By on September 4, 2018

2019 Subaru Ascent

For marques flush with crossovers, SUVs, and trucks, August held some pleasant news. Any company whose portfolio is devoid of product (or filled with aging machinery) in those segments found their balance sheet wanting.

Evidence of this? SUV-anemic brands such as Genesis are falling off the proverbial cliff while Subaru is outselling the likes of Hyundai and the entirety of VW Group. It’s also worth noting that without Jeep, Fiat Chrysler’s fortunes would be markedly different this year.

Starting with FCA, the company as a whole is up over five percent so far this year, having found buyers for nearly a million-and-a-half vehicles. Contributing to this are an additional 10,000 Alfas finding homes through to the end of August compared to an equivalent amount of time one year ago.

Chrysler? Off 12.2 percent. Dodge? Down 5.4 percent. Fiat? Floundering 42.8 percent. Even the mighty Ram brand, suffering a slow launch of its flagship 1500 pickup, is down 1.9 percent on the year but did indeed pull up its socks last month, making for the best August on record since the Ram brand was introduced in 2009. But Jeep? Oh man. Americans can’t buy them fast enough.

The can’t-stop-won’t-stop brand saw its sales rise to 87,502 vehicles, a full 20 percent more than last August. Four of the brand’s five nameplates reported increases, but it was the Wrangler that set a new August record, making for the sixth consecutive month that Wrangler sales have surpassed the 20,000-unit mark. With new Wranglers rolling onto dealer lots every single day, your author sees no reason why this trend won’t continue. The Cherokee is also up a stunning 48 percent year-to-date, selling 155,907 examples so far in 2018.

For its part, the Blue Oval sold a total of 81,839 pickups in August. That makes for 16 straight months of year-over-year gains. High-zoot Super Duty trims made up more than half of that truck’s retail sales, pushing average Super Duty pricing to a record $58,700 per pickup. For all F-Series, this was the best August in terms of sales since 2005. Overall at Ford, the average transaction grew by $1,400.

In fact, all pickups are doing well this year:

Hyundai took pains to note in its PR release that fleet volume has fallen to less than 10 percent of units, helping to explain its sliding performance this year. The Korean company is off only slightly in 2018 compared to 2017. August apparently made for the best month in company history for SUV sales.

Combined sales of Nissan crossovers, trucks and SUVs apparently set an August record. This accomplishment was coaxed along by the new Kicks mini-crossover, which sold 3,876 copies last month despite only recently hitting dealer floors. The older-than-time Frontier pickup is roughly flat at 50,856 units to date, outselling everything else on the truck side of Nissan’s showroom save for the Murano. Its continued popularity all but ensures we’re not getting a new Frontier anytime soon, folks.

Mitsubishi is an easy target for internet keyboard warriors, but it is worth mentioning the Three Diamonds just had its best August in ten years. Volume added by the horribly-named but not horrible-to-drive Eclipse Cross more than made up for a drop in Outlander sales, leading one to speculate about a slight bit of product cannibalization. We’ll see if that trend continues. The discontinued Lancer contributed 9,821 units to the bottom line last year.

Volvo and its cadre of luxo-crossovers pushed that brand to new heights as well, besting last August’s total by about 1,000 units and hauling the company up by nearly a third in comparison to this time one year ago. Worldwide, the sales of Swedish safety are up 14.5 percent.

But for solid proof of SUV mania one needs to look no further than your local Subaru dealer. Its continued march up the sales charts put its yearly sales total ahead of luminaries such as Hyundai, Kia, and the entire VW Group. With a raft of crossovers and all-wheel drive vehicles, don’t expect the Exploding Galaxy – which was once a sideshow selling weird cars to granolas and elbow-patched professors – to turn down the heat anytime soon.

[Image: © 2018 Matthew Guy/TTAC]

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56 Comments on “U.S. Auto Sales: SUVs and Trucks Ruled the Roost in August...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Yeah, I think we’ve got it now, Trucks and SUVs sell, cars don’t. It’s been mentioned before

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Not since the the 1950’s or earlier has Chrysler been as close to Ford as it now.

