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USA November 2015: Volkswagen crumbles down 25%

Martin Winterkorn. Picture courtesy Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen, resigned following the emissions scandal.

* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 279 models by clicking on the title *

We are approaching the end of what is shaping up to be a historical year for new light vehicle sales in the U.S. At 1.318.210 registrations, November sales are up 1.2% year-on-year despite a very strong November 2014 base (best volume since 2001) and two extra selling days last year. This means a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) of 18.16 million, the first time in history the SAAR has surpassed 18 million for three months in a row. The year-to-date total now stands at 15.826.634 units, up 5.4% on a year ago and now only one month away from potentially breaking the all-time annual record of 17.4 million sales set in 2000. For this to happen, December sales must amount to at least 1.575.852 units, a 4.5% increase on the 1.507.928 sales of December 2014. However December 2015 has two extra selling days compared to December last year, so in fact, if 1.717 fewer vehicles are sold per selling day than a year ago the U.S. light vehicle market will break its all-time record.

VW Passat USA November 2015VW Passat U.S. sales tumble down 60% year-on-year in November.

But this is a story for early January 2016. In November once again, light trucks saved the day with a 10% year-on-year increase to 58.7% share vs. a harsh 8.5% decline for cars at just 41.3% of the market. Two main carmaker groups see harsh declines in an otherwise euphoric market. Now hit full frontal by its emissions rigging scandal, Volkswagen Grouvp of America sales decline 15% to 45.283, engulfed by a 25% drop at Volkswagen to 23.882 units vs. 31.725 a year ago – the brand’s largest monthly decline since 2008. Volkswagen is blaming the drop entirely on stop-sales orders: Sales of 2.0L diesel VW models were frozen in September, to which was added the Touareg 3.0L diesel last month. Yet removing the 5.462 diesels Volkswagen sold in the U.S. in November 2014 still leaves a 2.381 units year-on-year gap, meaning non-diesel VW models have also been hit with a 9% year-on-year decline and indicating a halo effect of the scandal onto the rest of the range. The Jetta (-23%) and Passat (-60%) are hardest hit whereas the Tiguan (+88%) and Golf (+3%) are unscathed.

Mercedes GLE USA November 2015. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comMercedes sales are down 12% despite the GLE hitting almost 5.000 sales. Picture

Audi for its part is still in the black at +0.4%, its smallest monthly gain since February 2014 but sufficient to post an incredible 59th consecutive monthly U.S. sales record, putting the carmaker on track to hit 200.000 annual U.S. sales for the first time in its history. Audi sales are a lot less reliant on diesels than VW. Porsche is down 5% this month. Citing a “systems malfunction”, Daimler reported November sales one day later than the rest of the industry, but only managed to steal the spotlight away from Volkswagen with an uncharacteristic 12% decline brought about by Mercedes sales down 12% and Smart sales down an even harsher 19%. Honda Motor drops 5%, handicapped by Acura sales in freefall at -18% while the Honda brand is down 3.5%.

Volvo XC90 USA October 2015. Picture courtesy motortrend.comThe new XC90 accounts for one in every three Volvos sold in the U.S. in November.

All other carmakers had positive news, but none more so than Hyundai up 12% to hit 60.007 units, lifting the Hyundai-Kia Group up 7%. General Motors is up 1.5%, with Chevrolet (+5%) and Cadillac (+2%) making up for the first year-on-year decline in a year for GMC (-2%) and a painful 18% drop for Buick. Toyota Motor Corp. volumes are up 3% to edge past Ford Motor Co., itself up just 0.3%, while FCA lodges a 68th consecutive month of year-on-year gains at +3%, lifted by a 26th consecutive month in positive for Jeep (+20%) while all other brands in the group’s stable had lukewarm results: Ram (+0.6%), Fiat (-3%), Dodge (-7.5%) and Chrysler (-12%). Other great performing brands in the U.S. in November include Scion (+33%) thanks to the new iA (#148) and iM (#177), Land Rover (+79%) thanks to the Range Rover (+57%), Range Rover Sport (+54%) and Discovery Sport (#171) and Volvo (+91%) thanks to the new XC90 (#131).

Toyota RAV4 USA November 2015First Top 5 ranking in the U.S. for the Toyota RAV4.

In the models ranking, the Ford F-Series demonstrates its supply issues are long gone, posting a 5th connective monthly year-on-year gain at a robust +10% to 65.193 units, even outselling GM’s twin pickups the Chevrolet Silverado (+5%) and GMC Sierra (-27%) at 61.528 deliveries, and this for the first time since March. The F-Series however trails GM’s dual offer year-to-date at 695.144 vs. 734.253. The Toyota RAV4 surges 30% to outsell the Honda CR-V (-20%) and break into the U.S. Top 5 for the first time in its 21 year-career, beating its previous best of #6 reached in March 2010 and August 2014. Already boosted by the new generation, the Honda Civic overtakes the Toyota Corolla to lead its segment at #8 while the Nissan Rogue posts a third month inside the U.S. Top 10 so far this year (and ever) at #10 thanks to sales up 50% on a year ago.

Previous month: USA October 2015: All-time record year now a true possibility

One year ago: USA November 2014: Best November score since 2001

Full November 2015 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 279 models below.

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