Minivans accounted for only 2.7% of the U.S. auto industry’s new vehicle volume in March 2015, a sharp drop from the 3.5% achieved by the category one year earlier.
First-quarter sales of minivans in 2015 were down 12%, and the segment’s share of the industry’s new vehicle volume tumbled to 2.8% from 3.4% in the first-quarter of 2014, a period in which total minivan volume had risen 5%, year-over-year.
Two key factors are at play in the minivan segment’s U.S. decline in early 2015. Primarily, a retooling of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plant in Windsor, Ontario, is disrupting the sale of the two vans that led the category at this time a year ago and throughout the 2014 calendar year.
Forecasts suggested that U.S. new vehicle sales would decline in March 2015, but the auto industry reported a slight uptick compared with March 2014. The moderate 0.5% improvement occurred despite a 4% passenger car sales decline and a 0.6% drop in full-size pickup truck sales.
• GM truck increase contrasts with overall GM decline
• Ram truck decrease contrasts with overall FCA improvement
Granted, the March decline for full-size trucks was slight; the F-Series, Ram, Tundra, and Titan decreases were nearly completely counteracted by a GM increase.
Sales of small luxury crossovers jumped 40% in February 2015 and so far this year are up 40% compared with the first two months of 2014.
Subtract the newcomers from that equation and the continuing nameplates, those which were on sale at this time last year, posted a 3% February improvement but are down 1% through two months.
Those new players – NX, MKC, Macan, X4 – generated 29% of the small lux CUV activity in January and February. Yet their collective arrival, both at the lower end with the NX and MKC and at the higher end with the Macan and X4, aren’t slowing down the Acura RDX, Volvo XC60, and Range Rover Evoque.
Trivia time: which cars combined to sell less than half as often in the United States in the first two months of 2015 as the BMW 3-Series and its 4-Series two-door (and four-door) offshoot?
The Audi A4 and Cadillac ATS. Or a number of other pairings listed in the chart below. Take your pick.
January 2015 was the first month since July of last year in which the Ford F-Series outsold GM’s full-size twins, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.
Between August and December, F-Series sales slid 3%, not unpredictably. As Ford became more firmly entrenched in the F-150 transition phase, sales perked up in January 2015. Rising just as quickly as the fast-growing overall full-size truck market, F-Series sales increased to the highest level since January 2004. (F-Series volume in January 2015 was nearly double what it was in January 2010.)
• Ford outsells GM twins for the first time since July
• GM increases market share, Ram loses market share
• Full-size trucks lose a small amount of market share to small/midsize trucks
Though outsold by the F-Series, it certainly wasn’t a bad month for the big GM trucks. Their market share improved by more than a full percentage point as the Silverado posted a 25% improvement to 36,106 units.
Refreshed for MY2015, the Toyota Sienna was America’s best-selling minivan in December 2014, the second consecutive month in which the Sienna topped its category.
• Chrysler’s vans are the two top-selling minivans
• Minivan sales hit six-year high
But 2014 was not the year of the Sienna, nor was it a year in which the Honda Odyssey could repeat as America’s best-selling minivan. Windsor, Ontario-built twins, the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan, ranked first and second, respectively, in U.S. minivan sales in the 2014 calendar year.
Together they earned 49% of the U.S. minivan market in 2014. That was up from 46% in 2013 when the Grand Caravan and Town & Country ranked second and third in the category.
General Motors’ U.S. market share in the small/midsize truck category grew in December 2014 to 21.1% from 13.9% in November. According to inventory statistics from Automotive News, GM dealers had approximately 9400 Chevrolet Colorados and GMC Canyons in stock at the beginning of December.
• Tacoma and Frontier rising
• GM earning market share
• Small/midsize trucks account for 1/10 pickup sales
Yet a booming auto industry and a surging pickup market meant that even with this new level of competition from the GM midsize pickups, widely regarded as the modern members of the class, the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier each posted 12% year-over-year improvements in December.
