Market Share Madness: Which Brands Earned a Larger Slice in 2018?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
market share madness which brands earned a larger slice in 2018

When you’re already big, it’s hard to notice much of a change in any direction. This goes as much for the human body as it does for auto sales. So it’s no surprise to see that, of the roughly 17.3 million vehicles sold in the U.S. last year, the amount claimed by the Detroit Three didn’t budge all that much from the previous year.

Combined, the three domestic giants took a 44.4 percent slice of the U.S. auto pie, which actually represents a 0.1 percent increase from a year earlier. Combine Tesla’s volume into the American fold, and the stars and stripes collected 45.1 percent of U.S. buyers, or 0.6 percent less than in 2013.

In 2018, General Motors and Ford both ceded ground to a rising Fiat Chrysler, proving that the real action occurs at a lower data level. So, which automakers earned a larger helping of your collective buying love last year?

Again, FCA is a winner here, boasting an improved market share of 12.9 percent — up nearly a full point from a year earlier thanks to an 8.5 percent sales increase. Five years earlier, FCA’s share was 11.6 percent. All credit, of course, goes to the Jeep and Ram brands. In that half decade, GM’s take of the U.S. car-buying public shrank from 18 percent to 17.1 percent. Ford’s take declined from 16.1 percent to 14.4 percent.

In the same five-year period, Japan’s take of the American market rose one percentage point, from 37.4 percent to 38.4 percent. Korean automakers made up 7.4 percent of 2018’s sales volume, down from 8.1 percent in 2013, while Europe collected 9.1 percent of U.S. buyers. That’s up a tick from 2013’s 8.8 percent.

FCA aside, market share winners in 2018 include Tesla, which scored the largest year-over-year volume increase (in terms of percentages) thanks to greatly increased output of its Model 3 sedan. Tesla claimed 0.7 percent of the market in 2018, and 1.2 percent of December auto sales. It’s really starting to make a dent.

Outside our borders, there’s little good news at the larger Japanese manufacturers. It wasn’t the best sales year for Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, but Mazda and Subaru both gained in terms of volume and market share. With an annual sales increase of 5 percent, Subaru’s take of the U.S. market rose to 3.9 percent. Mazda, with a crossover-fueled 3.7 percent sales increase, held steady at a rounded-off 1.7 percent share.

Even little Mitsubishi, freshly back from its near-death experience, earned itself additional love in 2018, with sales up 13.9 percent. While 0.7 percent of the market doesn’t sound like much, it’s better than the 0.4 percent share seen in 2013.

Another comeback kid, this one hailing from northern Europe (under the supervision of China) was Volvo Cars. Volvo sales rose 20.6 percent in 2018, pushing the Swede’s market share to 0.6 percent (up from 0.4 percent five years earlier).

Joining Volvo in the celebration was a very British (and India-supervised) Land Rover, which only has its troubled sibling Jaguar to worry about. While sales of the lower-volume cat brand fell 23 percent in 2018, Land Rover sales, energized by a relatively fresh stable of SUVs, including the new Range Rover Velar, rose 23.3 percent last year. Land Rover’s take of the American market sits at half a percent.

As for the Germans, Mercedes-Benz and Audi sank as BMW and Volkswagen rose. M-B sales fell 4.9 percent last year, the most of all automakers hailing from that country. Audi sales trailed 2017’s tally by 1.4 percent, while a resurgent Volkswagen rose 4.2 percent. Porsche also posted a sales gain of 3.2 percent in 2018. The market share for Mercedes-Benz, VW, BMW, Audi, And Porsche stands at 2.1, 2.0, 1.8, 1.3, and 0.3 percent, respectively.

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Subaru, Jaguar Land Rover]

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4 of 16 comments
  • 65corvair 65corvair on Jan 08, 2019

    "Detroit Three" is an obsolete term. Fiat owns Chrysler, sells a lot of imported product. The Japanese make a lot of product here, so aren't they as domestic as Fiat?

    • See 1 previous
    • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Jan 08, 2019

      Yeah, but they are not in Detroit.

  • Sckid213 Sckid213 on Jan 08, 2019

    Jaguar is a fascinating lesson in how "just build more crossovers" is not the cure for a brand that is already sick. The F-Pace seemed to lease well, but it had that "flavor of the month" feel that the Maserati Ghibli had -- a flash in the pan of buzz, but then people got over it and moved on to the next, and those who did lease one are not likely to stay loyal to the brand next time 'round. The E-Pace is both ugly and goofy from the front end. I have only seen one here in Los Angeles (meanwhile I see tons of F-Paces, and to provide an example that is closer to the E-Pace's launch date, I have already seen 5+ Caddy XT4s around here). The I-Pace is cool but too niche to make a dent in overall numbers. I would not be surprised if Jaguar as a brand went away within the next decade.

  • Tassos I also want one of the idiots who support the ban to explain to me how it will work.Suppose sometime (2035 or later) you cannot buy a new ICE vehicle in the UK.Q1: Will this lead to a ICE fleet resembling that of CUBA, with 100 year old vehicles evetually? (in that case, just calculate the horrible extra pollution due to keeping 100 year old cars on the road)Q2: Will people be able to buy PARTS for their old cars FOREVER?Q3: Will people be allowed to jump across the Channel and buy a nice ICE in France, Germany (who makes the best cars anyway), or any place else that still sells them, and then use it in the UK?
  • Tassos Bans are ridiculous and undemocratic and smell of Middle Ages and the Inquisition. Even 2035 is hardly any better than 2030.The ALMIGHTY CONSUMER should decide, not... CARB, preferably WITHOUT the Government messing with the playing field.And if the usual clueless idiots read this and offer the tired "But Government subsidizes the oil industry too", will they EVER learn that those MINISCULE (compared to the TRILLIONS of $ size of this industry) subsidies were designed to help the SMALL Oil producers defend themselves against the "Big Oil" multinationals. Ask ANY major Oil co CEO and he will gladly tell you that you can take those tiny subsidies and shove them.
  • Dusterdude The suppliers can ask for concessions, but I wouldn’t hold my breath . With the UAW they are ultimately bound to negotiate with them. However, with suppliers , they could always find another supplier ( which in some cases would be difficult, but not impossible)
  • AMcA Phoenix. Awful. The roads are huge and wide, with dedicated lanes for turning, always. Requires no attention to what you're doing. The roads are idiot proofed, so all the idiots drive - they have no choice, because everything is so spread out.
  • Leonard Ostrander Pet peeve: Drivers who swerve to the left to make a right turn and vice versa. They take up as much space as possible for as long as possible as though they're driving trailer trucks or school busses. It's a Kia people, not a Kenworth! Oh, and use your turn signals if you ever figure out where you're going.