It's a New Year: January 2019 Sales Roundup

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
it s a new year january 2019 sales roundup

The long slog that is January provided a mixed bag of sales results for America’s automakers, with some enjoying the fruits of their new products while others stared down the barrel of red ink as they tried to kick their fleet habit. Frightening and frigid weather patterns didn’t help anyone, either.

Talking heads are expecting this calendar year to be the first since 2014 in which total vehicle sales in America drop below 17 million units. While it seems a bit early to sound that alarm, it cannot be denied that some companies have already dug themselves a big hole.

It is important to note that two of the Detroit Three have effectively gone dark, with both Ford and GM refusing to release monthly sales reports. Instead, we are only deemed worthy of quarterly results. Until then, guesstimates must be made, and are done so taking a lead from the experts at Automotive News. Popular speculation pegs the Blue Oval at a 7.1 percent jump, year over year, with The General taking an estimated 6.9 percent hit compared to concrete numbers we have on hand for January 2018.

Meanwhile, Fiat Chrysler saw its fortunes rise by 2.5 percent in January, with Ram carrying the load. Now that the company has figured out production of the new Ram 1500 truck, the brand recorded a very healthy 39,649 sales (34,889 of which were Ram pickups), making for a 23.8 percent jump. Jeep and Dodge were roughly flat, while Chrysler and Alfa both fell off the proverbial cliff.

Toyota was down a not-insignificant 6.6 percent compared to January 2018. In fact, the only nameplate recording any growth at all were Corolla, C-HR, 4Runner, and Tacoma. The latter was roughly flat, with 16,852 choosing to drive off the lot in a mid-size Toyota pickup (and make for that model’s best-ever January). Whatever the company has up its sleeve for the Chicago Auto Show will only serve to increase the truck’s seemingly unstoppable appeal.

Nissan announced total American sales for January 2019 of 90,439 units, a murderous decrease of 19.9 percent compared to twelve months prior. One month does not a year make, but starting the year 22,464 units behind the 8-ball is not a great way in which to kick things off. Murano, Rogue, and Titan were off by 39.9, 27.8, and 25.2 percent respectively. Save for the Leaf, every single car model was down by a wide margin. Reducing one’s dependency on fleet sales is tough.

Hyundai, Kia, Honda, and Subaru all posted gains largely thanks to their SUV and crossover offerings. In fact, the Exploding Galaxy has now had a remarkable eighty-six months of year-over-year monthly gains. Also, Mitsubishi was somehow a “-3” on Lancers for the month.

The boffins at J.D. Power estimate the average incentive spend per new light vehicle was $3,720, down about a hundred bucks from January 2018. Average transaction price? Roughly $34,200, according to those in the know.

There were 25 selling days in January, the same as last year.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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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  • Lefty54 Lefty54 on Feb 02, 2019

    Looking at 3 row SUV sales for January 2019. Honda Pilot - 8556 Subaru Ascent - 4981 VW Atlas - 3803 Mazda CX-9 - 1860 It seems the CX-9 wins every 3 row comparison but only sells 1860 in a month? The Pilot seems boring. The Ascent seems under powered. The Atlas seems to have reliability problems. The CX-9 has the least interior room. Maybe I'll wait for the 2020 rear wheel drive Explorer.

    • Iamwho2k Iamwho2k on Feb 02, 2019

      Mazdas win just about every comparison test, but few if any buyers care about chassis dynamics or styling. Which is why even though Toyotas rarely win any tests, they sell tons of fugly appliances.

  • Steve203 Steve203 on Feb 02, 2019

    "Popular speculation pegs the Blue Oval at a 7.1 percent jump, " I would like to see what that "popular speculation" is based on. In December, Ford brand sales were down 9.6%, while Lincoln was up 8.5%, for a corporate average of down 8.8%. For 2018, Ford brand was down 3.3%, Lincoln down 6.8% for a corporate average of down 3.5% The local media is gushing about the amount of overtime Wayne Assembly is working, turning out Rangers, but I have to wonder how much the Ranger will cannibalize the F-150. The Ecosport is an addition to the line, but, again, I have to wonder about cannibalization. In December, Ford sold 5,472 Ecosports, while Escape sales were down 6106. Focus inventory is getting depleted, while the Focus was still ringing up 6-7,000 sales per month a year ago. All those former Focus buyers are not buying Escapes, judging by the Escape's falling sales. Down the road, the new Explorer and Aviator might add volume, but Chicago Assembly is reportedly already going at full trot, so, outside of the end of the Taurus allowing a slight increase in production slots available for the SUVs, I don't see big volume gains there due to lack of additional plant capacity. The Fiesta drops out in a couple months. That is only about 4,000 sales/month, but does Ford think those people will all buy Ecosports? Disappointed Focus buyers aren't buying Escapes. Why should Fiesta buyers buy Ecosports? So where are these rosy forecasts for Ford coming from, other than the Jim Hackett PR machine?

    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Feb 02, 2019

      Fiestas and Focuses have had some cash on the hood recently...You could get one for around 11k there for a while with the rebates. That clears them out, but I'm not sure it makes Ford much money.

  • Jam65757601 This is a way of saying the VW empire is shaky,
  • RICK Lou, not sure about panthers and Cougars , BUT at 76,I now consider myself a vintage Rolls Canardly. I roll down one hill and Canardly get up the next! Wishing you a Very Happy, Merry HanaKwanzaMas. 🎅🎄
  • Lou_BC The dealbreaker for me is the $80k starting price in Canada.
  • Zipper69 The Grenadier was designed ground up to be a "better Land Rover" and by most press accounts comes close.What little we know about the Quartermaster it's clear that it's intended for serious off road work without additional aftermarket fettling needed.The price is clearly a barrier, but IF it's the real deal, it will have a slot in the market.
  • Michael Charging more for less. Hmmmm