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August 2015 Auto Sales: Ford, Fiat Chrysler Reap Unexpected Sales Gains

August 2015 Auto Sales: Ford, Fiat Chrysler Reap Unexpected Sales Gains

By Philly Murtha, September 02, 2015

Major automakers, including Ford Motor Co. (Ford) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), reported gains in August despite a quirk in the sales reporting calendar* this year that created expectations of a dip in deliveries. However, U.S. car dealers answered the call, and August auto sales surpassed 1.5 million units, which is higher than many analysts forecasted. J.D. Power and forecasting partner LMC Automotive expected U.S. total sales to edge down a fraction of a point but exceed 1.52 million units.

In spite of recent stock market volatility, consumers were enticed into showrooms in August by discounts for end-of-model-year deals and the arrival of new products, as well as reasonable gasoline prices. Light trucks—especially SUVs—continued to drive sales last month. Considering that Labor Day weekend sales were not included in August delivery figures this year, sales gains were more remarkable since totals were unadjusted for one fewer selling day in August, this year.1

It was good news for the Detroit Three—Ford (+5.6%) and FCA US (+1.7%) sales were up, while General Motors (-0.7%) deliveries slipped only slightly from August 2014. Nissan (-0.8%); Honda (-6.9%) and Toyota (-8.8%) Groups sold fewer new vehicles last month compared with the year-ago period, but were bolstered by strong sales from their premium brands. For a second consecutive month, Lexus was the luxury sales champ, outselling German rivals BMW and Mercedes, although all three brands set individual August sales records.

Hyundai Group (+6.7%) posted a year-over-year gain, as did two of three independents: Subaru (+4.9%) set a record for the month, Mitsubishi (+22.1%) was a top achiever, while Mazda (-4.4%) posted a dip. European automakers shared mixed results. Volkswagen Group (-1.2%) sales slipped, while BMW (+2%) and Daimler (+3.2%) Groups’ sales improved.

Highlights: August 2015 Car Sales

Following are August auto sales details and highlights for each major automaker:

American Honda—August sales (-6.9%) fell to 155,491 units in spite of a boost from light trucks. Honda brand (-7.5%) sold 140,178 units, and its top-selling CR-V (+2%) compact SUV set an all-time monthly record (34,771 deliveries). The new HR-V small SUV added 4,657 incremental sales, and the Odyssey minivan improved 7.5%. However, Civic (-5.9%) and Accord (-19.9%) sales were lackluster. Acura (-1.1%) posted a dip even with TLX sales nearly doubling and a gain from RDX (+13.8%).

BMW Group—BMW Group (+2%) sales edged up in August. BMW brand (+2%) deliveries rose to 27,755 units, which set an August record for the company. Strong sellers were the 2 Series and two crossovers—the X3 and X4. Sales for the best-selling 3 Series climbed 24%. Mini sales also were up 2%.

Daimler AG—Mercedes-Benz (+4.8%) sales rose nearly 1,300 units (not including Sprinter) to 28,373 unit sales. Group sales were up 3.2% with a 20.2% gain from Sprinter offsetting a steep loss from Smart (-53.7%). On a percentage basis, August’s sales leader for the month was the C-Class (+38.9%), while the S-Class (+10.2%) also substantially increased.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—Jeep (+17.5%) and Ram (+6.1%) were stars for Fiat Chrysler in August. FCA sold 201,672 units last month, allowing the automaker to maintain a streak of five years of consecutive monthly increases. Sales were the company’s best for any August since 2002. The Jeep Wrangler, Cherokee, Patriot, and Compass all set monthly records. Fiat (+0.8%) sales inched up, while Dodge (-15.1%) declined despite a 25% increase in Challenger deliveries, and Chrysler (-14.1%) brand sales sank even with a 30% gain in demand for the midsize 200.

Ford Motor Company—Ford Motor Co. (+5.6%) delivered 234,237 units and
recorded its best August sales month in nine years. The Ford division (+5.4%) sold 225,601 units and was the top-selling brand in the industry in August. The redesigned, aluminum-bodied 2015 F-Series (+4.7%) passed the 71,000-unit sales mark. SUV sales for the Ford brand reached new heights (+12.3%), bolstered by gains for the midsize Explorer (+22%) and compact Edge (+35.6%). The iconic Mustang’s sales soared 70%. Premium Lincoln brand sold 6% more units this year with strength from Navigator and MKC SUVs. A redesigned MKX SUV launched last month, too.

