

    Mr Grieves: Yes, for once VW needs to be bold and try to at least partially adapt to the US marketplace. Since this Tanoak vehicle is made off the Atlas platform, costs should be reduced. And, whether or not it is a BOF brodozer, it could sell a good piece of Honda’s ultra-plain-Jane-styled Ridgeline (which is selling less well as a recent model than its 1st Gen., butchier-styled one). Even Toyota and Nissan, who’ve sold BOF trucks for decades in the US, can’t totally crack the Deeply loyal buy-American-brand pickup market (the last refuge for these folks, since they no longer monopolize cars, vans, SUV/CUV sales).

  • avatar
    vehic1

    ernest: Somehow, I doubt Nissan is just going to suddenly go away; it has really increased its sales over the last few years. Indeed, Jeep has done well with its flurry of refreshed models; no telling if that will last forever, either.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    That average 32k car costs just around $600/month tax inclusive for those financing for 60 months at 3% interest and 8% tax.

    $600/mo. For an average new car.

    F&*k me runnin’.

    No wonder 84 month car loans are being used, or people have just given up owning a car and now lease. With leasing, it’s easier to hide the cost, as increased insurance costs don’t go to Honda or Hyundai – it’s going to the gecko or Allstate and increased registration/licensing goes to the state.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    The most surprising number here is MINI. With all of the talk about how they’re done for and it’s vehicles are such poor values, they’re selling more.

  • avatar
    gmichaelj

    “As for the General, best estimates peg their performance as slightly off in April but up about 20,000 units to date in 2018.”

    Looking at the Autonews link tells me that they are just guessing: “*Estimate”. You’d think that a website dedicated to dealers (Autonews) would have some contacts at major dealerships that could give/sell them some numbers on what the mega dealer(s) did last month and they’d extrapolate to all of GM.

    The estimate less than useless – it gives a false impression of knowledge

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Re Hyundai and Kia sales fall off: “Your author is flummoxed by that development.”

    Why? No offense, but it’s been going on for over two years. And it’s worldwide. Hyundai peaked in 2014. There have been articles ad infinitum about their so-called lack of crossovers both here and in the general business press. Surely an analyst keeps up with this sort of stuff unless they’re just looking at numbers once a month then dozing off. Yup, the Hyundai decline and lesser Kia decline was mentioned back in Tim Cain’s time here.

    The real surprise and what needs to be followed is the Nissan decline. They have been on a roll upwards for years under the radar. Is the intro of the new Altima causing fits, or did people wake up and realize everything from Sentra on down is rather, um, tinny?

    • 0 avatar
      EX35

      in my experience, US made Nissans have horrid build quality compared with their Japanese built models. And Nissan offers very few models made in Japan (Armada/Patrol, Z, and GT-R, if I am not mistaken).

      hell, even my Japanese built Infiniti which is only 6.5 years old is experiencing relatively minor, but very annoying issues. We own a ’17 Armada which has been flawless, but I probably won’t be back to the brand, even if they still offer Jap built cars in the future.

  • avatar
    Igloo

    The real surprise in this list is McLaren.

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