Auto Sales Have Cooled—Where Will We End Up?

A look at the sales numbers through the first nine months of 2019.

Most every automaker had bad September sales numbers, in part because Labor Day weekend specials—which tend to move bigger volume—made it into August sales reports this year. Even Subaru posted a September decline. The September sales anomalies prove the rationale for reporting numbers quarterly, which is how we cover them and which smooths out the effect of such issues as when big holiday weekends are counted.

This month, General Motors, now in the third week of the UAW strike, joined Ford Motor Company in taking an extra day to report sales numbers. Fiat Chrysler did the same, and the Detroit Three reported their quarterly and year-to-date sales on October 2, while Toyota/Lexus, American Honda, Nissan North America, and most of the other import brands reported their sales on October 1. A reminder; all the numbers in this chart reflect the cumulative sales for each automaker, brand or model for the units sold for the entire year so far, up to and including September 30. In a couple of cases, I break out September numbers, or third-quarter numbers as well.

Among the top six, only American Honda posted sales gains year-to-date. GM and Fiat Chrysler slipped just slightly. GM stanched sales losses mostly with introduction of new SUVs. Cadillac's lineup of XT4, XT5, and XT6 was enough for the marque to pass Acura as the fifth-bestselling luxury/premium brand in the U.S. so far this year.

Fiat Chrysler held its sales deficit to 1 percent mostly thanks to the runaway success of its new Ram pickup truck, though the Ram ProMaster van, new Jeep Gladiator, and old Jeep Grand Cherokee also helped.

Expanded SUV lineups also have worked this year so far for Hyundai, Kia, and Volkswagen.

Nissan Group, which includes Infiniti, is struggling hardest among the Big Six, with a 7.1-percent drop so far this year. Ford Motor's 3.5-percent sales drop, and Toyota Motor's 2.5 percent are probably more in line with expectations for the entire year's final sales numbers. Toyota's Jack Hollis says his company still estimates the U.S. industry will end the year in the high-16-millions, or 3 percent to 4 percent below last year.

Here's what we know, so far…

  1. General Motors: 2,151,137, off 0.8 percent.

  • Chevrolet is off 3 percent, to 1,459,521 for the first nine months of '19, while GMC is up 5.6 percent, to 418,066. Buick is up 1.4 percent, to 157,855 and Cadillac is up 2.2 percent, to 115,695.
  • Chevrolet Silverado sales slipped behind the Ram pickup for the first nine months of '19, at 412,259. GMC sold 163,601 Sierras in the same period, for a combined big-truck total of 575,860. That represents a 2.9-percent slip for the Chevy Silverado, and a 7.5-percent sales increase for the GMC Sierra.
  • On the quickly growing midsize truck side, Chevy sold 96,820 Colorados, down 7.6 percent, and GMC sold 26,300 Canyons, up 4.1 percent, for a combined 123,120.
  • Chevy Equinox is having another good year so far, up 8.4 percent, to 253,956. Chevrolet has sold 35,107 Blazers so far this year.
  • Chevy Malibu is off 9.2 percent, to 96,820.
  • The last front-engine Corvette is off 2.6 percent, to 14,497, and the Chevy Bolt is up 11 percent, to 13,111.
  • After the Sierra pickup, Acadia is GMC's next-bestselling model, up 25.9 percent to 79,958. Terrain is off 11.3 percent, to 73,410.
  • Buick sold 73,905 Encores, up 6 percent, and 41,013 Enclaves, up 16.4 percent. Regal dropped by 19.6 percent, to 8,849.
  • Cadillac's bestselling XT5 was off 17.6 percent, to 38,711, while the brand moved 23,092 XT4s in its first full year, and 4,390 of its just-launched XT6s. Escalade was off 2.8 percent, to 26,535. Cadillac CT6 was down 21.9 percent, to 5,675.

