In this section of the blog, you can find information and opinions about car sales in the United States. Stay up-to-date with which cars are selling the best and what we think future models will do.
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US sales: May 2017, models

After discussing the US auto brand sales ranking for May, let’s take a closer look at the models ranking.

Top 10

At the front the RAM Pickup outsold the Chevrolet Silverado for the third month in a row, though only by a slender margin of a little over 1,000 units – not yet enough to overtake its arch rival in YTD sales, though this remains a possibility in the coming months. Behind the pickups once again the leading non-truck car was compact SUV – this time it was the Toyota RAV4, which managed to claw back some space to the class-leading Nissan Rogue and Honda CR-V, both of which ranked relatively poorly in 7th and 8th in May. The surprise in the top-10 this month came from Honda Accord, whose sales were up 5.0% and which ranked 5th, the highest it has been since December’15 (though, YTD, the model is still down 7.3%). Otherwise it was business as usual, with Toyota CamryHonda Civic and Toyota Corolla all continuing its slide by recording sales drops of 10% or so.

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US sales: May 2017, brands

Total US sales fell by 0.5% in May, the slowest rate of decline so far this year, but a decline nonetheless. What’s more, the decline continued despite favorable market conditions: rising employment, economic growth and (relatively) low gas prices. As has been the trend recently, the overall figure masks burgeoning demand for trucks and crossovers, which was up 6.2%, and the continuing decline in demand for cars, whose sales were down 10%.

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US sales: April 2017, models

After discussing the US auto brand sales ranking for April, let’s take a closer look at the models ranking. In a big upset among the market-leading large pickups, RAM Pickup outsold its rival Chevrolet Silverado for the second month in a row and only the third time in three years. If the large Chevy continues underperforming like this, its FCA rival may overtake it in the YTD sales before long – I don’t have the data to prove it, but I don’t think the Dodge Ram/RAM Pickup has ever outsold the Silverado in a full year. Behind the pickups there is a new car sales leader – the new Honda CR-V – which outsold both the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue, with the Nissan ranking particularly poorly in #9 – it’s lowest position in half a year, and in danger of losing its #4 YTD spot to the Honda in May. Still, it’s clear the CR-V’s and RAV4’s success is at least partly due to customers shunning the brands’ compact and mid-sized cars continues, all of which lost sales once again in April, and are down 2 or 3 spots in the rankings so far this year.

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US sales: April 2017, brands

When we checked in last month, we suggested that 2017 is unlikely to exceed the record sales achieved in 2016. However, the performance of the market in April, with sales down 4.8% compared to April’16, suggests we should revise that prediction to “2017 is almost certainly not going to exceed the sales in 2016″, and may even fail to reach the level set in 2015 (so far YTD sales are 2.0% down on 2016, and 1.1% down on 2015). In fact, the sales slump in the past four months is the longest such period since the bottom of the market downturn in 2009. Just as last month, sales of mainstream models fell by 11%, but it was the fall in sales of trucks/SUVs (albeit only by 0.1%) that should have the markets worried – this is the first time sales of the latter fell since September 2013.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Alternative Power segment

Sales of Alternative Power cars in the United States increased a hopeful 47.2% in the first quarter of 2017 to 41,132 units, or 1% of the total US market. This is a combination of a 39.4% growth for EVs to 21,379 sales and a 56.7% growth for PHEVs to 19,753 sales. The EV segment is still slightly larger but the PHEV segment grows faster and is catching up, as especially luxury brands are entering this niche of the market before making a switch to full electric models. While regular (non-plug in) hybrids are struggling due to low gas prices, EVs and PHEV continue to benefit from Federal and State rebates that stimulate sales of these vehicles. And new entrants will keep arriving in showrooms this year, so expect the growth to continue.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Commercial Van segment

US large van segmentSales of Commercial Vans in the US are down 5.4% in the first quarter of 2017 to 103,197 units, but this decline is completely due to small commercial vans, as all of the 5 players in this sub-segment lose by double digits for a 25.4% loss (to 17,882 sales), compared to stable sales for large commercial vans at 85,315 units. Keep in mind, these figures include both cargo vans and passenger vans. Small vans quickly gained popularity after new players emerged since 2013, after the Ford Transit Connect paved the way since 2009. The segment peaked at over 90,000 sales in 2015 and 2016, but that appears to have been the ceiling for its potential, at least at the current level of gas prices, which means companies prefer the added practicality of large vans or even pickup trucks over the efficiency of smaller vans. The large van segment peaked at almost 372,000 sales last year, the highest volume in 28 years, and a stable start of the year is a signal of continued strength of and confidence in the US economy.… Continue Reading …

US sales 2017-Q1 Sports Large and Exotics segment

US large sportsSales of Large Sports Cars and Exotics fell by 5.5% in the first quarter of 2017, following a 10.4% decline in 2016. Total volume in this segment stood at 11,370 in Q1. And there’s not a lot of product news expected this year, so the decline is expected to last throughout the year. Then again, keep in mind the segment peaked at over 60,000 sales in 2015, when it almost doubled up in just 3 years time, so small declines after such an impressive growth curve are nothing to be ashamed of, especially on the lack of product news, as mentioned. We do welcome two newcomers to the segment compared to Q1 of last year, but both are still at the bottom of the ranking: the second generation Acura NSX and the all-new Ford GT.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Premium Small Sports segment


The Small Premium Sports segment accelerates its rate of decline as sales in the first quarter of 2017 are down by 11.6% to a mere 3,001 sales. In 2016, the smallest segment in the industry already shrank by 1.8%, despite a still very fresh line-up of contenders and three updated models: the facelifted Mercedes-Benz SLK, now renamed SLC, and the facelifted Porsche Boxster and Cayman, now renamed 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman. 2017 is expected to bring a new BMW Z5, co-developed with Toyota, which will launch its new Supra on the same platform, but I’m doubtful if that can turn the segment around, also because it’s unlikely to arrive in showrooms long before the end of the year.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Small Sports segment

US Small SportsThe Small Sports segment accelerates its decline in the first quarter of 2017 with a loss of 16.8% after already losing  6.5 percent in 2016. Sales of small sports cars dropped to 69,938 in Q1 as 9 out of the 13 models lost volume, of which 7 with double digits. The top-3 are the American muscle cars, which hold more than three quarters of the segment and they lose slightly faster than the rest of the segment. And keeping in mind sales of muscle cars have traditionally proven to be a bellwether for the entire US car market, this could be yet another indication that car sales have hit their peak. Hopefully the facelifted Ford Mustang can breathe some much-needed new life into the segment. The only other sports car news in 2017 will be the new Toyota Supra, co-developed by the Japanese brand with BMW.

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US sales 2017-Q1 Premium Large SUV segment

US Large Premium SUV
Sales growth in the Premium Large SUV segment slowed in the first quarter of 2017, with a gain of 4.9% to 142,801 sales. Subdivided in Large and Full-sized SUVs, we can conclude that almost all of the growth comes from the latter. While large SUVs gained 1.5% to 112,501 sales, the largest premium SUVs on the road increased their sales by 19.5% to 30,300 units. This is a similar trend as with mainstream crossovers and SUVs, where also the smallest (subcompact crossovers) and the largest (full-sized SUVs) were the fastest growing “truck” segments. This segment has seen quite a few new entrants and model updates in 2016, but won’t sit still this year either, so expect the winning streak to be extended to 8 years of consecutive growth. Combined, out of 24 players in this segment, only 9 lose volume, of which just 3 with double digits, compared to 7 double digit gainers.

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