August U.S. Auto Sales Slow Down in Single Digits with Few Stars
As summer comes to a close and temperatures in many parts of the country begin to fall, U.S. auto sales seem to be cooling as well. According to automaker reports, new-vehicle sales in August were weaker than a year ago. Some major automakers reported their largest declines so far this year, despite sturdy consumer demand for SUVs and midsize pickups, even though large pickup demand was tepid.
In line with an analysis from J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive, total August new-car sales (retail and fleet) slipped 3.5% from August 2015 to about 1.5 million units. August in both years had 26 selling days.
At the corporate level, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Daimler Group, Jaguar Land Rover, and Volvo reaped gains, as did independent Subaru.
Among the Detroit Three, only FCA (+3.1%) posted an improvement, while General Motors (GM) (-5.2%) and Ford Motor Co. (-8.8%) posted declines. Japan giants’ results were sluggish. Toyota Group (-5%), American Honda (-3.8%), and Nissan Group (-6.5%) posted fewer deliveries than a year ago. South Korea’s Hyundai Group (-3.5%) celebrated a sales record for its Hyundai brand, although Kia sales declined.
Among the Europeans, Daimler Group’s (+2.1%) strength was due to van gains, while Mercedes-Benz (+0.1%) sales were fractionally stronger, and Lexus claimed the luxury sales title for the month. BMW Group (-7.2%) sales strength was from SUV gains. Volkswagen Group (-4.5%) posted lower sales, but results were partly offset by Audi (+2.5%), which set a monthly record for a 68th consecutive month. In contrast, August sales surged for Jaguar Land Rover (+46%) and Volvo Cars (+52.3%).
Among independents, Subaru (+14.7%) posted one of the best August increases, but Mazda (-12.8%) and Mitsubishi (-11.5%) sales suffered.
Highlights: August 2016 Auto Sales
Following are August 2016 new-vehicle sales highlights, based on unadjusted actual totals, for each major automaker.
American Honda—SUV models boosted Honda and Acura brand sales in August, although total deliveries (-3.8%) fell to 149,571 units. Honda brand (-3.5%) deliveries were 135,325 units, with continuing gains for the Fit and Civic. The CR-V and HR-V crossover sport utilities posted stronger performances and the new Ridgeline truck racked up 3,437 unit sales. Acura (-7%) delivered 14,246 units, with the only gain from the best-selling MDX.
BMW Group—BMW Group (-7.2%) delivered 30,500 unit sales in August. BMW brand (-8%) sales in August were 25,531 units with gains from the 7 Series plus X1 and X3 premium sport utilities. Mini (-2.7%) delivered 5,109 units.
Daimler AG—Deliveries for Daimler (+2.1%) edged up to 31,909 units. The Mercedes-Benz brand (+0.1%) delivered 28,404 units with gains from the E-Class/CLS, SL-Class, and strength from the GLC and GLS sport utilities. Vans (+39.5%), including the Sprinter, improved to 3,152 unit sales, while Smart (-42.8%) declined.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—August sales at FCA (+3.1%) increased to 196,756, bolstered by SUV and truck brands. All Jeep (+12%) SUV models except the Wrangler were strong sellers. For Dodge (+5%), the Journey and Charger were stars, and Ram (+2%) provided momentum, while Chrysler (-22%) and Fiat (-21%) faltered.
Ford Motor Co.—Ford Motor (-8.8%) delivered 213,411 new vehicles in August 2016. The Ford brand (-9.4%) sold 204,168 new cars and trucks during the month. Car sales (-25.4%) fell the most, while SUVs (-0.8%) and trucks (-1.6%) dipped slightly. Ford’s best-selling F-Series pickup (66,946 sales) fell 6.1%, though Ford said it was the F-Series’ best retail month this year. The Flex (+40.3%) and Expedition (+68.3%) braced SUV sales. Ford van sales improved 13%, with the Transit up 17%. Lincoln (+7%) improved its performance and sold 9,243 units with strength from the MKZ and the new MKX.
General Motors—Total deliveries at GM (-5.2%) were 256,429 units. Only Cadillac (+3.9%) sales increased in August. Buick (-2.7%), Chevrolet (-3.9%), and GMC (-14%) posted losses. The flagship Chevrolet brand only sold 175,965 units during the month, despite double-digit increases for the Colorado, Corvette, Cruze, Express, Suburban, Trax, and the plug-in hybrid Volt. Cadillac’s new XT5 was the brand’s top seller, followed by the ATS and XTS. Buick Regal and Verano sales climbed, while the GMC Canyon and the Yukon/Yukon XL showed strength.
Hyundai Group—Group sales (-3.5%) were 126,263 units. Hyundai brand (+0%) sales rose by 6 units to 70,518, still setting an August record with strength from the Santa Fe, Santa Fe Sport, and Tucson. The separate Genesis premium brand posted sales of 1,497 units. Kia (-7.9%) sold 54,248 new vehicles, with gains for the Rio, Forte, Sportage, and Sedona. Although the Soul was the brand’s sales leader, deliveries were down by 4,855 units.
Jaguar Land Rover—Sales soared 46% to 9,329 units in August for the two brands owned by India’s Tata Group, with momentum from the new Jaguar F-Pace.
Mazda—A dip for Mazda (-12.8%) was reported in August, even with the hot-selling CX-5 and all-new CX-9, to 26,109 units overall for the brand.
Mitsubishi—Sales at Mitsubishi (-11.5%) in August were down to 7,336 units overall.
Nissan Group—Nissan Group (-6.5%) lost momentum in August, delivering 124,638 new vehicles. Nissan brand (-6.9%) sold 114,199 units with strength from the Maxima (+42.7%) on the car side. Truck sales climbed 18.9%. The Rogue and Murano crossover SUVs continued to claim double-digit gains, while Frontier pickup sales more than doubled. Infiniti (-1.8%) dipped slightly to 10,439 unit sales, with gains from luxury SUVs, especially the QX50, and from the QX70 and QX80.
Subaru—Subaru (+14.7%) posted an August record with 60,418 unit sales on the strength of gains from the Legacy and Outback.
Toyota Group—Japan’s largest auto group, Toyota (-5%) sales slipped to 213,125 units. Toyota brand (-4.6%) deliveries declined to 182,187 units. Car sales declined but trucks and SUVs kept the Toyota brand afloat—up 1.9%—with August gains for the RAV4, Highlander, 4Runner, and Land Cruiser. Hybrids have lost luster due to lower gasoline prices, and as a result Prius sales fell (-26.9%). Scion (+44.5%) was folded into Toyota in August and saw strength for its iA and iM small cars. Lexus (+7.6%) had another down month and sold 30,938 new vehicles, even with real strength on the SUV side from the NX, GX, and LX.
Volkswagen Group—Now in the process of making diesel emissions software cheating settlements, VW Group (-4.5%) sold 49,133 units in August. The Volkswagen brand (-9.1%) sold 29,384 units, with delivery gains from the GTI, Jetta, and Tiguan. Audi (+2.5%) celebrated its second-best sales month in the United States with 19,264 total sales and gains from the A4 and premium Q7 and Q3 crossover SUVs.
Volvo—August sales surged for Volvo (+ 30.9%), with gains from the XC60 and XC90 sport utilities.