Motor City Blogman

U.S. Auto Sales Totaled 17.25-Million in 2017

Trucks and SUVs now account for two-thirds of the market, Toyota estimates

Pickup trucks, pickup trucks, and more SUVs pretty much says it all about calendar year 2017 auto sales in the United States. Trucks and SUVs now account for about 67 percent of the U.S. market, says Jack Hollis, Toyota division’s group vice president and general manager.

And yet, Hollis’ Toyota Camry still managed to outsell all of Mercedes-Benz USA, including vans and Smart cars, last year. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Sales’ luxury division, Lexus, narrowly lost second place among luxury/premium brands to BMW, while Mercedes took first place honors in that segment for the second straight row.

While those brands all make good money with deep profit margins, sales of luxury brands continue to falter, even compared with commodity brands, most of which have peaked. One possible explanation is that more and more Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus owners are trading in their cars for well-equipped Toyota, Honda, Ford, or Chevrolet sport/utilities, or even big crew cab pickup trucks.

Total sales of cars and light trucks in the U.S., both commodity and premium/luxury, fell about 1.8 percent in 2017, to about 17.25 million, Automotive News reports. While that ends a seven-year streak of year-over-year increases, it also follows two record 17.5-plus-million years in a row, with 2016 having slightly edged out 2015. Car, and especially truck/SUV sales remain strong.

Tesla, which does not regularly report U.S. sales on a monthly or annual basis, probably should. Last year, Tesla fell just 300 units short of catching Porsche sales in the U.S., says the Automotive News Data Center. If Model 3 production was anywhere close to CEO Elon Musk’s projections from early in ’17, it would have easily made that up.

Audi continued its streak of year-over-year increases, and Subaru gained enough to pass Kia for eighth place among automakers selling in the U.S. Cadillac snuck ahead of Acura on the strength of the XT5 compact sport/utility and the continued success of its Escalade/ESV, though Caddy, Acura, and Infiniti all finished 2017 within a few thousand units of each other.

And so, to the numbers …

1. General Motors: 3,002,241, off 1.3 percent.
DECEMBER: 308,539, off 3.3 percent.

  • Chevrolet was off 1.5 percent, to 2,065,883. GMC was up 2.6 percent, to 560,687 and Buick was off 4.5 percent, to 219,231. Cadillac dropped 8 percent, to 156,440.
  • Chevy Silverado was up 1.9 percent, to 585,864, and GMC Sierra was off 1.7 percent, to 217,943, for a combined 803,807, up 0.9 percent. The Ford F-Series outsold fullsize GM pickups by 92,957 units last year.
  • After Silverado, Chevrolet’s bestseller was the Equinox, up 19.9 percent, to 290,458. Conversely, Malibu dropped 18.4 percent, to 185,857, and Cruze was off 2.2 percent, to 184,751.
  • Chevy Colorado sales rose 3.9 percent, to 112,996 and GMC Canyon was off 14.3 percent, to 32,106, for a combined 145,102, off 0.7 percent. Toyota Tacoma outsold the pair by 53,022 units.
  • Chevy Tahoe was down 4.2 percent, to 98,961, and Suburban was off 5.9 percent, to 56,516, for a still-healthy 155,477. A
    thorough redesign helped push Chevy Traverse up 5.8 percent, to 123,506.
  • Encore was Buick’s sales leader, up 12.1 percent, to 88,035, and Enclave was next, off 6.7 percent, to 48,564. In the model’s first full year, Buick sold 41,040 Envisions, up from 14,193 in calendar ’16.
  • Buick LaCrosse was off 26.9 percent, to 20,161, and Regal dropped by 41.7 percent to 11,559.
  • Cadillac sold 68,312 XT5s in its first full calendar year, up 73 percent, with leftover SRXes dropping from 22,139 to 156.
  • Sad to say, XTS was Cadillac’s bestselling sedan, though off 26.6 percent, to 16,275.
  • Of the rear-drive Caddy sedans, ATS was down 39.1 percent, to 13,100. Cadillac sold 10,542 CT6s, up 15 percent, and 10,344 CTSes, off 35 percent.
  • Escalade was off 2.6 percent, to 22,994 and Escalade ESV dropped by 5.1 percent, to 14,700, for a combined 37,694.
  • Corvette was down 16.4 percent, to 25,079. Chevy sold 23,297 Bolt EVs in its first full year, and 20,349 Volts, off 17.7 percent.

