The Beginning of 2019 Was Not Good for Car Sales
Pickups hold on, but the rest of the market took a dive.
The first quarter of 2019 has not been kind to sales of cars and even SUVs, with number one General Motors reporting a seven percent drop, and number three Toyota reporting a five percent drop against the first quarter of 2018. Fiat Chrysler was off by three percent, but only because its overall numbers were propped up by a strong quarter for its Ram brand, including vans as well as its new pickup trucks, even as some Jeep models slipped.
A couple of high-volume compact sport-utilities were down, including the Toyota RAV4 and the Nissan Rogue. The Rogue—which receives a refresh for 2020—still managed to snag first place in the segment though, and the Chevrolet Equinox was second. The Ford Escape—an all-new model (shown below) finally arrives this fall—landed in fifth place.
For now, the SUV and truck share of the market seems to have peaked at just below 80 percent. Notice that a few key sedans recorded sales increases in the quarter, including the Toyota Corolla, the Honda Accord, and even the Chevy Malibu, although the Chevrolet probably benefitted from cancellation of the Cruze, Impala, and Buick LaCrosse.
There's also a disturbing trend regarding affordable sports cars. While the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger are up (we'll have to wait to hear about the Ford Mustang), the Toyota 86, Subaru BRZ, Fiat 124 Spider, Mazda Miata, Nissan 370Z and Audi TT all are down, significantly. While it's true that January, February, and March aren't traditionally strong months for sports-car sales, their precipitous declines came in comparison with January through March of '18. I'll be watching this closely.
Meanwhile, here are numbers on a few notable segments followed by more in-depth numbers for specific companies and models:
Luxury/Premium Brands, YTD
- BMW: 73,888
- Mercedes-Benz: 71,171
- Lexus: 66,791
- Audi: 48,115
- Acura: 36,385
Notable Sports Cars and Electrified Vehicles, YTD
Midsize Cars, YTD
Compact CUVs, YTD
All totals for January-March 2019; percentages represent changes from Q1 2018 to Q1 2019
General Motors | 665,840, -7%
- Chevrolet: 452,401, -7.8%
- GMC: 125,577, +4.4%
- Buick: 51,867, -8.7%
- Cadillac: 35,995, -2%
- GM began production of the new full-size Chevy Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra crew cab variants, and they were up 20 percent for the first quarter. However, total sales of the Silverado fell 15.7 percent to 114,313 and the Sierra dropped by 2.2 percent to 40,646.
- Chevy Colorado sales rose 16.1 percent for the quarter to 33,494, as GMC Canyon sales lost 3.6 percent and fell to 6,954.
- The Chevrolet Equinox was up 7.4 percent to 88,500, while the Malibu was up 0.1 percent to 34,197.
- Chevy Bolt EV sales slipped 1.3 percent to 4,316, while the Corvette was off 11.5 percent to 3,943.
- Buick Encore sales slid 3.4 percent to 24,606 as the Enclave rose 27.5 percent to 12,580. Regal sales fell 8.1 percent to 3,408.
- The Cadillac XT5 was down 10.6 percent to 13,278 and CT6 slid 11.3 percent, to 2,188. • The new Cadillac XT4 ate up some of that loss, with 7,026 sold in the first quarter.
Ford Motor Company | 590,249, -1.6%
- Ford: 565,274, -2.1%
- Lincoln: 24,975, +11.9%
- The Ford Mustang leads the pony-car wars again, although its sales fell by 11.7 percent for the quarter to 16,917. The Dodge Challenger was off 2.4 percent to 13,431, while the Chevy Camaro was up 2.5 percent to 12,083.
- The F-series managed an 0.2 percent gain for the quarter, landing at 214,611.
- Ford sold 9,421 Rangers in the quarter.
- While Focus sales dropped by 70.5 percent, to 10,394, EcoSport sales rose 111.3 percent to 12,879.
- The Fusion was off 3.5 percent to 41,683
- The old Escape was down by 9.9 percent to 60,702.
- Explorer sales slipped by 1.5 percent to 53,306; Expedition sales jumped by 61.9 percent to 21,773.
- At Lincoln, the Nautilus was up 25.8 percent over its MKX predecessor to 7,835 and the MKZ was down 1.7 percent to 4,287.
