By on December 3, 2018

2019 Honda Passport with Accessory Roof Rack

If you listened closely to the voices of those attending the L.A. Auto Show, more than a few people gave Honda’s new Passport the backhanded compliment of it being a perfectly competent crossover that fails to break any new ground.

Here’s the truth: most of the time, it’s only some journalists and a few fanatics who care about a car “breaking new ground” — especially when that car is a commoditized crossover. In reality, the Passport is perfectly sized for most shoppers (or at least they think it’s perfectly sized for them, which is all that matters) and bears the badge of a familiar and trusted brand. They’ll sell boatloads.

And, according to November’s sales numbers, it can’t arrive at dealers soon enough.

American Honda reported a gob-smacking 9.5 percent drop in November sales compared to the same timeframe last year. So far in 2018, with one month to go, the Big H is off 2.8 percent, and that’s despite an 11 percent increase at Acura.

Civic? Plunging 30 percent in November. Accord? Down 13 percent for the year. It’ll be interesting to see how many Passport customers are cannibalized from those two models, especially once the ever-so-helpful sales staff start flipping their “ups” from Accords to Passports because you can get yourself into a comparably-sized all-wheel drive for just this much more per month. Oh, and the dealer is having a secret competition to see who can sell the most Passports in their first month on the lot … unbeknownst to the customer, of course.

 

Meanwhile, FCA rode the wave of increased retail and the all-important fleet sales to an increase of 17 percent this month. That’s its third straight month of year-over-year growth, in case you’ve been keeping track. Getting production of the new Ram 1500 up and running is certainly paying dividends, jumping an enormous 42 percent last month to 52,056 trucks. Through the end of November, Ram pickups are up 5 percent and will very likely crest half a million units when all is said and done in 2018.

At the Glass House, numbers were down 7.3 percent on the month for Ford and up 3.3 percent for Lincoln. That translates to a 2.7 percent and 8.4 percent year-to-date drop for those brands respectively. A total of 2,276,544 Ford and Lincoln vehicles have found new homes this year. Note that 29.8 percent of this number are fleet sales, up 0.7 points from last year.

There were 25 selling days last month, an equal number to November 2017. It’ll be very interesting to study year-end numbers a month from now. Will the market crest 17 million units for the fourth straight year? How much of the total will be made up by light trucks? What will the prize at Main Street Honda be for selling the most Passports when they arrive?

I already have an answer to that last question: less than the cumulative extra payment taken on by new Passport customers who walked into the place planning to buy an Accord.

You’ll note Audi’s numbers are missing. We will update those when they become available [edit 12/4: Audi totals added] and will have more analysis of sales numbers in the days ahead.

[Image: Honda]

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37 Comments on “November 2018 U.S. Auto Sales: Honda in Descent Mode...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    FCA tacked on 150k sales over last year, let’s dispel the myth that FCA is floundering without any direction. I have no doubt the Wrangler pickup will bring in at least 100k sales.
    Drop Fiat and add two more products to Alfa Romeo and they have the best lineup of vehicles in the industry. I hope FCA can maintain Sergio’s lead.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      “They” as in FCA

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      How can they have the best lineup in the industry, when they have nothing I’d buy? (I.e. a basic, fuel efficient sedan)

      They have a lineup that’s resonant with certain segments of the market… but that hardly makes it the best.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I’m sorry if you don’t find it the best based on your needs, I don’t find anything Honda produces worth my money.

        They offer a wide range of products that all sell especially well in their given setup, and all those tiny cheap fuel efficient Jeeps probably turn a better profit than any Civic, focus or other equal small car on the market.

        They have a lineup that caters to a wider range of consumers than any other manufacturer in America. GM and Ford were late to the party and are now playing catch up with crossovers while FCA is making money over fist on new crossovers and trucks and long since paid for platforms. Who’s really leading the industry?

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus

          “GM and Ford were late to the party and are now playing catch up with crossovers”

          Lol. Escape and Equinox pre-dated similar Jeep crossovers by quite a while. They still dont even have a 7 passenger Jeep yet (a market both Ford and GM do quite well in). Yes, there is the Dodge Durango and the horrible Journey, but they dont sell nearly as well as the Explorer.

          But, you’re right in one way: Jeep had a horrible nasty junky cheap slapped-together POS of a crossover in the form of the first Compass and the Patriot FIRST, they beat the EchoSport (sic) to the market by quite a while. So, there’s that.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            You know what FCA doesn’t have? Low margin compact, midsize, or full size cars that sell only on price. FCA may be missing out on certain categories of the market but they are excelling in others in others.

            Also the Grand Cherokee was literally the first crossover on the market, Ford and GM were about 20 years late on that. Not that that is a badge of honor that one produced some cheap unibody mainstream vehicle before another.

            Sorry no troll points today John.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            “Also the Grand Cherokee was literally the first crossover on the market,”

            Huh? I think by anyone’s measure, the first GC that you could remotely consider a “crossover” is the current WK2, and even that is a dubious claim.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I’m not sure how he came up with the Grand Cherokee as the first crossover. I agree that the current one finally meets the definition in that it actually has a bunch of car platform to its composition. One might argue that the Grand Cherokee was a CUV because of its unibody construction, but that definition also applies to the earlier XJ Cherokee. One reason I’ve seen it argued that neither of the earlier Jeeps were CUVs was the availability of low range transfer cases. There have certainly been car-based CUVs with low range transfer cases since then. The first commercially significant CUV in the US was the RAV4, IMO. It was car based with available AWD and no low range.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I agree Todd, I think the Rav4 was the first significant “true” CUV entrant (FWD-sedan based platform with raised clearance and roof, AWD optional), with the RX300 being the first larger premium CUV that came to define the segment. The sad thing is those first two Toyota CUVs could actually scramble through rough/muddy terrain pretty well, owing to optional limited slip rear differentials and an older version of Toyota’s AWD that sent more power to the rear axle by default.

