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January 2017 U.S. Auto Sales: Slowing the Momentum

SUVs continue takeover of the mass market

Major automakers put out skim-worthy press releases with their monthly sales charts. One headline caught my eye as we began a year that pretty much inevitably will level off a bit after the record sales years of 2015 and 2016.

“Subaru carries strong sales momentum into 2017,” the brand that maintained steady sales as the others went into free-fall at the end of the last decade, stated in the headline to its January sales press release.

Subaru beat Kia for eighth-place for just a few months out of 2016, though the Korean brand finished 43,143 units ahead of the Japanese brand for the full calendar year. As of the end of last month, Subaru, predominantly a sport/utility-maker with all but one model featuring standard all-wheel-drive, has an 8,253-unit jump on SUV-starved Kia for ’17, and is just 2,628 units behind number-seven Hyundai. Both Korean brands have struggled to meet SUV demand.

The rest of the industry finished the record year inexplicably high on inventory and generally offering generous, profit-sapping incentives. And it may be getting worse.

General Motors reported inventory of 878,590, a 108-day supply, compared with 844,942, or 71 days for the end of last December. Ford Motor Company is at 684,906, or 103 days, up from 646,829, or 73 days for the end of December. January is traditionally a slow month thanks to weather and holiday gift credit card bills, but days’ supply numbers shouldn’t be in the triple-digits.

At FiatChrysler, the only brands that were up in January were Alfa Romeo, which didn’t have the Giulia to sell early last year, and Ram. Jeep sales fell slightly, though that should pick up again when the new Compass goes on sale. Buyers probably aren’t rushing to buy the last of the current generation Wrangler, since expectations are high that the next model due to be unveiled late this year will please the Wrangler’s faithful customers. Whereas for much of last year, the Wrangler, Cherokee and Grand Cherokee all competed for the title of Jeep’s sales leader, last month the Grand Cherokee took that honor by a wide margin, which should please Sergio Marchionne and company thanks to the Grand Cherokee’s wide margins.

Because of last year’s sales-counting scandal at FiatChrysler, some models that originally were reported in December 2015 were re-reported in January 2016 in last month’s data, to correct a so-called sales pull-ahead. For example, the charts show 9 Dodge Avengers sold in January ’16 and none last month. This sort of thing negatively affects the January-over-January percentage-change comparisons.

Outside of the big pickups at GM and Ford Motor Company, the new Chevrolet Cruze narrowly edged out the outgoing Equinox as the company’s second bestseller, while the Escape handily took second place at the Blue Oval.

At Honda, the CR-V has more than twice the volume lead over Civic for the brand’s bestseller than Subaru has over Kia.

And so it goes. The New Year very probably won’t set another U.S. auto sales record, but barring any major economic downturn, it ought to be in the 16- to low-17-million range. The only thing more certain is that small- and medium-sized commodity and premium SUVs will continue to drain sales from sedans.

And so, to the numbers …

2016 Chevrolet Volt side view

  1. General Motors: 195,909, off 3.8 percent.
  • Chevrolet was off 1.9 percent, to 135,170 while GMC was up 1.1 percent, to 37,324.
  • Buick was off 28.2 percent, to 113,117 and Cadillac sales fell 4.1 percent, to 10,298.
  • Chevy Silverado, off 6.1 percent, to 35,553, and GMC Sierra, off 4.5 percent, to 13,732, combined for 49,285 units.
  • Chevy Colorado, up 16.4 percent to 6,413, and GMC Canyon, off 9.3 percent to 2,059, totaled 8,472.
  • After the big truck, Chevy’s next-bestseller was the new Cruze, up 38.9 percent, to 19,949, while the soon-to-be-replaced Equinox fell 5.4 percent, to 17,574.
  • Chevy Malibu was off 43.2 percent, to 8,377 and Traverse was up 17.2 percent, to 8,218.
  • Chevy Volt was up 61.7 percent, to 1,611 and Corvette was off 15.9 percent, to 1,263. Chevrolet sold 1,162 Bolts in its first full month of sales.
  • Encore was Buick’s only gainer, up 6.9 percent, to 5,258. Enclave was off 27.1 percent, to 2,692 and LaCrosse dropped 67.8 percent, to 1,307. Buick sold 2,187 Envisions.
  • Cadillac CTS was off 31.8 percent, to 691, and the brand sold 634 CT6es. ATS was off 8.7 percent, to 974.
  • Cadillac sold 3,883 new XT5s, and 67 leftover SRXes, down from 4,778 last year.

