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 2015 first half Compact SUV segment

SUV compact 2
The Compact SUV segment grew by 13% compared to the first half of 2014, a very strong performance given the size of the segment – annual sales are more than 2.5 million, and it accounts for more than half of all SUV sales. In fact, in H1 2015 it surpassed the Mid-sized segment to become the largest single segment in the US by sales, and one with the largest number of models offered. Given how US customers substitute SUVs for family wagons it should not come as a huge surprise that the a Compact SUV has become the default go-to family car.

Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V remains the market leader, with sales rising by 5% following a facelift late in 2014. The ever-popular Honda distanced itself from the second-placed Ford Escape which came within 2,000 units of dethroning the Honda this time last year, but whose sales fell by 4% this time around. It may yet get another shot at the top spot when the extensive facelift arrives later this year, due to give the Escape a much tougher look inspired by its larger brother, the Edge, although whether that will turn out to be a winning move in this family-friendly segment remains to be seen. Close on the Escape’s heels in #3 is the Chevrolet Equinox, enjoying a healthy 21% growth in sales, a pretty remarkable performance given that at 5 years it’s one of the oldest models in this segment. It is closely followed by the Toyota RAV4 in fourth.

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US sales 2015 first half Subcompact SUV segment

SUV subcompactThe Subcompact SUV was the fastest-growing of all segments in the US, exactly doubling its sales compared to the first half of 2014. And if that was not enough to convince you that it was the place to be right now – half of the cars were new to the segment, making this also the “freshest” from among all segments.

Buick Encore

Buick Encore

The new segment leader is the Buick Encore, whose sales rose 29% year-on-year. The little SUV, developed in Europe as the Opel/Vauxhall Mokka, clearly found good traction in the market with its combination of good looks, small dimensions and reasonable spaciousness. Its success took parent GM by surprise (it is the first time that a Buick has led a segment in sales in… ever?), and it belatedly decided to start selling its sister car, the Chevrolet Trax, to the US market. The effect? Immediate jump to second spot with almost 25,000 sales.

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US sales 2015 first half Premium Limousine segment

US premium limousine 2

The Premium Limousine segment in the US shrank by 8% compared to the first half of 2014, not a great performance but hardly a surprising one given that half of the cars in this segment are on schedule to be replaced in the next year.

Mercedes-Benz S-class Coupe

Mercedes-Benz S-class Coupe

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class remains the clear market leader, selling more than twice as many units as its nearest competitor. The model actually experienced a decline of 6% compared to previous year, a surprising result given that the model only came to market at the end of 2013. What makes this performance all the more surprising is that the second-placed BMW 7-series experienced growth of 11% in its final year on the market. Bizarre. Still, one can expect the new S-Class coupe to add handsomely to these numbers, not to mention the delicious-looking new S-Class cabriolet.

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US sales 2015 first half Premium Large segment

US premium large

The US Large Premium segment shrank by 13% year-on-year, the largest decline from among the Premium segments and the third largest from among the 25 segments we keep track of. Part of the reason may be that the segment leaders are aging, but overall there may be a shift away from the segment towards the smaller but ever-so-capable Premium Mid-sized offerings. It will be interesting to see how much the market will recover once the new BMW 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class hit the market.

Lexus ES

For now, the market leader remains the Lexus ES, going strong in its fourth year on the market. For the European readers among you – not sure what the ES is? It is basically the last mainstream car that Lexus targets unashamedly at older customers, with its comfy suspension setting, homely FWD underpinnings from the Toyota Avalon and the softest version of its divisive design language. Even though Lexus may be chasing BMWs these days the ES remains popular with its target audience – while it lost 12% of sales in doing so it actually retained its share of the segment, and there is a facelift arriving in the second half of 2015.

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US sales 2015 first half Premium Mid-sized segment

US premium mid-sizedThe Premium Mid-sized segment grew by a healthy 10% year-on-year, a better performance than all the Premium segments combined (3%) or the market as a whole (4%). The growth is driven not just by the good performance of the new entrants into the segment (Mercedes-Benz C class, Lexus RC, Acura TLX), but also by the growth in sales of the evergreen BMW 3/4 series. In fact, this may well be one of the “freshest” from among the established segments, with only the aging Audi A4/A5 and Volvo 60 series being more than 4 years old. Such a healthy growth rate widens the lead the Premium Mid-sized segment has over the Premium Large segment, outselling the larger cars by more than 3-to-2, and that lead is only likely to increase when the new A4 enters the market.

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US sales 2015 first half Premium Compact segment

US premium compact

The Premium Compact segment is not only the fastest growing of the Premium segments, it is one of the fastest growing segments overall with a year-on-year growth of 59%. The largest contributor to this growth is the Audi A3, which has been selling like hot cupcakes ever since Audi introduced the sedan version (as if more evidence was needed that US consumers love sedans). In fact, it grew so quickly that it surpassed the Mercedes-Benz CLA to grab the #1 spot, despite the former being the slightly more established market player. This gives Audi a rare segment lead in the US, a place where usually BMW and Mercedes-Benz duke it out for the top spot, with Audi at best a distant third.

