November 2018 U.S. Auto Sales: Honda in Descent Mode

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
november 2018 u s auto sales honda in descent mode

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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  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on Dec 05, 2018

    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!

  • Jthorner Jthorner on Dec 10, 2018

    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?

  • 3SpeedAutomatic Drove a rental Cherokee for several days at the beginning of this year. Since the inventory of rental cars is still low, this was a 2020 model with 48k miles and V6. Ran fine, no gremlins, graphics display was easy to work, plenty of power, & very comfortable. Someone must of disarmed the lane assistance feature for the steering wheel never shook (YES!!!!!!!!). However, this woman's voice kept nagging me about the speed limit (what's new!?!?!?!).I was impressed enough to consider this a prime candidate to replace my 11 yr old Ford Escape. Might get a good deal with the close out of the model. Time will tell. 🚗🚗🚗
  • Bullnuke One wonders if this poor woman entered the US through Roxham Road...
  • Johnds Years ago I pulled over a vehicle from either Manitoba or Ontario in North Dakota for speeding. The license plates and drivers license did not come up on my dispatchers computer. The only option was to call their government. Being that it was 2 am, that wasn’t possible so they were given a warning.
  • BEPLA My own theory/question on the Mark VI:Had Lincoln used the longer sedan wheelbase on the coupe - by leaning the windshield back and pushing the dashboard & steering wheel rearward a bit - not built a sedan - and engineered the car for frameless side windows (those framed windows are clunky, look cheap, and add too many vertical lines in comparison to the previous Marks) - Would the VI have remained an attractive, aspirational object of desire?
  • VoGhost Another ICEbox? Pass. Where are you going to fill your oil addiction when all the gas stations disappear for lack of demand? I want a pickup that I can actually use for a few decades.