* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 285 models by clicking on the title *
It’s a nice surprise this month for the U.S. new light vehicle market. After three consecutive months of decline and just as most analysts (including myself) had given up on the hope of a seventh consecutive year of gains – it would a century first (up nine years up to 1917) – and a second consecutive annual record, November sales rally back up 3.7% to 1.380.558 units on the back of very generous incentives and two additional selling days. This a new November record, with the previous best dating back to 2001 at 1.328 million. The year-to-date tally is back into positive territory – just – at +0.1% to 15.859.922 vs. 15.839.783 a year ago. The seasonally adjusted, annualised sales rate (SAAR) is strong however down 1.1% year-on-year to 17.83 million vs. 18.07 a year ago and 17.98 in October.
Despite the largest incentives on the market, the BMW Group is down 16%.
The elephant in the room is the record level of incentives which is almost entirely fuelling the current market growth, with Ford even warning against this artificially-boosted sales environment a couple of days ago. Average incentives per vehicle skyrocket up 13% vs. November 2015 to $3.475 according to TrueCar. Only Daimler has cut on incentives at -4% year-on-year to $4.660 but all other manufacturers have increased them. The most generous are BMW at $6.279 (+25%), General Motors at $4.305 (+13%), Nissan at $4.209 (+13%), FCA at $4.154 (+18%), Ford at $3.982 (+23%) and Volkswagen Group at $3.751 (+6%). Below average are Kia at $3.164 (+6%), Hyundai at $2.468 (+13%), Toyota at $2.420 (+3%), Honda at $1.936 (+6%) and Subaru at $1.145 (+100%).
According to Automotive News, GM cut $10.000 on some Chevrolet Silverado and Suburban while Hyundai cut prices on 2016 car models by 21% to 40%. The good news is incentives are down 1.4% from October. Once again, low gasoline prices spur light truck sales up 8.5% to 849.450 whereas passenger cars drop 3.1% to 531.108, bringing the truck/car ratio to 62/38. Year-to-date, these figures at +7.1%, -8.4% and 59/41. Out of the 49.500 additional vehicles sold this month vs. November 2016, there was 43.000 additional crossovers, 25.000 additional pickups, 10.000 additional SUVs but 17.000 less cars. In the detail, Pickup trucks are up 13%, crossovers up 12% and SUVs up 10%.
General Motors posts the largest increase in the Top Seven and its largest so far this year at +10% to 252.644 deliveries, with retail sales up 8% to 197.609 and rental deliveries up a whopping 27%, translating into a 16% gain at Buick 14% at Cadillac and GMC and 8% at Chevrolet. Toyota Motor also has its biggest lift of 2016 at +4% to 197.645, climbing to #2 for the first time this year. Ford Motor ends a four-month negative trend by rising 5% to 196.441 thanks notably to a 19% up at Lincoln. Ford retail sales are up 10% while fleet shipments at down 9%. If Honda Motor (+6%), Nissan Motor (+7.5%) and Hyundai-Kia (+9%) all outpace the market, FCA falls flat at -9% and is the only large group to lose ground due to drastically reduced fleet volumes (-42%) while retail sales are down 2%. Former golden child Jeep (-12%), Fiat (-14%), Dodge (-21%) and Chrysler (-47%) all falling heavily with Ram (+12%) the only brand remaining afloat.
Off a very low base in November 2015, Volkswagen Group ends twelve consecutive months of decline at +16% to 52.690 units, with the Volkswagen and Porsche brands both up 24% and Audi up 3% to extend its winning streak to 85 consecutive months. Subaru for its part marks the 60th consecutive month of gains at +11% to a November record 51.308. Mercedes has all but secured the #1 luxury spot with 338.670 sales so far this year including commercials, vs 290.046 for Lexus (-4%), 280.339 for BMW (-10%) and 187.018 for Audi (+3%). Among smaller brands, Maserati is up 27%, Tesla up 46%, Ferrari up 86%, Bentley up 106% and Jaguar up 217%.
Over in the models aisle, the Ford F-Series remains the most popular vehicle in the United States in November and by a large margin thanks to sales up 11% to 72.089 vs. just +1% to 45.280 for the Chevrolet Silverado and +8% to 36.885 for the Ram Pickup. The Toyota Camry is up to #4 despite a 9% drop and the Toyota RAV4 is the best-selling crossover at 28.116 sales (+3%), distancing the Nissan Rogue at 26.629 (+18%) and YTD leader Honda CR-V at 25.758 (-1%). Boosted by doubling incentives, the Toyota Highlander soars 67% to a record 13th place. The Ford Explorer (+18%), Chevrolet Malibu (+72%), Subaru Outback (+16%), Ford Edge (+32%), Jeep Renegade (+30%) and GMC Acadia (+35%) are among the largest gains inside the Top 50.
Among recent launches, the Chrysler Pacifica returns inside the Top 50 at #46, the Cadillac XT5 gains five spots on October to #78, as does the Tesla Model X at #145 but the Buick Envision is down 14 to #149. The Lincoln Continental continues to gear up at 1.419 sales and #170, the Volvo S90 is up 27 ranks to #205 and the Genesis G90 is up 28 to #235. No new nameplate enters the ranking in November: although at record levels, the U.S. market remains markedly less dynamic than its Chinese counterpart where six to eight locally-produced newcomers maker their entry each month.
Previous month: USA October 2016: Record year now unlikely as market drops again
One year ago: USA November 2015: Volkswagen crumbles down 25%
Full November 2016 Top 40 brands and Top 285 models below.