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US sales 2015 first half Minivan segment

US minivan

The Minivan segment continued its decline, with sales down 15% compared to the same period in 2014 – the second largest fall after the Mid-sized segment. This does not necessarily mean that the US has fallen out of love with the segment it invented (no matter what Matra/Renault may claim). Sure, more and more people switch away from boring minivans away to SUVs, but this is also one of the “oldest” segments – full of cars either trying to hold on with a facelift (Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey) or cars on their way out (Chrysler T&C, Dodge Grand Caravan, Mazda5). In fact, once the new generation of the Fiat Chrysler Automotive minivan hits the market I would not bet against it dragging the segment sales up.

Chrysler T&CPointing to a market leader is not straightforward in the Minivan segment. While the single best-selling model is the Toyota Sienna, the Chrysler T&C and Dodge Grand Caravan are so similar that oftentimes they are thought of as the same model (and may in fact be replaced by a single model) – if you do that, than their combined sales are still tops at 75,840. Still, with a year-on-year fall in sales of 47% it may not hold onto the lead for long, especially that the Sienna actually grew in sales by 15%, a great performance given that its recent facelift was of the “blink and you’ll miss it” variety.

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US sales 2015 first half Minicar segment

US miniThe Minicar segment is one of the smallest ones in the US, both in terms of sales and the number of models offered (only five in the US, compared to 30 in Europe!). This reflects the fact that, for the vast majority of users in the US, cars as small as this are simply too small; rather, they are bought by a very narrow group of city-dwelling consumers. In addition, due to fringe positioning the Minicar segment in the US ranges from the cheapest new car on sale (the Mitsubishi Mirage) all the way to the premium MINI.

MINI CooperThe segment grew by 9% compared to the first half of 2014, though in this case it’s almost weird to talk about averages. Rather, you observe two types of performances – the cars that gained a lot of sales because they’re new, and cars that lost sales because they’re aging. In the former group is the new MINI, which regained its position as market leader on the back of sales that rose by 62%, no doubt helped by the arrival of the ungainly but popular 5-door model. Its main rival, Fiat 500, saw its sales fall 15% year-on-year and stayed in #3, making the incoming facelift all the more important.

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US sales 2015 first half Subcompact segment

 

US subcompacts

The Subcompact segment shrank by 6%, a slightly faster decline than the 4% at which all the mainstream segments shrank compared to the first half of 2014. This is goes against the trend in recent years when subcompacts have been growing in popularity, and is probably driven by factors such as an aging line-up for most carmakers and lower gas prices compared to last year. It also seems like it might get worse for the segment before it gets better, seeing as there are no new models on the horizon beyond the Scion iA, a Mazda2 sedan in drag.

Kia SoulH1 2015 sales figures suggest there are three tiers of cars in the Subcompact segment. First, there are the market leaders – Kia Soul retains its position at the lead, though its lead over the second-placed Nissan Versa shrank to just around 1,000 units. It should be noted that while the Soul is only sold as a hatchback, the Versa comes in two flavors – a modern hatchback (Note in Europe) and an ugly, cheap 4-door sedan whose USP is that it offers the largest amount of interior space for a car in this price bracket.

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US sales 2015 first half Large segment

US Large

The non-premium Large segment in the US is one that has pretty much been abandoned by mainstream manufacturers in Europe, where it once comprised of cars like the Citroën XM/C6, Ford Scorpio, Opel Omega or Renault 25/Vel Satis. In the US, on the other hand, carmakers continue offering cars that are usually based on larger versions of the FWD platforms that underpin their mid-sized sedans, though a few models are actually a unique RWD design (Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger, Chevrolet SS). The cars are usually bought by older customers who appreciate larger, easier-to-access interiors, but don’t need the higher price and sporty pretensions that usually come with cars in the Premium Large segment.

2015 Dodge Charger R/T

2015 Dodge Charger R/T

Not all is well with the segment, though, as sales fell 18% compared to the same period in 2014, the largest fall from among all the segments. With sales totaling little over 230,000 in H1 2015, the Large segment is now less than a fifth the size of the Mid-sized segment. Chevrolet Impala remains the market leader, offering a nice mix of style and substance that was deemed so successful that it served as inspiration for the incoming Malibu younger brother. However, with sales falling by 26% it may not remain top dog for much longer – less than 10,000 units behind is the Dodge Charger, the only model whose sales grew year-on-year, as consumers clearly liked the aggressive 2015 facelift and the halo effect of the 700HP+ (!) Hellcat model. In fact, the Charger not only outsold its Chrysler 300 cousin (#5) by over 2-to-1, it actually outsold the smaller Dodge Dart over the first half of 2015, giving you a sense of how popular the car is.

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