USA First Half 2016: Is this the first soft landing in a decade?

Ford F-150 Raptor USA June 2016Ford’s average incentives per vehicle are up 35% year-on-year in June.

* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 300 models by clicking on the title *

Recently, the U.S. new light vehicle market has been on a rollercoaster, freefalling 36% in two years between 2007 and 2009 to then surge back up 65% in the past six years, hitting an all-time record in 2015 at 17.47m units. But so far 2016 shows signs of the first soft landing in a decade. Volumes were down 6% in May, the SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annualised Rate) was down 2% in June and as a result sales are up to arrive at a six month tally up a very shy improvement at +1.5% to 8.644.920 units. U.S. sales are clearly peaking, and some analysts are starting to wonder whether 2016 will in fact mark the 7th consecutive annual growth everyone was dead-certain about at the start of the year. The worst news: retail demand is evaporating, with LMC Automotive recently cutting its 2016 retail forecast by 100.000 units to 14.2 million.

The tyranny of financial markets has prompted manufacturers to resort to increasingly risky – and less profitable – ways of maintaining volume growth. One is “punching” – dealers buying vehicles from their own inventory, later converting them into testers or loaners in order to earn bonuses. BMW, supposedly the #1 luxury brand in the U.S. in 2015, was under the spotlight earlier this year when IHS Automotive discovered their sales were in fact below both Mercedes and Lexus. It turned out BMW offered $1.000 bonuses per car on November 30 and then $3.000 on December 31 to dealers selling vehicles to themselves as a “specialty demo” in order to snap the #1 luxury spot, with success.

Richard Davis, CEO of Bancorp, admitted in June that the auto loan market is overheated with sub-prime loans increasing their share in the past year, although his company is focusing on prime lending, he says. According to TrueCar, incentives up 9% year-on-year in June to $3,116 per vehicle on average across the industry. Ford incentives are up 35% to $3,516, BMW up 22% to $5,235, FCA up 21% to $4,101 and the Volkswagen Group up 16% to $3,585. This incentive inflation is not generalised though, with Honda down 4% to $1,845 per vehicle, Nissan down 6% to $3,208, Hyundai down 14% to $2,133 and Subaru down 20% to a minuscule $616 per vehicle.

Toyota RAV4 USA June 2016. Picture courtesy motortrend.comIt’s out with the cars, in with the trucks in the U.S. The Toyota RAV4 is up 16%.

The slow seepage from passenger cars towards light trucks (crossovers, SUVs and pickups) has become a stampede in 2016. Halfway through the year, passenger cars are bleeding down 7.5% to 3.644 million units. Small cars are down 8%, midsize cars are down 5.5%, luxury cars down 13% and large cars down 39%. The image is an almost perfect mirror in positive territory when it comes too light trucks, up 9% overall to hit a round 5 million deliveries. Pickups are up 7% to 1.279m units, SUVs up 5% to 0.866m and crossovers up 9% to 2.315m.

General Motors remains the dominant force in the U.S. market but sees its sales drop 4% to 1.439m units, mainly due to a much-adverstied shift away from low-profit daily rental sales that is starting to get a little tired as the only explanation for skidding volumes. Ford on the other hand improves by a robust 4% to 1.345m sales but Toyota is down 3% to 1.198m and now threatened by FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles up 6% to 1.152m and celebrating an incredible 75 consecutive months on year-on-year gains in June. Nissan is reaping the benefits of and reapplying lessons from its stunning success in neighbouring Mexico where it is #1: the Japanese group posts the biggest increase of any large group (+8%) to overtake Honda (+5%). Hyundai-Kia (+3%) follows, while the Volkswagen Group (-7%) is passed by Subaru, handicapped by the impact of the emissions scandal that has plagued its namesake brand down 15%.

Jeep Renegade USA June 2016. Picture courtesy caradvice.com.auJeep sales are up another 17% so far in 2016.

Brand-wise, Ford is up 4% to 1.292m sales and improves its share to 14.9%, vastly increasing its advantage over Toyota at 1.009m and Chevrolet at 1.007m, both at -4% although Toyota has passed Chevy. Once again, the best performer in the Top 25 is Jeep soaring 17% to a record 468.131 deliveries and on a streak of 33 consecutive year-on-year monthly gains. As it celebrates 75 years of existence this week, Jeep adds two nameplates into the Top 60 best-sellers: the Renegade (#50) and Compass up 80% (#57), alongside the Cherokee (#21), Grand Cherokee (#22), Wrangler (#23) and Patriot (#37). Other marques posting double-digit year-on-year gains include Ram (+11%), Lincoln (+13%), last swan Scion (+51%), Land Rover (+13%), Volvo (+25%) and Jaguar (+40%) with Tesla the best performer of all at +62% to an estimated 16.500 units and the Model X SUV making its first appearance just outside the Top 200. At the other end of the scale, Mini (-17%), Chrysler and Fiat (-19%) disappoint. Other brands on an impressive sales gains streak include Audi (80 months), Ram (59), Subaru (55), Volvo (19) and Scion (10).

Model-wise, the Ford F-Series is easily headed towards a 35th consecutive year at #1 which would mean 40 years in a row as the best-selling pickup in the U.S. It has overcome supply issues that plagued the career start of the new gen F-150 last year and is now getting ready to see its redesigned heavy-duty variants (F-250/F-350) hit the market. So far in 2016, the F-Series is up 11% to 395.244 units whereas the Chevrolet Silverado is actually down 1% to 273.652 and the Ram Pickup is up 9% to 231.405. Despite the GMC Sierra gaining 6%, GM’s full-size pickups are outsold by the F-Series at 380.118. In the same segment, the redesigned Honda Ridgeline has landed at #135 in June but the Nissan Titan is still very discreet (#188). Meanwhile, the mid-size pickup segment is sizzling again: the Toyota Tacoma is up 7%, the GMC Canyon up 16%, the Chevy Colorado up 23% and the Nissan Frontier up 29%. Ford must resuscitate the Ranger asap.

Honda Civic USA June 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe new Honda Civic has hit a nerve: +20% and #2 passenger car. 

It may be a tad harder for the Toyota Camry to hold onto the #1 passenger car title for the 15th year in a row and the 19th time in the past 20 years. Although in the lead so far with 199.760 sales, it drops 7% year-on-year and is now under intense pressure from a revived Honda Civic up 20% to 189.840 units. Note the Civic has never been the best-selling car in the U.S., a title it has been holding for the past 18 years in Canada. The Toyota Corolla (-4%) is hit full frontal by the Civic, yje Nissan Altima disappoints with a 0.4% gain in spite of a new model and the Honda Accord outpcaes the market at +9% in 8th position overall.

Next is the fight for the title of most popular SUV in the country, surprisingly tense this year. Boosted up 16% to 165.900 units by its facelift, the Toyota RAV4 spectacularly takes the lead, toppling the Honda CR-V, long time leader but now down 2% to 159.075 and also threatened by the Ford Escape up 6% to 155.378 and the Nissan Rogue up 10% to 148.883. Other impressive gainers close to the top include the Nissan Sentra (+16%), Chevrolet Malibu (+25%), Ford Transit (+36%), Hyundai Tucson (+66%), Kia Sportage (+76%), Dodge Grand Caravan (+94%) and Chrysler Town & Country (+42%) – both models heavily discounted as the Chrysler Pacifica hits the market at #153 and 10.189 sales.

Previous post: USA June 2016: Trucks pull market up 2% but SAAR is down

One year ago: USA 1st Half 2015: Nissan Rogue, Chrysler 200 & Chevy Colorado game changers

Full H1 2016 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 300 models below.

