* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 275 models by clicking on the title *
After a surprisingly strong First Half, new light vehicle sales in the U.S. mark a pause in July at -3.7% to 1.364.961 units with one less selling day and one less weekend vs. July 2017, however the year-to-date volume is still in positive at +1.1% to 9.982.617 deliveries. Most analysts including myself predict the Second Half of 2018 to be slow, partly because of a rising supply of late-model used vehicles coming off lease but also higher interest rates and slower economic growth. As if on cue, the Seasonally Adjusted Annualised growth Rate (SAAR) drops to 16.73 million this month, the first time it falls below 17 million this year, the weakest since the 16.58 million of August 2017 (disrupted by Hurricane Harvey) but only a smidge below the 16.79 million of a year ago in July 2017. Reproducing an overall picture that has been true for some years now, light truck sales gain 4.3% year-on-year whereas passenger cars skid down 18%.
According to ALG cited by Automotive News, incentives are up 3.2% year-on-year to $3,754 per car (see detail by manufacturer above), with Toyota (7.4%), Honda (6.8%) and Subaru (5.5%) the only manufacturers to hold incentives below 10% of their average transaction prices (ATP). Finally, as is now the case for two in three months, exclusive BSCB estimates for all General Motors brands and models are included in this article as the company now only reports quarterly. FCA (+5.9%) is the only Big 6 manufacturer in positive in July – and for the 5th time running – helped by a record showing by Jeep (see further down) and strong retail sales (+6%) to 153.925 vs. just 17.045 fleet shipments. FCA’s average transaction price (ATP) is up 3.3% to $34,537. The Volkswagen Group (+7.9%) is also impressive on the back of strong crossover sales with an ATP including Porsche up 2.5% to $35,521.
In contrast, GM is estimated at -3%, Ford Motor is down 3.3% as retail sales drop by double digits (trucks +10%, crossover/SUVs -1.5%, cars -28%), Hyundai-Kia returns to negative at -5.1% (Hyundai-Genesis fleets down an abysmal 51%), Toyota Motor suffers its largest drop of 2018 at -6% (trucks +2.2%, cars -18%, ATP up 3% to $31,505) but also manages to reduce incentives by a sharp 18% to just $2,346, Honda Motor sinks 8.2% (trucks +3.2%, cars -19%, ATP up 3% to $28,064) and Nissan Motor implodes 12.9% as it continues to withdraw from profit-eroding fleet sales and pares back incentives down 7.3% year-on-year to $4,199 per car (ATP ex-Mitsubishi is down 0.3% to $27,190). In the premium aisle, the BMW Group manages to limit the damage to -0.3% but Jaguar Land Rover loses 10.9% and Daimler AG dives 20.1%.
Over in the brands ranking, Ford (-2.9%) is leader by less than 1.500 units, with Toyota (-5.1%) placing at a very close second. Chevrolet (+0.8%) is estimated to edge up while Honda (-8.4%) and Nissan (-15.7%) post steep declines to round up the Top 5. Jeep (+15.2%) scores a new July record while Subaru (+6.7%) extends its streak of year-on-year gains to 80 consecutive months (ATP up 3.2% to $28,605). Kia (-5.2%) outsells sister brand Hyundai (-2.4%) for the first time in the past 10 months but both see their ATP fall: -2.9% to $29,122 for Hyundai and -1.4% to $22,477 for Kia. Premium-wise, Lexus (-12.1%), Mercedes (-19.9%) hit by 2019 model inventory shortfalls and a technical glitch, Acura (-6.6%), Infiniti (-10.1%) and Lincoln (-11%) all crash whereas it’s a positive month for BMW (+0.1%), Cadillac (est.+1%) and Audi (+2.1%) extending its streak of year-on-year gains to an incredible 105 months. Tesla (+445.5%) breaks its all-time volume record for the third time in 2018 on the back of gearing up Model 3 deliveries, with Alfa Romeo (+64.6%), McLaren (+34.2%), Mitsubishi (+24%), Volvo (+23.8%) and Volkswagen (+12.7%) the only other double-digit gainers. In the naughty corner stand Genesis (-62.6%), Fiat (-44.7%), Smart (-43.4%) and Jaguar (-40.6%).
The Ford F-Series (+2%) goes against the grain to deliver a 15th consecutive year-on-year gain and the 21st increase in the past 22 months, and its YTD volume, up 5% to 522.087, is now up 1.6% on its record run of 2004 that led it to an all-time high 939.511 U.S. sales that year – albeit shoed in by a record December at 95.393. The Chevrolet Silverado (-2%) is estimated to drop YoY but holds onto the 2nd spot whereas the Toyota RAV4 (-2%) snaps the last step of the podium off the Ram Pickup (+1%) despite Ram 1500 sales up 13% to 27.812 including retail sales up 17%. This is only the third time in history the RAV4 ranks on the U.S. podium after July 2017 and August 2017 and the nameplates’ 4th monthly volume above 40.000 after July, August and September 2017. The RAV4 however still trails the Nissan Rogue (-18%) by over 2.000 sales for the 2018 title of #1 SUV in the U.S.
The Honda CR-V (+3%) is now well ahead of the carmaker’s best-selling cars the Civic (-28%) and Accord (-19%) both imploding and outsold by both the Toyota Corolla (-6%) and Camry (-22%). Outside the Top 10, the Toyota Tacoma (+26%) hits its highest U.S. ranking this century at #12, the Jeep Wrangler (+14%) breaks its July volume record and the VW Atlas (+398%), VW Tiguan (+283%), Ford Transit (+191%), Jeep Cherokee (+71%), Jeep Compass (+63%), Subaru Crosstrek (+59%), Kia Optima (+38%), Honda Pilot (+30%) and Toyota 4Runner (+26%) lodge some of the most impressive surges near the top. The Ford Ecosport (#73) leads all recent launches again (<12 months), distancing the Subaru Ascent (#80) up a smashing 142% on its inaugural month in June, the Hyundai Kona (#88) and the Nissan Kicks (#127) up 322% on its launching score. Notice also the relaunched Honda Insight just below 2.000 sales for its first full month.
Previous month: USA June 2018: Hyundai, Jeep and Subaru lift market up 5.6%
Full July 2018 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 275 models below.