2. Ford Motor Company: 2,586,715, off 1.1 percent.
DECEMBER: 242,049, up 0.9 percent.

  • Ford division ended ’17 off 1.1 percent, to 2,475,556, still the bestselling brand in the U.S. Lincoln was off 0.5 percent for the year, to 111,159.
  • And the Ford F-Series remains America’s bestselling model line, up 9.3 percent for the year, to 896,764. It had its best December since 2005, at 89,385, up 2.1 percent for the month.
  • Ford Mustang won Pony Car Wars, with 81,866 sold for the year, down 22.7 percent. Chevy Camaro dropped 6.6 percent, to
    67,940, narrowly edging out Dodge Challenger, which was up by 104 units (0 percent) to 64,537.
  • Escape managed only an 0.4-percent increase, to 308,296 for a year in which Toyota’s RAV4 topped 400k to outsell its own Camry.
  • Fusion, reported to be on Ford’s chopping block with a redesign scheduled for 2020 having been cancelled according to Automotive News, plunged 21.1 percent to 209,623.
  • The aging Explorer was up 10.1 percent, however, to 238,056, and the Edge was up 6 percent, to 142,603. The Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility was up 2.7 percent, to 33,075.
  • On the Lincoln side, the MKX was the premium brand’s bestseller, at 31,031, up 0.2 percent. The MKZ sedan, at 27,387, off 10.3 percent, edged MKC, at 27,048, up 5.8 percent. The Navigator was up 1 percent, to 10,523.
  • Lincoln sold 12,012 Continentals for the year, up 128.3 percent.
  • Ford delivered nine GTs in December, for a total of 89 in 2017.

3. Toyota Motor Sales: 2,434,515, off 0.6 percent.
DECEMBER: 222,985, off 8.3 percent.

  • Toyota Division sold 2,129,383 units for the year, up 0.5 percent and second to the Ford brand in overall sales, while Lexus was off 7.9 percent, to 305,132. Toyota Division was off 3.6 percent for the month, and Lexus dropped by 13.9 percent.
  • Toyota Camry ended the year at the top of the car sales heap, though it was off 0.4 percent, to 387,081. Corolla was down 13 percent, to 329,196.
  • RAV4 ended the year up 15.7 percent, to 407,594. Highlander sales rose 12.7 percent, to 215,775 and 4Runner was up 14.6 percent, to 128,296.
  • On the truck side, Tacoma pickup was up 3.4 percent, to 198,124. Tundra was up 0.7 percent, to 116,285.
  • RX led Lexus sales, off 1 percent, to 108,307. NX was up 8.1 percent, to 59,341, while ES sedan dropped 11.8 percent, to 51,398.
  • Lexus IS plunged 29 percent, to 26,482 for the year, ES was down 11.8 percent, to 51,398, and LS was down 25.8 percent, to 4,094 amidst a model changeover.
  • Prius dropped 20.5 percent, to 108,662. Toyota 86/Scion FR-S was off 8.2 percent, to 6,846.