  1. Ford Motor Company: 1,820,836, off 3.5 percent.

  • YTD Pony Car Wars: Ford Mustang is off 10.1 percent, to 55,365; Dodge Challenger is off 11 percent, to 46,699; Chevy Camaro is off 7.6 percent, to 36,791.
  • F-Series sales have slipped 2.4 percent for the year so far, including a 6-percent drop in the last quarter. Ford has sold 662,574 of its big trucks, year-to-date in '19.
  • Ford has sold 56,512 Rangers in the first nine months, of which 26,211 were delivered in the third quarter. That tops the Nissan Frontier, which is down 8.2-percent year-to-date, to 54,686, but still well behind Chevy Colorado and segment-leader Toyota Tacoma.
  • As more and more suburban cowboys buy pickup trucks, are service people switching to panel vans? Ford's big Transit van is up 9.9 percent YTD, to 116,983.
  • The soon-to-be-replaced Escape is off 7.7 percent YTD, to 193,801. The Explorer is off 29.9 percent, to 120,226 in the midst of a new-model changeover.
  • Ford Expedition remains strong, at 62,155, up 53.4 percent. Lincoln Navigator is up 0.9 percent, to 13,201.
  • Nautilus/MKX continues to lead Lincoln sales, up 20.6 percent to 23,984. Corsair/MKC is off 5.2 percent, to 18,266, and 1,899 Aviators were sold.
  • Lincoln MKZ is off 8.6 percent, to 13,645 and Continental is down 25.1 percent, to 4,741.

  1. Toyota Motor Sales: 1,779,302, off 2.5 percent.

  • Toyota Division sold 1,569,751 through the first three quarters of 2019, off 2.5 percent, while Lexus sold 209,551, down 1.9 percent.
  • RAV4 continues to be the new Camry, up 1.7 percent year-to-date, to 324,622, retaining its spot as bestselling vehicle in the U.S. that's not a big pickup truck.
  • Corolla continues to gain on Camry, meanwhile, but that can be partially attributed to the hatchback models added to the Corolla lineup. Corolla is off 0.5 percent, to 233,978 and Camry is off 1.7 percent, to 258,456.
  • Prius sales have slipped 27.1 percent, to 50,258, though take-rate of the Prime plug-in hybrid version is now running about 20 percent, according to Jack Hollis, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager.
  • Tacoma is up 2 percent, to 187,622, as Tundra sales fell 2 percent, to 86,062.
  • Toyota delivered 1,477 Supras, of which 514 were sold in September. Toyota 86/Scion FR-S sales were 2,517, off 21.9 percent. Add in Subaru BRZ and the sports car platform's sales were 4,493.
  • On the Lexus side, year-to-date sales of all models fell except ES sedan, up 10.3 percent to 37,896, RC, up 29.7 percent to 3,362 and LFA, up 50 percent to three sold in the first three quarters.
  • Lexus bestseller RX is off 4.3 percent, to 76,170, and NX sales fell 7.9 percent to 40,074, though the lux brand sold 11,991 of its new UX models.

  1. Fiat Chrysler: 1,661,144, off 1 percent.

  • Jeep sold 701,755 in the first nine months of the year, off 6 percent, while Ram sold 512,368, up 23 percent, famously challenging GM for second-place in the big pickup truck business. Dodge is off 8 percent, to 322,245, Chrysler plunged 26 percent, to 93,966, Fiat plummeted 38 percent, to 7,463 and Alfa Romeo isn't much better off, down 27 percent, to 13,347.
  • The aging Jeep Grand Cherokee is up 11 percent, to 185,040 and Wrangler is off 8 percent, to 176,020. The Cherokee is off 17 percent, to 149,349, while Compass dropped 17 percent, to 110,671. Jeep sold 23,384 new Gladiators - the drop in Wrangler sales represented 14,931 units.
  • Ram sold 461,115 pickups, a 23-percent increase year-to-date. ProMaster van (the big one) is up 31 percent, to 41,301.
  • Chrysler Pacifica is off 23 percent, to 70,224, while 300 is off 31 percent, to 23,693. Dodge Journey dropped 19 percent, to 62,396.
  • Dodge Charger sales are up 11 percent, to 71,106, and while Fiat Chrysler doesn't split out the model's cop car sales, it probably benefitted from Ford's discontinuation of its Taurus-based police sedan. [Ford does report separate police version sales numbers, and for the Taurus-based Interceptor Sedan, deliveries are off 40.6 percent to 3,339.]
  • Fiat 500 is down 31 percent, to 2,568, while the 124 Spider, down 24 percent to 2,214, is the brand's second bestseller for the first three quarters. Fiat 500X is down 51 percent, to 2,076.
  • The Alfa Stelvio dropped by 24 percent, to 6,844n and Giulia is down 29 percent, to 6,376.

