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Hurricane-Damaged Vehicle Replacements Lift October U.S. Auto Sales

Hurricane-Damaged Vehicle Replacements Lift October U.S. Auto Sales

By Philly Murtha, November 01, 2017
October U.S. auto sales were surprisingly sturdy, with impetus from buyers in hurricane-hit regions replacing destroyed or damaged vehicles. Light trucks—including pickups, SUVs, and vans—accounted for nearly two-thirds of new-vehicle sales last month, according to J.D. Power analysis. Robust rebates also brought consumers into showrooms. Excluding BMW of North America, total (retail and fleet) deliveries reached approximately 1.32 million units, up slightly from last October, when there was one more selling day.

Volume-leading automakers Ford Motor Co. (Ford) (+6.2%), Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. (Toyota) (+2.2%), Nissan North America (Nissan) (+8.4%), and American Honda Motor Co. (Honda) (+0.9%) plus Volkswagen Group of America (VW) (+10.6%) reported increases from a year ago. However, major players General Motors (GM) (-2.2%) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) (-13.2%) posted weaker sales.

Demand for pickups surged for Ford, which set a 13-year high sales mark with its best-selling F-Series. On the car side, Honda sales edged up with accelerated demand for the 2018 Civic and Accord plus strength from the Pilot SUV. Nissan set an October record with double-digit demand for trucks and SUVs, with top- volume performer Rogue increasing sales significantly. Although GM and FCA saw sales put on the brakes, both reported upsurges for Silverado, Sierra and Ram pickups.

European automakers achieved momentum in October with new SUVs. VW owes its gains to the Tiguan and Atlas and Audi A5 Sportback. Mercedes-Benz (+1%), the likely October luxury brand sales leader, saw demand rise for premium SUVs—principally the GLE-Class. Jaguar Land Rover posted weaker numbers, while Volvo’s two SUVs helped it post an increase. BMW, which also relies on premium utilities, said sales reports were delayed due to a tech glitch. Among independents, Subaru of America (Subaru) (+0.5%) posted a gain, while sales at Mazda North America (Mazda) and Mitsubishi Motors N.A. (Mitsubishi) slimmed.

Highlights: October 2017 Auto Sales
Following are October 2017 new-vehicle sales highlights (based on actual totals) for each major automaker:

American Honda Motor Co.—Total sales at Honda (+0.9%) inched up to 127,353 units in October. The rise translates to a 5% gain, when selling-day adjusted. Honda brand (+1.2%) actual sales rose to 114,655 units, with a strong month for the new Civic (+15%), 30,319 unit sales for the Accord (+4.7%), plus a substantial gain for the Pilot SUV (+23.3%). Acura (-1.3%) sales slipped to 12,698 units, despite momentum for the MDX and a bump for halo model NSX (+30%).

BMW of North America—BMW has stated that sales results for October will be delayed one day due to a technical issue.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—Shrinking less-profitable fleet sales was one reason why FCA (-13%) totals fell to 153,373 units in October. Ram pickup truck (+1%) sales set an October record. Jeep Compass sales nearly doubled, and Cherokee sales climbed 19%. Dodge Charger and Durango sales rose in double digits. However, five of FCA’s six brands posted declines: Jeep and Ram (-3%), Chrysler (-22%), Fiat (-33%), and Dodge (-41%). Only Alfa Romeo improved, thanks to the new Giulia sport sedan and Stelvio SUV.

Ford Motor Co.—For a second consecutive month, sales at Ford (+6.2%) rose—up to 200,436 units. Ford (+6.6%) remained the top-volume U.S. brand with 191,527 unit sales. F-Series (+15.9%) deliveries climbed to 75,974 units. Fleets primed Ford’s totals as did most SUVs, with gains from the Edge, Flex, and Explorer. On the car side, sales of the Fiesta, Focus, and C-Max were up. Lincoln (-1.8%) sales dipped to 8,909 units, although the premium MKX crossover (+13.1%) led gains.

General Motors—Although GM (-2.2%) total sales slipped to 252,813 units in October, there was strength in trucks. Truck and SUV brand GMC (+4.6%) sales increased and Cadillac (-0.1%) was stable, while flagship Chevrolet (-3.8%) and Buick (-4.5%) sales dipped. The Chevrolet brand delivered 175,110 units, with gains for the Equinox, Traverse, and the Silverado large pickup. GMC built momentum with midsize and large pickups, while Cadillac’s XT5 and Escalade were in demand. Buick’s Enclave and Encore SUVs also scored gains. Overall, GM SUV deliveries grew 12% from a year ago.

Hyundai Motor America—Total sales at Hyundai (-12.6) slumped to 97,407 units. Hyundai brand (-15%) and its premium Genesis nameplate delivered 53,010 units. The Santa Fe and Tucson were top performers for the Korean automaker. Kia (-9.4%) sold 44,397 units in October. Numerically, the Forte’s gains placed it neck and neck with the Soul.

Jaguar Land Rover N.A.—Jaguar Land Rover (-4.4%) sales dipped to 8,368 units. Jaguar (-10.2%) delivered 2,891 units and Land Rover (-1%) sold 5,477 units.

Mazda North America—Deliveries at Mazda (-8.4%) declined to 20,811 units, despite strength from the iconic MX-5 Miata and its SUVs, including double-digit gains for the CX-5 and CX-9.

Mercedes-Benz USA—Group sales at Mercedes-Benz USA (-0.8%) stumbled to 31,541units. Mercedes-Benz brand (+1%) delivered 28.955 units—nearly 300 more units than last October. Gains were driven by the GLC and GLE SUVs. The E-Class (+22.3%) also starred. Van (-10.2%) sales were 2,446 units, while Smart sold 141 units.

Mitsubishi Motors N.A.—Sales at Mitsubishi (-3.4%) fell to 7,381 units in October.

Nissan North America—October was another record sales month for the group’s Nissan brand. Group (+8.4%) sales totaled 123,012 units with the Nissan brand (+10.2%) achieving a record 112,716 unit sales for the month, which helped offset a decline for Infiniti (-8.1%) to 10,296 unit sales. The Nissan Rogue (+43%) was the star performer with 30,286 unit sales and the Armada SUV also set an October record. The Nissan Sentra and the Titan large pickup also were up by nearly one-third. For Infiniti, there was strength from the premium Q60 plus QX50 and QX60 crossovers.

Subaru of America—October set another record at Subaru (+0.5%) with sales totaling 54,045 units and bests for the Crosstrek and Impreza.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.—Deliveries for Toyota (+1.1%) edged up to 188,434 units, which translated to a 5.2% gain when selling-day adjusted. Toyota brand (+6.6%) sales climbed to 165,540 units to offset Lexus’ (-4%) dip to 22,894 unit sales. Toyota SUVs (+30.4%) bolstered totals with top performances from the RAV4, Highlander, 4Runner, and Sequoia. Overall truck demand was up 19%. The Tundra posted a gain from last year as did two niche car models: Yaris and Mirai FCV. All Lexus premium SUVs (RX, NX, GX, and LX) posted upticks.

VW Group of America—VW (+10%) deliveries rose to 52,148 units in October. The VW brand (+11.9%) sold 27,732 units with SUVs, including Tiguan and Tennessee-built Atlas, accounting for more than one-third of total volume. Premium brand Audi (+9.6%) set an October sales record with 19,425 deliveries as the new Q7 and A5 Sportback primed demand. Porsche (+4.6%) sales grew  to 4,715 units with the 911 and Panamera leading gains.

Volvo Cars N.A.—Sales at Volvo rose 10.5% to 7,008 units, helped by the new XC90 and XC60 SUVs.

Additional Research:

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