Toyota/Lexus | 543,716, -5%
- Toyota brand: 476,923, -6.1%
- Lexus: 66,791, +4%
- The Toyota RAV4, last year's bestselling non-pickup truck, was off 8.4 percent to 83,820 and its inter-marque competitor for bestselling model, the Camry, was down 10 percent to 81,664.
- The Corolla was up 1 percent, though, bolstered by an all-new sedan to 78,606.
- Prius sales fell 45.8 percent to 12,058.
- The Toyota 86 was off 31.7 percent to 807.
- The Tacoma was up 8.2 percent to 58,183.
- Tundra sales slipped 4.6 percent to 25,100.
- Lexus's only two gainers were the ES, up 23 percent to 11,390, and the long-discontinued LFA—the last one was built seven years ago!—up 200 percent to 3 units.
- The Lexus LS was down 16.1 percent to 1,404.
- The RX was off by 1.1 percent to 23,529, while the NX was off 3.9 percent to 13,775.
Fiat Chrysler | 498,425, -3%
- Chrysler: 31,591, -32%
- Jeep: 212,804, -7%
- Ram: 137,013, +21%
- Dodge: 110,517, -6%
- Fiat: 2,214, -45%
- Alfa Romeo: 4,286, -26%
- Ram pickup sales surged 15 percent to 120,026.
- ProMaster volume more than doubled, up 106 percent to 13,319, and the ProMaster City edged up 13 percent to 3,668 units.
- The Jeep Wrangler was off by 2 percent to 49,978, but Jeep also sold 123 Gladiators in the first quarter.
- The Grand Cherokee was up 8 percent to 57,749.
- Cherokee sales were off by 2 percent, to 49,420, but that still outpaced the Chrysler, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo brands combined by more than 10,000 units.
- The Pacifica dropped by 29 percent to 23,274.
- The Dodge Charger slipped 3 percent to 20,615 and the Challenger lost 24 percent, to 13,431.
- The Dodge Journey was inexplicably up 30 percent, to 24,003. Have you rented a Journey lately?
- Fiat 124 Spider sales fell by 30 percent to 513
- The delightful Alfa Giulia was down 34 percent to 2,035, and even the Stelvio crossover dropped 17 percent to 2,210.
Honda/Acura | 369,787, +2%
- Honda: 333,402, +1.3%
- Acura: 36,385, +8.9%
- The CR-V was the company's bestseller, up 6.4 percent to 87,280.
- The Civic was next, even though it was off 4.8 percent to 78,185.
- The Accord was up 4.6 percent, to 64,411.
- While no one was looking, the Honda Clarity became a breakout plug-in hybrid/EV/fuel-cell model, with 3,968 sold in the first quarter, up 19.6 percent. That's within 300 units of Alfa Romeo's total sales.
- Honda also sold 4,814 of its new Passport in the first quarter.
- The RDX was Acura's bestseller, up 34.6 percent to 14,972. Meanwhile, the MDX was up 4.4 percent, to 10,783.
- TLX was off 21.6 percent, to 7,029, although the NSX was up 17.9 percent to 79 units.
Nissan/Infiniti | 365,851, -12%
- Nissan: 331,536, -11.6%
- Infiniti: 34,315, -16.1%
- The marque's bestselling Nissan Rogue was off 19.4 percent, to 93,814, but is ahead of Toyota RAV4 so far this year.
- The Sentra was off 5.3 percent to 56,793 and the Altima was off 18.8 percent to 51,480.
- Nissan 370Z sales fell 34.2 percent to 647.
- The Infiniti QX60 was up by 6.7 percent to 12,830, while the Q50 was down 29.4 percent to 8,264.
- The QX80 was Infiniti's only other gainer, up 6.7 percent to 12,830.
Subaru | 156,764, +4.7%
- Subaru says last month was its best March ever, up 6 percent over March 2018.
- The Outback was off 5.2 percent to 41,808, while the Forester was up 9.6 percent, to 40,656.
- The Crosstrek was the next-bestseller at 26,197, which was down 21.7 percent.
- Subaru sold 19,073 Ascents, a new model.
- The BRZ was off 6.3 percent to 819.
Hyundai/Genesis | 151,788, +2%
- Hyundai: 147,585, +2.1%
- Genesis: 4,203, -3.6%
- The Elantra was the bestseller, albeit down 23.3 percent to 36,112.
