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USA First Half 2019: Ram Pickup, Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Ranger headline weakest market in 5 years (-2.1%)

Ram sales are up 28% year-on-year in the U.S. so far in 2019.

New light vehicle sales in the U.S. are down -2.1% year-on-year over the First Half of 2019 to 8.446.693 units, the lowest H1 volume in the U.S. since 2014 (8.16m). Behind this relatively modest drop hides the grim picture of six consecutive months of decline, the third time this happens this decade after 2010 and 2017. However the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) crossed the 17 million mark 3 times over the past 4 months and analysts are banking on a positive 2nd half due to a raft of (finally) adequate new launches in the light truck segment, strong consumer confidence, steady economic growth, employment gains and relatively low gasoline prices. On the negative side, low affordability is starting to weigh on the market but if the Fed cuts rates over H2 as is widely expected, this should be somewhat dimmed and lower financing costs will provide further support to sales. While incentives are surprisingly in check at $3,788 per unit according to J.D. Power (-3.3%), commercial and rental business is booming with Cox Automotive saying fleet deliveries are on track to set an annual record in 2019. Note the average discount falls $304 or -7.8% to $3,588 on new cars and $65 or -1.7% to $3,871 on light trucks.

The Chevrolet Equinox is up 11.4% in the U.S.

The Top 6 best-selling groups all lose ground and stay in the same order vs. H1 2018, led by General Motors (-4.3%), Ford Motor (-3.2%) and Toyota Motor (-3.1%). American Honda (-1.4%) and FCA (-1.7%) are the only ones improving their share while Nissan Motor/Mitsubishi (-7.1%) is in dire straits, in part due to its newfound focus on more profitable retail sales. At #7, Hyundai-Kia posts a solid 3.1% gain followed by Subaru (+5.2%) on an incredible streak of 91 consecutive months of year-on-year upticks, with the Volkswagen Group (+2.2%) also up. In the premium aisle, if Volvo Cars (+5.2%) and Jaguar Land Rover (+4.8%) both deliver solid results, it’s not the case of Daimler AG (-7.6%) and as a result the BMW Group (-1.1%) significantly widens its advantage from just 154 units a year ago to 10.746 so far in 2019. Tesla (+89.2%) is in a league of its own, still reaping the full benefits of the arrival of the more mass-market Model 3.

Over 30.000 Ford Ranger have found a new U.S. home in 2019.

Brand-wise, the top of the charts also under-performs with the Top 6 entirely in negative and 5 out of 6 losing more ground than the market: Ford (-3.3%), Toyota (-3.6%), Chevrolet (-6.6%), Nissan (-7.7%) and Jeep (-7.8%) with Honda (-1.7%) the only one improving its market share year-on-year. However these are followed by 5 improving brands, with Ram (+28%) the outstanding performer finishing the Semester with an all-time volume record in June. Subaru (+5.2%), Kia (+3.8%), GMC (+2.9%) and Hyundai (+1.7%) also clock in very solid results. Further down, only Tesla (+89.2%), Lamborghini (+85.6%), McLaren (+77.4%), Genesis (+37.8%) and Jaguar (+10.1%) manage a double-digit gain.

The BMW X7 has enjoyed a very strong start in the U.S. with almost 9.000 sales in 4 months.

Model-wise, the Ford F-Series (-0.6%) edges down but remain untouchable with almost 450.000 units sold over the period, that’s 150.000 more than any other nameplate in market. The Ram Pickup (+28.2%) is the hero of the year so far, sporting the largest year-on-year gain in the entire Top 30 and stepping up to 2nd place overall for the first time in history as it easily dispatches the Chevrolet Silverado (-12.2%) whose Heavy Duty variants represent 24% of its 2019 sales so far. The Toyota RAV4 (+1.1%) convincingly confirms it is the new SUV favourite in the U.S., distancing the Honda CR-V (-1.5%), Nissan Rogue (-18.6%) and Chevrolet Equinox (+11.4%). The Toyota Camry (-1.6%) manages to contain its loss and stay atop passenger cars in a very unfavourable environment, distancing the Honda Civic (-4%) and Toyota Corolla (-5.3%).

The Genesis G70 is the only passenger car among the Top 10 best-selling new launches in 2019.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee (+12.8%) and Ford Fusion (+10.8%) post the only additional double-digit gains in the Top 30, denoting a very subdued market. Beyond, the Tesla Model 3 (+177.6%) continues to gear up, with the Ford Expedition (+56%), VW Jetta (+48.4%), Ford Ecosport (+45.6%), BMW X3 (+29.8%), GMC Acadia (+19.2%) and Hyundai Santa Fe (+14.2%) conforming the SUV trend is here to stay. Another case in point: aside from the Subaru Ascent (#63), Hyundai Kona (#71) and Nissan Kicks (#83) all a little over a year old and all SUVs, the 9 most popular new launches are all utilities: the Ford Ranger (#80), Kia Telluride (#99), Chevrolet Blazer (#127), Honda Passport (#128), Cadillac XT4 (#131), BMW X7 (#168), Lexus UX (#177), Jeep Gladiator (#184) and Audi Q8 (#187) with the Genesis G70 (#197) the best-selling new passenger car.

Previous post: USA June 2019: Ram (+45.4%), Volkswagen (+9.6%) gallop ahead in 6th straight market decline (-1.9%)

One year ago: USA First Half 2018: Ford F-Series, Jeep and Subaru at record pace

Full H1 2019 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 300 models vs. Full H1 2018 figures below.

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