    That new RAM should be a smash hit and Jeep is, well, Jeep.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    The vehicle in the photo is a station wagon.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    there are even more subarus in Subaru crazed New England, however, the local dealer has so many they filled a neighboring property. maybe the turnover is so high they need a big inventory. could be a sign of trouble to come though.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    Lol, Ford sold more F-Series in one month than Toyota has sold Tundras YTD.

    Btw, you guys are all wrong about utility vehicle sales. The Great DeadWeight has already decided they’ve peaked and are now sliding.

    • 0 avatar
      WalterRohrl

      I don’t think Toyota’s too converned. F and T seem to have sold similar volumes overall both this month and for the last twelve months. But only one of them will be diversified across most market segments going forward, i.e. not with every egg in one basket. And only one seems to be looking forward beyond the next quarterly report. I hope Hackett has his Golden Parachute well detailed in his employment contract, I think he’s going to need to pull that cord soon. Screw everyone else, he’ll get his.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        The volumes are similar but the product mixes aren’t. Toyota is selling a chitload and a half of cheap, entry level cars but their product mix is a total no show where the money is. It’s not just the F-Series that they aren’t contesting. Lexus sales are down year on year on year on year with too many cars and just two crossovers, neither of which go upmarket enough. They don’t have a big crossover. Their one real SUV is nine years stale, and setting sales records anyway. They whiffed this red hot market and the transaction prices say it all.

        ATP 2012:
        Ford $32,3
        GM $32,5
        Toyota $29,3
        Industry $30,7

        2015
        Ford $38,2
        GM $37,9
        Toyota $30,4
        Industry $33,4

        2018
        Ford $39,8
        GM $40,9
        Toyota $32,3
        Industry $35,4

        • 0 avatar
          deanst

          Which makes it even more impressive that their margins can still be so strong.

        • 0 avatar
          WalterRohrl

          Yes, Toyota is failing. Sure it is. /s

          Average transaction price has zero to do with actual profit or ongoing corporate sustainability beyond a quarter or a year. Note that the transaction price on a Fusion is higher than that of a Camry. Which one is being cancelled?

          I think Toyota is perfectly happy to take its lower average transaction price as long as the overall profitability is there. The vehicles may not be the most exciting, but it’s not like the average Ford is the most exciting vehicle either.

          As far as Lexus goes, I do see the two CUV’s. I also see two SUV’s, both larger. They seem to have the segments covered in the luxury market. Either way that’s more than Lincoln currently fields. I know which dealership I would rather shop at.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        “…But only one of them will be diversi…”

        If things swing the other way, I’m sure it’ll be harder for Toyota to whip up lines of competitive 1/2 tons, never done before, 3/4 tons, Dually 1 tons, class-4 pickups, class-5, 6, and 7 cab-N-chassis’, motor home chassis’, panel vans, etc, than for Ford to “create”, even from scratch, mindless boring sedans they could stamp out in their sleep.

        Regardless of which way the pendulum swings, it’s bound to be temporary, plus not happen overnight, but definitely not worth if for Ford or Toyota to panic and scramble to “diversify”.

        • 0 avatar
          Prado

          “I’m sure it’ll be harder for Toyota to whip up lines of competitive 1/2 tons, never done before, 3/4 tons, Dually 1 tons, class-4 pickups, class-5, 6, and 7 cab-N-chassis’, motor home chassis’, panel vans, etc, than for Ford ….” Google Hino Motors,which is a subsidiary of Toyota. HMMUSA.COM They do not seem to have a huge US presence, but they exist.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            “…They don’t seem to have a huge US prese…”

            Same with Ford Euro/global cars. But motor homes would be the solution for Toyota? If things shifted further away from small sedans?

          • 0 avatar
            Peter Gazis

            Prado

            Toyota has already brought over Hino based vehicles that it thiught would do well in the U.S.
            Land Cruiser which is sold as a fire truck in Japan
            Scion xB which is sold as a delivery van.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            So anything above a 1/2 ton pickup isn’t considered “diversified”? Can you show where it says that in the rule book?