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USA June 2016: Trucks pull market up 2% but SAAR is down

Ford F-150 Raptor USA June 2016Ford F-150 sales are up a whopping 40% year-on-year in June. The F-Series is up 29%.

* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 277 models by clicking on the title *

After a 6% fall in May, U.S. new light vehicle sales return to growth in June, but just: the 1.512.996 sales, up 2.4% on May 2015, actually fall back to a seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) of just 16.68 million, well below the 17.2 million that were forecast for the month, below the 17.01 million from a year ago in June 2015, below the 17.46 million from last month and well below the 17.5 million required to beat the 2015 annual record and post a seventh consecutive year of growth. Passenger cars are down a brutal 8% to 622.000 units or just 41.1% of the market whereas light trucks are up a stunning 11% to 891.000 deliveries or 58.9% share. In the US, light trucks include pickups (+13% to 225.000), crossovers (+10% to 416.000) and SUVs (+11% to 152.000).

Nissan Rogue USA June 2016. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comNever before had the Nissan Rogue found that many U.S. buyers in a single month.

In fact, the contrast between euphoric truck sales and worryingly low passenger car sales is a constant underlying factor in almost all manufacturers present in the U.S. The best performer this month, Nissan manages to post a 13% year-on-year gain to a best-ever June figure on the back of record crossover, truck and SUV deliveries: the Rogue – the #1 SUV in the world in 2015 – surges 26% to an all-time record 29.246 sales, stopping just 369 units short of snapping the #1 SUV spot off the Honda CR-V.

Honda Ridgeline USA June 2016. Picture courtesy nydailynews.comThe Honda Ridgeline has now hit US dealerships nationwide. 

Ford Motor Co’s 6% improvement comes single-handedly from the F-Series soaring 29% – with the F-150 up a whopping 40% – whereas the rest of its lineup is down 0.8%… The Toyota brand posts a harsh 8% drop, handicapped by a 15% fall in car sales (-13% for its best-seller Camry) whereas trucks gain 0.1% amid tight pickup inventories. American Honda manages to snap a 3% rise, surfing on record light truck sales helped by the arrival of the new Ridgeline pickup (2.500 deliveries in June) and maintaining Civic (+11%) and Accord (+5%) at strong levels while offering the second lowest discounts in the industry below Subaru at $1.845 and declining at -4%.

Jeep Wrangler USA June 2016. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comThe Wrangler is Jeep’s best-seller in the U.S. for the third straight month.

The underlying truck current is even more flagrant at FCA which manages to extend its streak of year-on-year gains to a gob-smacking 75 consecutive months thanks to Jeep up 16% to a June record of 83.691 sales (the brand has set a U.S. sales record every month since November 2013!) and Ram trucks up 14% to 41.236 and despite a freefalling Fiat (-19%) and Chrysler (-20%) and – wait for it – a 40% crash of the company’s passenger cars. On top of this, FCA incentives are some of the highest in market at $4.101 according to TrueCar, up 21% on June 2015.

Hyundai Tucson USA June 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comHyundai is only up in June thanks to outstanding SUV sales while cars stall.  

Hyundai is up 0.01% or nine vehicles thanks to the Santa Fe (+76%) and Tucson (+99%) with the Elantra (-16%), Sonata (-22%) and Accent (-52%) crumbling down, and crossover specialist Subaru continues on its record streak with a 55th consecutive month of year-on-year gains in June at +5% to 46.598, all this virtually incentive-free at just $616 average (-20%). Meanwhile, Volkswagen endures a seventh consecutive decline at -22%, further handicapped by a lineup strongly biased towards passenger cars.

Mercedes GLC USA June 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comMercedes GLC

The truck/car dichotomy is also valid in the luxury aisle, with Audi barely snapping a 66th consecutive monthly U.S sales record, up 1% to 18.445 units on the back of a 29% surge in crosovver sales, Mercedes up 3% thanks to the GLE up 27% on the M Class in June 2015. The GLC up 48% on the GLK and the GLS up 27% on the GL whereas its C Class best-seller is down 17%. Passenger car-heavy BMW drops a painful 10%, its seventh straight month of decline, while SUV specialist Land Rover is up 125%, Jaguar up 41% thanks to the F-Pace already the brand’s best-seller (1.123) and Volvo is up 41% thanks to its new best-seller the XC90 (+468%).

Cadillac XT5 USA June 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Cadillac XT5 breaks into the U.S. Top 100 in June.

One exception is General Motors, posting its fourth monthly drop out of six months in 2016 at -1.6%, with the balance pointing to a light truck weakness at -1.7% vs. -1.3% for passenger cars. GMC is down 9%, Buick down 5% but Cadillac is up 5% and Chevrolet up just 0.1% despite the Impala gaining 47% and a welcome boost from the new generation Spark (+71%). GM once again blamed the overall sales drop on effort to boost residual value by reducing less profitable rental sales by 5.700 units. However a few analysts including myself are starting to question this rationale, given GM’s average incentives remain among the highest in market at $3.991 per vehicle (+2% year-on-year) vs. $3.516 for Ford (+35%).

Volvo S90 USA June 2016The Volvo S90 lands in the U.S. charts in June. 

Some new launches are starting to make themselves noticed in the models charts: just as the Dodge Grand Caravan continues to catch up on lost time in 2015 when its factory was idled (+79%), the Chrysler Pacifica sliced its ranking in two from #132 in May to #66 in June with 7.207 deliveries, now actively replacing the Town & Country (6.054). The Cadillac XT5 also breaks into the U.S. Top 100 for the first time at #98, and the China-made Buick Envision is up 82 ranks to #170. Now that the long-awaited new model is finding its way into dealerships across the country, the Honda Ridgeline shoots up to #135 with almost 2.500 sales in June, and we welcome the Volvo S90 (#268), Acura NSX (#273) and Fiat 124 Spider (#277) in the ranking this month, albeit for now a little lost in the long tail.

Previous month: USA May 2016: Market down 6%, largest drop since August 2010

One year ago: USA June 2015: Chevrolet Silverado closest to Ford F-Series in 6 years

Full June 2016 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 277 models below.

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USA May 2016: Market down 6%, largest drop since August 2010

Jeep Renegade USA May 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comJeep posts an all-time monthly volume record in May at 90.545 sales.

* Now updated with the Top 15 groups, Top 40 All-brands and Top 275 models *

Passenger cars are on track to become a thing of the past in the U.S.A. and are weighing down otherwise brilliant light truck sales to pull the market into frank negative territory in May. The overall U.S. market is down 6% year-on-year to 1.536.276 units – its largest year-on-year drop in almost 6 years (since August 2010) where a 2% rise in light truck sales was cancelled by an abysmal 16% drop by passenger cars, now representing just 42% of the market. May 2016 counted 24 selling days vs. 26 in May 2015, so the 6% drop actually translates into a 2% rise in the daily sales rate, yet indicating a slowing down of the market growth. The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for May is 17.46 million units, in line with last year;s record 17.47 million total, but the year-to-date total is now up just 1.2% through end-May to 7.131.019 deliveries, and doubts are starting to emerge as to whether 2016 with see a 7th consecutive year of growing volumes and a 2nd all-time record year in a row.

Chevrolet Malibu USA March 2016General Motors crumbles down 18% as it continues to scale back fleet sales.

