October 2016 U.S. Auto Sales: Not As Bad As the Numbers Look

Market continues to level off from record numbers

U.S. auto sales continued to level off in October, but that's compared with record levels from a year ago in October. Car and especially truck sales remain strong, just not strong enough to surpass last year's 17.5-million unit record in the U.S. What's more, October 2016 had two fewer selling days than October 2015, so Toyota Motor Sales' 8.7-percent drop becomes just 1.7 percent when measured by daily sales rate (DSR). American Honda's 4.2 percent slide is a 3.2-percent gain measured by DSR.

Consider the reduced number of selling days and declines of 1.7 percent at GM, 4.2 percent at Honda, 2.2 percent at Nissan, and 2.1 percent at Kia and Mercedes-Benz USA aren't bad. Gains of 4.2 percent at Hyundai, which is ramping up production of its hot Santa Fe/Santa Fe Sport to meet demand, and 4.1 percent at Subaru, which maintained a sales lead over Kia for the second month in a row are impressive. Subaru is replacing BMW as the brand other automakers envy most.

Audi, Jaguar Land Rover, Mitsubishi, and Porsche also posted gains. For Audi, the new A4 is picking up where the less-profitable A3 left off. The bigger, newer, pricier A4 and Q7 were up last month as A3 and Q5 sales fell. JLR is doing a cracking business with the addition of Jaguar's first crossover, the F-Pace, and its BMW 3 Series competitor, the XE, both of which are on the low end of the brand's price range. Mitsubishi saved its October mostly with the addition of the G4 to the Mirage line.

Speaking of additional models, the combo of Mazda MX-5 Miata and Fiat 124 Spider leads Toyota 86/Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ, 10,220 to 10,079 for the year-to-date. That's close.

So the U.S. market, while leveling off from a record year is still strong, favoring brands that have new models in the right segments. More important, if you're not a full-line automaker and you've added an all-new model to the affordable side of your lineup, you're almost guaranteed better sales.

And so, to the numbers …

1. General Motors: 258,626, off 1.7 percent.

  • Chevrolet was off 0.8 percent to 181,964 and GMC was off 6.2 percent, to 42,668.
  • Buick was up 7.4 percent to 20,046, with 2,351 of that the new Envision compact CUV, while Cadillac fell 9.4 percent, to 13,948.
  • Chevy Cruze was up 9 percent, to 17,126, Equinox was off 11 percent, to 19,664 and Malibu slid 34.7 percent, to 16,151.
  • Combined GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado sales totaled 64,818, while combined Canyon and Colorado sales totaled 13,363.
  • Cadillac sold 1,316 CT6es, topping its own CTS, which was off 34.7 percent, to 1,024. ATS fell 37 percent, to 1,593, and the brand sold 4,989 XT5s.
  • Corvette was up 4 percent, to 2,626 and Volt was up 7.7 percent, to 2,191.

2. Ford Motor Company: 188,813, off 11.7 percent.

  • Ford division was down 12.5 percent, to 179,744, while Lincoln was up 6.9 percent, to 9,069.
  • In Pony Car Wars, Chevrolet Camaro, at 6,277, up 18.7 percent, beat Ford Mustang, at 5,414, off 46.4 percent, for the second month in a row. Dodge sold 4,127 Challengers, off 22 percent.
  • F-Series was up 0.1 percent, to 65,542. Ford sold 10,202 Transits, up 9 percent.
  • Fusion was off 21 percent, to 18,686 and Escape dropped 4.9 percent, to 23,505.
  • Focus was off 43 percent, to 9,368.
  • Explorer fell 14.1 percent, to 16,106 sold, while Flex was down 24.3 percent, to 1,066. On Tuesday, Automotive News reported that the Canadian Auto Workers revealed after approving a contract with Ford that the Flex was due to be discontinued in 2020.
  • Lincoln sold 1,222 of its new Continental flagships. MKZ was up 3.1 percent, to 2,481.
  • MKC was off 3.3 percent to 1,916, but MKX was up 4.1 percent, to 2,279.

3. Toyota Motor Sales: 186,295, off 8.7 percent.

  • The Toyota division was off 9.1 percent, to 161,492, while Lexus was off 6.2 percent, to 24,803.
  • Corolla, including the '17 Toyota iM and '16 Scion iM, was up 1.3 percent, to 29,735, while Camry fell 15 percent, to 29,562. RAV4 was off 6.5 percent, to 26,429.
  • Combined sales of the '17 Toyota 86 and leftovers of the predecessor '16 Scion FR-S was 633, off 11.5 percent. The Mirai fuel-cell car was up 226.2 percent, to 103.
  • Prius was off 46.5 percent, to 8,132.
  • Tacoma was up 4.2 percent, to 15,875, and Tundra sales rose 0.2 percent, to 9,533.
  • Lexus ES was off 22.8 percent, to 4,190. Lexus RX was up 0.3 percent, to 8,044 and NX was up 25.7 percent, to 4,274.

