Motor City Blogman

April U.S. Auto Sales Show the Downside of the Plateau

But sales levels are still good, if you sell small SUVs

After the second disappointing sales month in a row, automotive sales trends are beginning to come into focus. While I usually find seasonally adjusted annual rate estimates to be a bit misleading, that number was tracking at 17.0-million, according to General Motors, a sobering leveling off after two 17.5-million sales years in a row.

The SAAR for the year-to-date is 17.1 million, GM says, and while still a very good number, that’s about 2.3-percent lower than each of the last two calendar years. So if the SAAR trajectory doesn’t change, we should see full-year sales settle somewhere in the upper 16s.

Individual segments’ trends have been forming for years. Compact SUVs are taking over for midsize cars. The top five compact sport/utilities outsold the top five midsize cars, through April, by 125,630 units.

Subcompact, or b-segment crossover/utilities, are trending, too, especially among the premium/luxury brands. The Infiniti QX30 lifted Nissan’s premium brand to the plus side last month, and Ford Motor Company in its monthly sales call for analysts and reporters lamented that its EcoSport is still a year away. Ford, which had the largest April-over-April decline of the nine most popular automakers in the U.S., sold more than 70,000 F-Series, but lost sales in several other key categories. Meanwhile, archrival GM’s Chevrolet Trax and Buick Encore combined for 14,874 sales last month.

GM says retail market share is up 0.3 points for Nissan, up 0.2 points each for FiatChrysler and Hyundai-Kia, and up 0.1 points each for GM and Toyota/Lexus. Ford Motor Company is off 0.8 points, GM says, and Honda is off 0.3.

On the premium/luxury side, the Mercedes brand holds a considerable lead over number-two BMW and number-three Lexus, and is running 1,068 cars and SUVs ahead of last year, so far. Fifth-place Infiniti holds a considerable lead over Cadillac and Acura – which has dropped from fifth to seventh, year-to-date – thanks again largely to the addition of the QX30 to its lineup.

The lesson? It’s still hard to sell premium-priced hatchbacks to Americans (see Mini), but raise the hatchback slightly, offer all-wheel-drive and call it a “crossover” and you have an almost sure-fire winner.

And so, to the numbers …

2017-Buick-Envision-front-three-quarters-2
1. General Motors: 244,406, off 5.8 percent.
• Chevrolet was off 10.4 percent, to 164,367, and GMC, as an indication of truck and SUV sales, was off just 0.3 percent, to 47,004.
• Buick was up 17 percent, or 3,015 units, to 20,735, on the strength of the new Envision, which accounted for 4,297 sales. Encore was up 27 percent to 8,365, while the soon-to-be-replaced Enclave fell 20.8 percent, to 3,582. That’s a net SUV gain of 5,132.
• Cadillac sales rose 9.5 percent, to 12,300.
• XT5 sales were up from 304 at launch last year to 5,501 last month, (plus 19 remaining SRXes), versus 2,952 in April ’16. CT6 was up 243.2 percent, to 978, as CTS fell 34.6 percent to 873.
Chevy Equinox was up 0.2 percent, to 20,655, despite an imminent changeover, and Cruze rose 50.6 percent, to 21,317. Malibu dropped 20.2 percent, though, to 17,364.
• Chevy Silverado was off 19.7 percent, to 40,154, and GMC Sierra fell 15.3 percent, to 17,400, for a combined 57,554.
Chevy Colorado, off 11 percent to 9,221, and GMC Canyon, off 21.7 percent, to 2,368, combined for 11,589.
Chevy Volt fell 8.9 percent, to 1,807, Bolt EV totaled 1,292 and Corvette was off 12.3 percent, to 2,756.

