In its third month of the year the US car market is still yet to register a month of growth, with March sales falling by 3.1% relative to the same month in 2018. Year to date, in 2019, sales are now 3.0% down on 2018, suggesting that this year may be the first downturn in the market in many years.
Overall, mainstream brands saw their sales decline by 3.7%, a slower decline than the 4.4% registered in February, while luxury brands saw their sales grow by 1.4%, a worse performance than the 5.2% sales growth in February
Four out of the Top 10 brands registered positive sales growth in March, the same number as a month earlier
Last month all Top 6 brands saw their sales decline; this month, Honda managed to register positive growth of 4.1%, pushing its YTD sales figures into the black, making it also the only Top 6 brand with positive YTD growth
Losses at Ford were worse in March than in previous months in 2019, while those at Nissan were less bad than they have been so far this year
The best performance in the Top 10 was the surprisingly strong 10.2% growth over at Kia, suggesting that the Korean brand may be firmly on its way back up, after sales slides in the past two years; interestingly, the vast majority of that growth seems to be coming from the immediate success of the new Kia Telluride
Outside the Top 10 mainstream brands did better than in February, with Ram, VW, and Mitsubishi registering positive growth
In fact, both VW and Mitsubishi deserve recognition of their performance – the former for double-digit growth that put its YTD performance into the black after sales declines in January and February, while the Japanese brand saw its sales rise by more than third compared to March’18, almost matching the growth rate of Tesla
Things are looking less rosy among other mainstream brands, with Mini seeing its sales drop by 17%, Mazda by almost 20%, Chrysler by almost 40%, and Fiat by over 45%
Among luxury brands there were fewer standouts than last month: Jaguar and Genesis once again recorded positive growth, albeit lower than last month, but no single brand exceed 20% growth year-on-year
The leading luxury brands actually had a good March, with BMW, Lexus, and Audi all registering positive growth (in Audi’s case, its first of 2019), while the sales decline at Mercedes-Benz was much less bad than in previous months
By contrast, Infiniti saw its sales decline deepen yet again, suggesting 2019 may not be the best year for the brand, while a sales decline at Land Rover all but erased the brands YTD growth
It’s also worth noting, that after three months sales at Maserati are up slightly in 2019, a decent performance by the beleaguered Italian brand
Among the exclusive brands estimates suggest Lamborghini had something of a surge in March, putting it ahead of McLaren, which for once had only a good, not a great month
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