4. FiatChrysler: 176,609, off 10 percent.

  • Jeep sales fell 7 percent, to 68,826, though Ram was up 12 percent, to 49,443.
  • Chrysler dipped 45 percent, to 14,181 and Dodge was off 16 percent, to 41,514.
  • Fiat slid 24 percent, to 2,622. Alfa Romeo fell 60 percent, to 23 cars.
  • Amid all this downturn, the highly profitable Grand Cherokee was the bestselling Jeep, up 9 percent to 17,867. Wrangler was off 7 percent to 14,469 and Cherokee fell 23 percent, to 13,531.
  • Chrysler sold 7,758 Pacificas and 529 Town & Countrys (off 96 percent), but only 3,051 of its 300 sedans, off 29 percent.
  • Dodge sold 6,792 Chargers, off 24 percent, 11,912 Journeys, up 17 percent, and 11,563 Caravans, off 15 percent.
  • Ram pickup was up 7 percent, to 43,891.
  • Alfa Romeo sold no Giulias in October, after selling 7 in September. Fiat sold 444 124 Spiders.

5. American Honda, 126,161, off 4.2 percent.

  • Of that, 113,292 were Hondas, off 2 percent, and 12,869 were Acuras, off 20 percent.
  • Honda says Civic is on-track to its best sales year, ever, at 26,359, off 5.1 percent, but up 12.6 percent to 310,142 for the first 10 months, 65,972 units ahead of traditional bestseller Accord.
  • Accord sales fell 15.2 percent, to 25,551 while CR-V was up 4.4 percent to 30,306 just prior to a model changeover.
  • Acura MDX was up 14.7 percent, to 5,052, with TLX off 53 percent to 2,714. RDX was up 1.4 percent, to 3,944.
  • Acura sold 67 NSXes in October, for 150 so far this year.

6. Nissan Group: 113,520, off 2.2 percent.

  • Nissan division chalked up 102,312, off 2.5 percent, while Infiniti posted an 0.6-percent increase, to 11,208.
  • Rogue remains bestseller, though off 15.1 percent, to 21,179, while Altima was off 3.3 percent, to 20,257. Sentra was off 5.4 percent, to 14,168.
  • Rogue is now Nissan's number-one selling model. It's 220 units ahead of Altima so far this year.
  • Pathfinder was up 15 percent, to 6,421, Frontier was up 33.6 percent, to 6,364 and Titan was up 260.7 percent, to 3,181.
  • The Q50 sedan was Infiniti's bestseller, at 3,689 off 3.2 percent. The QX60 crossover was next, at 2,929, off 20.2 percent. Infiniti sold 723 QX30s.

7. Hyundai: 62,505, up 4.2 percent.

  • Hyundai brand was up 2.2 percent, to 61,304 and the new Genesis luxury division accounted for 1,201 cars, to 3,909 so far this year.
  • Elantra was up 0.3 percent, to 15,917, beating Sonata, which fell 6.8 percent, to 14,972. But Santa Fe is best feeding Hyundai's success thanks to increased production, and was up 2.3 percent, to 11,311.
  • Genesis sold 1,109 G80s and 92 G90s.

8. Subaru: 53,760, up 4.1 percent.

  • Outback sales spiked to 18,008, a 22.3 percent increase over October '15. Legacy was up 7.9 percent, to 6,136.
  • Forester was up 1 percent, to 15,330.
  • WRX/STI was off 14.4 percent, to 2,579 and BRZ fell 11.8 percent, to 330.

9. Kia: 48,977, off 2.1 percent.

  • Kia says Soul and Forte had their best ever October, with Soul up 6.5 percent, to 13,036 and Forte up 54.2 percent, to 8,013.
  • Optima slid 30.6 percent, to 9,974. Sorento was off 11 percent, to 7,651.

10. Mercedes-Benz USA: 31,801, off 2.1 percent.

  • Mercedes, both the brand and the corporation including vans and Smart, continues to slowly extend its lead over BMW, the brand and the BMW-Mini combo.
  • C-Class fell 14.5 percent, to 6,227, while CLA rose 22.9 percent, to 2,295.
  • Similarly, E-Class/CLS fell 25.9 percent, to 3,827 and S-Class was up 26 percent, to 2,420.
  • GLE-Class (M) led SUVs, though off 17.2 percent, to 4,402. GLC (GLK) was up 84.7 percent, to 3,588.
  • Smart slid 42 percent, to 418. Vans were off 2.7 percent, to 2,724.