2014-Lincoln-MKX-three-quarters

  1. Ford Motor Company: 172,612, off 0.6 percent.
  • Ford Mustang led #PonyCarWars, though it was off 33.4 percent, to 5,046. Chevy Camaro was off 35.4 percent, to 3,588, and Dodge Challenger fell 40 percent, to 3,393.
  • F-Series was up 12.5 percent, to 57,995, topping the Chevy/GMC duo by 8,710 units.
  • Ford Transit was off 19.3 percent, to 7,770.
  • Escape topped the Ford brand, after the big pickups, up 7.1 percent, to 20,588.
  • Fusion was off 21.9 percent, to 15,515, while Explorer was up 7.2 percent, to 15,294.
  • Focus fell 26.2 percent, to 9,577. C-Max was off 4.2 percent, to 946.
  • Ford brand accounted for 163,827 units, off 1.6 percent, while the growing Lincoln brand was up 22.4 percent, to 8,785.
  • MKX leads the Lincoln brand, up 42.7 percent, to 2,928. MKC was up 16.2 percent, to 1,668 and together, they claimed 52 percent of Lincoln’s sales last month.
  • MKZ was up 7.4 percent, to 2,090, and 1,167 Continentals and 20 leftover MKSes were sold.

2017-Alfa-Romeo-Giulia-Ti-front-view-in-motion-04-485

  1. FiatChrysler: 152,218, off 11 percent.
  • Two brands were up; Ram gained 5 percent, to 38,045 and Alfa Romeo was up 59 percent with the Giulia added to the lineup, to 108.
  • Ram pickup was up 4 percent, to 33,769.
  • Jeep fell 7 percent, to 58,415, and Dodge was off 17 percent, to 40,109. Chrysler was off 39 percent to 13,377 as the brand continues to clear leftover 200s from its lots. Fiat was off 9 percent, to 2,164.
  • Grand Cherokee holds a commanding lead among Jeep’s models, up 24 percent to 17,301. Cherokee was off 25 percent, to 12,551 and Wrangler was up 3 percent, to 11,334. Renegade was up 52 percent, to 9,365.
  • Chrysler sold 6,670 Pacificas, compared with 39 in January ’16, and 138 leftover Town & Countrys, compared with 11,383 a year ago. Dodge sold 10,770 Caravans, off 2 percent.
  • Dodge Journey was up 9 percent, to 12,636. Chrysler 300 was off 17 percent, to 4,708 and Dodge Charger fell 19 percent, to 7,153.
  • Alfa sold 70 Giulias, and 38 4cs, the latter off 44 percent.
  • Fiat sold 1,218 500s, up 24 percent, and 240 Spiders.
  1. Toyota Motor Sales: 143,048, off 11.3 percent.
  • The Toyota brand sold 127,476, off 9.2 percent, and Lexus sold 15,572, off 25.6 percent.
  • RAV4 was Toyota’s bestseller, up 2.8 percent to 22,155.
  • Corolla, off 8.7 percent to 21,567, outsold Camry, off 24.3 percent, to 20,313.
  • Toyota 86 was off 6.5 percent compared with last year’s Scion FR-S, to 474.
  • Tacoma was off 1.6 percent, to 12,509, which is 3,637 units better than GM’s Colorado/Canyon combo. Tundra was off 8.4 percent, to 6,628.
  • RX leads Lexus, though off 20.6 percent, to 5,520, with NX next at 2,964, off 5.4 percent, and the ES sedan at 2,171, off 36.1 percent.