4. Fiat Chrysler: 2,059,376, off 8 percent.
DECEMBER: 171,946, off 11 percent.

  • Jeep ended the year with total U.S. sales of 828,522, off 11 percent. Ram was up 2 percent, to 556,790. Dodge fell 12 percent, to 446,966. Chrysler was off 19 percent, to 188,545, Fiat was off 19 percent, to 26,492 and Alfa Romeo grew by two important models and 2,232 percent, to 12,031.
  • The big, highly profitable Grand Cherokee was Jeep’s bestseller, at 240,696, up 13 percent. The old, outgoing Wrangler slipped only 1 percent, to 190,522 and the Cherokee dropped by 15 percent, to 169,882. Renegade was off 3 percent, to 103,434 and with a midyear model changeover, the Compass fell by 11 percent, to 83,253.
  • Ram pickup breached half a million, at 500,723, up 2 percent. ProMaster van was steady, up by 43 units, to 40,483.
  • Dodge Charger was off 7 percent, to 88,531, which includes the cop cars. Chrysler 300 slipped 4 percent, to 51,237 for a combined 139,768. Not bad for RWD full-size sedans.
  • Dodge Journey dropped 16 percent, to 89,470, while the erstwhile lame-duck Dodge Caravan slipped just 2 percent, to 125,196.
  • Chrysler Pacifica sales rose 90 percent, to 118,274, though it was off 2.1 percent when combined with the old Town & Country minivan this year and last year.
  • Fiat 500 sales fell 18 percent, to 12,685, the 500X plunged 36 percent, to 7,665, the 500L lost 47 percent of its sales, to 1,664, and the Fiat 124 Spider was up 81 percent in its first full year, to 4,478.
  • Alfa Romeo sold 997 Stelvios in December, or 2,721 for the year. It sold 1,011 Giulias last month, for a total of 8,903 in ’17, and 407 4cs, off 15 percent.
  • The last year of Dodge Viper production resulted in 585 sold, off 7 percent.

5. American Honda, 1,641,429, up 0.2 percent.
DECEMBER: 149,317, off 7 percent.

  • Although it was a small gain over calendar ’16, American Honda’s 2017 sales set an all-time record for Honda/Acura in the U.S. Honda division’s total was 1,486,827, up 0.7 percent, and Acura’s total was 154,602, off 4.2 percent.
  • Honda CR-V outsold Civic, but only by 609 units last year. CR-V was up 5.8 percent, to 377,895, and Civic was up 2.8 percent, to 377,286.
  • Accord was off 6.5 percent, to 322,655.
  • Pilot was up 5.4 percent, to 127,279 and Odyssey was down 17 percent, to 100,307.
  • Ridgeline was up 46.8 percent, to 34,749.
  • Fit was off 12.7 percent, to 49,454. HR-V was up 14 percent, to 94,034.
  • Honda delivered 1,425 Claritys in December, for a total of 2,455.
  • Acura’s two SUVs accounted for more than two-thirds of its sales. MDX was off 1.1 percent, to 54,886, and RDX was off 2 percent, to 51,295. TLX took 34,646, off 2 percent.

6. Nissan Group: 1,593,464, up 1.9 percent.
DECEMBER: 138,226, off 9.5 percent.

  • Nissan division was up 1 percent for the year, to 1,440,049 and Infiniti was up 10.9 percent, to 153,415.
  • With the new Rogue Sport included in its numbers, Nissan sold 403,465 Rogues, up 22.3 percent.
  • Altima was off 17 percent, to 254,996. Sentra was up 1.7 percent, to 218,451.
  • Maxima was up 7.9 percent, to 67,627.
  • In the first full year of the new Titan’s sales, the pickup truck’s sales rose 141.9 percent, to 52,924. Frontier was off 14.5 percent, to 74,360.
  • Pathfinder was off slightly, by 0.8 percent, to 81,065.
  • Infiniti Q50 sales fell 7.4 percent, to 40,739, though it was still enough to top the QX60, which was off 4 percent, to 4,044.
  • The QX50 was off 0.7 percent, to 16,857 and the QX30 was up 523.9 percent, to 14,093. Q60 was up 170.8 percent, to 10,751.
  • Nissan sold 4,614 370Zs, off 22 percent, and 11,230 Leafs, down 19.8 percent.