General Motors—In August, GM (-0.7%) sales totaled 270,480 units, in spite of a continued pull-back on fleet sales. Two GM brands—Buick (+0.6%) and GMC (+3.5%)—posted gains, while two—flagship Chevrolet (-1.5%) and premium Cadillac (-5.5%)—posted declines. However, both Chevrolet and GMC pickup deliveries soared in double digits, with additional strength from the new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups. In addition, crossovers were in demand and stars included the Chevrolet Equinox (+18%), Buick Encore (+29%), and Cadillac SRX (+52%).

Hyundai Group—Overall Hyundai Group (+3%) sales rose by about 2,000 units with double-digit gains for the 2016 Santa Fe and all-new Tucson SUV. The company reported Hyundai’s (+6.7%) best-ever August. Kia (+7.7%) said Soul deliveries reached an all-time record—17,108 units—while Sportage and Sorento SUVs were strong sellers. The redone Sorento also eclipsed August 2014 sales.

Jaguar Land Rover—Combined August 2015 sales rose 12.3% at Jaguar Land Rover. Land Rover (+16.4%) bolstered parent Tata Motors’ U.K. brands, while Jaguar (-3.5%) sales slipped.

Mazda—Sales fell 4.4% for Mazda in August, although the redesigned MX-5 Miata (+255%) continues to bolster totals. Mazda 6, Mazda 3 and CX-5 sales were down the least from August 2014.

Mitsubishi—Sales at Mitsubishi surged 22.1% from August 2014, representing an 18th consecutive monthly sales increase. Best performers for the brand were the Outlander Sport and Outlander SUVs.

Nissan Group—Deliveries for Nissan Group’s two brands slipped a collective 0.8% on an unadjusted basis, although Infiniti (+16.1%) posted one of the best gains among premium brands. However, Infiniti’s gain was more than negated by Nissan brand’s (-2%) performance in August. Despite ebbing sales for midsize car models in the industry, the Nissan Altima set a monthly sales record, as did the Murano SUV. Infiniti Q50 sales rose in double digits while QX60 sales surged 68.5%.

Subaru—Subaru deliveries were up 4.9% from August 2014, which set another record for the Japanese car brand. August also was a record month for the XV Crosstrek and Forester SUVs.

Toyota Group—Deliveries dropped 8.8% overall, to 224,381 units, at Toyota Group in August 2015. The Tacoma (+13.2%), which is redesigned for 2016 and in showrooms this month, and Highlander (+16.1%) had their best sales month since 2003. Premium brand Lexus (+2.1%) held the August premium sales crown, with deliveries of 33,487 units. And although Lexus car sales slipped 8.1%, its SUV deliveries climbed 15.2% with momentum from the NX and GX. However, the gains at Lexus could not offset declines for the Toyota brand (-10.5%), with sales of 190,894 units, or for Scion (-34.6%). Toyota brand’s only car model to post a gain last month was the Yaris (+64.1%), while Camry (-14.6%), Corolla (-4.1%), Avalon (-22%), and Prius (-24.2%) posted declines.

Volkswagen Group—Deliveries dipped 1.2% at VW Group, with Volkswagen brand (-8.1%) sales off from a year ago, even though Golf deliveries soared 86.2%. Notably, VW Tiguan SUV sales were up 47%. The VW decline was partly offset by premium Audi (+9.9%), which did well with the Q3, Q5, and Q7, and Porsche, which experienced a healthy 10% increase in sales for the month.

Volvo—Sales at Volvo rose 18.3%, to 5,869 units vs. 4,960 units a year ago. The XC60 SUV was up 31.8%.

*For the first time since 2012, the three-day Labor Day weekend sales will be lumped into September totals. This year, Labor Day falls on Sept. 7.

1Sales percentage changes are unadjusted. August 2015 had 26 selling days, while August 2014 had 27.

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