- The Tucson came next and was up 3.4 percent to 28,831.
- Santa Fe sales rose 0.5 percent to 28,683
- The Sonata slipped 9.7 percent to 21,520 as Hyundai prepares to launch the all-new 2020 model.
- Veloster sales spiked by 28 percent to 3,891 for the quarter.
Kia | 136,596, +7.6%
- Kia's four top models sell about the same, all above 20,000 for the quarter. The Soul led with 25,553, up 19.3 percent, followed by the Sorento at 23,619, up 10.4 percent.
- The Optima was next at 22,668, up 15.6 percent.
- Kia sold 21,374 Fortes, off 10 percent.
- Sportage sales also slipped, by 1.3 percent, to 19,198.
- Kia sold 5,395 Telluride SUVs in the first quarter.
Volkswagen | 85,872, +2.3%
- SUVs are finally paying off for VW, with the Tiguan leading sales and up 20 percent to 26,533.
- The Jetta was the second bestseller, up 58 percent to 23,089.
- Atlas sales rose 5.6 percent to 15,979.
- The Passat was off 21 percent to 7,758.
- The Golf took a hit, off 35 percent to 7,786, with a new model around the corner.
- The Beetle was strong in its last year, up 15 percent to 4,455.
BMW/Mini | 82,793, -1.9%
- BMW: 73,888, +0.1%
- Mini: 8,905, -1.9%.
- The X3 was BMW's bestseller, up 35.1 percent to 14,568.
- It was followed by X5, off 1.4 percent to 11,912 and the 5 Series, up 3.1 percent to 10,345.
- The 3 Series dropped by 39.7 percent as a new model comes online, to 8,225, offset by the 4 Series, up 6.7 percent to 7,402.
- The Countryman took nearly a third of Mini sales, though it was off a substantial 35 percent to 3,196 units.
Mercedes-Benz/Smart | 78,878, -9.3%
- Mercedes: 71,171. -9.3%
- Mercedes vans: 7,476, -8.7%
- Smart: 231, -28%
- The GLC-class slipped 5.5 percent to 15,366.
- C-class was up 12.4 percent to 15,002.
- E-class was down 16.4 percent to 10,394.
- Mercedes sold 890 A-classes in the first quarter.
Mazda | 70,833, -15.7%
- The CX-5 was down 12.4 percent to 37,496.
- Mazda 3 sales dropped 22.6 percent to 15,215 as supplies dwindled ahead of the all-new car.
- The Miata was off 22.2 percent to 1,530.
- Combined Mazda Miata and Fiat 124 Spider sales totaled 2,043 for the quarter, while the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ combined for 1,626.
Audi | 48,115, -3.9%
- Q5 sales rose 9 percent to 15,228 as the Q7 slid 14 percent to 7,117.
- The A4 was off 27 percent to 5,779.
- R8 sales were up 69 percent to 149, and TT sales plummeted 43 percent to 210.
Mitsubishi | 42,067, +17.6%
- The Outlander was up 4.9 percent to 13,740.
- The Outlander Sport was off 7.2 percent to 12,457.
- Mitsubishi sold 8,997 Eclipse Crosses, compared with 653 in Q1 of '18.
Jaguar/Land Rover | 35,250, +9%
- Jaguar: 10,222, +27%
- Land Rover: 25,028, +3%
- The Range Rover Sport led LR sales and was up 9 percent to 6,469. The Velar was off 2 percent to 4,949.
- The Discovery Sport was up 13 percent to 3,527.
- The F-Pace led Jaguar, and was up 15 percent to 4,540.
- The E-Pace was up 214 percent to 1,500.
- XE was up 13 percent to 1,841. F-Type was off by three units, to 738.
- Jaguar sold 608 I-Pace EVs in the first quarter.
Volvo | 22,058, +9.8%
- The XC90 leads with 6,659 but was off 9.9 percent.
- The XC60 is catching up, though, registering 6,636 sales, up 13.5 percent.
- The S60 was up 87.7 percent, to 3,809.
- XC40 was up 231.5 percent, to 3,577.
Porsche | 15,024, +7.7%
- Cayenne retook the lead at the brand and was up 69.1 percent to 5,559.
- The Macan slid 13.9 percent to 4,208.
- The 911 line was up 15.3 percent to 2,894.