Nissan Titan

  1. Nissan Group: 112,319, up 6.2 percent.
  • Nissan brand sales rose 3.6 percent, to 100,761 and Infiniti was up 35.8 percent, to 11,558.
  • Rogue outsold Altima by nearly 10,000 units, at 28,760, up 45.5 percent, to 28,760.
  • Altima was off 14.6 percent, to 18,931, while Sentra sales lagged 16.7 percent, to 13,444.
  • Titan was up 195.4 percent, to 2,768. Leaf edged up 2.3 percent, to 772.
  • Cars still rule at Infiniti, where Q50 was up 10 percent, to 3,206. Next-bestseller was QX60, off 7.7 percent, to 2,189.
  • Infiniti sold 1,158 of its new QX30s.
  1. American Honda, 106,380, up 5.9 percent.
  • That consists of 97,178 Hondas, up 7.7 percent, and 9,202 Acuras, off 10.2 percent.
  • CR-V is Honda’s bestseller, at 29,287, up 52.5 percent. Civic is not even close, at 23,095, off 13.6 percent, while Accord is off 5.9 percent, to 19,536.
  • Honda sold 7,180 Pilots, off 16.1 percent, 6,500 Odysseys, off 10 percent, and 2,681 Ridgelines, up from 2 a year ago to-date.
  • Acura RDX had a good month, at 3,2020, up 3.2 percent. MDX led sales though, at 3,274, off 8.4 percent. TLX was next, off 15 percent, to 1,903.

2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport side

  1. Hyundai: 46,507, up 3.3 percent.
  • Hyundai brand accounted for 44,689, off 0.7 percent, while the new Genesis brand sold 1,818 cars.
  • Elantra was the volume model, at 13,185, up 33.4 percent. Santa Fe was up 53.5 percent, to 7,889 units.
  • Sonata was off 48.1 percent, but with 7,894 was still Hyundai’s second bestseller.
  1. Subaru: 43,879, up 6.8 percent.
  • Subaru sold 13,186 Outbacks last month, up 17.8 percent.
  • Forester was up 8 percent, to 12,853. Crosstrek sales rose 0.9 percent, to 6,507.
  • Impreza was up 16.5 percent on strength of the new model, to 5,105.
  • WRX/STI was off 8.3 percent, to 2,142 and BRZ was off 43.5 percent, to 204. The BRZ/86 combo totaled 680.
  1. Kia: 35,626, off 7 percent.
  • Optima was off 6.7 percent, to 7,849. Soul dropped 15.2 percent, to 7,792.
  • Forte rose 17.6 percent, to 6,267, and Sorento was off 7.7 percent, to 6,179.
  • Kia sold 42 Niro hybrids, available in limited markets.

2017 Mercedes AMG G65 front three quarter in motion 11

    10. Mercedes-Benz USA: 27,900, up 3.5 percent.

  • Benz, the brand, was up 3.5 percent, to 25,527. Smart fell 18.8 percent, to 324, while Mercedes vans were up 7.9 percent, to 2,049.
  • Mercedes is doing pretty well with cars and SUVs. C-Class was up 27.1 percent, to 6,453 and E-Class/CLS was up 48.9 percent, to 4,155.
  • Meanwhile, Mercedes sold 3,970 GLE-Classes, up 8.4 percent, 3,065 GLC-Classes, up 7.6 percent, and 2,336 GLS-Classes, up 30.1 percent.
  • CLA plummeted 55.7 percent, to 1,405 and GLA dropped 34 percent, to 2,007.
  • S-Class was off 5.1 percent, to 1,212.
  1. BMW Group: 21,219, off 0.5 percent.
  • BMW sold 18,109, up 0.1 percent, and Mini moved 3,110, off 4 percent.
  • 3 Series regained its place as BMW’s bestseller, up 22.7 percent to 4,032, and 4 Series contributed another 1,944 units, up 6.1 percent.
  • 2 Series was down, though, by 7.3 percent, to 658. X1 was up 21.4 percent, to 2,351.
  • X3 was up 57.5 percent, to 3,154, and X5 was up 26.8 percent, to 3,276.
  • Countryman led Mini, up 122.6 percent, to 1,122. Clubman was up 112.3 percent, to 588.
  • Cooper 2-Door hardtop was off 46.1 percent, to 656 and 4-door hardtop fell 61.6 percent, to 473.