  1. American Honda, 1,206,209, up 0.4 percent.

  • Honda is up 0.5 percent, to 1,093,396 and Acura is off 1 percent, to 112,813, year-to-date.
  • CR-V remains king of Honda's hill, with 280,739 sold, up 1.6 percent.
  • Civic sales also rose, to 255,484 for the first three quarters, up 0.6 percent. Accord sales fell 4.6 percent, to 204,463.
  • Insight sales are up 199.4 percent, to 18,784.
  • RDX led Acura, up 1.2 percent to 44,958. MDX is up 0.6 percent, to 37,231.
  • TLX is off 17.1 percent, to 18,926 and ILX is up 30.4 percent, to 10,697.
  • Acura sold 202 NSX sports cars, up 66.3 percent.

  1. Nissan Group: 1,044,390, off 7.1 percent.

  • Nissan division is off 6.2 percent, to 956,456 and Infiniti is off 1.6 percent, to 58,083.
  • Rogue sales have slipped 12.2 percent year-to-date, to 272,300 units. Altima is off 4 percent, to 159,969, while Sentra is down 10.3 percent, to 148.150.
  • The new Kicks is a bright spot for Nissan, with 47,074 sold in its first full calendar year, up 356.5 percent.
  • QX60 leads Infiniti, off 0.5 percent to 31,621. The iconic Q50 sedan is off 24.5 percent, to 19,755.

  1. Subaru: 525,329, up 4.4 percent.

  • Subaru had a rare sales slip for the month of September, down 9.4 percent to 51,659. The company cited tight supplies and fewer selling days in September 2019 than in September 2018.
  • Outback, on the crux of a new model replacement, is up 1.8 percent year-to-date, to 140,530. Forester is up 7.8 percent, to 121,924.
  • Subaru sold 60,042 Ascents for the first three quarters, up 262.1 percent.
  • Crosstrek sales fell 11.6 percent, to 98,497.
  • WRX/STI sales fell 20.9 percent, to 17,367, and BRZ plummeted 32.6 percent, to 1,976.

  1. Hyundai: 506,356, up 2.8 percent.

  • Like number 11 Volkswagen, Hyundai has bolstered its sales by adding popular SUV models, but the Elantra remains its bestseller, though off 15.7 percent, to 125,469.
  • Tucson is off 0.6 percent, to 102,861.
  • Santa Fe is up 8.3 percent, to 96,319, while Sonata sales fell 15.6 percent, to 68,368.
  • Veloster is up 30.9 percent, to 10,386, and Hyundai sold 13,457 of its new Palisades.

  1. Kia: 463,598, up 2.6 percent.

  • Three models are all bunched close together in the race for Kia's bestseller. Soul is number-one, at 77,627, off 0.3 percent. Optima is next, at 75,666, off 5.2 percent, and Forte is third, at 73,285, off 2.1 percent.
  • So how did Kia post an increase for the first three quarters? It sold 39,209 Tellurides, an all-new model. Sportage s up 4.5 percent, to 65,104, and Rio is up 11 percent, to 19,186.

  1. Volkswagen: 278,155, up 4.5 percent.

  • Atlas is up 39 percent year-to-date, to 59,705 sold.
  • Tiguan is VW's sales leader though, up 6.9 percent to 85,296.
  • And Jetta is VW's second-bestseller, topping Atlas, at 74,741, up 22 percent.
  • Golf is off 16 percent, to 29,013, of which 3,596 are e-Golf EVs, and Beetle is up 21 percent in its final model year, to 14,746.

  1. BMW Group: 260,180, up 0.4 percent.

  • BMW brand is up 3.3 percent, to 232,427, while Mini year-to-date sales reflects the current state of small car consumer interest, off 18.8 percent to 27,753.
  • X3 accounts for more than one-fifth of BMW brand's sales, at 50,120, up 19.8 percent.
  • The BMW 3 Series remains popular, though off 5.5 percent, to 32,837, year-to-date.
  • The 4 Series is off 33.1 percent, to 15,702.
  • X5 is up 19 percent, to 37,035.
  • Countryman leads Mini, off 22.6 percent to 10,939.
  • Cooper/S 2Door is off 12.1 percent, to 6,431.