            With the killing off of sedans, isn’t this just Ford becoming more like Toyota? Besides, how many automakers are trying to hit Toyota in the sedan, small car, first-time-buyer arena?

            Verse how many automakers are trying to hit Ford in the 1/2 ton to class 7 arena?

            Once the dust settles, profits is how score is kept. Taking sales away from a competitor doesn’t always create more profits. There’s more than one way to play the game, but if it’s Ford’s play, it’s stupid.

            Yet Toyota can fully neglect the Tundra and Tacoma and it’s considered genius? I’m not convinced there’s much profit in these two, but if Toyota killed them off, no one would question it.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        Toyota must have amortized the development costs of its pickups a long time ago, which means more profit now.

    • 0 avatar
      Chuck Norton

      “John”

      The Tundra is a vehicle that hasn’t been updated in ten years-that is basically for the Toyota faithful. However-Ford has done a great job giving those looking for a near car-like experience in a pickup.

      As a GMC Sierra owner-It will be interesting to see what the 2019 Silverado redesign will do with the numbers. There is a lot of hate for the new Silverado. The new 2019 Sierra not so much. Also-you have a rumored major redesign of the Tundra supposedly coming. I don’t feel that Toyota is going to make dent in domestic sales no matter what they do.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    23 Jeep Patriots, 1 Dodge Avenger, 11 Dodge Darts, and 39 Chrysler 200’s found driveways last month. I hope the buyer of that Avenger got a screaming deal.

    Chrysler 300 sales down 14% YTD and Dodge Charger sales down 10%. The fullsize sedan category continues to die.

    Jebus is Fiat in terrible shape and I’ll be dipped, Sergio’s Alfa strategy is apparently working – up 171.5% for the year. Sales are still token, but Alfa is catching up to Jaguar, which I think is a fair comparo for volume.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    228 peeps felt it was a good idea to put a Yaris liftback in their driveway, down 84% from last year. Toyota should just kill the unloved, noncompetitive, penalty box on wheels. The Yaris sedan and even more so the Corolla LE sitting next to it on the showroom floor is too much competition.

    Rebranding the FR-S from Scion to 86 from Toyota didn’t help sales.

    A thousand people bought the Mirai this year? Wow, had no idea. Color me surprised.

    All Prius flavors combined are on track to not break 100K for 2018, which would be a first since mainstream acceptance. Toyota needs to step up their game from funky design, meh driving dynamics, a lack of a CUVish offering, and in lower trims pretty lousy interior quality.

    Lexus, thy success is around your CUVs.

    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/toyota-motor-north-america-reports-us-sales-for-august-2018-300706169.html

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Ford sales were 32% fleet, with 12% of that being “bad fleet” to rental agencies, but 12% isn’t that bad (on par with Hyundai and Toyota roughly).

    377 C-MAXs found driveways last month. 4,769 peeps said, “yes by golly I don’t care about mediocrity as long as it isn’t from one of those bail out brands,” and drove home in an Eco Sport. Fourteen Ford GTs were delivered – envy.

    How unloved are sedans? The police duty Explorer outsold the police duty Taurus by more than 3:1.

    The Navigator joined the 6-digit club and that sure didn’t deter sales – which have almost doubled.

    https://media.ford.com/content/dam/fordmedia/North%20America/US/2018/09/04/18-aug-sales.pdf

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    bbbut nobody really needs a truck. And and and and who actually needs 8 seats in an SUV? NOBODY!! That’s who.

    Americans are so dumb

    (Now you won’t have to read the next 100 comments)

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    I love how Tesla’s number is an estimate, LOL. Could be 7900 could be 790….only the great Elon knows for sure, I guess. Back in the olden days we used to call that fraud on a massive scale. Today we call it genius and brilliant.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Keep trying.

      GM has also abandoned monthly reporting, but I didn’t see you calling them out. (Hint – there is a star by their name, also.)

      Besides, that figure for Tesla for August is grossly undersized; Model 3 sales alone will be over 16k.

      Or do you think Tesla builds cars so they can just dump them in the ocean because nobody actually wants them?