2. Ford Motor Company: 214,695, off 7.2 percent.
Chevy Camaro, up 17.2 percent, to 8,737, beat Ford Mustang, off 36.6 percent to 8,063, and Dodge Challenger, up 5 percent, to 6,591, though Mustang leads Camaro by nearly 6,500 units so far this year.
• F-Series slipped 0.2 percent, to 70,657. Transit was off 20 percent, to 11,500.
• Escape was up 7.2 percent, to 25,637 and Explorer was off 2.5 percent, to 19,771.
• Expedition rose 13.2 percent, to 5,116, while Edge was up 5.8 percent, to 12,417.
• Fusion was off 19.5 percent, to 16,697. Focus fell 17.4 percent, to 13,197.
• Lincoln brand fell 0.9 percent, to 9,691. MKC was off 3.4 percent, to 2,726 and MKX dropped 11.1 percent, to 2,339.
• MKZ was up 24.8 percent, however, to 2,658 and Lincoln sold 1,003 Continentals.

3. Toyota Motor Sales: 201,926, off 4.4 percent.
• The Toyota brand was off 3.5 percent, to 179,810, while Lexus dropped 11.1 percent, to 22,116.
• The Toyota division bestseller race remains close. RAV4 led last month at 31,757, up 9.4 percent, to Camry’s 31,428, off 7.7 percent, and Corolla’s (bolstered by addition of the iM model) 31,104, off 7.6 percent.
• Year-to-date, Camry remains the bestseller, at 114,887, off 11.8 percent, to Corolla’s 112,539, off 7.9 percent. RAV4 will soon catch them, however, at 112,290, up 5.7 percent for the first four months.
• Prius is off 18.6 percent, to 9,708. Toyota 86, including Scion FR-S, is off 6.6 percent, to 639.
• NX, up 13.2 percent, to 4,320, and CT, up 37.6 percent, to 794, were Lexus’ only gainers. RX was off 10.6 percent, to 7,839, and ES fell 23.5 percent, to 3,400.

4. FiatChrysler: 177,441, off 7 percent.
• FiatChrysler has now added Maserati sales (including historic numbers, for comparison purposes) to its U.S. sales totals. Maserati sold 1,265 units in the U.S. last month, up 19 percent from April ’16.
• Jeep took a big hit thanks to Cherokee (off 17 percent to 14,083), changeover for the Compass (off 61 percent, to 3,520) and discontinuation of the Patriot (off 53 percent, to 4,939). Overall, the brand was down 17 percent, to 68,879.
• Wrangler was up by 1 unit, to 18,841, and Grand Cherokee rose 6 percent, to 18,877.
• Ram picked up some of the slack, up 5 percent, to 47,327, to outsell the Chevy Silverado last month. Ram pickup sales rose 8 percent, to 43,321, though ProMaster was off 4 percent, to 2,701 and ProMaster City dropped 29 percent, to 1,305.
• Chrysler brand dropped 3 percent, to 17,309. Chrysler sold 10,427 Pacificas (plus 77 leftover Town & Countrys), up from 6,029 T&Cs and 342 Pacificas last year, while 300 was off 26 percent, to 3,948.
• Dodge was off 3 percent, to 39,445. Caravan was its bestseller, off 20 percent, to 9,817, and Journey was next, up 72 percent, to 8,401.
• Charger was off 4 percent, to 6,937, and Viper dropped 8 percent, to 56.
• Fiat took an 18-percent hit, to 2,539, with 500 down 20 percent, to 1,201, and 500X dropping 33 percent, to 758. The brand sold 465 of its 124 Spiders.
• Alfa Romeo sold 43 4cs, down 27 percent, and 634 Giulias, for a total of 677, more than 10 times April ’16 sales.

2017 Honda CR V front three quarter in motion

5. American Honda, 138,386, off 7 percent.
• Honda division was off 6.3 percent, to 124,254 and Acura fell 12.8 percent, to 14,132.
• CR-V leads the Honda brand, at 32,671, up 13 percent. Civic was off 11.7 percent to 31,211, and Accord plummeted 14.6 percent, to 26,938.
• HR-V was up 22.4 percent, to 8,527, while its auto counterpart, the Fit, was off 5.1 percent, to 4,871. Honda sold 3,186 Ridgelines – it sold 1 a year ago to-date.
• TLX was Acura’s only gainer, up 39.1 percent, to 5,258. MDX was off 14.4 percent, to 4,052 and RDX dropped 35.8 percent, to 3,793.

