By on September 5, 2019

2019 Honda Accord Sport wide angle

Reporting on American auto sales without including the Detroit Three is like talking about great racing drivers without mentioning the names Schumacher, Petty, or Senna. Nevertheless, here we are. Thanks to Detroit’s decision to release sales data only on a quarterly basis, a big chunk of the picture is missing. Even the big guns at Automotive News have given up trying to estimate Detroit numbers in an effort to fill in the blanks.

Everyone else is still playing fair ball, though, so let’s examine how the rest of America’s automakers fared last month.

The market is largely flat, year to date, helping to bolster the assertion that 2019 could be the first year in ages that’ll tally less than 17 million units. Still, forecasts are rosier than they were one month ago, thanks to healthy month-over-month gains by the two biggest Japanese nameplates.

Toyota’s sales rose by about 12 percent compared to the same month one year ago. That increase, along with robust performance at Lexus, put the Akio’s House back on roughly even footing with this time in 2018. The news was even better at Honda, where August deliveries actually set a monthly record. It’s unsurprising to learn light truck volume was up at both brands but very surprising to see demand for cars up 20 and 8.4 percent at Honda and Toyota, respectively. Fulfilling rental fleet orders? A sudden realization by the American public that cars are just fine for family duties? We hope it’s the latter.

Brands with roots in Korea also saw jumps in volume. Hyundai is reaping the benefits of the crossover seeds they’ve sown, seeing their sales chalk up a 13th straight month of year-over-year gains. Crossovers at the Big H set a monthly record, with the Kona posting big gains and the new Palisade exceeding company expectations.

There will surely be a huge company party at Subaru, where August 2019 marked the best-ever sales month in company history. At 70,039 units last month, the Exploding Galaxy outsold brands like Hyundai, VW, and Kia. It was nearly triple the volume of Mazda, fer chrissakes. Remember when Subaru was a fringe player? Pepperidge Farm remembers.

With all that success, why is the industry roughly flat? For answers, look to the likes of Nissan and Mazda, both of which have shed volume compared to this time last year. With big players like Honda and Toyota on even keel with 2018, it doesn’t take much downward movement to erase the gains of other companies.

As for the Detroit Three, their silence forces us to guess their accomplishments. So we’ll say ten. There. They sold ten. Here’s hoping sensible heads prevail and all hands return to a monthly report in the new year but, realistically, it’s more likely everyone else will move to quarterly, too.

[Image: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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21 Comments on “August 2019 U.S. Auto Sales: An Incomplete Puzzle...”

  • avatar

    My guess is that Toyota is on the verge of surpassing GM in retail sales, Maybe it was wise for GM not to release quarterly sales figures. The disappointing sales of the Sierra has to be hurting GM.

    How long are people going to fall for the Mary Barra shell game? How long can the company distract people from the basic fact that their sales and quality are in rapid decline. Did anyone notice that two of GM’s top selling SUVs are on Consumer Reports least reliable list. Is short-seller Barra even aware of this?

    I guess it is back to the shell game and more obfuscation of the truth.

  • avatar

    “…2019 could be the first year in ages that’ll tally less than 17 million units.” While memories in the auto industry tend to be short, my data from Automotive News shows that CY 2014 was just over 16.5 million units. That’s just less than five years ago.

    VW should learn something from Subaru on a monthly basis when sales numbers are pubished, but they don’t…and won’t.

    It would be nice to see everybody report on a monthly basis again. However, the added benefit could be longer-term thinking on behalf of automakers.

  • avatar

    Other than quarterly reports to shareholders etc., do car companies have any sort of obligation to provide their sales numbers?

  • avatar

    FCA Detroit

  • avatar

    Dang, there goes my plan of getting a good deal on an Accord 2.0t this month.

    • 0 avatar

      They eliminated an entire shift at the plant that produces the Accord so I dont think we will see piles of them in inventory. Non union labor FTW.

      I drove a 2.0t Accord recently and was really impressed. Particularly with how fast it is. Contender for the last sedan standing perhaps. Residual values on sedans are so low, I think there may be no lease business for them in the near future, thus further eroding their market share and business case for future development dollars.

      53% on an Accord after 36 months is a remarkable reversal of fortunes for the sedan. I am afraid of a world of only crossovers and pickups.

    • 0 avatar
      SD 328I

      Don’t see why not, for Honda and Toyota, it’s primarily their crossovers and light trucks that has been keeping their sales up.

      This has been confirmed by other auto sites regarding this story even though this particular author isn’t sure.

  • avatar

    I bucked the trend and traded my 15 EB Mustang, on a loaded, hugely discounted 19 Impala . The only SUV/CUV that remotely caught my attention would be the Yukon/Tahoe . Too big, too thirsty, and too much money !

    I know that my re-sale will be a joke. That being said , Im 65years old, and “for now ” the Impala checks all the boxes for me.

  • avatar
    SD 328I

    This story is already out, the big reason for their strong sales is their crossovers, for both Honda and Toyota.

  • avatar

    I see only Toyota of the majors really went up in Canada during August. Subaru off 6.1% and 1.7% for the the year to date. Overall market off greater than 4% this year.

    I’m yet another oldster who voted with his feet and bought a sedan in August, a Mazda6 turbo. Only put in premium so far and have averaged 8.4l/100km or 28 mpg US. OTOH, this thing roasts the front tires passing on a dry two-laner three-up and feels like it’s hydroplaning. You have to watch it – haven’t put it Sport mode yet or even floored it. No need. The Accord 2.0t may well be similar. Couldn’t wait any longer to get a new vehicle as the old car calved, but AWD really is necessary with this thing. Too bad it’s N/A. Lovely car otherwise.

  • avatar

    Mazda’s circle continues to tighten as it moves closer to the drain of the US Market.

    • 0 avatar

      It really is a shame. Mazda is always so close but missing the mark somewhere critical. The sum of the parts are very good, but there is always some part of the equation that is a low score.

      • 0 avatar

        TBH I don’t think it’s product. It’s a disconnect between product planning (wanting to go upmarket and largely succeeding) and a dealer network that continues to be best equipped to sell Protege DXes at bad terms to the credit-challenged. Mazda honestly could probably do better by firing its entire dealer network and selling all of its products through someone else’s network.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    IIRC Tesla started the quarterly reporting trend, and it took about a minute for the other US mfrs to follow.

    They’re all trying to create stability, rather than see their fortunes artificially rise and fall after articles like this one appear in the first week of every month.

    We’re soaked with so much data today; it’s refreshing to see these mfrs dial it back a little. It doesn’t change the annual or quarterly figures at all.

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