            As effete as the Grand Cherokee has gotten, it is still very much an SUV in my book.

      • 0 avatar
        jthorner

        Sporty — Having a market matching lineup doesn’t mean they have to provide what you want. I’m still looking for a nicely finished traditional mid sized station wagon with 200hp and a manual transmission. Nobody builds these anymore, but the problem is me, not them.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      “Drop Fiat and add two more products to Alfa Romeo and they have the best lineup of vehicles in the industry.”

      Thanks for the laugh. They have a competitive pickup, minivan and midsize utility. Everything else is ancient, sells on price, or sells on brand (Jeep).

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        “Everything else is ancient, sells on price, or sells on brand (Jeep).”

        -Almost Everything Ford has is ancient as well
        Every compact, midsize, and full size front wheel drive mainstream car sells on price too.
        – The entire BMW brand sells on its laurels earned 20+ years ago, Mercedes is doing the same thing as well.

        Guess what? They all sell well.

        Only in your perfect world does a manufacturers line up have to be the 1)newest cutting edge vehicles, 2) sell strictly on merit as according to enthusiasts, 3) sell by conquest only.
        All of those things make a company one thing – unprofitable.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      25% of FCA’s Nov. sales was to fleet.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Camry sales were off 29.9% in November. Prius sales are off 26.3% and the Prius is looking at its worst sales year since 2004. The RAV-4 has outsold the Camry by almost 70K units YTD.

    The sedan is dead.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Electrification could provide sedans with the reboot they need.

      • 0 avatar
        deanst

        Making the vehicles more expensive to purchase an attribute most don’t care about doesn’t seem like a winning strategy. When electric cars with stunning 0-60 times can be sold at a lower cost than an ICE vehicle – then there would be an argument.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          The average top seller does 0-60 in 7-9 seconds. Nobody cares about blazing 0-60 times.

          What people do care about is passing power, refinement and operating costs…. 3 things EVs excel at.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Maybe folks are thinking, Honda won’t deal with me, but Acura will and they are a lot nicer to me.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I am curious about the GM sales figures. I would be surprised if their retail sales were up YOY, perhaps they jammed through some fleet figures. I am seeing plenty of and often renting a Silverado at the National counter.

    Speaking of the rental counter, I have been noticing Subaru Outbacks available as well which is kind of interesting. Perhaps the folks at Subie are starting to believe in their own infallibility and want to maintain MOM and YOY sales increases.

    My 2cents on the Passport, like the coming Gladiator, they will sell every freaking one of them at full or darn near MSRP for quite awhile.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      GM rental fleet is about 10% per their October press release. That is on par with companies like Toyota. I call out rental fleet as that is “bad” fleet. Not all fleet is bad – e.g. Silverado/Ram/F-150 sales to corporations and government as work vehicles = good fleet.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Yes, and commercial vans are included in that as well, they sell almost exclusively in fleets, that would be what they’re designed and built for. Not quite the same as dumping your all-new midsize sedan that was supposed to save sedans forever into rental fleets to keep the factory going.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        I agree on the fleet designation, rental car co. fleet, to me, really doesn’t help much of anything other than to dilute resale value of traditionally sold units. Municipality fleet is fine, if not great. Those rigs don’t get tossed until they are completely done, and then are used as parts donors typically.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The majority of gov’t agencies don’t keep their vehicles until they reach scrap value.

          Sure you’ll occasionally see a 20 year old or older vehicle come through the auctions but that is mainly from poor agencies, a specialty vehicle, or a pool vehicle so hideous that no one will check it out unless it is the last vehicle available.

          With my state the rules are 10yr/100k for cars, 12/120 for “trucks” and 12/150 for diesels and Hybrids. If you are requesting a replacement vehicle they won’t let you start the process until 6mos or within 5-10k miles of the min retirement requirements.

          For my county it is order at 15yrs for most vehicles or 100k. Speaking of vehicles that age out instead of mile out because they are so hideous, the champ in my county was the Neon. The all aged out with no more than 70k on the clock and I saw at least a few that had under 50k. Second place went to the fish mouth Tauri There were always 3,4 or more and they would be a mix of fish and the restyle. The early fish were aging out with 60-70k on the clock while right next to it was a newer car up for auction due to miles.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Reportedly up 1% for the month.

  • avatar
    FThorn

    You’re describing Honda as I have thought of Subaru

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Acura is growing because of the new RDX. It’s a great car, I was quite impressed.

    The Pilot leaves me unimpressed, it’s much too large still, even without the 3rd row. The width is the main problem. Also! That 9sp is the ZF unit with dog clutch, isn’t it?

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    When I first saw this, I wondered how lazy Honda could possibly be to simply take a Pilot and saw off part of the rear-quarter. Upon second thought, I like this a lot. I’d probably buy it. I especially like the upright styling.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    Ugh. Those grills: chain link above, crossbar/heater vent below. What were they thinking?

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    Every year car prices keep going up! I like to buy a new car but with start/stop and such, I going for the models that do not have such crazy features in them so I looking 2013 and earlier when I buy my next car!

  • avatar
    jthorner

    No mention of Nissan’s free-falling sales numbers, but plenty of focus on Honda?

    No mention of Volvo’s improbable Phoenix act?

    Who is writing this stuff?

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