  1. Mercedes-Benz USA: 253,257, off 0.1 percent.

  • The Mercedes brand is off 0.5 percent, to 224,212, while its Vans division accounted for 28,845, up 2.9 percent.
  • The GLC-Class is Mercedes' solid bestseller, up 4 percent to 52,621.
  • C-Class is off 9.7 percent, to 38,174. E-Class/CLS is off 6.6 percent, to 29,904.
  • GLE-Class is off 3.6 percent, to 33,358.
  • Mercedes sold 8,292 CLA-Classes, off 51.5 percent, and 13,440 A-Classes in its first year on sale in the U.S.
  • AMG GT sales for the first three quarters jumped 137.6 percent, to a healthy, and no doubt profitable, 2,868.

  1. Mazda: 208,167, off 11.5 percent.

  • CX-5 is off 2.6 percent, to 113,702 and Mazda3 is down 21 percent, to 51,294.
  • Mazda sold 6,351 MX-5 Miatas for the first three quarters of the year, down 14.9 percent. Add in Fiat 124 Spider, and the sports car platform's sales total 8,565 YTD.

  1. Audi: 158,471, off 5.3 percent.

  • Q5 is off 1 percent, to 49,136, and Q7 is down 10 percent, to 24,549.
  • A4 is down 30 percent, to 20,049, but A5 helped pick up the slack, up 128 percent, to 13,165.
  • A8 has had a good year, up 162 percent, to 1,717.
  • TT is off 14 percent, to 1,036, while Audi has sold 3,540 e-trons so far.

  1. Mitsubishi: 95,571, up 2.3 percent.

  • Outlander took the brand's sales lead by slipping just 1.1 percent, to 30,471, while Outlander Sport sales are off 16.7 percent, to 26,150.
  • Eclipse Cross undoubtedly grabbed some Outlander Sport sales, up 187.7 percent, to 15,859.
  • Even Mirage sales rose, up 9.6 percent, to 21,177.

  1. Jaguar/Land Rover: 89,071, up 3 percent.

  • Land Rover is up 2 percent, to 66,639 and Jaguar is up 6 percent, to 22,432.
  • Range Rover Sport led among JLR models, up 3 percent to 17,884. Jaguar F-Pace also is up 3 percent, to 10,361.
  • Range Rover Velar is off 3 percent, to 12,409, and Jaguar XE is off 10 percent, to 3,043.
  • Jaguar has sold 1,842 i-Paces year-to-date, and 1,803 F-Types, the latter up 4 percent.

  1. Volvo: 77,432, up 4.7 percent.

  • The XC90 is up 5.3 percent, to 24,909.
  • XC60 is off 4.7 percent, to 22,171.
  • S60 is up 110.9 percent, to 12,329, while XC40 is up 46.4 percent, to 9,033.

  1. Porsche: 45,062, up 5.7 percent.

  • Sales-leader Macan fell by 10.6 percent, to 16,191, while Cayenne is up 109.5 percent, to 14,331.
  • The 911 is off 9.9 percent, to 6,321, while the 718 is down 25.5 percent, to 3,203 and the Panamera is off 21.2 percent, to 5,016.

  1. Genesis: 1,559, up 67.3 percent.

  • Genesis PR says the brand is very much separate from Hyundai, so we'll give this a try. It sold 8,506 G70s, year-to-date, compared with one for the first three quarters of '18.
  • G80 is off 29.8 percent, to 446, and G90 is down 22.4 percent, to 242.

Luxury/Premium Brands, YTD:

  • BMW 232,427
  • Mercedes-Benz 224,212
  • Lexus 209,551
  • Audi 158,471
  • Cadillac 115,695

Sports Cars, YTD:

EV-only models, YTD:

  • Chevrolet Bolt* 13,111
  • Nissan Leaf  9,111
  • Audi e-tron   3,540
  • Jaguar i-Pace  1,842

*The Tesla Model 3 may very well be the nation's bestselling EV, but Tesla does not release sales numbers at the same time as the rest of the industry. Automotive News reports total sales for the three-model Tesla line at 93,000 units YTD, off 13.3 percent.

Midsize cars, YTD:

Compact CUVs, YTD:

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