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

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
u s auto sales third quarter 2019 winners and losers

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]

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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.

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  • Matt Posky Hot.
  • Lou_BC Murilee is basically correct on the trim levels. People tend to refer to Ford's full-sized cars as "Galaxie 500" or "Galaxie's" even though that's just the mid level trim. I was never a fan of the '69 snout or any of the subsequent models. The vacuum controlled headlight covers typically failed. It was a heavy clunky system also found on the Mercury's like the Cougar. The XL's and LTD's could be purchased with factory bucket seats and a center console with a large shifter, similar to the type of throttle on an airplane. The late 60's era Ford cars had coil springs in the rear which rode nice. The shape of the fender wells did not lend themselves to fitting larger tires. The frame layout carried on to become the underpinnings of the Panther platform. I noticed that this car came with disc brakes in the front. There was a time when disc's were an upgrade option from drum brakes. Ford's engines of similar displacement are often assumed as being from the same engine families. In '69 the 429 was the biggest engine which was in the same family as the 460 (385 series). It was a true big block. In 1968 and earlier, the 428, 427, 390's typically found in these cars were FE block engines. The 427 side oiler has always been the most desired option.
  • Drew8MR Minivans are expensive new if you are just buying them for utility. Used minivans are often superfund sites in back compared to the typical barely used backseats in a lot of other vehicles and you aren't going to get a deal just because everything is filthy, broken and covered in spilled food and drink.
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