US car sales by segment

US sales 2017 first half: Hybrids

Having analyzed the Electric Vehicles and the Plug-In Hybrid segments, let’s look at the final Alternative Power segment: regular hybrids. This segment is the most well-established of the three, with sales in the first half of 2017 almost twice as high as sales in the other two segments combined. As a result, the growth in the segment was not as high as for the other two, but 24.9% is nothing to be sneered at, as it was still higher than any non-Alternative Power segment bar the SUV Premium Compact segment. 

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US sales 2017 first half: Plug-in Hybrids

Having analyzed the Electric Vehicles segment, let’s look at plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs for short. The segment enjoyed a growth rate of 61.6%, the highest of all segments, though its total sales remain below those of pure Electric Vehicles, at just over 40,000 in the first half of the year.

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US sales 2017 first half: Electric Vehicles

Sales of Alternative Power cars in the United States increased by a substantial 32.2%, a rate of expansion considerably faster than that of the second fastest-growing segment, SUV Premium Compact. Comprising of regular hybrid, PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) and EV (electric vehicle) segments, Alternative Power cars ended the first half of 2017 with almost 260,000 cars sold, more than the Subcompact segment, and not far off the Minivan segment. For accounting purposes, keep in mind that we classify many of the Alternative Power cars in other segments too e.g. Toyota Prius liftback figures in the Compact segment, while Ford Fusion PHEV figures in the Mid-sized segment. At least part of the reason for this growth is that EVs and PHEVs continue to benefit from Federal and State rebates, which lower their price even before consumers consider the lower cost at the pumps/mains.

First, let us look at the EVs segment, which grew by 41.2% in the first half of 2017, to a total of 45,150 cars.

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US sales 2017 first half: Sports Large and Exotics segment

Lexus LC enjoys a strong market debut to rank fourth in Q2’17 standings, while Porsche 911 continues to lose salesUS large sportsSales of Large Sports Cars and Exotics fell by 2.6% in the second quarter of 2017, a slower pace of decline than the 10.4% registered in 2016, or the 5.5% registered in the first quarter of the year. Could this be a sign that the segment is going through a bit of a resurgence? As we previously mentioned, this segment had undergone a huge growth in years past, so the recent declines come from a heady height, and suggest the segment may simply be stabilizing at a sort of “good times” average size, before once again shrinking drastically when the next recession hits (such is the fate of a segment where most cars sell for well over $100,000).

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US sales 2017 first half: Mid-sized Sports segment

Ford Mustang keeps losing sales as Chevy Camaro rebounds

US Small Sports

Sales in the Mid-sized Sports segment fell by 14.5% so far in 2017, a reflection mainly on the dwindling popularity of the mighty Ford Mustang. However, while the headline figure is bad but not horrible, what should be more worrying is the fact that the segment has plenty of new cars such as Chevrolet Camaro, Audi TT, or the Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman twins, after an early rise their sales have all declined recently. What’s more, Dodge seems to be doing wonders with the Challenger, given how old that model is, but even that can’t last forever. 

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US sales 2017 first half: Small Sports segment

Mazda MX-5 almost takes the segment lead, as RWD cars soar and FWD cars crashThe Small Sports segment lost an astonishing 31.6% sales in the second quarter of 2017, a bad performance second only to that of the Minicar segment that lost almost half its sales over the same period. Combined with the slower decline experienced by the segment in the first quarter of the year, sales in the segment were 22.8% smaller in the first half of 2017 than in 2016. Although there is some hope in the form of the new Hyundai Veloster, that car won’t arrive until sometime in 2018 – until then, it’s likely sales will continue declining.

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US sales 2017 first half: Small Commercial Van segment

Every single model loses sales, as the segment shrinks by almost 20%

US-sales-small-cargo-van-segmentOverall sales of Commercial Vans in the US fell again in the second quarter of 2017, albeit at a slower pace than in the first quarter, resulting in a cumulative drop in sales of 3.2% YTD. As I mentioned earlier, it seems that customers seem to be slowly moving away from commercial vans to pickups, at least to the extent that the latter are used for commercial purposes. Confirming this, the decline is concentrated in the small commercial van segment, which has lost 17.9% of its volume so far this year, while the large commercial vans segment, for which pickups are no substitute, seems largely unaffected.
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US sales 2017 first half: Large Commercial Van segment

Once segment golden boy Ford Transit suffers double-digit sales decline while segment grows slowlyUS large van segmentOverall sales of Commercial Vans in the US fell again in the second quarter of 2017, albeit at a slower pace than in the first quarter, resulting in a cumulative drop in sales of 3.2% YTD. However, this is mainly due to sales decline in the small commercial vans sector – sales in the large commercial vans sector have been growing so far in 2017, albeit at a leisurely 0.5% pace overall.
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US sales 2017 first half: Small Pickup segment


After finishing 2016 as the fastest growing segment, with a growth rate of 25.5%, things have slowed down considerably, resulting in a growth rate of only 2.4% over the first half of 2017. Moreover, rather than being evenly spread among all models, the remaining growth in the segment is being driven by one model only: the all-new Honda Ridgeline. With the replacement for the Nissan Frontier, the eagerly-awaited Jeep Wrangler pickup and the return of the Ford Ranger still a while away, it is unlikely the segment will see a huge upturn anytime soon.

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US sales 2017 first half: Premium Large SUV segment

Stable sales for large luxury crossovers, slight growth for full-sized luxury crossovers.

US Large Premium SUV
Sales of Premium Large SUVs appear to have peaked, as first half 2017 figures are up just 1% over the same period last year, for a total of 296,538 sales. So far this year, the trend in the premium segment seems to be: the bigger the truck, the slower the sales growth. However, subdivided in Large and Full-sized SUVs, the former subsegment is down by 1% to 236,206 sales, while the really big trucks still improve by 11% to 60,332 sales. The segment has had a boost of fresh and updated models in recent years, but will take a breather in coming months. We’ve just had the launch of the new generation Land Rover Discovery to replace the LR4, but we’ll have to wait until next year for the arrival of the Lexus RX 7-seater, new generation BMW X5 and the long-awaited new Mercedes-Benz G-Class. In the full-sized subsegment, there will be more news this year, with the new generations of the Infiniti QX80 and the Lincoln Navigator arriving in showrooms in the second half, as well as an updated Cadillac Escalade.

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