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USA October 2016: Record year now unlikely as market drops again

Hyundai Tucson USA October 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comHyundai-Kia is the only Top 7 manufacturer to gain ground year-on-year in October. 

* See the Top 15 All-groups, Top 40 brands and Top 285 models by clicking on the title *

The U.S. October new light vehicle market posts a third consecutive month of year-on-year decline at -6% to 1.370.721 units, meaning the year-to-date tally now lags behind 2015 at the same point at -0.3% to 14.472.007 deliveries vs. +0.3% through September. Given the strength of November and December 2015 sales and the likely shy consumer spending during the POTUS transition, the chances of a 7th consecutive year of gains and 2nd consecutive all-time record sales now look faint. The added impacts of Hurricane Matthew and two fewer selling days compared to October last year have played a role in the monthly decline but the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate comes in at a strong 17.98 million vehicles, the highest so far in 2016 albeit down from 18.2 million in October 2015.

As it has started to also be the case in Western Europe, the U.S. market would be in much worse shape if it weren’t for fleet sales. Retail sales are down year-on-year for the 6th time in the past eight months to 1.099.200 units in spite of surging incentives. According to TrueCar, average incentives are up by a whopping 16% year-on-year at $3.587 per vehicle. Incentives now stand at 12% of new-vehicle transaction prices, the highest level since the Great Recession according to local publication Automotive News. This month BMW is the most generous at an average of $6.671 per vehicle (+34%), followed by Daimler at $4.548 (-7%), General Motors at $4.417 (+14%), Ford at $4.404 (+30%), FCA at $4.388 (+23%), Nissan at $4.109 (+15%) and Volkswagen Group at $4.035 (+5%). Still managing without strong incentives are Hyundai at $2.329 (+12%), Honda at $1.952 (+2%) and Subaru at $1.130 (+63%).

Ram 3500 Glacier NP USA October 2016Ram is the only FCA brand to be up year-on-year in October at +11%.

Light trucks are up 0.8% to 63% share whereas passenger cars freefall at -15% to just 37% of the market. Pickup trucks are up 4% and crossovers up 2% but midsize cars are down 19%. Year-to-date, light trucks are up 7% and on track to hit 10.6 million sales by year end, the first time in the history of U.S. automobile that light trucks top the 10 million annual mark, all the while cars are headed towards their first year below 7 million units since 2011 and only the fourth time since 1962… As a reminder, light trucks only accounted for 4.7 million units in 2009.

The Top 6 groups all lose ground this month but the hardest hit is Ford Motors down 12% to 13.7% market share, its lowest since September 2008, with the Ford brand down 13% but Lincoln up 7%. FCA is hit 10% with only Ram advancing up 11%, Jeep down (-7%) for the second month in a row after posting monthly gains for 3 years, Dodge down 16%, Chrysler down 45% and Fiat down 24%. General Motors drops 2% with Buick up 7%, Chevrolet down just 0.8% and now #2 brand year-to-date ahead of Toyota, GMC down 6% and Cadillac down 9%. However let’s point out that GM retail sales are up 2.5% while rental sales are down 19% to a daily rate of 8.000, which is the mark of much healthier (and profitable) sales. It is still the 7th consecutive month of overall year-on-year decline for GM.

Subaru Outback USA October 2016. Picture courtesy caranddriver.comSubaru remains the manufacturer needing the least average incentives to post sales gains. 

Toyota Motor is down 9%, American Honda down 4% and Nissan Motor down 2%. Hyundai-Kia (+1%), Subaru (+4%), Jaguar Land Rover (+7%) and Mitsubishi (+3%) are the only groups posting a year-on-year increase. Among brands, Volkswagen (-18%), BMW (-18%), Acura (-20%), Land Rover (-23%), Smart (-42%) and discontinued Scion (-94%) are among the hardest hit. Reversely, Tesla is up 86% thanks to the arrival of the Model X. Vying with Volvo and the German premium brands for the position of tech leader in the industry, Tesla’s sales should further improve in 2017 with the Model 3 one of the most highly anticipated new cars of 2017.

Over in the models ranking, the Ford F-Series gains a meagre 0.1% year-on-year to lead the way once again with 65.542 units ahead of the Chevrolet Silverado (-4%), Ram Pickup (+7%) and Honda CR-V (+4%). The Toyota Camry drops 15% but remains the best-selling car in the country ahead of the Toyota Corolla (+2%), Honda Civic (-5%) and Honda Accord (-15%). Also midsize sedans, the Ford Fusion (-21%) and Chevrolet Malibu (-35%) implode. The good news in the Top 50 come from the Toyota Highlander (+33%), Chevrolet Tahoe (+81%), Dodge Journey (+25%), Nissan Murano (+100%) and Chevrolet Colorado up 50% to a best-ever 10.578 sales.

The Chrysler Pacifica continues to lead recent launches (<12 months) but drops 10 spots on September to #55. It distances the Cadillac XT5 up 7 ranks to #83, Buick Envision up 19 to #135, Tesla Model X up 19 to #160, Cadillac CT6 down 1 to #167, Jaguar F-Pace up 29 to #170, Lincoln Continental up 27 to #173 and Genesis G80 down 3 to #180.

Previous month: USA September 2016: Ram above Silverado, Jeep down

One year ago: USA October 2015: All-time record year now a true possibility

Full October 2016 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 285 models below.

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