April 2018 U.S. Auto Sales: Volume Shrinks, but New Crossovers Are a Hit

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

With an extra selling day compared to the same month one year ago, auto sellers in America had the chance to improve their numbers in April. Subaru, the two Korean brands, and Nissan all managed that feat, while the likes of Fiat Chrysler and Toyota did not. Honda, for one, was roughly flat.

It all adds up to a softening market impacted by rising transaction prices and higher borrowing costs. At this rate, there’s a very good possibility that total light-vehicle sales in this country will drop below 17 million this year for the first time since 2014.

Speaking of FCA, that company is the latest to announce it will stop reporting sales on a monthly basis. After June’s results, the company is moving to a quarterly reporting system, choosing to fall in line with GM and Ford instead of maintaining a unique position amongst the Detroit Three of allowing extra transparency. For now, everyone not headquartered in the Motor City remains on a monthly schedule.

Since we’re mentioning it, sales at Ram are powering to new heights, with the pickup truck line jumping a full 25 percent last month to 49,106 units. Good things happen when you have both new and old trucks to sell alongside each other. In case you’re forgotten, Ram now stocks 2019 half-tons in two flavors: Expensive New and Cheap(er) Old. This will be the case for the foreseeable future and, given these sales numbers, it is easy to understand why.

For its part, Kia was up 1.6 percent last month and has risen by nearly six percent (about 10,000 units) through the first four months of this year. It is worth noting that the new Telluride is posting great numbers, finding 5,570 buyers last month and nearly eleven thousand buyers so far in 2019. This performance means it outsold six of the eleven other nameplates in Kia showrooms in April.

If you’re wondering why mighty Audi is down 21 percent year over year, know that company spox are blaming supply shortages of key models. Individually, the megabuck trio of A6/A7/A8 all posted an increase. Having said that, Mercedes and BMW are also trailing last year’s sales performance.

But nowhere is America’s love for SUVs and crossovers more highlighted than at Subaru. The Exploding Galaxy brand set new sales records again in April, tallying up a remarkable 89 consecutive months of yearly month-over-month growth. It was the best April on record for two long-time nameplates, the Outback and Forester, marking the 62nd and 69th consecutive month each has sold more than 10,000 units, respectively.

New metal at Toyota also did well in April, with RAV4 volume up 10.1 percent to 34,139 copies sold last month. It remains, far and away, the brand’s best-selling nameplate. Also worth noting: the older-than-Methuslah Tacoma pickup truck found 20,375 buyers marking its 18th consecutive month of increased sales.

Some numbers, such as GM’s, are best-guess estimates. In those cases, figures were drawn from reports at Automotive News. Speaking to the issue of rising prices and rates, the publication estimated an average transaction price of about $34,000 and interest rates hovering around 6.3 percent. The latter was near 5.5 percent last year and 4.4 percent five years ago.

[Image: Kia]

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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  • Whatnext Whatnext on May 02, 2019

    The headline should read April 2019 (not 2018).

  • SpeedJebus SpeedJebus on May 02, 2019

    2017 Kia Sedona here, 40,000kms. Zero problems. No smells. All the bulbs work. Electrics too. $5k less than a comparably equipped Honda / Toyota van. Lower interest rate to boot. Definitely not ugly, even for a van. Redapple, I can't change your opinion, but I'm still satisfied with the van coming up on 3 years of ownership.

  • Jeff Self driving cars are not ready for prime time.
  • Lichtronamo Watch as the non-us based automakers shift more production to Mexico in the future.
  • 28-Cars-Later " Electrek recently dug around in Tesla’s online parts catalog and found that the windshield costs a whopping $1,900 to replace.To be fair, that’s around what a Mercedes S-Class or Rivian windshield costs, but the Tesla’s glass is unique because of its shape. It’s also worth noting that most insurance plans have glass replacement options that can make the repair a low- or zero-cost issue. "Now I understand why my insurance is so high despite no claims for years and about 7,500 annual miles between three cars.
  • AMcA My theory is that that when the Big 3 gave away the store to the UAW in the last contract, there was a side deal in which the UAW promised to go after the non-organized transplant plants. Even the UAW understands that if the wage differential gets too high it's gonna kill the golden goose.
  • MKizzy Why else does range matter? Because in the EV advocate's dream scenario of a post-ICE future, the average multi-car household will find itself with more EVs in their garages and driveways than places to plug them in or the capacity to charge then all at once without significant electrical upgrades. Unless each vehicle has enough range to allow for multiple days without plugging in, fighting over charging access in multi-EV households will be right up there with finances for causes of domestic strife.