U.S. Auto Sales, July 2018: Plenty of Red … Unless You're Fiat Chrysler

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Major manufacturers saw their fortunes take a dip in July, with red ink spilling across the page like an airport departures board during a snowstorm.

More than ever, sales performance seems tied to the number of crossovers and SUVs available at a given OEM. Sedan heavy marques are taking a beating. Even Ford’s strong selling truck line could not drag the company’s results into the black, thanks to a tanking of sedan sales.

Are customers shying away from Ford cars because the Blue Oval has announced their impending demise? Logical or not, it is indeed possible that folks do not want to drive a nameplate they know won’t be around in the coming years, fearing a loss of resale value and potential hassle when it’s time to service the thing.

Versus July 2017, Ford’s car business is off a staggering 27.7 percent. Trucks are up 10.2 percent. Total fleet sales out of the Glass House equalled 26.4 percent of volume and there’s a 90 day supply of cars on the ground. I’ll leave those numbers in your hands for comment.

While it is true that FCA saw a 5.8 percent month-over-month increase and is up 4.6 percent so far this year, a close examination of the numbers reveal that it is the Jeep brand that is carrying the weight in Auburn Hills. All by itself, the Jeep brand is up a stunning 21 percent year-to-date, shifting very nearly 100,000 more vehicles than they did in the first seven months of 2017.

The entire FCA empire is up 56,337 units during the same time frame. The Wrangler itself is up 37,180, keeping in mind Wrangler sales currently comprise those of the old JK and the snazzy new JL, at least until dealers run out of the old model.

Toyota registered a six percent drop in monthly sales volume but are up about a percent-and-a-half to date in 2018, having sold nearly 1.4 million vehicles. Nissan is off by double digits both in July and on the year, while Honda and Mazda also fell into a fugue last month.

Other trends worth noting include Kia outselling its big brother, Hyundai, by a couple of thousand units in July. The Genesis brand sold a total of 615 cars last month. Total industry numbers remain an estimate, thanks to General Motors moving to a quarterly report.

Beyond raw sales numbers, J.D. Power said the average retail transaction price last month was tracking towards $31,561 – a new high. Average incentives are said to have risen to $3,754, with an average APR of 5.74 percent. That’s nearly a full percentage point higher than this time last year, by the way. This, combined with transaction prices heading northward, points to a customer base seeking ever-longer finance terms, girding their loins for 84- or 96-month loans.

There was one less selling day – a total of twenty four – compared to July 2017 and, thanks to a calendar quirk, one less weekend. Both of those metrics generally contribute to lower numbers, especially the latter. Seasonally adjusted, talking heads are estimating this year’s total sales to come in somewhere around the 16.7 million mark.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler]

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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  • Lockstops Lockstops on Aug 02, 2018

    Let us know when Tesla actually has sales numbers that represent their actual sales figures instead of a backlog of delivery f-ups of monumental proportions. Then let us know when Tesla beats someone in another market than their home market. So for example when BMW decides to stop making 3-series for a year at the point of a model refresh but keeps taking in orders, and then we measure the sales figures once they start actually delivering after that year's hiatus then let's see if the numbers are better than Tesla's. Then let's add up all the other models BMW makes that are for that same segment: all the 2-series, 3-series different bodystyles, 4-series, of the X-models at least the X2, X3, X4 and then the lowest priced models of the 5-series (because yes, they do compete for Model 3 customers). How's it looking? Not really the impression you were trying to push, huh?

    • See 3 previous
    • FIEtser FIEtser on Aug 03, 2018

      @Lockstops Actually, the Model 3 outsold the entire BMW sedan lineup in July and they're going to be increasing numbers further over the next several months. As long as they reach targets, they're almost certainly going to deliver more Model 3s over the rest of the year than BMW delivers sedans and perhaps even all vehicles in latter months as they push to get cars to people before the end of the year.

  • FIEtser FIEtser on Aug 03, 2018

    The article is about July numbers but the included graphic is showing June for me? Is that correct?

  • Ted Lulis Head gaskets and Toyota putting my kids through college👍️
  • Leonard Ostrander Plants don't unionize. People do, and yes, of course the workers should organize.
  • Jalop1991 Here's something EVangelists don't want to talk about, and why range is important: battery warranties, by industry standard, specify that nothing's wrong with the battery, and they won't replace it, as long as it is able to carry 70% or more of its specified capacity.So you need a lot of day 1 capacity so that down the road, when you're at 70% capacity with a "fully functioning, no problem" car, you're not stuck in used Nissan Leaf territory."Nothing to see here, move along."There's also the question of whether any factory battery warranty survives past the original new car owner. So it's prudent of any second owner to ask that question specifically, and absent any direct written warranty, assume that the second and subsequent owners own any battery problems that may arise.And given that the batteries are a HUGE expense, much more so than an ICE, such exposure is equally huge."Nothing to see here, move along."
  • Roger hopkins The car is in Poland??? It does look good tho...
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.