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US sales analysis Q1 2018 – Mid-sized segment

Toyota Camry and Subaru Outback gain sales as Ford abandons declining segment

Sales in the Mid-sized segment fell by 12.7% to 412,667 in the first quarter of 2018, a slightly slower pace of decline than in the fourth quarter of 2017 or the previous year as a whole, but a substantial decline nonetheless. With Ford announcing that it will discontinue the Fusion is now clear that the segment which was the go-to place for family transportation is now being abandoned for crossovers not just by the customers, but also by car manufacturers. This makes it all the more intriguing to see how the new Toyota CamryHonda Accord and Nissan Altima will do in 2018.

Highlights:

  • Toyota Camry and Subaru Outback were the only two Top 10 models to see their sales rise in Q1’18, with the crossover-like Subaru showing a potential way forward for carmakers whose traditional offerings are struggling
  • Speaking of struggling, the new Honda Accord has been unable to gain traction in the segment, hurt by uncompetitive lease rates, and remained in third place behind the previous-generation Nissan Altima
  • Ford Fusion, the center of attention in the last few days, saw its sales fall by 15%, not much worse than the Accord or Altima, but enough for the model to lose a spot to the crossover Outback

Note: clicking on the model name opens the sales data page for that model; clicking year in the legend turns the display for that year on/off

  • A few models had a particularly bad Q1’18: sales of Kia Optima were down 27%, those of the recently-facelifted Hyundai Sonata were down by 37%, while VW Passat saw its sales almost halve due to internal competition from crossovers (see a theme here?)
  • And just to emphasize the point even further, sales of the sedan Subaru Legacy were less than a quarter of those of its crossover Outback sister – you can see the two models’ diverging fortunes over the past decade in the graph below:

 

Note: clicking on the model names in legend turns the display for that model on/off; data is displayed from 1990 onwards, but starts in 1973 – access previous years using slider on bottom 

  1. Again, hats off to the Asian brands for dominating an important segment in the US. I admire their presence in the American sales numbers. I should say, I admire Americans appreciating products of foreign companies. Europe, take notes!

  2. What is happening with the Sonata? At this rate, they’ll be lucky if they sell 100k in 2018, compared with the 200k they where selling just 3 years ago. And it’s not like people are buying Santa Fes instead, sales for the SUV are stable.
    .
    As for the Fusion, a new report seems to indicate that it will survive well into 2019, maybe 2020 ( Focus ends this May. Fiesta and Taurus make it to around this time next year ). Makes it even stranger that Ford made the announcement that it has, and its timing. Maybe they have something up their sleeve? Like maybe a Fusion that is only made in China? ( The US Focus Active will be made in China ) Still, this will only hurt its sales in the meanwhile, unless they REALLY start discounting it, which would make them loose even more money…
    .
    Honda has already come forward to defend Accord sales, and besides the leasing issue, they also said that ( unlike Toyota ), they are keeping incentives low and are not doing fleet sales. Strange, isn’t it? It’s almost as if they’re finding ways to make their business case work…

  3. Here’s an idea I bet Ford NEVER thought of : Why are you killing the fusion, have you considered something called a “redesign” which you used to do in the past, instead of trying to sell the same tired model for 6 years straight, how about making more than superficial changes ?!??!?!?!

  4. Well, it can be because of the look US people are buying these Asian sedans. Mazda 6 looking good. The others are really ugly. Some more than others.

    1. The Subaru Outback, the Camry and the new Altima look very good.

      Btw, Americans don’t care much about looks, they care much more about reliability.

      1. As an American I’d say we care about both looks and reliability. Fuel economy is important for some of us and gets more important to more drivers when gas prices rise. I’d like to see cars come with better bumpers. The front especially is easy to damage, it’s all plastic.

    1. Hi Francesco,

      thanks for your concerns, both Kriss and I are very busy with our other jobs at the moment, which gives us too little time to work on the analyses. We realize that we owe it to our faithful readers and I promise to dedicate any available free time to working on the articles. Sorry for the delays!

      All the best,

      Bart

      1. Okay, I was worried, I thought the site was closing… Luckily it’s not! Can’t wait to see new publications

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