6. Nissan Group: 121,998, off 1.5 percent.
• Infiniti saw a 3.5-percent gain, to 10,797, or 365 more vehicles than last April. Nissan brand was off 2 percent, to 111,201.
• Rogue had a strong month, at 27,386, up 18.2 percent.
• Altima was on the losing end of its inter-brand battle with Rogue, at 20,263, off 28.9 percent. Sentra was up 5.8 percent, to 20,255.
• Pathfinder was up 1.4 percent, to 5,712. Titan was up 299.3 percent, to 4,033 and Frontier dropped 15.5 percent, to 6,347.
• The new QX30 sold more than four times the Infiniti brand’s April increase, at 1,208.
• QX60 became Infiniti’s bestseller, though off 15.3 percent, to 2,804. Its erstwhile bestseller, the Q50, plummeted 30.3 percent, to 2,559. Infiniti sold nearly seven times the number of Q60 coupes as last year, at 744.

7. Hyundai: 63,050, up 1 percent.
• Better production capacity for Hyundai’s SUVs has paid off, with Santa Fe up 32.6 percent, to 9,480, and Tucson up 28.9 percent, to 9,952.
• The Genesis luxury brand sold 1,399 cars in April.
• The compact Elantra, up 32.2 percent to 16,346, edged out Sonata, up 7.1 percent, to 16,294 to be the brand’s bestseller.
• Hyundai sold 1,316 Ioniqs.
• Genesis sold 1,083 G80s and 316 G90s.

8. Kia: 53,358, off 5.6 percent.
• Kia took back eighth place from Subaru last month, though Subaru has outsold Kia for the year-to-date by more than 15,000 units. Forte had its best month, at 10,496, up 7.8 percent, even as Kia cancelled the slow-selling two-door Forte Koup.
• Optima was Kia’s bestseller, though down 4.4 percent, to 10,731.
• Soul sales fell 20.3 percent, to 9,182.
• Sportage was off 25.8 percent, to 5,672. Sorento was down 10 percent, to 9,317.
• The automaker sold 2,939 of its new Niro hybrid models.

9. Subaru: 52,368, up 4.0 percent.
• Subaru says April marks 65 consecutive months of yearly month-over-month growth, and record April sales.
• Forester led, up 1.9 percent to 14,761, and Outback was up 1.2 percent, to 14,469.
• The new Impreza scored a 66.2 percent gain, to 8,038. WRX/STI was off 1.8 percent, however, to 3,039.
• Legacy also fell, by 21.3 percent, to 4,399.
• BRZ was off 4.7 percent to 444, and together with Toyota 86/Scion FR-S, the platform sold 1,083, off 5.8 percent.

2017 NY Mercedes Benz E Class Cabriolet 4 1

10. Mercedes-Benz USA: 29,490, off 8.7 percent.
• The Benz brand was off 7.9 percent, to 26,932, but still well ahead of its archrival from Bavaria.
• C-Class had a strong April, up 38.5 percent, to 7,821. E-Class, traditionally the leading Mercedes model, was off 16.9 percent, to 4,059, and S-Class was up 12.2 percent, to 1,491.
• GLE-Class led SUVs, up 3.3 percent, to 4,468 with GLC next, at 3,305, off 25.5 percent.
• Mercedes vans were off 15.3 percent, to 2,193. Smart was down 21.7 percent, to 365.

11. Volkswagen: 27,557, up 1.6 percent.
• Golf, at 7,187, up 40.7 percent, outsold Passat, up 9.2 percent to 6,148.
• GTI accounted for 1,702 of those Golf sales, off 14.4 percent, and SportWagen accounted for 3,562, up 252 percent.
• Jetta was the brand’s bestseller again, off 12.1 percent, to 9,398.
• Beetle was up 27.8 percent, to 1,497.
• Tiguan fell 22.7 percent, to 2,939.

