With Jeep as the fastest-growing auto brand in the country and Ram pickup truck sales soaring to record levels, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was Canada’s top-selling automobile manufacturer in calendar year 2015.
It was the first year in the company’s 90-year history that FCA (or DaimlerChrysler, or Chrysler Group, or whatever it was known as) outsold all other manufacturers.
Yet in claiming the top-selling mantle, FCA’s Canadian market share decreased marginally, falling from 15.6 percent in 2014 to 15.4 percent in the automaker’s highest-volume year to date.
Fast forward nine months and FCA boss Sergio Marchionne finds the company’s Canadian situation, “alarming,” according to Automotive News Canada. How bad is it? And how did the tide turn so quickly?
After 35 consecutive months of year-over-year sales improvements, including an all-time monthly record of 90,545 reported sales in May 2016, Jeep’s streak came to an end in September 2016. Last month, U.S. Jeep volume slid 3 percent because of declines across much of the brand’s lineup.
Yet Jeep continues to sell more SUVs and crossovers than any other automotive brand in America, topping second-ranked Ford by 118,328 sales through the first three-quarters of 2016.
Together, Jeep, Ford, Toyota, Chevrolet, and Honda — the five highest-volume purveyors of SUVs/crossovers in the United States — own 52 percent of America’s utility vehicle market. That leaves less than half the available utility vehicle sales for more than 25 brands to divvy up.
It just keeps getting uglier.
In ten consecutive months, U.S. sales at the Fiat brand have declined on a year-over-year basis. The run of declines began six months after Fiat launched an all-new model, the 500X, in America’s burgeoning subcompact crossover segment. The downward trend continued in the third quarter of 2016, through the launch of the Mazda-based 124 Spider. The losses accrued in Fiat’s U.S. showrooms were certainly worsened by 21 consecutive months of decreased volume reported by the aging Fiat 500.
But it’s the 500X that ought to shoulder much of the blame. Wasn’t the answer to the brand’s lack of mainstream appeal surely to be found in a segment that doubled in size in 2015?
U.S. sales of midsize pickup trucks jumped 54 percent in September 2016 to nearly 40,000 units.
While massive year-over-year increases in pickup truck sales can often be attributed to commensurate increases in incentives, as seen with the Ram P/U’s victory over the Chevrolet Silverado in September, midsize pickup truck buyers are willing to pay big bucks.
Average transaction prices in the Toyota Tacoma-controlled midsize pickup truck segment last month, according to Kelley Blue Book, rose 6 percent compared with September 2015. That was by far the biggest increase for any segment in average transaction prices.
These are hardly the sub-$20,000 antiquated Ford Rangers of 2010.
On average, consumers were buying $32,350 midsize pickup trucks in September 2016.
Transitioning from one model to the next isn’t always a straightforward task for automakers. Forecasting and assembling the outgoing model before retooling for the incoming model is not an exact science.
For the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler’s replacement for the Town & Country minivan, the task was not made any easier by the presence of a value-oriented competing model inside Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ own fold. Through the first three-quarters of 2016, the Dodge Grand Caravan has set a pace that may end with the best calendar year of sales since 2012, if not 2007.
The Grand Caravan’s position atop the minivan leaderboard and the large number of Chrysler Town & Countrys that needed to be cleared out created uninspiring Pacifica sales numbers for the first few months of its life-cycle.
But Pacifica sales last month were 23-percent higher than in August, and the Chrysler Pacifica very nearly became America’s best-selling minivan in September 2016.
Only a matter of time?
Subaru Outback Outsells Most Of The Volkswagen Brand In September, Most Minis Are Big, Viper And NSX Tie, BMW Fades, And More September Sales Stats
At the beginning of each and every month, automakers release complete U.S. sales results for nearly every make and model. Sometimes the numbers are spectacular. Other times, surprising. Sometimes they’re just downright silly; nonsensical even. More often than not, the interesting tidbits are subtle.
Spectacular, surprising, silly, and subtle they may be, but not all such data points are worthy of a story. So we’ve plucked out a handful of results and statistics that are worthy of some attention from September 2016, a month in which new vehicle sales slid slightly less than 1 percent.
Ford sells a lot of F-Series pickups, the Toyota Camry is still America’s best-selling car, Americans are buying more SUVs/crossovers than cars. But auto sales figures are more interesting behind the headlines.
