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

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
u s auto sales rebound from april s doldrums still off 2 4 percent this year

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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  • 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/

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    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jun 05, 2019

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

  • Lou_BC "They are the worst kind of partisan - the kind that loves their team more than they want to know the truth."Ummm...yeah....Kinda like birtherism, 2020 election stolen, vast voter fraud, he can have top secret documents at Mar-lago, he's a savvy business man, and hundreds more.
  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. https://insideevs.com/news/598046/toyota-global-leader-solid-state-batery-patents/Of course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.
  • Mobes Kind of a weird thing that probably only bothers me, but when you see someone driving a car with ball joints clearly about to fail. I really don't want to be around a car with massive negative camber that's not intentional.
  • Jeff S How reliable are Audi? Seems the Mazda, CRV, and Rav4 in the higher trim would not only be a better value but would be more reliable in the long term. Interior wise and the overall package the Mazda would be the best choice.