General Motors crumbles down 18%, partly due to its ongoing retreat for less-profitable fleet sales but its retail sales are also hit by supply disruptions linked to the latest Japan earthquake. Yet according to TrueCar, GM saw the largest average incentives among mainstream carmakers at $3,941 per new vehicle. At 15.7%, GM falls to its lowest ever market share in the U.S. According to Automotive News, before 1990 GM’s annual market share ranged between 30 and 50% stretching back to the 1950s. All of GM’s brands recorded double-digit drops in May: Chevrolet (-19%) is now #3 brand year-to-date below Toyota, GMC (-14%), Buick (-22%) and Cadillac (-16%)

Ford Motor follows the market at -6% with the Ford brand down 7% but Lincoln up 7%, Toyota Motors falls 10% with the Toyota brand down 11%, Lexus down 10% but Scion up 39%, American Honda is down 5% with the Honda brand down 3% and Acura at -20%, Nissan Motor is down 1% and the Volkswagen Group down 10% with the VW brand falling 17% – its 7th consecutive monthly decline – but Audi posts an incredible 65th consecutive monthly sales record at +2% to 18.728.

Hyundai Elantra USA May 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comHyundai defies adverse market conditions to post a 12% increase in May.

Fiat Chrysler FCA manages to extend its streak of consecutive year-on-year gains to 74 months at +1% to 204.452 units thanks to very generous incentives ($3,926) and the performance of Jeep delivering an all-time volume record (+14%) while Ram is up just 0.03% and Dodge (-5%), Chrysler (-19%) and Fiat (-19%) fall apart. Let’s pause for a minute on Jeep’s astounding score: the brand has now broken its all-time monthly volume record no less than 6 times in the past 18 months: March 2015 (71.584), April 2015 (71.759), May 2015 (79.652), August 2015 (80.804), December 2015 (89.654) and May 2016 (90.545). Six-digit monthly figures should be the target for the manufacturer in 2017 when Compass and Patriot replacement should point their muscled bonnet as well as the up-scale Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer at horizon 2018.

Subaru Forester USA May 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comSubaru posts a 54th consecutive month of year-on-year gains. 

Hyundai gains a splendid 12% to 71.006 sales despite soft incentives ($2.032 per vehicle) and sister company Kia is also in positive at +1% to 62.926 with average incentives of $2.715. Finally Subaru continues to defy gravity, lodging its 54th consecutive month of year-on-year gains at +1% to 50.083 sales, all this with almost no incentives at an average of $612 per vehicle, the lowest in the market by far. Other notable average incentive figures include VW/Audi ($3,448), Ford ($3,433), Nissan ($3,342), Toyota ($2,029) and Honda ($1,635) – source TrueCar.

Toyota RAV4 USA May 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Toyota RAV4 confirms it has now replaced the Honda CR-V as America’s favourite SUV.

Over in the models charts, the Ford F-Series further cements its domination by gaining 9% to 67.412 sales, the only vehicle in the Top 4 to actually post an increase: the Chevrolet Silverado falls a steep 13%, the Ram Pickup is down 3% and the Toyota Camry tumbles 16% but regains the top passenger car spot off the Honda Civic (+3%) with the Toyota Corolla (-5%) in tow. The Toyota RAV4 improves by a stunning 12% to consolidate its newfound leadership in the SUV segment, just as the Ford Escape (+6%) manages to overtake the once-leader Honda CR-V (-9%), now also threatened by the Nissan Rogue (+6%). Further down, the Hyundai Santa Fe (+88%), Jeep Patriot (+19%), Nissan Versa (+20%) and Dodge Grand Caravan (+76%) impress while the Jeep Renegade posts its very first five-digit monthly figure at 10.868 sales and a record 43rd spot.

Buick Envision USA May 2016. Picture courtesy of auto.ifeng.comThe China-made Buick Envision has arrived in the U.S.

Among recent launches (i.e. models launched less than 12 months ago), the Scion iA leads the pack at #119 with 3.056 sales, but is likely to lose this spot pretty shortly: the Cadillac XT5 is up 102 spots on April to #129 and the Chrysler Pacifica continues to spread into U.S. dealerships, up 79 ranks on last month to #132 with 2.495 sales. We also welcome three new nameplates in the U.S. sales charts in May: the Jaguar F-Pace at #205, the Jaguar XE at #208 and the China-made Buick Envision at #252. Note the Envision launches in China in October 2014 and has been a runaway success there.

Previous month: USA April 2016: Strong incentives and light trucks push market up 3.5%

One year ago: USA May 2015: Highest ever May volume and 17.8 million annual pace

Full May 2016 Top 15 groups, Top 40 All-brands and Top 275 models below.

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USA April 2016: Strong incentives and light trucks push market up 3.5%

Chevrolet Colorado USA April 2015. Picture courtesy motortrend.comThe Chevy Colorado clocks its first five-digit sales month in April but GM is down 3.5%.

* See the Top 15 best-selling groups, Top 40 brands and Top 276 models by clicking on the title *

After disappointing results in March, the U.S. new light vehicle market rallies back in April at +3.5% to 1.51 million  units – the strongest April in history – thanks to strong incentives and fleet sales as well as ever-green light truck deliveries. Just as cars are down 5% to 629.800 units, light trucks are up 11% to 877.100 including pickups up 12% to 232.600 deliveries. This means trucks represent 59.3% of light vehicles sales in April – its largest share this year and ever for the month vs. 55.2% a year ago. The seasonally adjusted sales rate is back up to 17.42 million from 16.56 million last month and 16.77 million a year ago. The year-to-date tally now stands at 5.593 million, up 3% on the same period a year ago.

Jeep Wrangler USA April 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Wrangler is Jeep’s best-seller in the U.S. this month. 

General Motors is back above Ford but at -3.5% it registers its largest year-on-year decline since since January 2014 when it fell 12%. GM is still scaling down less profitable feel sales and focusing on deliveries to individual consumers: its retail sales are up 4%. All its brands are in negative this month: Cadillac (-29%), Buick (-3%), Chevrolet (-2%) and GMC (0.1%). Ford follows the market at +3.6% thanks to the F-Series (+13%), Explorer (+25%) and the Lincoln brand (+20%) whereas its car sales are down 12%

FCA is up 6% to extend its streak of year-on-year gains to an incredible 73 months, albeit based on some of the highest discounts in the market at $3.967 per vehicle, up 25% on a year ago. Jeep (+18%) and Ram (+12%) continue to lift the company’s sales whereas Dodge (-3%), Chrysler (-18%) and Fiat (-19%) are in decline. Toyota Motor is up 4% with its namesake brand also up 4% but Lexus down 4%, Honda Motor is up 14% to its best April ever with its namesake brand up 15% and Acura up 9% and Nissan Motor is up 13%, scoring its third double-digit gain this year.

Subaru Outback USA April 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comNothing can stop Subaru, signing a 53rd consecutive month of year-on-year gains in April. 

Subaru continues on its outstanding run, up another 7% to 50.380 deliveries, its 53rd consecutive gain and confirmed its 2016 U.S. sales target is 600.000 vehicles which would mean an 8th consecutive year of increase. All this with almost no incentive: at $572 per vehicle they are by far the smallest in the market, and even down 21% year-on-year. Audi snaps its 64th consecutive monthly sales record, up 6% to 17.801 units, swan song Scion is up 54% Volvo up 41%, Mitsubishi up 18%, Mazda up 9%, Kia up 6% but Hyundai posts its first drop so far in 2016 at -8.5%.

Ford F-Series USA April 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Ford F-Series posts its best April since 2005. 

In the models ranking, the Ford F-Series posts a second consecutive month above 70.000 units at 70.774 (+13%), its best April since 2005, with the Chevrolet Silverado (+9%) and Ram Pickup (+8%) in tow as usual. The Honda Civic’s new generation is working like a charm: at +24% to 35.331 units it becomes the best-selling passenger car in the country this month, outselling the Toyota Camry (34.039) and cementing its 5th position in the year-to-date ranking – it was #8 over the FY2015. Note the F-Series sold more than the Honda Civic and Toyota Camry combined. The Honda Accord also shines with volumes up 16% to 31.526.

