US car sales are back up in May, helped in part by an additional selling day compared to last year, as well as Memorial Day deals which make May traditionally one of the biggest of the season, and high demand for crossovers. May volume was up 4.7% to 1.59 million units, even though the Seasonally Adjusted Annualized selling Rate (SAAR) fell below 17 million for the first time this year (and in fact since August 2017). The year-to-date figure now stands at 7.07 million sales, an increase of 1.2% on the first five months of 2017, still in contrast to the general prediction that US sales would fall in 2018.
The share of trucks in the sales mix is virtually stable on April at 68.3% and continues to hover at record levels with a gain of 14% compared to a loss of 11% at car models. The share of North American automakers (Detroit-3 and Tesla) is slightly down on April to 45.5%, with European automakers at their lowest share of the year so far (and in fact since February 2017) at 8.8% while Korean automakers are at their highest share of the year so far (and the last 12 months) at 7.9%.
As General Motors no longer report its monthly sales figures we rely on estimates from our colleagues at Automotive News.
- Jeep is once again the big winner in the top-20 with a gain of 28.8% to a new all-time monthly sales record of nearly 98,300 sales, helped by the new Compass and redesigned Wrangler, but also the facelifted Cherokee.
- Hyundai, GMC and Mazda all grow by more than 15% as well, which is only the second year-over-year gain in 17 months for the Korean brand as it now reclaims its 7th place in the year-to-date ranking from Subaru. The latter enjoys its best May ever with over 60,000 sales.
- Chevrolet it also up by double digits to close in on Toyota‘s #2 spot as the Japanese brand loses 1.5% in May.
- Nissan recovers slightly from its horrible month in April, reducing its loss to “just” 3.8% as the brand continues to reduce incentives and fleet deliveries. Its best seller Rogue and the redesigned Leaf electric car are the brand’s only nameplates to improve on last year, but the Altima reduces its losses to 4% even before the redesigned version arrives in showrooms, and the Sentra is down just 1.5%.
- RAM outsold GMC for the second month in a row and maintains its top-10 position but still lags its rival in the year-to-date ranking.
- Mitsubishi shows a nice gain of 31.7% as its crossovers hit the sweet spot in the market and the brand continues to regain share under the wings of the Renault-Nissan alliance.
- In the luxury segment, Mercedes-Benz continues to lead with a tiny 0.4% gain to nearly 27,000 sales (excluding vans), but BMW isn’t far behind wiht a gain of 3.3% to 26,662 sales while Lexus sales were stable at around 25,400.
- Buick and Chrysler as well as a number of second-tier luxury brands like Acura, Infiniti and Lincoln all lose volume but Jaguar (-24%) and Genesis (-38.6%) are hit the hardest. In contrast, Cadillac sales are up 11.7%, Land Rover is up 42.3%, Volvo is up 50.7%, Alfa Romeo is up 158.7% and Tesla is up 175.2%. This means Volvo and Tesla are closing in on Lincoln, whose Continental sedan hasn’t lived up to expectations.
May 2018 brands ranking
Source: Automakers, Automotive News estimates (GM)