With a single month remaining in 2017, automakers are ramping up sales efforts in the hopes of finishing the year on a high note. At this time of year, most stores deploy all the tools in their arsenal, from magical incentives to generous trade-in values, in a bid to compete with consumer dollars generally spent elsewhere during December.
The preceding month was solid but not stunning, leading some to openly wonder if this’ll be the first year since the Bankruptcy Days that total industry sales will be a few units less than the previous 12 months.
It was only a mere blip, the year-over-year increase reported by the U.S. auto industry in September 2017. After eight consecutive months of decline, auto sales grew in September. But October’s results once again manifested a gradual and marginal decline.
U.S. auto sales slid roughly 1 percent in October 2017 thanks in large part to sharp decreases at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Dodge brand and a 15-percent Hyundai drop. Chrysler, Fiat, Jaguar, and Maserati were the only other brands to report double-digit percentage losses.
U.S. auto sales exceeded analyst expectations with a big 6 percent year-over-year increase to 1.5 million units in September 2017, the first monthly improvement in 2017 so far.
After auto sales fell 3 percent during the first two-thirds of 2017, big September increases from Toyota Motor Corp., General Motors, Ford Motor Company, American Honda, Nissan’s trio of brands, and numerous smaller outfits brought the sales pace achieved through the first three-quarters of 2017 within sight of 2016’s record rate. By the end of September, U.S. auto sales are down by less than 2 percent compared with last year.
Pickup trucks played a major role in September’s improvements, growing at twice the rate of the industry at large. The Honda Civic expanded its lead as America’s best-selling car on a quest to end the Toyota Camry’s 15-year run. Minivan sales plunged to barely more than 33,000 units. The Toyota RAV4 topped 42,000 sales for a second consecutive month, leading a booming SUV/crossover class.
Across the U.S. auto industry, there are a number of auto brands that are actually selling more passenger cars in 2017 than in 2016: Jaguar, Lincoln, Infiniti, Subaru, Volkswagen.
Some specific models, many with all-wheel-drive availability like the Audi A5, Subaru Impreza, and Volkswagen Golf, are enjoying far greater sales success this year than last.
But you know the story. Generally speaking, Americans are buying far fewer cars now than they used to. From more than 50 percent just five years ago, passenger car market share is down to 37 percent. Nowhere is this more obvious than at traditional domestic manufacturers, the Detroit Three.
Canadian auto sales climbed to an all-time record high in 2013, jumping past the 1.7-million mark for the first time since 2002. The industry bettered that total in 2014, topped 2014’s total in 2015, and set a new record in 2016.
While U.S. auto sales continue to fall, sliding 2 percent in August and 3 percent through the first two-thirds of 2017, Canadian auto sales in August 2017 improved for a fourth consecutive month and the seventh month so far this year. Moreover, the improvements have been anything but modest. An 11-percent uptick in May was followed up by a 6-percent June increase, a 5-percent July increase, and a 7-percent August rise.
In fact, so strong are Canadian auto sales through the first two-thirds of 2017 that disaster would need to strike in the final four months of the year in order for 2017 not to be the best year ever for the Canadian auto industry.
Disaster appears unlikely.
A predicted auto sales improvement in August, expected to be the first year-over-year increase in 2017, gave way to decreases for many automakers as Hurricane Harvey’s drastic effects shut down demand in one of the nation’s largest auto markets for the final quarter of the month.
According to Edmunds, Ford, Ram, GMC, Cadillac, and Mitsubishi all claim Texas as their largest market. The period surrounding Labor Day produced 4 percent of America’s new vehicle sales in 2016, but that figure will undoubtedly fall because of Harvey’s devastating impact.
Canadian auto sales jumped 5 percent in July 2017, a big jump for an industry that has now posted growth in six of 2017’s first seven months.
Year-to-date, sales are well ahead of 2016’s pace: 58,000 units greater than in the first seven months of 2017. In fact, on a quest for the Canada’s first ever year of more than 2,000,000 sales, the industry would now need a genuine downturn in 2017’s final five months to avoid a hugely successful year.
More proof that the Canadian auto industry’s on a hot streak? Even passenger car sales are… well, they’re only down slightly.
July 2017 auto sales were expected to decline for a seventh consecutive month, sliding further and faster than at any point this year. In the end, with incentive spending up 5 percent, U.S. auto sales dropped 7 percent in July 2017, a year-over-year decrease worth roughly 105,000 sales.
Detroit was to blame for much of the losses, in part because of steep reductions in fleet volume. General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles combined to lose 76,000 sales. General Motors came within 4,050 sales of losing the top seller’s crown to Toyota as GM July volume fell to a five-year low. At Ford Motor Company, total Ford/Lincoln volume fell to a six-month low. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles suffered steep declines at Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat.
