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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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