U.S. Auto Sales, Third Quarter 2019: Winners and Losers

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

Nature abhors a vacuum, and TTAC abhors quarterly sales reports. Ever since the Detroit Three moved to releasing their sales data but four times a year, it has cause much grumbling on Slack along with the scattered bit of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The end of September also marks the end of a quarter, so we are pleased to present to you a real tally of year-to-date numbers from all the brands — no guesstimates required. As you’ll see, some of the market’s biggest players are off by not insignificant margins.

While total vehicle sales are down by about 4 percent at the Blue Oval year-to-date, the Glass House is quick to point out they sold 240,387 pickups in Q3, making for the best Q3 in 14 years. That same timeframe saw Ford Motor Company’s truck and SUV mix rise to a gob-smacking 87 percent, with average transaction prices knocking on a heady $38,000 per vehicle. Of course, it’s easy to jack the truck/SUV mix when you’re busy deep-sixing all your cars.

In case you’re wondering, not one single Focus was recorded sold in Q3, a period that saw the company’s sales fall 4.9 percent, year over year. Blame that decline on a falling Ford, not a lofty Lincoln.

Ram is going gangbusters, reaping the benefits of selling an old and new truck side by each. The company as a whole is off by about a single percentage point through the end of September and, in fact, Ram is the only brand in the black at Pentastar HQ. Third-quarter volumes saw the company break even with Q3 2018. Drilling down to specific model level, the almighty Challenger reported a record third quarter, with Fiat Chrysler claiming that sales of it and the Charger have increased more the 60 percent over the last decade. (Horse)Power to the people!

Over at General Motors, you’d never guess that a strike ground its U.S. operations to a standstill halfway through the last month of the quarter. Sales rose 6.3 percent over the same period a year earlier, with all four brands posting a volume gain. Year to date, the automaker’s just below par.

In the automotive equivalent of shooting Santa Claus, a perfect storm of three fewer selling days and constrained inventory levels halted Subaru’s month-over-month winning streak. This ends 93 consecutive months of yearly, month-over-month growth. Still, it’s not exactly like they’re eating beans — the company still recorded their 67th consecutive month of moving more than 40,000 units. Subaru is up 4.4 percent this year and is outselling the likes of Hyundai.

Speaking of, both major Korean brands are doing quite well so far in 2019, the result of a healthy product portfolio and plenty of SUVs and crossovers to sell to a thirsty public. The new Hyundai Palisade has added 13,457 units this year, Kona has nearly doubled its volume to 55,138 cars, and Santa Fe found about eight thousand more buyers so far this year, bringing its total to just under 100,000 units. The brand’s highest-volume model continues to be the Elantra, selling 125,469 units.

If Ford sold that many Focus sedans and hatchbacks this year, they’d be up 2.9 percent instead of being down 3.8 percent. Just sayin’.

Thanks to quarterly reporting, our next complete sales post won’t be until the new year. Until then, we’ll bring you whatever numbers are available.

[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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  • Tstag Tstag on Oct 03, 2019

    I wonder why Jaguar is up?

  • Pmirp1 Pmirp1 on Oct 03, 2019

    If I were the CEO of Fiat-Chrysler, I would make the Challenger/Charger and Grand Cherokee/Durango in their current form for next 10 years, while adding other pieces around them. Don't change or replace what is NOT broken.

    • See 1 previous
    • Quaquaqua Quaquaqua on Oct 03, 2019

      Do you honestly think they have any other plans to do anything BUT the bare minimum? They are the laziest automaker in the industry besides maybe Mitsubishi. And speaking of fixing what's "not broken" those ancient cars all still have a ton of reliability issues that definitely need fixing.

  • El scotto Listen, unless you were Lord Headly-Stempmoor or such when you got off the off the boat, boot in Canada, you got the short end of the stick. People got on the boat, these days a plane, to escape famine, becoming cannon fodder in yet another stupid war, or the government thought it was A-OK to let soldiers kill you. Juneteenth is just a way to right one of the more bad ideas in the American experiment. Instead we have commenters who were buying tater chips and diet soda at Wal-Mart and got all butt-hurt because they heard someone who wasn't speaking English. I'm going to go fix a couple of frankfurters with salsa and guacamole and wash them down with a lager or three
  • Akear I just wish GM could produce a vehicle 80% as good as the crown.I sat in a Trax at a Chevrolet dealership this weekend and was shocked how cheap it felt. GM does not care.GM - what a disgrace!
  • Akear I like the grill treatment of all Mitsubishi products. It is an interesting and original design.
  • El scotto Some rambling thoughts; Elon is pulling billions in cash out of Tesla. Tesla will be around, Elon won't let them fail. Mitsubishi is an odd place, you can't sell vehicles if you don't have dealers. Out of all the "Automalls" near you, how many have a Mitsubishi dealership? The Agnellis owned Fiat, Fiat got sold to Stellantis. The Agnellis control Exor. How much of Stellantis does Exor own? I really should be drinking beer with Billy Ford and talking Big-10 trash with him. Ford and Lucid should work out a partnership. You want an electric Lincoln? Have Lucid build it and slap a Lincoln name plate on it. BTW, kick Farley's butt to the curb.
  • Akear US contentChevrolet Trax - 5%Honda Pilot - 52%What a disgrace!I glad Consumer Reports panned the Trax, and put it on its avoid list.