By on February 1, 2019

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

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]

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40 Comments on “It’s a New Year: January 2019 Sales Roundup...”

  • avatar

    Lamborghini outsold Smart, lol.

  • avatar

    Jeep is a bit of a surprise, I didn’t think their sales were ever down

    • 0 avatar

      I imagine we will see a few percent below normal do to people waiting for the new Wrangler pickup instead of buying a Wrangler. Question will be how that balance out a few months after they start selling. I know at least two people who would have bought a jeep but are waiting out the pickup.

      • 0 avatar

        In addition to that I’m sure that in 2018 Jeep still had some old Compass and Patriots on the lots selling for a lot less than the incoming Compass. Not to mention still having the JK at full production.

    • 0 avatar

      “Jeep is a bit of a surprise, I didn’t think their sales were ever down”

      The Renegade’s 27% drop is probably due to lack of inventory. The 2019 got a styling refresh, a new engine, and, FCA promises, really and truly, to have gotten the programming of the ZF trans sorted out so it shifts smoother and faster, but they aren’t at dealers yet.

      The big red flag is the weakness in the Grand Cherokee, down 8% last month. The GC has been printing money for years. The crew at Jefferson North hasn’t had a normal length summer or Christmas shutdown in years because the plant has been kept running to meet demand. If I was in Mike Manley’s shoes, I would be sweating bullets about any weakening in demand for GCs.

      Compass and non-grand Cherokee are chugging along OK. If FCA does have the ZF trans sorted out, finally, they might pick up some sales as word gets around. I don’t know if the Compass is capacity restricted in Toluca. That plant also turns out the evergreen Journey and supplies Compasses to Europe. FCA has said it is looking at building the Compass at an underused Fiat plant in Italy, but did not elaborate whether than move was to reduce shipping costs to Europe, or due to lack of capacity at Toluca.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks for clarifying what’s going on at Jeep, we’re only talking a difference of a 1000 cars or so, but it still was a surprise. I didn’t know there was a Renegade shortage and as much as I love the GC maybe it’s just getting a little long in the tooth. Jeep has some interesting product coming out in the next year or two, I think they’ll recover nicely

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Those morons at Tesla are outselling:

    Land Rover
    Alfa Romeo

    • 0 avatar

      You poor, tortured man.

      Your corpus callosum must be a minefield.

    • 0 avatar

      @SCE: Remember a while back I said I thought Tesla had new battery chemistry coming soon? The patent was published today:

    • 0 avatar

      The absolute idiots at the terrible legacy automakers General Motors and Ford Motor Company are outselling:


    • 0 avatar

      Serious question, are these just delivered vehicles with deposits taken before 2019? Or are they actual new 2019 sales? If its just 2019 deliveries for deposit vehicles then I’d say its just satisfying pent up demand.

      EV intenders dont have a lot to choose from right now so its still a captured market. When VAG and the rest come on line it will presnt a better picture for sure.

    • 0 avatar

      You mean combined? And Tesla just recently discovered how to mass produce cars. And every passing day it gets stronger and stronger while traditionals are stagnating and cutting off whole model lines daily.

      • 0 avatar
        SD 328I

        Are you seriously comparing the production of Tesla and their one US assembly factory to the rest of the industry?

        The other companies are so large they can actually decide to end production lines all together is how you should be looking at it. “cutting production lines daily” is rather dramatic by the way.

        Once the big companies with established large production capacities start electrifying what does Tesla have? They won’t be special or unique anymore.

        Also, you are seeing a lot of * estimates because GM and Ford are going quarterly.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @SD 328I:

          What does Tesla have?

          1. Established nationwide Supercharger network.
          2. Captive battery production with more battery capacity than any other plant in the world.
          3. Captive sales outlets without the usual dealer BS everyone hates.
          4. Experience.
          5. Full commitment to EVs.
          6. Three, and eventually 6 EVs (S, X, 3, Y, pickup, semi).
          7. Rabid fan base, many of whom are actual customers.
          8. Subjectively good-looking cars.
          9. International brand equity.

          Besides that, I guess they don’t have much to offer.

