U.S. Auto Sales Rebound From April's Doldrums; Still Off 2.4 Percent This Year

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Running a car company is hard, in case you haven’t noticed. It gets even more difficult when various and sundry world events conspire to create a jittery public or wonky cost structures. Toss in a pinch of interest rate paranoia and you’ve the perfect recipe for a very challenging industry.

Last month, sales of light vehicles in America was roughly flat compared to the same time period one year ago. This would normally not be cause for much celebration but, against a backdrop of a disastrous April, it is almost worth breaking out a case of the good stuff.

It’ll not have escaped your notice that two of the Detroit Three have shifted their reporting to quarterly announcements, with the third automaker soon to follow suit. If the rest of the industry decides to jump on that particular bandwagon, these posts may become a lot less frequent.

Until then, we can tell you that sales in the American car market are down by 2.4 percent so far this year, an improvement of half a percentage point compared to the end of last month. It did so by remaining largely flat through the 26 selling days of May. Winners last month included the likes of Volvo, Hyundai, and the seemingly forever red hot Subaru. In fact, the latter has recorded a stunning 90 (yes, ninety) consecutive months of yearly month-over-month growth. The beauty of all-wheel drive, indeed. Hyundai’s on a ten-month streak using that same measure.

At Fiat Chrysler, Ram continues to plow through sales paper as if it were a thin veneer of ice. Its performance last month jumped 29 percent, a testament to the company’s decision to sell the new and old Ram 1500 pickup truck side by each. Dodge had a shockingly good month, especially compared to the rest of this year so far, with the Charger having its best month in six years (moving 9,296 units). It must be noted that a full 31 percent of FCA volume in May was fleet.

Surprises? Acura had a great month, led by strength in the RDX crossover and ILX sedan lines. In fact, the company claims the RDX is tops in its class in terms of retail sales. It is third overall. Across the hall at Honda, the Passport had its best month ever at 3,434 sales. Before you pipe up, let us tell you that it doesn’t seem to be cannibalizing (many) Pilot sales, which are off by about 6,500 units so far this year compared to the Passport’s addition of 11,155 cars. Another surprise was Genesis, which doubled its volume.

Interest rates continue to hover around the 6 percent mark, though Edmunds reports that a bunch of automakers offered 0 percent deals as part of their Memorial Day sales. Cars apparently made up only 30 percent of new vehicles bought in the first three weeks of May, with the remaining volume made up of crossovers and the like.

[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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  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Jun 04, 2019

    GM has 16.8% market share. I wonder how much longer they'll be number one, and if it will be a merged Fiat-san that overtakes them or a resurgent Toyota.

  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jun 04, 2019

    Tesla's actual sales for May were over 16000, much higher than the 9000 shown in the chart. And their YTD is more like 58k, not 45k. But that's customary here. https://insideevs.com/news/352626/ev-sales-scorecard-may-2019/

    • See 4 previous
    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jun 05, 2019

      @bullnuke Goodcarbadcar.net went to the dogs after Tim Cain left.

  • Urlik Multi level parking garages are going to be issues as well.
  • Dartman Nice job Healy! A genuine “truth about cars” instead of troll bait.
  • Charlie Oh by the way the steering is so rusted that it actually is loose, and the transmission makes strange whirring and scraping sounds. The car is falling apart from rust.
  • Charlie 78 for my ‘09 Mercury mariner. It has 850k miles on it and leaks oil. It has 9 scratches, deformed bodywork, and severely rusted frame and suspension. When you stand on the duct taped rear bumper, the suspension creaks loudly. Also it has a loud vibration and rod knock, and the driver rear window is falling out. Ps. Don’t they normally have a roof rack and display screen? Cause mine doesn’t.
  • Honda1 More disposable junk from Hyundai.
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