Honda Civic USA April 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Honda Civic is the best-selling passenger car in the U.S. in April 

In the SUV race, the Toyota RAV4 wins once again thanks to sales up a whopping 32% on April 2015 to 30.152, adding up to 106.274 (+18%) so far this year vs. 100.101 (-2%) for the perennial leader the Honda CR-V, down 2% to 28.913 deliveries this month. The Nissan Altima (+29%), Ford Explorer (+25%) and Chevrolet Malibu (+25%) also lodge very satisfying gains inside the Top 20. This month the Wrangler (+1%) is the best-selling Jeep in the U.S. above the Grand Cherokee (+12%) while the Cherokee seems to have plateaued: it is down 7% to 17.667 sales in April. The Renegade for its part breaks into the U.S. Top 50 for the first time at #49 with a record 9.730 sales.

Chrysler Pacifica USA April 2016The Chrysler Pacifica has big shoes to fill.

Thanks to sales up 48%, the Chevrolet Colorado cracks the 10.000 monthly sales barrier for the first time for this generation at 10.362, also hitting its best ranking so far at #44. This is however still a long way from the mid-size pickup segment leader, the Toyota Tacoma up 16% to 18.106 sales at #20. Let’s also single out the Ford Transit (+32%), Dodge Grand Caravan in full clearance mode before its disappearance from the brand’s lineup (+116%) and the Hyundai Accent (+58%) in runout mode before the new generation arrives. Among recent launches, the Buick Cascada gains 34% and 18 spots on March to #181 with 1.090 sales while the Cadillac CT6 is up 26 ranks to #235 with 285 units sold.

Cadillac XT5 USA April 2016. Picture courtest motortrend.comFirst appearance in the U.S. sales charts of the Cadillac XT5. 

We welcome two nameplates this month in the U.S.: the Chrysler Pacifica is the replacement for both the Dodge Grand Caravan (#30 in April) and Chrysler Town & Country (#51) adding up to 22.398 sales this month which would place the combined duo at #14. Needless to say expectations are sky high for a nameplate that was a flop in its previous life (2004-2008). For now it ranks #211 with 487 deliveries. The Cadillac XT5 also makes its first appearance in the U.S. sales charts at #231 with 304 units. If its prospects are much more measured than the Pacifica, this is Cadillac’s replacement for the SRX and the brand is heavily relying on it to bank on the current light truck euphoria and reverse its fortune: -29% in April and -12% year-to-date.

Previous month: USA March 2016: Ford outsells GM in lukewarm market

One year ago: USA April 2015: Chevrolet Equinox hits best ranking and volume ever

Full April 2016 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 276 models below.

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USA March 2016: Ford outsells General Motors in lukewarm market

Ford F-150 USA March 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThanks to fleet sales, Ford Motor outsells GM for only the third time in 17 years. 

* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 272 models by clicking on the title *

Last month we at BSCB have started warning the U.S. new vehicle market is showing signs of overheating, with incentives, bad credit-induced leasing and “punching” (self-registrations by dealers) at an all-time high. March figures confirm this: despite two additional selling days, the overall U.S. market is up just 3% year-on-year both in March (1.595.484 registrations) and year-to-date (4.087.766). If this is still the third highest March volume in history below 2000 (1.669.100 units) and 2001 (1.599.600), analysts had forecast a much higher figure at 1.660.000, and it actually corresponds to a 4% decline in daily sales rate. The bad news continue when looking at the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR), down to 16.56 million from 17.14 million in March 2015 and 17.53 last month, and compared to forecasts of 17.3 million. The March SAAR marks the end of 10 consecutive months above 17 million.

Toyota RAV4 USA March 2016The RAV4 remains the country’s best-selling SUV, but Toyota is struggling. 

This lukewarm result comes as average incentives per vehicle are up 10% on March 2015 to $3.005 according to TrueCar. Low petrol prices continue to favour light trucks (pickups, crossovers and SUVs), up 12% in March to 908.044 units or 56.9% of the market, whereas passenger cars are down a harsh 6% to 687.440. We anticipate a further increase in incentives will enable the U.S. market to post a second consecutive record year in 2016, but just. Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, agrees: “Auto sales are not yet peaking, and the outlook for the year remains robust, even with some retail softness and noise in March. The year-to-date 3% increase leaves some room for additional volatility and the expected slower growth rates later in the year.” This quote is by Automotive News.

Chevrolet Malibu USA March 2016General Motors sales are up just 1% in the midst of a fleet sales scale back.

Ford Motor outsells General Motors for the first time in five years and only the third time since August 1998 when GM was in the midst of a strike, along with February 2010 and March 2011. Ford sales are up 8% to 253.064 vs. +1% and 252.128 for GM. However, Ford’s meagre 936-unit victory is due to fleet shipments: Ford’s are up 39% while GM’s are down 13%. This win comes amidst a conscious reduction of less-profitable fleet sales – notably to short-term rentals – at GM, and a push towards retail sales. GM said it sold 193.524 retail units in March (+6%) with Chevrolet retail sales up 7% and GMC up 13%. On the other hand, GM sales to short-term rentals dropped 36% over the first quarter of 2016, planning for 310-320.000 units in 2016 vs. 400.000 in 2015 and 449.000 in 2014. Ford on its part is arguing that despite much higher fleet sales, the average transaction price for the Ford brand has increased by more than $1,600 per vehicle in March – nearly double the industry average – according to Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president for U.S. marketing, sales and service, quoted by Automotive News.

Jeep Wrangler USA March 2016Nothing can stop Jeep: the brand posts a 30th consecutive year-on-year gain.

Below Toyota Motor weak at 219.842 sales (-3%), FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles posts an incredible 72nd consecutive month of year-on-year gains at +8% to 213.187. This results comes on the back of incentives up 14% on March 2015 to $3.887 per car according to TrueCar, 30% above the market average. FCA continues to surf on the unquenchable thirst of U.S. consumers for light trucks, up 25% while FCA’s passenger cars sink down 34%. Jeep delivers a 30th consecutive increase at +15% to its best March ever (82.337 units) and is now solidly installed in 6th place overall in the brands ranking above Hyundai and Kia. Ram and Dodge are both up 11% whereas car-heavy Chrysler (-13%) and Fiat (-24%) crumble down.

Nissan Altima USA March 2016Nissan Altima – A refreshed passenger car lineup lifts Nissan up 13% to record heights.

Nissan North America is the best-performing large manufacturer this month with deliveries up 13% to 163.559, easily outselling Honda, itself up 9% to 138.221. The Nissan Division reports a record 149.784 sales (+13%) with both the light trucks (+9%) and passenger cars (+16%) lineups delivering record months. The Altima at #5 (+9%), Sentra (+23%), Versa (+12%) and Maxima (+139%) all frankly outpace the market this month. Nissan incentives are up ‘just’ 6% year-on-year to $3.362 per vehicles, growing slower than the market but still above average. On the negative end, the Volkswagen Group is still handicapped by the aftermath of its emissions scandal with VW brand sales down 10% not compensating for another stellar month at Audi: up 7.5% to a 77th straight month of year-on-year gains. Notice also Mitsubishi up 14%, Volvo up 16% and BMW down 13% despite an average $4.816 incentive per vehicle, the highest in the market.

Subaru WRX USA March 2016Subaru signs a 52nd consecutive year-on-year gain with almost no incentives. 