2016 Volkswagen GTI front three quarter 03

  1. Volkswagen: 23,510, up 17.1 percent.
  • Jetta led, with 6,846 sold, off 16.3 percent, and the refreshed Passat was next, at 5,887, up 64.2 percent after weeks of aggressive TV advertising.
  • Golf was up 44.4 percent, to 5,766 and Tiguan was up 39.1 percent, to 3,516.
  • Even Beetle was up, by 15.1 percent, to 1,081.
  1. Mazda: 21,698, up 10.1 percent.
  • CX-5 remains sales leader, up 14.2 percent to 8,068, with Mazda3 off 12.3 percent, to 6,623.
  • Mazda6 was up 28.3 percent, to 3,300 and CX-3 was off 14 percent, to 1,184.
  • CX-9 was up 210.7 percent, to 1,591.
  • MX-5 Miata was up 65.9 percent, to 929. Combined with the Fiat 124 Spider, sales on the platform totaled 1,169.
  1. Audi: 13,201, up 11.4 percent.
  • SUVs dominate, with Q5 up 35.1 percent, to 3,636 and Q7 up 3.2 percent, to 2,411.
  • A4 was up 31.1 percent, to 1,737, and A3 was off 22.1 percent, to 1,419, with the A3 e-tron a separate accounting. It was up 18.3 percent, to 387.

2018-Jaguar-F-Type-rear-three-quarter-02-33

  1. Jaguar/Land Rover: 9,102, up 30 percent.
  • Land Rover was up 9 percent, to 6,163.
  • Jaguar was up 117 percent, to 2,939, with the F-Pace accounting for nearly half, at 1,458 units.
  1. Mitsubishi: 6,457, up 3.1 percent.
  • Outlander Sport leads, at 1,990, off 10.9 percent.
  • Outlander was up 9.4 percent, to 1,688, and Lancer was off 3.6 percent, to 1,468. Mirage was up 36.1 percent, to 1,311.
  1. Volvo: 3,472, off 18.2 percent.
  • Volvo says global demand for the XC90 has made them scarce in the U.S. Aside from that model, Volvo was up 2.5 percent in the U.S., the Swedish automaker says.
  • XC90 was off 34.5 percent, to 1,556.
  • XC60 was off 6.5 percent, to 804.
  • S60 was up 30.8 percent, to 595, and S60 CC was off 57.9 percent, to 16.
  • Volvo sold 224 of its new S90s.

2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Coupe front three quarter in motion 08

  1. Porsche: 4,602, up 5.7 percent.
  • Macan was up 33.4 percent, to 1,960. Cayenne was off 3.2 percent, to 1,350.
  • The 911 lineup had a healthy month, up 12.6 percent, to 814, and Boxster/Cayman was up 2.8 percent, to 443.
  1. Maserati: 889, up 69 percent.
  • FiatChrysler has tagged Maserati brand sales at the end of its charts, for the first time. Maserati claims it’s the “number-one premium brand” in January-over-January sales. Since it’s part of the Ferrari spin-off (though sold through many Alfa Romeo dealerships) its sales are reported separately from FiatChrysler’s.

Luxury/Premium Brands, YTD:

  1. Mercedes-Benz 25,527
  2. BMW 18,109
  3. Lexus 15,572
  4. Audi 13,201
  5. Cadillac 10,298

Select Sports Cars and EVs, YTD:

  1. Chevrolet Volt 1,611
  2. Chevrolet Corvette 1,263
  3. Mazda Miata/Fiat 124 Spider 1,169
  4. Nissan Leaf 772
  5. Toyota 86/Scion FR-S 680

Midsize cars, YTD:

  1. Toyota Camry 20,313
  2. Honda Accord 19,536
  3. Nissan Altima 18,931
  4. Ford Fusion 15,515
  5.  Chevrolet Malibu 8,377

Compact SUVs, YTD:

  1. Honda CR-V 29,287
  2. Nissan Rogue 28,760
  3. Toyota RAV4 22,155
  4. Ford Escape 20,588
  5. Chevrolet Equinox 17,574

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