          • 0 avatar

            Here’s a link to a Tesla Deep Dive segment on Autoline. They get into both the good and the bad. There’s info in this video that I haven’t seen elsewhere.


          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            If the legacy makers decide to go all in on electrics, the supercharger network becomes moot because of that one thing they have:

            1. Lobbyists

            They will come together on a charging standard (likely something common among multiple makers) and get Uncle Sugar to subsidize the rollout. You can bet any so called green “new deal” would have something like this.

            2. This would also apply to the captive battery production. They’d probably wrap it as some sort of retraining program for displaced workers, but it’ll happen.

            That third one is a hindarance in some states (due to admittedly stupd laws IMHO…but businesses operate in the real world, not fantasyland). Plus with the “ususal BS” also comes an actual presence. You’d actually be able to buy the vehicle in most places.

            Ezperience? Meh, cancels out. There is 100+ years of experience at Ford and GM at actually screwing the cars together. This is the experience Tesla needs by all accounts. GM has already built a competetive on range electric. There is nothing especially cutting edge about an electric car for a GM, Ford, Toyota, or even a VW.

            Full Commitment. You win that one. But its full comittment to a tiny market share. Maybe it grows, but I think outside of the true believers sub 2 dollar gas hurts a pure electric maker more than 4+ dollar gas hurts a pickup maker. Sales during the last spike support this.

            3 and eventually 6 evs? Maybe. You talk of experience. Where is the pickup building experience. That is a whole other market. Won’t Ford and GM “eventually” have 20+ electrics? Scoff if you will, but typically when they go in they meet their production schedules. Tesla typically doesn’t.

            Rabid fan base? Yes. As rabid as those buying D3 Pickups? Maybe, but there are a lot more of the later.

            Good looking cars? I agree there, but so is a Mustang.

            Brand equity? Yeah, true.

            Here are some issues though. The S and X are, how shall we say, long in the tooth. I thought I read the S was getting replaced. This will need to go well for Tesla. If they have a smooth rollout of the new model, it will be the first. The X manages to be niche in what is the absolute bread and butter market for most. Looking realistically at the future models they are still years out I’d think at any rate…where is the production capacity? You can’t build a plant overnight.

            New models require a ton of money. Can Tesla keep bringing in investors? Maybe, but again, I have no doubt whatsoever even the most bumbling legacy marques have the resources to do it. Tesla is a question mark.

            Quality. As you grow beyond those rabid fans, they have to address the issues here. Again, this is something the legacy folks can do. They aren’t even on the level of a VW or Nissan here.

            They have a ton to offer, but time is running out. Honestly I think the big players are biding their time and this eventually ends with “Tesla Automobiles…Available at your Lincoln, Cadillac, Lexus, or Volkswagen dealer.

          • 0 avatar

            Any chance a legacy manufacturer eventually buys Tesla?

    • 0 avatar

      Hmm now you sir, seem to be the only person who cares. Next…

      • 0 avatar
        Brett Woods

        Well the Autoline show might be a bit drawn out, but at least they were addressing some cutting edge developments in the automobile industry. I am also interested in the transmission of the Koenigsegg Regera []. Could this be adapted with the Ford V8?

        Not everyone wants to discover the truth about run-of-the-mill grocery getters, cup holders and leasing options, or re-cycled drive trains we’ve all known about for years. There are many other sites you can go to for that.

  • avatar

    VW group always stands out to me. When you consider how large they are, these sales figures are horrendous.

    They aren’t even in the same universe as the other big dogs, Ford, GM, Toyota, Nissan, Honda. Even Hyundai-Kia has almost twice the volume.

    All of the larger automakers sales figures are somewhat proportional to their global sales except for VW. VW huge globally, and a flea on a dog’s butt in the US.

    • 0 avatar

      Nissan and Mazda monthly sales declines this January certainly stood out – and Chrysler brand; GM and Toyota had significant drops. Audi outsells Acura by quite a margin; even Subaru only sells in middling totals – does that make them a “flea”?

      • 0 avatar

        VW group sells ~11M vehicles annually and only a tiny sliver of those sales are in the US.

        They should be selling at least 100K a month here like all of the other big automakers.