A quick look at incentives per manufacturer shows where each places vs. the industry average of $3.005 according to TrueCar estimates. BMW leads he way with $4.816 above Daimler AG ($3.981), General Motors ($3.943), FCA ($3.887), Nissan ($3.362), VW Group ($3.349), Ford ($3.271), Kia ($2.868), Hyundai ($2.163), Toyota ($2.027), Honda ($1.590) and Subaru ($569). Notice Subaru with hardly any incentive, still delivering a 52nd consecutive month-over-month increase at +0.4% and 49.285 sales, the brand’s best March result ever and capping all-time record quarter sales. Among smaller brands, Land Rover (+29%), last swan Scion (+64%), Tesla (+106%) and Jaguar (+28%) all post spectacular improvements.

Cadillac CT6 USA March 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comFirst appearance of the Cadillac CT6 in the U.S. sales charts this month.

Over in the models ranking, the Ford F-Series (+9%), Chevrolet Silverado (+6%) and Ram Pickup (+8%) all outperform the market to cement their domination in these truck-heavy times for U.S. light vehicle sales The Toyota Camry (-9%) struggles and is threatened this month by the Nissan Altima (+9%) while the Honda Civic (+22%) confirms it is the new small car king above the Toyota Corolla (-8%). The Toyota RAV4 (+15%) remains the most popular SUV in the country, and the month bot the Ford Escape (+8%) and Nissan Rogue (+1%) also unsettle the traditional leader, the Honda CR-V (-3%) down to a paltry 14th place. The Ford Transit (+53%), Edge (+49%), Chevy Colorado (+47%), Malibu (+33%) and GMC Sierra (+24%) deliver the highest year-on-year gains in the Top 50 when removing the Dodge Grand Caravan (+117%) and Chrysler Town & Country (+148%) both in full runout mode before their rationalisation into the single Chrysler Pacifica later this year. Two months after launching in China, the Cadillac CT6 makes its first appearance in the U.S. sales charts at #261 with 35 units sold.

Previous post: USA Full Year 2015: Exclusive State by State rankings available

Previous month: USA February 2016: Market up 7% to best February in 15 years

One year ago: USA March 2015: Elantra, Rogue, Chrysler 200 & Cherokee hit record volumes

Full March 2016 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 272 models below.

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USA Full Year 2015: Exclusive State by State rankings now available

Chevrolet Silverado USA 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Chevrolet Silverado wins 19 U.S. states in 2015 vs. 15 in 2014.

* See the Top 5 Cars and Top 5 Trucks for each U.S. State by clicking on the title *

For the second year in a row and thanks to JATO Dynamics we can share with you today separate rankings for the Top 5 best-selling cars and trucks for each U.S. State. This data is exclusive to BSCB, you won’t find it anywhere else. JATO Dynamics splits the sales of the Ford F-Series into F-150, F-250 Super Duty and F-350 Super Duty, which makes for a lot of interesting insights into the varying customer tastes all across the U.S. The market push towards light trucks is confirmed: a truck is #1 in 43 States out of 51 vs. 39 in 2014, with cars winning just 8 States vs. 12 a year ago.

Ram 1500 USA 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Ram Pickup wins just one less State than the Ford F-150 in 2015. 

At this little game, the Chevrolet Silverado is the runaway leader with no less than 19 States won in 2015, up from 15 in 2014. The Silverado’s largest volume wins are in Michigan (33.247), Ohio (20.874) and Pennsylvania (19.685). The Ford F-150 drops from 12 to 8 wins to find itself just one win above the Ram Pickup, itself going from 5 wins in 2014 to 7 this year. The Ford pickup’s best-performing State in once again Texas (78.329), followed by Georgia (16.357) and Missouri (10.880). As for the Ram Pickup, its area of predilection is the northwest of the country, with wins in Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, as well as New Mexico. Its largest winning volume is achieved in neighbouring Colorado (9.087).

State wins by model – Full Year 2015 vs. 2014:

2015 2015 2015 2014 2014 2014
Model Overall State Wins Cars State Wins Trucks State Wins Overall State Wins Cars State Wins Trucks State Wins
Chevrolet Silverado 19 22 15 17
Ford F-150 8 9 12 16
Ram Pickup 7 8 5 6
Toyota Camry 3 18 6 15
Honda CR-V 3 6 3 7
Nissan Altima 2 9 1 10
Toyota RAV4 2 2 0 1
Ford Transit 1 1 0 0
GMC Sierra 1 1 1 1
Honda Accord 1 2 3 4
Honda Civic 1 2 0 0
Subaru Forester 1 1 1 1
Toyota Corolla 1 2 1 1
Toyota Tacoma 1 1 1 1
Subaru Outback 0 9 0 8
Ford Fusion 0 7 0 6
Chevrolet Cruze 0 1 0 5
Hyundai Elantra 0 1 1 1
Ford Escape 0 0 1 1

2015 Toyota Camry USA. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comThe Toyota Camry is #1 overall in just three States this year (6 in 2014). 

Justifying its 14th consecutive year as the best-selling passenger car in the country, the Toyota Camry is one of only two cars to win more than one State but its 2015 tally has thawed dramatically to 3 (District of Columbia, Maryland and North Carolina) vs. 6 a year ago. It however wins in the car category 18 times vs. 15 in 2014. The Nissan Altima drops Tennessee but wins Nevada and Delaware to add up to two wins this year, as well as winning in the car category nine times in 2015 vs. ten in 2014.

Toyota RAV4 USA 2015The Toyota RAV4 is victorious in two states in 2015, it had none in 2014.

The Honda CR-V wins 3 States like in 2014 including the hotly contested New York State (27.490 sales) where it distances the Honda Accord and Chevy Silverado. The Toyota RAV4 makes its appearance in the State win table this year thanks to two overall victories: in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It had none in 2014. The other SUV to win a State in 2015 is the Subaru Forester, in Washington State.

Toyota Tacoma USA 2015b. Picture courtesy caranddriver.com.jpgThe Toyota Tacoma wins Hawaii again in 2015. 

Six additional nameplates are #1 in just one State this year: the Ford Transit posts the first ever win of its short career in Arkansas – most probably due to the concentration of rental sales there, and is the only van to top any State in the U.S. in 2015. Two pickup trucks hold onto their unique U.S. pole position: the GMC Sierra is unbeaten in Vermont like in 2014 and the Toyota Tacoma is the most popular nameplate in Hawaii for the fourth consecutive year.

Toyota Corolla USA 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Toyota Corolla becomes the most popular nameplate in Florida in 2015. 

Three passenger cars manage to snap one State up this year. The Honda Accord drops from 3 wins in 2014 to just New Jersey this year, one beneficiary being its smaller sibling the Honda Civic, overtaking the Accord to win California with a very impressive 66.759 sales. Finally, the Toyota Corolla bypasses the Camry to become king in Florida with 44.100 deliveries. Looking into the cars ranking in isolation, the Subaru Outback (9 wins) and Ford Fusion (7 wins) are also very successful, both improving on their 2014 scores, while the Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra both score one win.

Ford F-350 Super-Duty USA 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Ford F-350 Super Duty is #4 in Montana in 2015.

Now for the detail of the Top 5 cars and trucks in each State. Splitting the Ford F-Series into all its variants means the Super Duty models also make their appearance among the Top 5 best-selling trucks: the F-250 Super Duty is #5 in Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas (25.963 sales) while the larger F-350 Super Duty does even better, reaching #4 in Montana, and also ranking #5 in Utah and Wyoming. Other performing trucks include the Chevrolet Equinox (#2 in Illinois and Michigan), Ford E-Series (#3 in District of Columbia), Nissan Rogue (#3 in New Jersey), Ford Escape (#4 in Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri) and the Jeep Grand Cherokee (#4 in New Jersey).

