* Now updated with the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 288 models – see title *
New light vehicle sales in the U.S. are down 4% year-on-year in August to 1.512.556 units, the third month of decline recorded so far in 2016 which is already the most in any year since 2009 when sales dropped eight times out of twelve. August’s seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate (SAAR) is down 5% to 16.97 million vs. 17.79 in August 2015 and 17.86 last month. One less weekend than August 2015 contributed to this year-on-year drop, pulling the year-to-date tally to a minuscule 0.6% gain (or 70.000 units) over the same period last year at 11.679.620 units.
The big question is now: will we see by end 2016 a 2nd consecutive annual record and 7th consecutive year of growth? We at BSCB believe not, but it will be close. In 2015, the SAAR topped 18 million in September, October and November so it’s an uphill battle to end 2016 in an even better way. Factor into this the distraction of the last minute run-up and immediate fall-out of the presidential election on November 8 and we have a pretty shaky few months ahead of us. One key word: incentives. If manufacturers are willing to push them to an even higher level as the year comes to a close, we may see another record this year, but it is unlikely.
For now, incentive spending across the industry is up 8% year-on-year to $3.331 per vehicle on average, according to TrueCar. Among carmakers spending more than average on incentives, BMW leads the way with $5.670 (+26%) ahead of Mercedes at $4.528 (-2%), GM at $4.355 (+18%), FCA at $4.146 (+16%), Ford at $4.084 (+18%), Volkswagen Group at $3.793 (+24%) and Nissan at $3.475 (+1%). Those spending less than the industry average include ever-green Subaru at just $717 per car (+19%), Honda at $1.751 (-17%), Toyota at $2.370 (+7%), Hyundai at $2.595 (+2%) and Kia at $2.714 (-7%).
The three main carmakers in the U.S. suffer more than the market itself in August: Ford Motor Co posts its steepest decline in 6 years at -8.8% to 213.411 with retail sales down 8% and fleet down 10%. Luxury division Lincoln (+7%) compensated some of the decline by its namesake brand. Both General Motors (256.429) and Toyota Motor (213.125) are down by roughly 5%, each recording their 6th decline out of 8 months in 2016. In addition Nissan Motor, one of the stars of 2016 so far, records its largest drop since February 2013 at -6.5% while Honda (-3.8%) and Hyundai-Kia (-3.5%) follow the market. The only large manufacturer to deliver year-on-year gains this month is FCA at +3.1% on revised 2015 figures.
FCA’s result is almost solely due to the continuing strength of Jeep, up another 12% in August to 86.428 sales and lifting its year-to-date tally up 14% to a record-breaking 630.182. But one marque does even better – and this without incentives (see above) – confirming it is a very special case in an otherwise uncertain market: Subaru. Deliveries up a whopping 15% on August 2016 mean a new all-time monthly volume record at 60.418 units, the first time Subaru breaks the 60.000 monthly sales barrier and obliterating its previous all-time best of 56.274 established last December.
Luxury brands are on the whole faring much better than the market, with Jaguar up 189% thanks to the XE and F-Pace, Tesla up 75% thanks to the Model X, Volvo up 31% thanks to the XC90, Land Rover up 15%, Mercedes up 3% and Audi up 2.5% but BMW is down 6% and Lexus down 8% even though it leads the luxury race in August (Mercedes sales are counted without the Sprinter family). Hyundai’s luxury brand Genesis makes its entrance in the U.S. ranking this month with 1.497 units of its G80 sedan sold – in fact a re-badged Hyundai Genesis. In terms of format, the trend away from cars into trucks is getting stronger each month with light trucks outselling cars by 52% in August at 911.573 (+2.5%) vs. 600.983 (-12.6%). If Pickups are down (-1.9%), Crossovers (+5%), Large Vans (+15%) and Large SUVs (+21%) gain significant ground.
In fact, in August and for the first time in U.S. history according to BSCB calculations, the Top 6 best-sellers in the country are all light trucks, relegating the Toyota Camry down to a paltry 7th position overall! Although all losing ground year-on-year, three pickups lead the way as usual: the Ford F-Series (-6%), Chevrolet Silverado (-5%) and Ram Pickup (-11%) but they are followed this month by three SUVs: the Honda CR-V (+4%), Toyota RAV4 (+9%) and Nissan Rogue (+19%). The CR-V beats its monthly volume record for the 2nd month in a row at 36.517, reclaiming the #1 YTD spot in the SUV race off the RAV4 which itself signs its 2nd highest volume ever at 33.171 (best: 35.614 in August 2014) – outselling the Camry for the first time ever – and the Rogue is also at its 2nd best with 32.979 (best: 33.298 last month).
Further down, the Jeep Cherokee soars 41% to a best-ever 12th place with 23.932 sales, narrowly missing its all-time record (24.049 last December), the Chevrolet Cruze is up 52% on August 2015 and 17 spots on last month to #13, the Subaru Forester shoots up 10 spots to #16, the Outback is up 56% to #21 and the Hyundai Santa Fe up 35% to #26. Reversely, the Honda Accord (-26%), Ford Focus (-28%), Nissan Versa (-29%), Hyundai Sonata (-32%), Ford Fusion (-33%) and Nissan Altima (-39%) all fall flat – and all passenger cars…
Among recent launches (<12 months), the Chrysler Pacifica leads the way again but is down 4 spots on July to #60, followed by the Cadillac XT5 (#93) and Honda Ridgeline (#114). The China-made Buick Envision is up 10 ranks on last month to #159, the Jaguar F-Pace is down 20 to #179 but remains by far the brand’s best-seller in the U.S., accounting for 37% of its total volume, and the Tesla Model X ranks 186th with an estimated 1.100 units sold. We welcome no less than four all-new nameplates in the U.S. charts in August: the Genesis G80 (#161), Bentley Bentayga (#251), Maserati Levante (#264) and Infiniti QX30 (#267).
Previous month: USA July 2016: GM, Ford, Toyota down in market up just 0.5%
Full August 2016 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 288 models below.