Full-size pickup trucks generated 13.1% of all U.S. new vehicle sales in November 2014, up from 12.5% in November 2013 thanks to a 10% volume gain.
That 10% segment-wide increase occurred despite a 10% decrease from America’s best-selling vehicle line, the Ford F-Series. New F-150s are arriving at dealers now, but overall F-Series volume will be volatile for a few months as the aluminum F-150 takes over from the outgoing model.
The F-Series’ share of the full-size category slid from 42.2% in November 2013 to 34.6% last month.
Overall pickup truck sales jumped 10.1% in the United States in October 2014 as six full-size nameplates collectively grew 9.5%. Growth in the overall truck world was aided by 2158 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon sales (up from 34 a year ago), a 1326-unit improvement from the Nissan Frontier, and the Toyota Tacoma’s 5% increase.
In a U.S. auto industry that’s seen total new vehicle sales rise 5.5% over the first nine months of 2014, car sales are up just 1% year-over-year.
Subcompacts are performing slightly better, rising 2.8% through the end of September. During the month of September, specifically, the subcompact category grew 4.9% as overall car sales rose just 2.2%.
Yet the majority of cars in the subcompact segment are selling less often in 2014 than in 2013, not just in September but over the course of 2014’s first three-quarters.
As is the norm, Ford’s F-Series topped September 2014’s sales charts, but if a true winner was to be crowned after a quick glance at the results tables, Chevrolet’s Silverado must surely take the cake.
Not only did Silverado sales rise more rapidly than any other pickup truck – faster than the Ram’s 30% jump; better than the Nissan Frontier’s 47% rise – but the Silverado also powered General Motors to a second consecutive F-Series-besting month.
GM’s market share in the full-size, truck-based SUV segment grew to 82.9% in August 2014 as the company’s four candidates grabbed the four top spots in the category. Not unpredictably, Ford Expedition sales declined as we approach the arrival of a revamped 2015 Expedition with EcoBoost V6 power, further enabling GM’s quest for world domination.
Or American domination. Domination in a specific vehicle category. In a category which, while expanding in comparison to the recent past, simply doesn’t amount to what it once did.
That’s not to say GM’s four full-size Chevy and GMC SUVs form a low-volume quartet. The Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon, and Yukon XL were responsible for 8.1% of the volume generated by America’s largest seller of new vehicles in August.
In an auto market which somewhat unexpectedly grew 5.5% in August 2014, sales of full-size pickup trucks jumped 8.8%. This increase occurred in spite of 3006 fewer sales from the segment’s best-selling vehicle line, Ford’s F-Series, which is fading slightly as ordering for the new 2015 F-150 begins.
Ram’s truck range was up 33% to more than 40,000 units, the second time in six months that the Chrysler Group/FCA has sold more than 40,000 Ram pickups in a single month. Not since 2003 have this many Ram trucks been sold during the month of August. Year-over-year, Ram’s share of the full-size truck segment grew by more than four percentage points.
For the most part, their bigger and more expensive brethren sell more often. But this group of small luxury crossovers is gaining a smaller subset as we speak, one which will see the declining BMW X1 move over to its own category.
Meanwhile, the remaining contestants will be joined by the Lexus NX, a smaller, four-cylinder-only alternative to the Lexus RX. The RX is, by far and away, America’s top-selling premium brand utility vehicle. 9658 RXs were sold during the month of July 2014, or more than the Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, BMW X3, and BMW X1 combined.
The Toyota Sienna was America’s best-selling minivan during the month of July 2014, although Chrysler’s minivan duo combined to own a far greater portion of the market.
44.8% of all July minivan sales went Chrysler and Dodge’s way, up from 38.1% a year ago. The Grand Caravan/Town & Country twins rank first and second in the minivan category through the first seven months of 2014 and have jointly increased their market share to 49% from 43.6% during the same period last year.
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