Toyota Prius USA 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comCalifornia is the only U.S. State where the Toyota Prius breaks into the Top 5.

Among passenger cars, the Chevrolet Impala (Montana), Malibu (Michigan, Nebraska), Ford Focus (Maine, Missouri) reach #2, the Hyundai Sonata (Alabama) and Toyota Yaris (Montana) hit #3 while the Kia Soul (Oregon), Nissan Sentra (Mississippi) and Subaru Impreza (Colorado) lift to #4. Finally, let’s deliver a special mention to the Toyota Prius. Absent of absolutely all Top 5 cars ranking in all U.S. States bar one: California where it sells an impressive 42.995 units, despite being in sharp decline over the previous years. The new generation could help the Prius back up the Californian ranking in 2016, but the pole position will be a challenge when petrol prices are at 12-year lows.

Alaska and Hawaii, partly due to their isolation from the rest of the 49 States, display widely different purchasing patterns and will be covered in detail Exclusive Special Reports shortly. You can see their Top 10 best-sellers along with all other U.S. States below.

Original USA 2015 post: USA Full Year 2015: 15 year-old annual record eclipsed: 17.470.659 units

Previous year: USA Full Year 2014: Exclusive state by state rankings now available

Full Year 2015 Top 5 trucks and cars U.S. State below.

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USA February 2016: Market up 7% to best February in 15 years

Ford F-150 USA February 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comFord sales are up 20% in the US in February. Picture caranddriver.com

* See the Top 275 best-selling models, Top 15 groups & Top 40 brands by clicking on the title *

In the U.S., January and February are typically the two weakest months of the year. Thanks to petrol prices at 12-year lows and sales reports from a snowstorm-filled January, February sales are up 7% to 1.344 million units, the largest February score sine 2001 lifting the year-to-date total up 3% to 2.492m registrations. The Seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) is stable on last month at 17.53 million, but it’s the best rate for a February since 2000 and up from just 16.39 million a year ago. The light vehicle buying machine is currently running at full throttle in the US, also fuelled by cheap credit. According to J.D. Power, long loans and leases account for a record 65.1% of all retail sales in February, up from 64.3% in January. Is it appropriate to speak about overheating? BSCB will study this shortly in a separate Strategy piece.

Ram 2500 USA February 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Ram Pickup gains a formidable 23% in February. 

Low petrol prices allow U.S. customers to get back to their first love: light trucks, up 13% in February to 772.000 sales and up 10% so far this year at 1.434 million units. Reversely, cars are down 0.2% this month to 572.000 units and down 4% year-to-date at 1.059 million, forcing carmakers to raise incentives on car nameplates to keep inventories from piling up. Group-wise, we have another very interesting evolution this month: leader General Motors goes agains the market at -2%, a drop it attributes to a very healthy 39% reduction in fleet deliveries, accounting for 21% of the company’s total sales in February vs. 27% a year ago. GM said retail sales rose 7%, in line with the overall market.

Toyota RAV4 USA February 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Toyota RAV4 is the best-selling SUV in the country for the 2nd straight month.

On the other hand, Ford posts the most impressive evolution this month, boosted up 20% by improved sales across the board: crossover and SUV sales are up 29%, trucks up 14% and cars up 19%. All its nameplates apart from the C-Max and E-Series van are in positive, its namesake brand is up 20% while Lincoln in up 30% lifted by the MKX crossover up 109%. But – and this is a big but – these gains have been achieved on the back of fleet sales up 40% to account for 36% of total deliveries and sales to rental companies more than doubling year-on-year to 41.000. A very unhealthy move indeed.

The F-Series is up 10% to 60.697 units, finally widening the gap with its immediate follower the Chevy Silverado at 43.136 (-5%) and outselling the GM twin full-size pickups as the GMC Sierra is stuck at 15.202 sales. FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles stretches its incredible run to 71 consecutive months of year-on-year increases at +12%, led by Ram (+27%), Jeep (+23%) and Dodge (+12%) whereas Fiat (-9%) and Chrysler (-26%). Nissan (up 11% to 130.911) and Honda (up 13% to 113.985) both set February records, while Toyota (187.954) is up a shyer 4%.

Nissan Sentra USA February 2016Lifted by its facelift, the Nissan Sentra is up 34% in February. 

Just as its emission scandals spins further out of control, Volkswagen is among a handful of brands to suffer double-digit declines this month at -13%, all the while its premium division Audi remaining sheltered from the damage at +2% to 11.718 sales, the brand’s 62nd consecutive month of record U.S. sales. The other brands suffering this month include BMW (-11%), Infiniti (-11%), Mazda (-16%) and Mini (-24%). Among gainers, Scion (+52%) is doing its honour lap before being discontinued later this year, Volvo (+31%) is boosted by the XC90 and Tesla (+35%) by the Model X (official sales unavailable). Lexus (23.090) wins the luxury race above Mercedes (22.941 ex-Sprinter) and BMW (22.498) despite sales up just 0.4% on a year ago, and Subaru posts a 51st consecutive month of year-on-year gains at +2% and 42.011 deliveries.

Lexus RX USA February 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comLexus wins the U.S. luxury race this month. Picture courtesy caranddriver.com

Model-wise, the Ram Pickup cements its third position overall thanks to sales up a flamboyant 23%, the Toyota Corolla (+5%) is back to #2 passenger car below its larger colleague the Camry and above the Nissan Altima (-1%) while the Honda Civic only manages a #4 spot despite sales up 32% thanks to the new generation. The Toyota RAV4 is the #1 SUV in the country for the 2nd month running, the Ford Explorer gains 20% at #13, the Chevy Malibu is up 53% to #15 and the Nissan Sentra up 34% to #16. Other great gainers include the Ford Edge (+91%), Dodge Grand Caravan (+95%), Ford Transit (+70%), Nissan Murano (+86%) and Hyundai Tucson (+90%). The most popular newcomer (less than 12 month-old) is once again the Jeep Renegade (6.757 sales) followed by the Honda HR-V (4.940), Scion iA (2.305) and Mazda CX-3 (1.793).

Previous month: USA January 2016: SAAR up to 17.55m units despite snowstorms

One year ago: USA February 2015: Toyota above Ford, Nissan Rogue & Chrysler 200 shine

Full February 2016 Top 275 models Ranking Table below.

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USA January 2016: SAAR up to 17.55m units despite snowstorms

Honda Civic USA 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Honda Civic is up 43% to 5th overall in January. Picture caranddriver.com

* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 274 All-models by clicking on the title *

Even though January had one less weekend than in 2015, began with a stock market rout and ended with most East Coasters forced by severe snowstorms to postpone their planned car purchases to later in the year, U.S sales dip just 0.4% to 1.148.087 units this month. The seasonally adjusted annualised selling rate (SAAR) even leaps to 17.55 million units, the highest January since 2006, to be compared with 17.32 million in December and 16.71 million a year ago in January 2015.

Chevrolet Impala USA January 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comChevrolet is significantly cutting its sales to car-rental companies.

General Motors sales are flat, but for a good reason: deliveries to car-rental companies are down by a significant 13.000 units this month, offsetting a large improvement in retail sales. In fact, GM was the only major automaker to post a retail increase or a fleet decrease this month, according to figures obtained by Automotive News U.S. Chevrolet sold 16.400 fewer rental vehicles than in January 2015, more than justifying the brand’s 5.079 unit-decline. Chevrolet’s retail sales were up 12%, edging it past Ford by almost 1.500 units. Overall, the Chevrolet brand is down 4% and Cadillac is down 8%, but GMC is up 3.5% and Buick up 45%, with the new Cascada convertible hitting dealerships (#245).