Detroit automakers were by no means the only manufacturers losing U.S. auto sales in June. The Honda brand was down 2 percent, Nissan slid 4 percent, Kia and Volkswagen both fell 6 percent, and Hyundai plunged 30 percent.
But there were also bright spots. Audi sales rose 3 percent for its 79th consecutive monthly increase. Subaru sales, rising 7 percent in July, improved for a 68th consecutive month. And at Toyota, where the RAV4 was by far and away America’s top-selling utility vehicle in July, total volume rose 4 percent to 193,155 units, the best month for the brand in 2017 and the second-best of the last two years.
Auto sales slid 3 percent in the United States in June 2017, marking the end to a first-half of 2017 in which U.S. auto sales declined in six consecutive months.
Despite Acura-fuelled improvements at American Honda, RAV4-powered increases at Toyota, Volkswagen’s continued bounce-back from the brink, a 6-percent jump in full-size pickup truck sales, and modest gains at a number of America’s top-selling premium brands, June volume fell by roughly 45,000 units, year-over-year.
June wasn’t a horrible month for auto sales in America, just as the first-half of 2017 was not a dreadful stretch. The comparison with 2016, a record year for auto sales in America, causes 2017 to appear worse than it really is.
U.S. auto sales were essentially flat in the fifth month of 2017 as May new vehicle volume was let down by significant passenger car declines but bolstered by significant pickup truck volume.
Despite a drop in incentives, U.S. sales of full-size pickups jumped 10 percent in May 2017. General Motors’ pickup sales continued to decline, but big gains at Ford, Ram, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda masked losses across much of the industry.
U.S. auto sales declined nearly 5 percent in April 2017, the fourth consecutive month where U.S. auto sales failed to live up to 2016’s prodigious pace.
Auto sales are now down by more than 2 percent through the first one-third of 2017, a year-over-year decline of roughly 130,000 sales caused in no small part by a bevy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ brands. Chrysler’s 27-percent year-over-year downturn is the worst decline of any brand. Fiat and Jeep — yes, Jeep — have each posted double-digit percentage losses. Dodge is down, too.
But it’s not just FCA. Through the end of April, 18 different auto brands have lost ground, from Lexus and Acura through to Cadillac and BMW, with Buick, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Kia, and Toyota in their midst.
March 2017’s U.S. auto sales volume dropped nearly 2 percent compared with March 2016, failing to live up to forecasts that expected March to be the best end to the first-quarter in nearly two decades.
Despite record volume at Nissan and Infiniti, continued growth at Subaru, meaningful gains at Buick, GMC, Dodge, Mitsubishi, and Ram, a third consecutive month of improvement at Mazda, and minor improvements at numerous other brands, auto sales fell below March 2016 levels because of declines at Ford, Toyota, and Fiat Chrysler. Hyundai and Kia combined for an 11-percent slide.
A third consecutive month of year-over-year decline for the industry suggests doom and gloom, as does the fact that inventories are ballooning and incentives are rising. Auto sales remain high, however, and only in comparison with 2016 — a banner year for the industry — do sales appear poor. Through the first-quarter of 2017, U.S. auto sales are down by less than 2 percent.
Auto sales declined by a modest 1 percent in the United States in February 2017, dragged down by plunging sales at numerous Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brands and sharp declines at Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai-Kia. Ford Motor Company sales slid 4 percent because of a 26-percent decline in car sales at the Ford division.
Across much of the industry, there were signs of rude health, particularly if the car sector is ignored. Of the 20 most popular cars in America — a group topped by the Toyota Camry — 16 nameplates generated fewer sales this February than last. Yet America’s five leading utility vehicles (Rogue, CR-V, RAV4, Escape, Equinox) combined for more than 25,000 additional February sales in 2017. And while minivan sales plunged by a fifth, U.S. pickup truck sales were up 10 percent because of full-size truck strength.
These stark contradictions produced a market that produced slightly degraded numbers in one of the two traditionally weakest months on the calendar. Now one-sixth of the way into 2017, the poor selling season should be behind us.
Auto sales slid 2 percent in January 2017, starting off the new year on the wrong foot after a record December ended 2016 by stealing this year’s sales.
Sharp declines at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Toyota Motor Corporation brought down an industry that saw numerous notable gains. While FCA and Toyota tumbled by more than 11 percent, year-over-year, Honda, Nissan, and Subaru were among the biggest brands to report improvements compared with January 2016.
General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles all ended 2016 selling fewer new vehicles in the United States than the traditional Detroit Three managed one year earlier.
Yet for a second consecutive year, U.S. auto sales improved to record levels, shooting past 17.5 million units thanks to an end-of-year push that propelled December to a 3-percent increase, not the 2-percent decline forecasted.