7. Hyundai: 685,555, off 12 percent.
DECEMBER: 63,594, up 2 percent.

  • Hyundai brand sold 664,961 last year, off 13.4 percent for the year, and Genesis brand sold 20,594, up 196 percent.
  • Bestseller Hyundai Elantra was off 4.8 percent, to 198,210.
  • Sonata dropped 33.9 percent, to 131,803.
  • Tucson was up 28 percent, to 114,735, and Santa Fe was up 1.5 percent, to 133,171.
  • Hyundai sold 908 Ioniqs last month, for a total of 11,197 for the year.
  • Genesis G80 was up 162.7 percent, to 16,196. G90 was up 455 percent, to 4,398.

8. Subaru: 647,956, up 5.3 percent.
DECEMBER: 63,342, up 0.3 percent. Subaru says it was its best sales month ever in the U.S.

  • Outback was up 3.3 percent, to 188,886. Forester was off 0.6 percent, to 177,563.
  • The new Crosstrek was up 15.1 percent over the old Crosstrek, for 110,138.
  • Impreza leapt 55.8 percent, to 86,043.
  • WRX/STI was off 5.8 percent, to 31,358.
  • BRZ was off 0.2 percent, to 4,131. Combined sales with Toyota 86/Scion FR-S was 10,977, off 5.4 percent.

9. Kia: 589,668, off 8.9 percent.
DECEMBER: 43,039, off 20.8 percent.

  • Forte was up 13.8 percent, to 117,596.
  • Soul dropped by 20.6 percent, to 115,712. Optima was off 13.5 percent, to 107,493.
  • Sportage was off 10.2 percent, to 72,824.
  • Kia sold 27,237 Niros and 843 Stingers.

10. Mercedes-Benz USA: 375,311, off 1.4 percent.
DECEMBER: 39,416, up 6.4 percent.

  • Mercedes-Benz passenger car sales totaled 337,246, off 0.9 percent. Merc vans added 34,994, up 2 percent, and Smart sold 3,071, off 50.6 percent.
  • Despite a popular SUV lineup, Benz’s bestseller remains the C-Class, which was up 0.4 percent, to 77,447.
  • GLE-Class jumped 5.4 percent, to 54,595 and E-Class/CLS ticked up 0.8 percent, to 51,312.
  • GLS-Class was up 5.9 percent, to 32,248. CLA dropped 19.9 percent, to 20,669.
  • Mercedes sold 15,888 S-Classes, off 15.5 percent, and 1,608 AMG GTs, up 31.1 percent.

11. BMW Group: 352,790, off 3.4 percent.
DECEMBER: 38,864, up 3.7 percent.

  • BMW brand was off 2.4 percent, to 305,685 and Mini dropped 9.5 percent, to 47,105.
  • The 3 Series remained BMW’s bestseller, off 15.6 percent, to 59,449, though the 4 Series, buoyed by the four-door coupe, was up 10.8 percent to 39,634.
  • That totals 99,083 for the 3 and 4 Series, off 7.2 percent.
  • The X5 was up 6.7 percent, to 50,815. The X3 was down 7.9 percent, to 40,691.
  • The BMW X1 was up 10.8 percent, to 30,826. The Mini Countryman was up 17 percent, to 14,864.
  • Mini’s next-bestseller was the Cooper/S Hardtop 2 Door, off 0.3 percent, to 11,257. The 4 Door plummeted 30.9 percent, to 7,724.

12. Volkswagen: 339,676, up 5.2 percent.
DECEMBER: 30,281, off 18.7 percent.

  • Sales of the new Atlas totaled 27,119 for the year.
  • Jetta was off 4.4 percent, to 115,807.
  • Passat dropped by 16.8 percent, to 60,772.
  • Sales of the new Tiguan totaled 21,023. The old Tiguan was down 40.5 percent, to 25,960.
  • Golf was up 11.8 percent, to 68,978. Beetle sales slipped 3.2 percent, to 15,166.