Buick Cascada USA January 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comBuick Cascada – Buick sales are up 45% in January.

At Ford Motor Co on the other hand, the Ford brand’s fleet sales surge by 20% but weak retail sales pull the brand down 3%, also because Ford car sales sink 13%. Lincoln on the other hand grows by 8%. Toyota Motor falls 5% with the Prius down 24% and the Camry – up 9.3% to 26.848 – the only Toyota brand car improving year-on-year. Toyota pulled the plug on Scion (+38%) this month, more on this shorty. Nissan sets a January record and at 105.734 deliveries (bypassing America Honda at -2%) as does Hyundai at 45.011 sales. Fiat Chrysler lodges a spectacular 7% increase to 155.037 sales, the company’s 70th consecutive monthly gain. For once, the Dodge brand is up 19%, Jeep is up 15%, Ram up 5% but Chrysler (-22%) and Fiat (-20%) crumble.

VW Passat USA January 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comVW Passat sales are down 43% in January despite the arrival of the 2016 model. 

Volkswagen continues to be handicapped by its emissions scandal with sales down a harsh 15% to 20.079 ad the Passat taking a 43% cut despite the arrival of the 2016 model in December. However Audi continues on its runaway success, up for the 61st month in a row at +1% to 11.850 units. Subaru for its part snaps a 50th consecutive month of year-on-year gains at +1% and 41.101 deliveries. Mercedes is king of luxury this month with sales up 0.2% to 24.664 units ex-Sprinter vs. -10% and 20.933 for Lexus and -5% and 18.082 for BMW.

Ford Edge USA January 2016. Picture courtesy motortrend.comFord Edge sales are up 26% year-on-year. 

Model-wise, the Ford F-Series worryingly drops 5% to 51.540 units whereas a year ago the all-new F150 was still struggling, on the other hand the Chevrolet Silverado is up 5% to 37.863 as is the Ram Pickup to 28.938. The Toyota Camry retains the #1 passenger car title by the skin of its teeth at 26.848 units vs. 26.741 (+43%) for the Honda Civic boosted by its new generation. The Toyota Corolla (-18%) and Nissan Altima (-16%) fall heavily as does the Honda CR-V (-17%), bypassed by the Nissan Rogue (+26%). The Ford Edge (+26%), Dodge Charger (+30%), Chrysler Town & Country (+39%), Ford Transit (+51%) and Dodge Grand Caravan (+83%) post the largest increases in the Top 50.

Previous post: USA Full Year 2015: 15 year-old annual record eclipsed: 17.470.659 units

Previous month: USA December 2015: Jeep shoots up 42% in market up 9%

One year ago: USA January 2015: General Motors strong in market up 14%

Full January 2016 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 274 All-models below.

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USA Full Year 2015: 15 year-old annual record eclipsed: 17,470,659 units

Ford F-Series USA 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comThe Ford F-Series is at a 9-year high 780.354 sales. Picture caranddriver.com

* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 297 models by clicking on the title *

* Check out over 100 years worth of U.S. Data archives here *

Never before had U.S. consumers purchased that many new light vehicles: thanks to sales up 6% year-on-year, 2015 breaks a 15 year-old annual volume record, lifting it from 17.402.486 (2000) to 17.470.659 this year. This marks the 6th straight year of growth after hitting a 27-year low of 10.4 million in 2009, a stretch that hadn’t been achieved in 90 years (1921-1926). The record is 8 straight years of growth from 1909 to 1917, at the time the Ford Model T was the most popular model in the country and the world. Only August was in negative year-on-year, with the remaining 11 months in positive. The Seasonally Adjusted Annual sales Rate (SAAR) eclipsed 18 million three months in a row for the first time in history between September and November, peaking at 18.23 million in October. 2015 is the first year since 2001 that annual sales are above 17 million, and some analysts including myself predict 2016 will top 18 million, a 3% improvement.

Honda Civic USA 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comHonda hits an all-time high 1.409.386 U.S. sales in 2015. Picture caranddriver.com

Sales will continue to be driven by low gasoline prices, pent-up demand, widespread credit availability and excellent consumer morale linked to low jobless rates and a dynamic stock market. A fascinating structural mutation of the U.S. car market, leasing accounts for a record 29% of all new U.S. retail sales in 2015 according to Edmunds, to be compared with 27% in 2014 and 16% ten years ago. The growth of leasing goes a long way in explaining the current dynamism of the U.S. light vehicle market, making a car purchase seem less daunting and more accessible despite the spike in average new vehicle transaction price to $33.188 in 2015, up 2.5% from $32.386 in 2014 (Source: Edmunds).

GMC Sierra 2015. Picture courtesy motortrend.comGM’s full-size pickups outsell the Ford F-Series for the first time since 2009. Picture motortrend.com

Segment-wise, the analysis of the U.S. market is as simple as it is striking and in line with most worldwide markets: Light trucks (Pickups, SUVs and crossovers) are the one and only force driving sales with a 13% increase in 2015 to 9.73m deliveries while cars are actually down 2% to 7.74m. Crossovers up 18.5% to 4.55m, Pickups are up 10% to 2.54m and SUVs up 11% to 1.71m. Small cars (3.08m) and midsize cars (3.52m) are both down 2% while luxury cars (1.14m) are down 4%. Group-wise, at 7.93m sales the Detroit Three hold 45.4% of the U.S. light vehicle market in 2015 like in 2014 while the Japan Three (Toyota, Nissan, Honda) add up to 31.9% at 5.57m sales, a slight share decrease on 2014 (32.1%). These six groups account for a staggering 77.3% of all U.S. sales in 2015 (13.5m). GM (3.08m) distances Ford Motor (2.6m) and Toyota Motor (2.5m) but in terms of year-on-year gains FCA and Nissan Motor fare the best at +7%.

Nissan Rogue USA 2015. Picture courtesy carswall.netThe Rogue (+44%) pushes Nissan to a new annual record. Picture carwall.net

No less than 14 brands set U.S. annual sales records in 2015. Below the three traditional leaders Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota all up 5%, Honda hits an all-time high 1.409.386 deliveries (+3%) thanks to strong performances by the CR-V – the best-selling SUV in the country, a redesigned Civic, the Pilot (+25%) and the arrival of the HR-V (41.969 incremental sales). Nissan also breaks its record with deliveries up 6% to 1.351.420, helped by stellar performances by the Rogue (+44%), Murano (+33%) and Sentra (+11%) making up for disappointing showings by the Altima (-1%), Maxima (-20%), Juke (-29%) and Leaf (-43%).

Jeep Cherokee USA 2015. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comJeep posts another record year at 865.028 sales. Picture motortrend.com

The most impressive performer in 2015 is undoubtedly Jeep: with sales up 25% on its 2014 record of 692.348 to a splendid 865.028. If last year’s sales were achieved with minimal incentives, this year is slightly different for Jeep as FCA shifted its incentive focus from Chrysler (and notably the Chrysler 200) to the SUV brand at the end of the year. A little more artificial, a little less authentic: that’s how I would describe Jeep’s 2015 record, albeit very impressive. Jeep places the Cherokee (+23%), Wrangler (+16%) and Grand Cherokee (+7%) in the Top 25 while the Patriot (#42) should be joined in the Top 50 next year by the all-new Renegade, best new entrant in the U.S. market in 2015 at #85 (60.946 sales). The symbolic 1 million annual units is in the line of fire for Jeep in 2016 with an all-time high December (89.654) pointing in that direction.

Subaru Outback USA 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comSubaru ends 2015 just below 600.000 U.S. sales and sets a new record.