11. BMW Group: 27,971, off 16.6 percent.

  • BMW Group is now 9.6 percent behind '15 sales, at 297,015 year-to-date.
  • BMW brand fell 18.4 percent, to 24,017 in October. Mini was off 3.3 percent, to 3,954.
  • The BMW 3 Series nosedived 52.6 percent, to 5,215, with 4 Series down 13.4 percent, to 2,853.
  • BMW's CUVs couldn't keep up with the 3/4 Series decline. X3 was up 21.5 percent, to 3,680, and X5 was off 9.5 percent, to 3,885.
  • X1 (classified under "cars" in BMW's sales chart) was up 350.9 percent, to 2,710.
  • The Mini Cooper/S 2-door fell 44.1 percent, to 772, and the 4-door dropped by 33.6 percent, to 676. Mini sold 1,124 Clubman models.

12. Volkswagen: 24,779, off 18.5 percent.

  • Jetta sales fell 5.6 percent, to 8,068, while Passat was off 23.2 percent, to 6,234.
  • Golf fell 10.1 percent, to 5,137 and Tiguan was off 31 percent, to 3,322. Beetle was up 17.8 percent, to 1,507 units.

13. Mazda: 22,711, off 10.8 percent.

  • CX-5 was the brand's bestseller, though off 3.5 percent, to 8,942, and the new CX-9 was up 24.1 percent, to 1,842.
  • Mazda3 was off 16.7 percent, to 6,946.
  • MX-5 Miata dropped 53.5 percent, to 505. Combined with Fiat 124 Spider, sales totaled 949, compared with 1,085 Miatas in October '15. Calendar '16 Miata sales still top CY15, by 16.7 percent, to 8,345 (because sales of the new model commenced mid-'15). Fiat has sold 1,875 Spiders so far this year.

14. Audi: 17,721, up 0.1 percent.

  • A4 is up 33.4 percent, to 3,864, while A3 is off 37.5 percent, to 1,708.
  • Q7 is up 32.9 percent, to 2,798, while Q5 slid 22.4 percent, to 3,772, letting the A4 take over as Audi's bestseller.

15. Jaguar/Land Rover: 8,751, up 7 percent.

  • Land Rover sold 5,532, down 23 percent from last year, which the brand says was its best October ever. Last month was its second-best.
  • Jaguar was up 226 percent, to 3,219, thanks to 1,240 F-Pace crossovers and 941 XE sedans sold. The new XF was up 14 percent, to 310 sold.
  • Range Rover Sport was Land Rover's bestseller, at 1,580. LR sold 1,223 Range Rovers and 1,099 Discovery Sports.

16. Mitsubishi: 7,637, up 2.8 percent.

  • Mirage and Outlander accounted for the increase. Mirage (with a sedan now available alongside the hatchback) was up 24.4 percent, to 1,489 and Outlander sales rose 19.1 percent, to 2,429.
  • Bestseller Outlander Sport slid 12.9 percent, to 2,694.

17. Volvo: 6,340, off 14.6 percent.

  • Volvo says strong global demand for its XC90 - bestseller in the U.S. - and new S90 have constrained supplies. It sold 2,383 XC90s, off 7.1 percent.
  • Volvo sold 351 new S90s and 20 leftover S80s, versus 179 S80s in October '15.
  • XC60 was off 15.7 percent, to 1,611 and S60 was off 13.7 percent, to 1,198.

18. Porsche: 4,506, up 10.7 percent.

  • The two SUVs account for more than half Porsche's sales here. Macan was up 166.5 percent, to 2,120, while Cayenne was off 17.1 percent, to 1,206.
  • The 911 series was off 44.7 percent, to 444 and Boxster/Cayman was off 20.1 percent, to 441. Panamera slid 16.4 percent, to 295.

Luxury/Premium Brands, YTD:

  1. Mercedes-Benz 277,863
  2. Lexus 260,996
  3. BMW 254,150
  4. Audi 169,900
  5. Acura 132,596

Select Sports Cars and EVs, YTD:

  1. Chevrolet Corvette 25,345
  2. Chevrolet Volt 18,517
  3. Nissan Leaf 10,650
  4. Mazda Miata 8,345
  5. Toyota 86/Scion FR-S 6,387

Midsize cars, YTD:

  1. Toyota Camry 327,015
  2. Honda Accord 284,170
  3. Nissan Altima 262,578
  4. Ford Fusion 229,148
  5. Chevrolet Malibu 186,540

Compact CUVs, YTD:

  1. Honda CR-V 293,799
  2. Toyota RAV4 286,809
  3. Nissan Rogue 262,798
  4. Ford Escape 258,269
  5. Chevrolet Equinox 193,400

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