U.S. Auto Sales: SUVs and Trucks Ruled the Roost in August

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

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]

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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  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Sep 05, 2018

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

  • Tstag Tstag on Sep 06, 2018

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

  • Arthur Dailey 'The capitalists will sell use the very rope that we use to hang them.' In our household we have cut down our shopping/spending and pay more to purchase products from 1st world nations or 2nd world nations that are our 'allies'. That also means quite often only buying and eating fruit and vegetables that are in season. Just like our parents and grandparents did.At least TTAC published an article on May 21st regarding LAN transformers that contravene the Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act being used in some BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, and VW products?
  • ToolGuy I wouldn't buy any old Chinese brand of vehicle, but the right EV at the right price, maybe possibly yes. If you told me this would alarm Ford and torque off FreedMike, all the better. 😉P.S. I would *definitely* consider an EV made in Taiwan. Take that, paramount leader!P.P.S. China batteries/components to convert one of my ICE vehicles to EV? Yes.
  • Wolfwagen I expect Renault to be less popular than Fiat
  • ToolGuy Helium-3, baby!
  • Roman Our 1999 Pontiac Sunfire Gt is still running without any issues. 25 years and counting.