Knocked down to #7 overall by Jeep, Hyundai nevertheless posts an all-time record year at 761.710 deliveries (+4%) as does sister brand Kia at #8 and 625.818 units (+8%). Subaru is up an outlandish 13% to a best-ever 582.675 sales, with its entire range delivering solid increases: the Forester (+10%), Outback (+10%), Impreza (+20%) and XV Crosstrek (+25%) are all markedly above their 2014 levels. In 10th place, GMC is up 11% to almost return to its 2004 glory at 558.697 sales vs. 581.684 and kicks Dodge (-10%) out of the Top 10. At 493.807 deliveries, Ram also breaks its volume record in 2015 as it has been the case each year since its 2009 spin-off from Dodge. However the brand which would become Ram actually sold more vehicles in 2005 than it did this year.

BMW X6 USA 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comBMW remains the #1 luxury brand in the U.S. in 2015. Picture caranddriver.com

The luxury segment is another strong driving force behind the record U.S. market this year, with sales up 8% to top 2 million for the first time ever. All luxury brands except Jaguar (-8% but the XE will reverse the trend in 2016) experienced growth in 2015 and most also set annual records. The race for the 2015 luxury crown was very heated, with BMW finishing #1 for the second straight year and the 4th time in the past 5 years thanks to record sales up 2% to 346.023. A record December rallied Lexus up to 2nd place and an all-time high 344.601 (+11%) with Mercedes not far behind at 343.088 excluding Sprinter variants, also a record. After 11 consecutive years of Lexus reign between 2000 and 2011, BMW won the luxury crown in 2011, 2012 and 2014, while Mercedes snapped it in 2013. Audi, topping 200.000 units for the first time at 202.202 (+11%), Land Rover (+37%), Porsche (+10%) and Tesla (+50%) also set annual records.

Ford F-150 1980 USAThe last time the Ford F-Series was not the #1 vehicle in the U.S. (in 1981), it looked like this. 

The 3 best-selling models in the U.S. are all pickup trucks for the 2nd year running and only the third time in the past two decades along with 2003 and 2014. Boosted by the new aluminium F-150, the Ford F-Series remains the best-selling vehicle in the county for the 34th consecutive year (no interruption since 1982) with sales back up 4% to 780.354, the nameplate’s highest annual score since 2006 (796.039). The F-Series has now been the best-selling pickup truck in the U.S. for 39 years in a row since 1977. Chevrolet took advantage of a wobbly F-150 generational transition early in the year by lifting incentives on the Silverado up 13% to 600.544. With the GMC Sierra up 6% to 224.139, GM’s line of full-size pickups outsells the Ford F-Series for the first time since 2009.

Toyota Camry USA 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comBest-selling car in the U.S. for 14 consecutive years: the Toyota Camry.

The Toyota Camry remains America’s favourite car for the 14th year in a row and for the 18th time in the past 19 years with stable sales (429.355). It distances the Toyota Corolla (+7%) while the Honda Accord drops one spot and 8% and the Honda Civic (+3%) overtakes the Nissan Altima (-1%). The #1 car in the U.S. has consistently been a Japanese nameplate for almost two decades now, ever since the Ford Taurus sold 401.049 units in 1996. Hopes to reverse this trend are getting leaner as years come by, with both the Ford Fusion (-2% to #12) and Chevrolet Cruze (-17% to #16) actually losing ground year-on-year, while the Chrysler 200 (+52%) is now incentive-less and will fall flat in 2016.

Previous post: USA December 2015: Jeep shoots up 42% in market up 9%

Previous year: USA Full Year 2014: Podium 100% pickup trucks for the first time in 11 years

Two years ago: USA Full Year 2013: Ford F-Series at its best since 2006

Full Year 2015 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 297 models vs. Full Year 2014 figures.

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USA December 2015: Jeep shoots up 42% in market up 9%

Jeep Compass USA December 2015. Picture courtesy motortrend.comThe Jeep Cherokee, Compass & Renegade all post all-time record volumes in December. 

* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 280 models by clicking on the title *

Five weekends and two extra business days mean December 2015 was the highest on record at 1.641.913 registrations, however the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Sales Rate (SAAR) is the lowest since June at 17.3 million. Trucks – including pickups, SUVs and crossovers – shoot up 19% this month whereas car are down a disappointing 4%. Double-digit year-on-year gains are frequent: Nissan North America is up 19% thanks to fleet sales up a gargantuan 79%, FCA extends its winning streak to 69 consecutive months at +13%, Toyota Motor is up 11% and American Honda up 10%. Ford Motor (+8%) and General Motors (+6%) are also in positive but the BMW Group (-18%) and Volkswagen Group (-2%) decline.

1967 Jeep JeepsterOh my! Jeep smashes another record in December (1967 Jeep Jeepster pictured).

Brand-wise, volumes up 12% push Toyota to #2 overall with 191.457 units below Ford up 8% to 226.746 and kicking Chevrolet (+2%) down to #3. Honda (+12%) and Nissan (+18%) also outpace the market while in 6th place Jeep smashes its all-time monthly volume record again thanks to sales up 42% year-on-year. Jeep has now improved this record an astounding 8 times in the past two years: in March 2014 (57.983), April 2014 (59.754), May 2014 (70.203), March 2015 (71.584), April 2015 (71.759), May 2015 (79.652), August 2015 (80.804) and December 2015 (89.654). The Cherokee (24.049, +36% at a record #15), Renegade (8.975) and Compass (8.825 +78%) all deliver all-time monthly records while the Wrangler (15.591) and Patriot (11.206) both set December records.

Lexus NX USA December 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comLexus also sets a new monthly record U.S. volume at 41.380.

The other notable brand breaking its all-time monthly volume record in December is Lexus despite a rather modest 4% improvement year-on-year to 41.380, spurred by increases by the NX (+77%), GS (+25%), GX (+15%) and RC (+64%). This was however not enough to get back above BMW to the title of #1 luxury brand in the U.S. as we study in a separate Full Year 2015 article. Other impressive gainers in the Top 20 include GMC (+13%), Subaru (+13%), Mazda (+18%), Kia (+19%) and Cadillac (+29%). Below, notice Infiniti (+26%), Bentley (+41%), Scion (+44%), Land Rover (+47%) and Volvo (+90%) boosted by the new XC90 up 46-fold on December 2014. No such luck for Volkswagen (-9%), BMW (-17%), Chrysler (-21%), Maserati (-24%), Mini (-24%), Jaguar (-29%) and Smart (-31%).

Tesla Model X USA December 2015. Picture courtesy motortrend.comFirst appearance of the Tesla Model X in the U.S. charts at #250. Picture motortrend.com 

In the models ranking, the Ford F-Series is up a stunning 15% to 85.211 units, its best monthly score in exactly 10 years: since December 2005 when it sold 89.491. However the F-Series is still outsold by the GM full-size pickups with the Chevy Silverado (+9%) and GMC Sierra (+17%) adding up to 90.430 units. The Toyota Camry (+18%), Honda Civic (+29%) and Toyota RAV4 (+39%) shine in the Top 10 while below the Hyundai Sonata (+27%), Nissan Sentra (+28%), Ford Edge (+29%), Kia Sorento (+33%), Jeep Cherokee (+36%), Mazda CX-5 (+45%) and Nissan Rogue (+78%) deliver the largest year-on-year improvements in the Top 50. Among recent launches, the Mercedes GLC is up 116 spots on November to #109 and the Tesla Model X makes its first appearance at #250.

Previous post: USA Full Year 2015: Sales to break all-time record by 140.000 units

Previous month: USA November 2015: Volkswagen crumbles down 25%

One year ago: USA December 2014: BMW 3 Series breaks record again, market up 11%

Full December 2015 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 280 models below.

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