        VW group is a behemoth, but their mainstream brand sells like Mazda, so yeah, they’re a flea.

      • 0 avatar

        Subaru (#7 in sales just below Nissan) outsells the VW brand alone by double as well as the entire VAG. VW is sinking to the baby-flea levels of Mazda, another company that sells at high volumes outside the US.

    • 0 avatar

      Thus proving that the US market isn’t everything. Would VW like to sell more cars in the USA? Sure, but it’s not critical.

  • avatar

    Time to start a death watch on Fiat and Mini brands.

    • 0 avatar

      “Time to start a death watch on Fiat and Mini brands.”

      In the back of my mind is the thought that FCA was hoping that sliding Alfa into the Fiat “studios” would allow them to pull Fiat, without the dealers suing their pants off as they would have the higher margin Alfas to sell. But now the novelty seems to have worn off of the Giulia and Stelvio and their sales are tanking too.

      BMW is in a bind with Mini too, as they, like FCA, apparently required Minis to be sold in separate dealerships.

      Of course, what FCA and BMW could both do is spin off of the weak brands into separate companies, to get out from under the liability. Then they can sit back and count their loot while the undercapitalized spinoffs go toes up and the dealers are left holding the bag.

  • avatar

    It must not cost MBUSA much to keep smart and the Mercedes dealers that devote a small corner of their floor space alive.

    Otherwise, why exist to sell under 1000 cars per year?

    • 0 avatar

      The Smart is a car that MB made in Europe (bought from Smart) to show their “green cred”. It helps stave off the rather vocal Green party’s criticisms of MB products. Of course at 1000/yr, just keeping the parts line open in U.S. is a money loser, even if it does move some of their excess production in Europe. As MB gets more and more electric cars, I don’t see the value of their continuing the Smart. It may look ok in Paris, parked up on a curb in an incredibly congested area, but here in the U.S., the Smart should only be seen on golf courses.

  • avatar

    I suspect the Jaguar I Pace has ride to Jaguar’s rescue. Interestingly it’s now the top selling car in the Netherlands and its almost top in Norway. Maybe Jaguar should focus on places that start with an N?

  • avatar

    Can someone explain to me why fleet sales are bad? There’s often fleet negativity on this forum. I don’t get it. The fleet operator needs cars, they got to get them somewhere.

    Also, I don’t understand how it impacts prestige. I had a Civic for a couple years and then an Accord for 13 years and never felt special because I drove a brand that I couldn’t rent. On the other hand, I now drive a car I could also rent and I don’t feel negative about it. When I’m out and about and see people driving cars that I’ve seen on rental lots, I have no negative feelings about the brand/manufacturer.

    • 0 avatar

      Fleet sales (of mainstream brands) are problematic in several ways. Just like when we buy soap powder, the more we buy, the cheaper per ounce. So brands who sell in large numbers to fleets usually need to trim their profit margin. Secondly, when the fleet sells the vehicle (they usually don’t keep it for 3 or 4 years) a large number come onto the market at one time, depressing the price of the used, relatively new vehicle. Lowering the resale prices tends to raise the depreciation of the used vehicles. This lower value of a used vehicle means that leasing costs rise, since the amount of depreciation over the life of the lease is one of the main predictors of the monthly payment. Rising monthly lease payments tends to decrease the number of leases, so manufacturers then have shot themselves in the foot.

    • 0 avatar

      It all depends on the fleet and of course how deep you discount to make the sale.

      Business and gov’t fleet sales can be extremely profitable, those users often keep the car for a long time and they are well used cars by the time they make it to the second owner. They do not affect the value of late model used cars nor do they compete with new car sales.

      Daily rental fleets on the other hand sometimes do turn over cars very frequently and those low mile current model year cars can hurt retail new car sales and short term resale values. Where the big problem lies however is rental fleet dumping where they make the rental car companies an offer they can’t refuse to replace their cars more frequently. This is often done to make numbers, ie pull ahead of the competitor to take the sales crown, something Toyota has done recently with the Camry and what Ford did with the Taurus so many years ago.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

  • avatar

    “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?

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      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.

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