With a third straight month of sales decline in 2017, with sales dropping by 1.7% to 1,450,443 units, I think it’s fair to say that the car market is going to have a hard time surpassing the sales record set in 2016. In fact, it is looking increasingly likely that this year will mark the end of a remarkable run of seven years of sales growth. What’s more, the split between SUVs/crossovers and mainstream models is widening ever faster – in March sales of SUVs/crossovers grew by 5.4%, while sales of mainstream models fell by 11.0%.
- March was a bad month for the top three brands, with all three losing sales, pushing even the relatively-well-performing Chevrolet into the red for the year.
- However, it is Ford that should be especially worried – its sales fell by 7.4%, the largest decline this year, and the fifth time in the last year that the brand lost sales.
- Nissan and Honda, in fourth and fifth spots, both gain sales as they have done so far every month in 2017, though their rates of growth were the lowest they’ve been so far this year.
- Bucking the trend for crossover popularity sales at sixth-placed Jeep fell by 11.1% – the seventh decline in a row, and the steepest rate since March 2013; this is in contrast to the other 4wd specialist, GMC (11th spot), whose sales rose by 12.0% in March, making it one of the only two brands in the top-20 to see their sales rise by double digits in 2017 so far (the other being the recovering VW, in 16th spot).
- Similarly hurting are Hyundai (7th spot) and Kia (12th spot, 4 lower than last year), whose rates of sales decline, at 10.4% and 15.2%, were were the brands’ worst performances in over five and three years, respectively.
- By comparison, Subaru enjoyed yet another great month, with sales up 11.3%, making it 13 months since the brand ranked outside of the top-10.
- Some good news finally came to FCA, with Ram bouncing back after an unusual sales dip in February, Dodge posting strong growth for the first time this year, continuing strong growth at Maserati, and even Fiat losing less than 10% of sales. Still, these good trends were not enough to outweigh the loss of sales at Jeep and Chrysler.
- Other mainstream brands that experienced good growth in March include Mazda (17th spot, sales up 4.9%), Buick (impressive 15.1% growth going some way to make up for the brand’s awful start to 2017), and Mini (first positive growth in over a year).
- Among the high-volume premium brands, BMW once again recorded growth in 2017, making up for a full year of decline in 2016, alongside the equally-well performing Mercedes-Benz; still, neither can come close to matching Audi‘s impressive 75-month-long streak of positive growth, or Infiniti‘s impressive growth rate of over 30% so far in 2017.
- Things looked less rosy for the other premium brands, with Lexus once again losing sales (it has now lost sales for six months straight, and 11 out of the past 12 months), as did Cadillac (down 1.5%), Acura (down 21.2%), Lincoln (down 1.4%), Land Rover (down 8.8%) and Volvo (down 21.9).
- In fact, Volvo came very close to being outsold by the star performer of 2017 so far, Jaguar, whose triple-digit sales growth placed it in the top-30 for the fifth month in a row (it had not placed in the top-30 once in the 10 years prior to that).
- Two other brands experienced triple-digit growth so far in 2017: Alfa Romeo (sales up almost 12-fold now that the Giulia has properly gone on sale), and Bentley (sales up 109.2%).
- With only 31 cars sold in March, it is fair to say this is the last we’ve seen of Scion.
|a8 (1)||Subaru||54,871||49,285||11.3%||a8 (2)||144,250||132,397||9.0%|
|b11 (1)||GMC||49,948||44,585||12.0%||b10 (2)||133,611||121,048||10.4%|
|b12 (4)||Kia||49,429||58,279||-15.2%||b12 (4)||127,728||146,321||-12.7%|
|b15 (1)||Lexus||27,935||30,198||-7.5%||b17 (3)||61,845||74,221||-16.7%|
|b17 (1)||Mazda||24,549||23,396||4.9%||b16 (2)||69,071||64,644||6.8%|
|b18 (2)||Buick||20,957||18,207||15.1%||b18 (1)||50,205||54,287||-7.5%|
|b20 (2)||Infiniti||18,266||13,775||32.6%||b21 (2)||43,561||32,660||33.4%|
|b21 (4)||Chrysler||16,969||25,373||-33.1%||b19 (3)||47,076||70,424||-33.2%|
|b24 (3)||Acura||11,696||14,852||-21.2%||b23 (2)||31,762||37,875||-16.1%|
|b29 (3)||Jaguar||4,953||2,133||132.2%||b29 (3)||11,376||4,997||127.7%|
|b32 (2)||Fiat||2,922||3,085||-5.3%||b32 (2)||7,231||8,115||-10.9%|
|b33 (new)||Genesis||1,755||0||new||b33 (new)||5,155||0||new|
|b35 (4)||Alfa Romeo||555||43||1190.7%||b35 (4)||1,106||158||600.0%|
|b36 (1)||Smart||389||479||-18.8%||b36 (1)||1,061||1,300||-18.4%|
|b38 (1)||Rolls-Royce||110||107||2.8%||b38 (2)||330||321||2.8%|
|b39 (1)||Lamborghini||88||86||2.3%||b39 (1)||264||258||2.3%|
|b40 (7)||Scion||31||1,669||-98.1%||b40 (7)||142||4,877||-97.1%|
* estimates for Tesla