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USA 1st Half 2015: Rogue, Chrysler 200 and Colorado game changers

Chevrolet Colorado USA April 2015. Picture courtesy motortrend.comThe Chevrolet Colorado is reviving the mid-size pickup truck segment.

* Click on title to see the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 280 models *

The U.S. new light vehicle market hasn’t stopped exceeding expectations over the First Half of 2015 with sales up 4% year-on-year to 8.523 million units whereas mosts analysts had anticipated the market would flatten up after five consecutive years of growth. But the market still has legs, with low interest rates, favourable credit terms and rising employment combining to keep U.S. sales in positive territory and now on track to hit 17 million sales this year for the first time since 2001 and only the third year ever. The National Automobile Dealers Association has just increased its forecast for the Full Year 2015 to 17.17 million from 16.94 million previously, and NADA is also projecting 2016 at 17.62 million sales, beating the record of 17.4 million established in 2000, reports Automotive News.

Nissan Rogue USA May 2015. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comThe new Rogue has put Nissan on the compact SUV map…

General Motors widens the gap with Ford Motor over the period, lifting it from 190.511 units to 212.526 thanks to sales up 3% to 1.5 million vs. +2 and 1.29 million for Ford. Toyota Motor remains in third place above FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with both group outpacing the market at +6%. Honda Motor (+2%) is under threat from Nissan Motor (+5%) at 753.000 sales vs. 736.500, both keeping Hyundai-Kia at a distance at 682.000 units. Subaru (+14%) is catching up fast on Volkswagen Group (+2%) and the BMW Group holds onto its luxury leadership thanks to sales up 10% vs. +9% for Daimler AG.

Chrysler 200 USA June 2015. Picture courtesy of…while the 200 finally makes Chrysler a true contended in the mid-size sedan battle.

Brand-wise, Ford (+2%) keeps its crown at 1.24 million sales above Chevrolet (+3%) but Toyota (+5%) is now lagging less than 6.000 units below the American brand. Nissan is already reaping the dividends of its keenness to reproduce its unbelievable Mexican success north of the border: it historically distances Honda thanks to sales up 4% to 672.000 units vs. 666.000 (+1%). Jeep is unstoppable and breaks the 400.000 sales milestone in just 6 months for the first time in the brand’s 80 years existence, up 21% year-on-year. BMW leads the luxury race so far at 169.000 sales vs. 165.000 for Mercedes (ex-Sprinter) and 159.000 for Lexus (+15%). Notice also Audi up 11%, Acura up 12%, GMC up 14% to break into the Top 10, Chrysler up 21%, Land Rover up 23% and Mini and Mitsubishi both up 25%.

Ford Mustang USA January 2015. Picture courtest motortrend.comThe Ford Mustang almost slices its ranking in two vs. H1 2014 at #34.

The Ford F-Series is headed towards a 34th consecutive year as U.S. #1 vehicle despite stock shortages for the new aluminum-bodied F-150 resulting in sales down 2% to 357.000. The Chevrolet Silverado, at its closest to the F-Series in 6 years in June, still has a lot of ground to cover: up 15% to 276.000. The Toyota Camry (216.000) and Ram Pickup (213.000) remain close, while the Toyota Corolla at #5 (+2) and Honda CR-V at #7 (+3) are the big movers in the Top 10.

Jeep Cherokee USA June 2015. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comJeep Cherokee

Outside, three relaunched nameplates are redefining their respective segments. The Nissan Rogue is up 36% to #14 and 135.000 sales, now threatening the Chevrolet Equinox (146.000) and Toyota RAV4 (144.000) for the #2 spot in the compact SUV segment. Nissan is at maximum Rogue capacity in its U.S. plants and announced this week that an additional 100.000 annual units will be produced in its Kyushu, Japan plant in 2016 to be exported exclusively to the U.S. With the Rogue predicted to reach at least 275.000 U.S. sales this year, this means it could potentially aim at 375.000 in 2016-2017, placing it right at the same level as the segment leader, the Honda CR-V. In other words, the new gen Rogue has put Nissan on the compact SUV map.

The mid-size sedan segment remains the most popular but is down 4% year-on-year halfway through 2015 at 1.76 million sales. Strikingly, the Top 5 best-sellers in the segment all lose volume year-on-year: the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima (-3%), Honda Accord (-13%), Ford Fusion (-7%) and Chevrolet Cruze (-12%). In this depressing context, Chrysler has finally cracked the mid-size equation with the redesigned 200, up a stunning 136% to burst into the Top 20 at #19 and 107.000 units vs. #58 a year ago, albeit still a fair distance from the Ford Fusion and the Top 10 at 153.000 sales.

The last game changer over the First Half of 2015 in the U.S. is the Chevrolet Colorado, relaunched last year and responsible with its twin the GMC Canyon for the mid-size pickup segment revival. The Colorado shoots up to #66 with just under 42.000 units, already above the Nissan Frontier (#74), with the Canyon up to #125 with 15.000 sales. The segment leader, the Toyota Tacoma, is juiced up by its newfound competition, up 18% to #27 and 89.000 deliveries. Quite separately and finally, notice also the Cherokee becoming Jeep’s best-seller thanks to sales up 31% to 105.426 vs. +19% and 102.450 for the Wrangler, the Honda Pilot up 36% to #33, Ford Mustang up 54% to #34 and the Ford Transit breaks into the Top 50 at #44.

Previous post: USA June 2015: Chevrolet Silverado closest to Ford F-Series in 6 years

Q1 2015 Report: USA 1st Quarter 2015: Trucks lift market up 6%

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

One year ago: USA 6 months 2014: Top two pick-ups pause growth

Full H1 2015 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 280 models below.

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