By on June 4, 2019

2019 Ram 1500 eTorque

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]

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20 Comments on “U.S. Auto Sales Rebound From April’s Doldrums; Still Off 2.4 Percent This Year...”


  • avatar

    The renegade is pulling down Jeep it looks like. Compass and Cherokee are also off but not by as much. Wrangler and Grand are down about average for the market. and 3k gladiators in the first month. Not sure where renegade buyers are going I know it’s due for an update soon. Ram is on a tear with the new truck. Still hardly see the new GM twins but the rams are every where here in the NE. Charger and Durango were up big I wonder if that’s fleet?

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Looks like Renegade had initial cute-ute effect, and initial passion. But when those buyers fulfilled their thirst, those, more practical buyers didn’t show up. Problem is, mechanically, Renegade has more cons than pros. A negative balance that is hard to overlook.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    You know it’s bad when both Alfa Romeo and Maserati are outselling Fiat.

  • avatar
    lastwgn

    I am miffed by the inability of Mazda to gain any sales traction at all. Despite all the rave reviews in print and through youtube channels, and despite the price being competitive for the level of refinement in their product, it appears that the better their products are, the less they sell. There is just such a big disconnect between the products and the sales results.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Their dealer network isn’t exactly something to rave about, but personally I think the prices are too high for brand perception. They built the second floor but didn’t install any stairs to get there.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      I don’t know too many repeat Mazda buyers. I know a bunch of people who bought them a decade ago, and I know a few people who are enthusiastically buying them today, but they are not the same people. The dealers are bad and the cars hold up more like Fords than Toyotas.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        My dad’s 2010 Mazda 3 2.5L M6 made it 220k before he traded it, only issue was the parking brake stuck around 180k and had to be lubed. Ironically they had a massive FoMoCo stamped on them. One vehicle doesn’t make a pattern but I would not be afraid to drive a Mazda today. An MX-5 that is, while his car was a very good car, it needed a V6 imo.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Todd…. really?

        I’ve bought Mazda 4 times. So there we go – 3x repeated buyer. My niece 3x. My neighbor is also crazy – cx5 + cx9. We have one house up hill – ‘3 and ‘6. so, well, I know a lot of repeat buyers.

        But my point here, Mazda used to be cheap greatness. I was perfect buyer. I want car to drive like goddess, be reliable, and I don’t care as much about noise, efficiency. etc. so, $16K Mazda3 MT (only) is like god-sent to me. But for $25 -sorry. Not for me. I bought Mazda6 in 2017 for $18.5 – perfect. But pay $30K for it – no way Jose.

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          Agreed, I have a Mazda and looking for another one. I agree their owner loyalty though is lower than average. Dealers are OK ish. reliability is actually more Toyota than Ford from CR, friends and anecdotal sources.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            Mike,
            reliability is not an easy topic. Each model, same manufacturer has different reliability. I can only say that I was happy with reliability of my 1998 Protege at 16+years. And I was not happy with 2009 Highlander at 10 years. I am extremely happy with my 2010 and 11 Mazda3 cars. I just had 1st issue on my 140K mile model – blower motor resistor failed.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      I fear that Mazda is slowly sliding downstage toward the exit door that was left slightly ajar six years ago by Suzuki where Fiat, Smart, and MINI are already headed.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    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.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    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/

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      I wonder where TTAC gets its numbers for sales. Goodcarbadcar.net is pretty unreliable these days.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Is this including replacement for burnt ones or excluding?

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      Don’t know where you get over 16,000 actual Teslas. Your inside evs site says 13,950 and that it is just an estimate. Or are you attempting to overstate things by claiming “actual”?

      So whose estimate should we believe? None of the above. A wetted finger stuck out in the breeze is about as accurate as these estimates. Just did it, and I say 12, 674.

      If Tesla cannot be bothered to list actual sales, why should investors be bothered investing? Same with the dopes at Ford and GM. If you’re a public company, act like a grownup and give out your sales numbers, period.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        13950 is for the Model 3 only. Model S and X add a few thousand more, and they are also listed there.

        insideevs makes it their business to track EV sales, and their estimates are often exceptionally close. Inflating numbers only hurts their credibility.

        You know, GM, F, and TSLA all publicly divulge actual numbers every quarter. Surely you don’t believe there is some sort of conspiracy for them to make stuff up each quarter.


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