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Tesla hasn’t produced 5,000 Model 3’s since the last week of June push, and is behind on production targets. They are shuffling thousands of Model 3s between multiple lots in southern California, the $35,000 Model 3 is a myth still, and by the time it becomes available, incentives will be reduced or gone, essentially making it $39K to $42.5K Basically anyone who wanted an entry level Model 3 was better off getting an “entry level” Model 3 at launch and eating the few extra grand — the tax credit is going away.

        Oh, and Musk went off his rocker Tweeting again last night, but hey, all is good.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Tesla sales for August are estimated to be over 23k, which makes the table above off by 3x. They’ll soon surpass M-B in the US – fraud!

  • avatar
    RHD

    It will be interesting to look at year-over-year sales twelve months from today, to see how Trump’s incompetent meddling screws everything up.
    We’re still coasting on eight years of economic improvement from the Obama administration. The chrome wheel nuts are coming loose, and our great leader is wielding the lug wrench.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Thanks for a good laugh

    • 0 avatar
      I_like_stuff

      Yeah man like it’s like awful out there man. We need Bernie’s magical unicorns and rainbows to get this economy back on track. Pass the bong bro.

      WASHINGTON—The number of Americans claiming new unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in nearly five decades. Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., decreased by 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 207,000 in the week ended July 14, the Labor Department said Thursday. This marks the lowest level for claims since December 1969, when there were 202,000 applications for unemployment benefits. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected 220,000 new claims last week.”

      And keep in mind the population in 1969 was only 200M compared to 320M today. Which means relative to population, unemployment claims right now are the lowest ever. If you tuned to something other than MSNBC 24/7 you’d get a clue.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I’ll bite. Shrinking unemployment claims does not equal happy healthy labor market. U3 unemployment number is pointless, I’ve said that for over a decade. It’s all about U6. Just because you’re underemployed doesn’t mean happy success, and we have tens of millions in this country under employed.

        The economy is so good, ICE, DHS (sans Coast Guard), Border Patrol, NPS (remember most park rangers are basically police officers at this point) all got told, “no raise for you because we don’t have the money.”

        Yup – soooooooo good. Winning!

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      RHD you forgot the /s, obviously your being sarcastic no ones stupid enough to believe Obama has anything to do with the surge in the economy.

      Your sarcasm needs a little work

    • 0 avatar
      2manycars

      “We’re still coasting on eight years of economic improvement from the Obama administration.”

      BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

      Cripes, don’t come out with belly laughs like that when I’m drinking coffee!!

      0bama and his henchmen would not have known how to improve the economy if they’d tripped over illustrated instructions. This is the Trump economy, bunky. No amount of wailing and gnashing of teeth from the left is going to change that. It’s a damned good thing we tossed out the trash and played the Trump card.

      • 0 avatar
        anomaly149

        2manycars, evidence broadly points to the Trump economy and the Obama economy not really being all that different… http://www.themoneyillusion.com/are-the-tax-cuts-affecting-growth/

        You can satisfy yourself with a fair number of fundamentals like e.g. employment not having much of an inflection point since early 2017, at least nothing long-term identifiable. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/PAYEMS

  • avatar
    SD 328I

    The problem with Ford (except their trucks) is that they have the one of the oldest lines of vehicles right now. Well, to be honest the F-series will be the oldest line of full-size trucks (out of the big 3) very shortly as well.

    They plan to remedy that however with a slew of new vehicles in the next couple of years.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    So, did Ascent cannibalized any Outbacks and Foresters yet?

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    With the exception of Ford, it seems the key to success is to never give a second thought to quality or engineering. Ford makes horrible products and still loses market share.

  • avatar
    vehic1

    Much adoration of Subaru by the author; the headline photo using one of its vehicles, and special closing accolades for its sales prowess. <Although the article title mentions only August, and FCA, Hyundai, and Nissan well outgained it there.

  • avatar
    pdog_phatpat

    BBBBButbutbut Ford….cars…RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    In other news, water is wet, the sky is blue, and the sun rises in the east!

    Marketing!

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Could FCA have more market share than Ford in the next 12 months?

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