12. BMW Group: 26,105, off 12.2 percent.
• BMW sales fell 9.3 percent, to 22,624 and Mini plummeted 27.4 percent, to 3,481.
• Traditional bestselling 3 Series fell 25.4 percent, to 3,494, though the 4 Series coupe version was up 20.3 percent, to 3,882.
• X3 was up 32.3 percent, to 3,204 and X1 surged 29.4 percent, to 1,872, though X5 was off 9.8 percent, to 3,400.
• BMW says supply constraints pushed its new 5 Series down 30.1 percent, to 3,113.
• Countryman led Mini sales, though off 23.5 percent, to 955. The 2-Door Hardtop was down 22.7 percent, to 883. All Mini models were down last month.

13. Mazda: 24,164, off 7.8 percent.
• Despite the brand’s downturn, sales leader CX-5 had a very good month, up 28.4 percent, to 11,334.
• CX-9 was up from 71 units last year, to 2,134 units in April ’17, while CX-3 was off 20.8 percent, to 1,147.
• Mazda3 slid 44.2 percent, to 5,980, and Mazda6 fell 42.8 percent, to 2,249.
• MX-5 Miata was up 21.5 percent, to 1,319. Combined, Miata/Fiata was up 64.3 percent, to 1,784.

14. Audi: 18,711, up 5.1 percent.
• Bestseller Q5 was up 26 percent, to 5,028. A4 was up 8.8 percent, to 3,264.
• Q3 sales fell 7.6 percent, to 1,510 and A3 free-fell 29.2 percent, to 1,803. Audi broke out A3 e-tron numbers – off 6.2 percent, to 301.
• Q7 continues to surge, up 22.2 percent, to 3,022.

2017 Range Rover Sport SVR all terrain acceleration test

15. Jaguar/Land Rover: 8,441, up 35 percent.
• Jaguar’s expanded lineup boosted the auto brand’s April sales by 197 percent, to 3,230 units.
• Land Rover was up 0.4 percent, to 5,211.
• Range Rover Evoque was up 95 percent, to 1,030, though Range Rover Sport remains the bestseller, at 1,785 units.
Jaguar F-Type was up 38 percent, to 406, and the brand sold 1,377 new F-Paces.

16. Mitsubishi: 8,375, off 13.4 percent.
• Outlander Sport was up 2.8 percent, to 2,688, though the bigger Outlander was last month’s bestseller, at 2,717, off 0.4 percent.
• Mirage was off 35.3 percent, to 2,136, Lancer was off 18.7 percent, to 832, and i-MiEV was off 67 percent, to 2.

17. Volvo: 7,121, up 15.4 percent.
• Volvo’s Swedish factory is starting to catch up with global demand for the XC90, says USA chief Lex Kerssemakers, and so the luxury SUV leads the brand’s sales here again. Sales were still off , by 21.9 percent, to 2,349 XC90s.
• XC60 was up 40.5 percent, to 2,046.
• S60 was up 14.3 percent, to 982. Volvo sold 484 V90s and 478 V90 CCs.

18. Porsche: 5,529, up 2.2 percent.
• The new Panamera was the only Porsche gainer, up 196 percent, to 1,098
• Bestseller Macan dropped 9.4 percent, to 1,700.
• Boxster/Cayman was off 20.7 percent, to 534, and 911 was off 8.1 percent, to 940.

Panamera Sport Turismo 12

Luxury/Premium Brands, YTD:
1.     Mercedes-Benz 106,073
2.     BMW 94,306
3.     Lexus 83,961
4.     Audi 64,358
5.     Infiniti 54,358
Select Sports Cars and EVs, YTD:
1.     Chevrolet Corvette 8,560
2.     Chevrolet Volt 7,370
3.     Mazda Miata 4,701
4.     Nissan Leaf 4,350
5.     Toyota 86/Scion FR-S 2,421
Midsize cars, YTD:
1.     Toyota Camry 114,887
2.     Honda Accord 96,753
3.     Nissan Altima 94,248
4.     Ford Fusion 67,483
5.     Hyundai Sonata 54,163
Compact CUVs, YTD:
1.     Nissan Rogue 128,807
2.     Honda CR-V 126,728
3.     Toyota RAV4 112,290
4.     Ford Escape 101,975
5.     Chevrolet Equinox 83,364

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