After discussing the US auto brand sales ranking for November, let’s zoom in on the models ranking.
November saw some unexpected sales surges in the Top 10. While nothing exciting happened in the Top 3, five of the remaining seven models registered growth rates of over 20%! Of these the sales growth experienced by the new Toyota Camry is fully expected, as the new more exciting model seems to be getting early purchase with customers, while the new Honda CR-V is once again seeing good sales growth. The bigger surprises came from market stalwarts such as Nissan Rogue, whose sales were up by over 35% and which came within 1,000 units of outselling Ram Pickup in third, as well as Honda Civic and Ford Explorer, the latter of which placed in the Top 10 for the first time ever! (In fact, it may be the first time a Mid-sized SUV has placed in the Top 10, a place normally occupied by Large Pickups, Compact and Mid-sized cars, and Compact SUVs. By comparison, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape had a quiet month in eight and ninth place.
The see-sawing we have observed in the US market in the past few months continued in November, with a sales increase of 1.4%. This follows a decline in October, growth in September, and eight straight months of decline before that. As a result of the larger decline in sales earlier in the year the market is still down 1.2% YTD, but this still looks much better than the position it was just four months ago in July, when it was down 2.6% YTD. It is still much too early to talk about a recovery per se, but the signs are the worst decline has been halted for now.
The segment with the highest growth in 2016 registers its first quarterly loss in years
After barely growing in the first two quarters the Small Pickup segment shrank by 1% in the third quarter of 2017, a substantial climbdown for the hefty 26% growth rate the segment registered in 2016. Moreover, 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.
Sales in the Large Pickup segment grew by 6% in the third quarter of 2017, slightly faster than in the second quarter and pretty much the same as in the first, giving this large segment impressive consistency. With the new RAM Pickup and Chevrolet Silverado on the horizon, things may kick up the gear for the segment in 2018, as it continues to claw back ground it lost in recent years to the Small PIckup and Commercial Vans segments.
The decline in the US car market resumed in October, and even though the 1.1% decline in sales was the mildest since May it was still an unwelcome return to trend after the surprising 6.3% growth in sales in September. The SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) once again was over 18 million, suggesting a healthy market, but it remains to be seen whether the coming months will be more like September, or whether we will continue to see a steady slide in sales numbers.
Sales of the new Nissan Armada soar as those of other models shrink
Growth in the Large SUV segment in the US went into full reverse in the third quarter – after growing by 26% in the first quarter and marginally shrinking in the second, sales fell by 11% in the latest quarter. While YTD growth remains positive at 2.5%, the total number of cars sold over the first three quarters of the year remained below quarter million at 239,815, making this the smallest from among non-luxury SUV segments. The all-new Nissan Armada is now the only model whose sales have been growing all year long, though this may change as it is about to be joined by an all-new Ford Expedition in the showrooms this fall.
Strong growth from segment leaders and new models
Sales in the Mid-sized SUV segment increased by 9% in the third quarter of 2017, perfectly in line with the growth rate so far this year. Sales YTD now stand at 1,447,356, making this the fifth-largest segment, and only some 60,000 cars behind the rapidly-shrinking mid-sized car segment. If the trend condinues like this, the mid-sized SUV segment will jump ahead if not by the end of 2017, then most likely in 2018. That said, with Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and VW Atlas having hit the market recently there is a surprising dearth of new metal coming in 2018, the only exception being the new Hyundai Santa Fe, with the aging Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder all still some way off from being replaced.
Sales in the largest of all segments, the compact SUV segment (2,379,590 sales YTD), grew by 4% in the third quarter, a better pace than the 1% registered in the second quarter, but some way off all the other SUV segments. Still, this still means that the segment grew by 4% YTD compared to a 3% decline for the market as a whole, as one would expect given the continued shift towards crossovers among the buying public. And with a ton of new models in the market (Honda CR-V, Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda CX-5, Jeep Compass, Kia Niro, GMC Terrain, Subaru XV Crosstrek, VW Tiguan L) it is reasonable to expect the segments dominance will continue for a long time.
Honda HR-V outsells the Jeep Renegade for the first time in Q3’17
After seeing its growth dip into the single digits in the second quarter of the year, the subcompact SUV segment rebounded in style in the third quarter – with sales 15% higher than in Q3’16 it was the second-fastest growing segment over the past quarter (second only to premium compact SUVs). With 12% growth YTD, highest among the non-premium SUV segments, the subcompact SUV segment registered 320,899 sales in the first three quarters, not far off the 376,213 registered in the subcompact segment, which suggests that the two could be neck-and-neck in 2018. With the new Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic coming to market soon, and the new Toyota C-HR still building up its sales, the segment’s healthy growth is likely to continue in the near future.