13. Mazda: 289,470, off 2.8 percent.
DECEMBER: 26,893, off 6.5 percent.

  • CX-5 was up 13.7 percent, to 127,563. CX-9 jumped 60.4 percent, to 25,828 and CX-3 was off 11.9 percent, to 16,355.
  • Strong CUV sales came at the expense of Mazda3, which fell 21.5 percent, to 75,018.
  • MX-5 Miata sales grew 19.3 percent, to 11,294. Combined sales with Fiat 124 Spider was 15,772.

14. Audi: 226,511, up 2.9 percent.
DECEMBER: 26,977, up 16.3 percent.

  • Q5 ended the year up 16.3 percent, to 57,640, and Q7 was up 25.5 percent, to 38,346.
  • A4 was off 0.7 percent, to 34,434, though A5 jumped 155 percent, to 21,301.
  • Audi sold 20,733 A3s, off 23.9 percent, and 2,877 A3 e-trons, off 32.8 percent.
  • TT sales slipped 24.6 percent, to 2,294. R8 was up 4.9 percent, to 772.

15. Jaguar/Land Rover: 114,333, up 9.0 percent.
DECEMBER: 11,394, off 11 percent.

  • For the year, Land Rover was up 1 percent, to 74,739 and Jaguar was up 27 percent, to 39,594.
  • Land Rover sold 1,694 Range Rover Velars in December, making it JLR’s bestseller for its third straight month.
  • F-Pace was Jaguar’s bestseller for ’17, up 89 percent, to 18,946.

16. Mitsubishi: 103,686, up 7.7 percent.
DECEMBER: 8,501, up 15.1 percent.

  • Outlander was up 32.9 percent, to 35,310, and Outlander Sport was up 0.3 percent, to 33,160.
  • Mitsubishi sold 99 Outlander PHEVs last year, all in December.
  • Lancer—yes, it’s still around—was off 11 percent, to 12,725. Mirage was up 0.7 percent, to 22,386.

17. Volvo: 81,507, down 1.5 percent.*

  • *Sales numbers from Volvo were not immediately available January 3. This number is from the Automotive News Data Center.

18. Porsche: 55,420, up 2.1 percent.
DECEMBER: 3,913, off 2.5 percent.

  • Macan led sales, at 21,429, up 10.8 percent.
  • Cayenne was next, off 14.2 percent, to 13,203.
  • The 911 line was up 0.8 percent, to 8,970.
  • Panamera was up 52.9 percent, to 6,731, and 718 Boxster/Cayman was off 18.7 percent, to 5,087.

X-Factor. Tesla: Globally 101,312 Models S, X; 2,658 Model 3s.

  • Tesla says it delivered 101,312 Models S and X globally in 2017, up 33 percent over 2016. It says it built 2,425 Tesla Model 3s in the fourth quarter, though all of them were not delivered, because it did not achieve ramp-up to 1,000 units production per week until late in the year, during the holidays. Tesla now expects to reach its first goal of 5,000 Model 3s produced per week by the end of the second quarter of 2018.

  • The Automotive News Data Center
    , which counts registrations nationwide, says Tesla sold 55,120 units in the U.S. in 2017, up 35.1 percent.


Bestselling Models, CY17

1. Ford F-Series 896,764
2. Chevrolet Silverado 585,564
3. Ram Pickup 500,723
4. Toyota RAV4 407,594
5. Nissan Rogue 403,465


Luxury/Premium Brands, YTD:

1. Mercedes-Benz 337,246
2. BMW 305,685
3. Lexus 305,132
4. Audi 226,511
5. Cadillac 156,440

Midsize cars, YTD:

1. Toyota Camry 387,081
2. Honda Accord 322,655
3. Nissan Altima 254,996
4. Ford Fusion 209,623
5. Chevrolet Malibu 185,857

Compact CUVs, YTD:

1. Toyota RAV4 407,594
2. Nissan Rogue 403,465
3. Honda CR-V 377,895
4. Ford Escape 308,296
5. Chevrolet Equinox 290,458

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