Seemingly in response to a story we published on TTAC last month on the subject of the Ford F-Series’ otherworldly dominance north of the border, Ford Canada reported yet another all-time monthly F-Series sales record in September 2016.
And as if outselling its two top rivals — combined — through the first two-thirds of 2016 wasn’t enough to clarify the degree of dominance exerted by the F-Series in Canada, the F-Series outsold the second, third, and fourth-best-selling pickup trucks — combined — in September 2016.
And the numbers get even crazier.
For just the second time in 205 months, the Ram P/U range outsold the Chevrolet Silverado in the United States in September 2016.
It’s a victory wiped away by including GM’s other full-size pickup truck, the GMC Sierra, not to mention both Ram and Silverado are fighting for second place. The Ford F-Series is America’s top-selling truck line, outselling the Ram by 20,000 units and the GM twins by nearly 4,400 sales.
September was nevertheless the icing on the cake for a three-quarter period in which Ram’s pickups finished 27,549 sales ahead of their record-setting pace last year.
But Fiat Chrysler Automobiles placed a lot of extra cash on the hood to put so much icing on the cake.
This is the fourth overall edition of TTAC’s Midsize Sedan Deathwatch. The midsize sedan as we know it — “midsizedus sedanicus” in the original latin — isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but the ongoing sales contraction will result in a reduction of mainstream intermediate sedans in the U.S. market. How do we know? It already has.
As more proof of a struggling midsize sedan sector, September 2016 sales tumbled 11 percent year-over-year, a loss of more than 21,400 U.S. sales for a segment that was already losing an average of 21,600 sales per month during the first two-thirds of 2016.
The Toyota Camry, America’s top-selling midsize car and the most popular car in America over the last 14 consecutive years, was outsold by its own compact sibling in September. Yet the Camry’s sales decline, in line with the segment average, was by no means unusual in September. Aside from a modest Nissan Altima increase and a jump in sales of the new Chevrolet Malibu, every midsize nameplate generated fewer sales this September than last.
The narrow victory scored by the Chevrolet Camaro in America’s pony car sales race in September 2016 was the result of General Motors finally pricing the Camaro in line with the Ford Mustang.
But General Motors still has more than four months of Camaro supply as dealers approach a much slower buying season for sports cars in general; as the auto industry at large shows signs of a gradual and modest slowdown.
Year-over-year, U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Camaro jumped 25 percent in September 2016. Compared with August, month-to-month volume rose 17 percent. To produce such gains, GM had to triple the average price cut on Camaros.
In September 2016, for the first time since October 2014, the Chevrolet Camaro outsold the Ford Mustang in the United States.
Year-over-year, Chevrolet Camaro sales jumped 25 percent to a five-year September high of 6,577.
With the worst Ford Mustang decline since (not coincidentally) October 2014, the Blue Oval’s pony car saw its share of the three-car Detroit pony/muscle car sector fall by 15 points to 34 percent.
Thus, the Camaro wins. Over the span of one month. By a small margin.
September 2016 auto sales slid nearly 1 percent, not as rough an outcome as projected by many industry analysts but more proof that the auto industry may have peaked in calendar year 2015.
Despite bright spots from Ram, Buick, and Infiniti, most of the year-over-year improvements reported by automakers in September were modest in size. Porsche, Lincoln, Toyota, Honda, Audi, and Volvo all combined for sub-2-percent increases. Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Cadillac, Hyundai, and Lexus couldn’t quite manage 4-percent upticks.
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- Tassos Subaru really knows how to take fugly to ever higher levels, and sell every one of the (of course very few) it makes. As if the number of sales negates the fugliness.Don't hold your breath. I bet this will NOT be the vehicle James Bond arrives at the Casino in Monte Carlo with in his next flick. (if any)
- ToolGuy Government overreach. Park the Ford in your air-conditioned garage on a maintenance charger and this won't be a problem.Here's some (old) general background if you are interested.@ILO, there are 3 Fords, and Ford Pro™ is the one with the bright future 🙂
- ToolGuy No harm no foul (no one died), business is business, yada yada. Why must everyone pick on dealers?-this post dedicated to Ruggles
- Hydrocrust Parts
- ToolGuy The vehicle development process which gave the world the Neon was so amazing (according to the automotive press) that it prompted Rick Wagoner to hire Bob Lutz.Didn't work 🙂