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May Auto Sales Soften Despite Memorial Day Deals

May Auto Sales Soften Despite Memorial Day Deals

By Philly Murtha, June 01, 2017

Enticing Memorial Day weekend discounts, resilient demand for SUVs, and an extra selling day weren’t enough to boost May U.S. car sales over last year’s results. Total (retail and fleet) deliveries softened to less than 1.5 million units. When adjusted for one more selling day in May 2017, sales fell 3.5% below last May, as forecasted in a mid-month report from J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive.



Among major automakers, American Honda Motor Co. (Honda), Nissan North America (Nissan), Volkswagen Group (VW), and Ford Motor Co. (Ford) reaped best delivery gains in terms of actual sales. Ford (+2.3%) outpaced General Motors (GM) by 3,700+ units, helped by higher fleet sales and stronger SUV and F-Series totals.

Auto Sales

GM (-1.3%) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) (-1%) posted small declines in May. Honda (+0.9%) and Nissan (+3%) reported better May volumes, while Toyota Group (Toyota) (-0.5%) posted a dip despite double-digit SUV sales growth. Hyundai Group (Hyundai) (-15%) also posted a May decline.

Europe’s VW (+3.8%) saw an uptick from last May and Jaguar Land Rover (+14%) pushed ahead in double digits. Volvo (+4.5%) also posted a rise. BMW of North America (BMW) (-11.1%) sales fell, even with gains for its smaller SUVs. Daimler Group (-7%) May sales were down from last year as well. Among independents, Subaru (+12.1%) posted a record month, Mitsubishi (+4.5%) posted a gain, but Mazda (-7.9%) sales dipped.

Highlights: May 2017 Auto Sales

Following are May 2017 new-vehicle sales highlights (based on actual totals) for each major automaker:

American Honda Motor Co.—Sales at Honda (+0.9%) edged up 1,306 units from last May to 148,414 units. The Honda brand (+0.7%) delivered 134,475 new cars and light trucks and Acura (+2.8%) deliveries rose to 13,939 units. Top performers were the HR-V and CR-V. On the car side, Accord (+5%) sales improved. Acura’s strongest sellers were the TLX and RDX.

BMW of North America—Sales at BMW (-11.1%) fell to 29,878 units. BMW brand (-11%) delivered 25,818 units. Strong performers included the new 5 Series (+12.7%) and the X1 and X3 SUVs, which rose in double digits. Mini (-11.6%) delivered 4,060 units in May.

Daimler AG—Deliveries at Daimler (-7%) declined to 29,299 units. Mercedes-Benz brand (-8.2%) sales fell to 26,893 units—still the best total for any luxury brand in May. The C-Class plateaued, while E-, GLE-, and G-Class sales improved. Vans were up 7.7% to 3,066 units and Smart (-21.2%) sank to 331 unit sales.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—FCA (-1%) total deliveries slipped to 193,040 units. Gains from Ram (+18%) and Dodge (+8%) could not offset lower sales for Jeep (-15%), Chrysler (-2%), and Fiat (-16%) brands. Five Dodge models, including the Viper and Caravan, posted increases while Jeep Grand Cherokee (+14%) sales climbed. The Chrysler Pacifica (+325%) van posted stellar totals. Ram pickup sales surged 16%. The Fiat Spider and Alfa Romeo Giulia added incremental sales for FCA in May.

Ford Motor Co.—May was a positive month for Ford (+2.3%), with 241,126 unit sales. Major gains were on the rental car fleet side. Ford brand (+2.1%) sales totaled 230,838 units, while Lincoln (+4.9%) delivered 10,288 units with strength from the MKC and MKT plus the new Continental. The Ford F-Series (+12.8%) posted a May record 76,027 sales while Taurus  also improved. SUVs also set a new mark for Ford. The Explorer (+20.7%) led the pack, followed by the Edge, Expedition, and Flex.

General Motors—Total sales at GM (-1.3%) slipped to 237,364 units in May. Buick (+28.5%) and Cadillac (+9.2%) reaped gains with demand for their crossovers, while Chevrolet (-3.8%) and GMC (-5.2%) posted dips. Buick celebrated gains from the Encore, Envision, and LaCrosse, while Cadillac XT5 deliveries doubled and the Escalade and CT6 added strength. Chevrolet sold 162,950 units and recorded gains for the Camaro, Cruze, Express, Traverse, Trax, and incremental sales for the new Bolt. GMC pickup sales faltered but posted a major gain for the Acadia (+37.9%).

Hyundai Motor—Total deliveries at Hyundai (-11.5%) declined to 118,518 units. Hyundai and Genesis brands (-15%) sold only 60,011 new vehicles in May. The Tucson small SUV (+44%) was the top performer and the new Ioniq added incremental sales (1,827 units). Kia (-7%) deliveries fell to 58,507 units in May, despite a 19% gain for the Forte and additional sales from the new Niro hybrid (2,660 units).

Jaguar Land Rover—Jaguar Land Rover (+14%) reported its second-best May ever with 8,106 unit sales. Jaguar (+44%) sales escalated to 2,164 units with momentum from the F-Pace (1,440 units). Land Rover sales climbed to 4,993 units, led by the Range Rover Sport.

Mazda—Mazda (-7.9%) sold 26,047 units, but posted a best May for the CX-5 (+18.9%). The MX-5 Miata and CX-9 also were strong performers for the Japanese automaker.

Mitsubishi—Sales at Mitsubishi (+4.5%) rose to 9,429 units, led by the Outlander SUV.

Nissan North America—One of the better performers in May, Nissan (+3%) sold 137,471 units. The Nissan brand (+1.9%) delivered 124,957 units with a 22% increase for its SUVs. Again, the Rogue compact SUV (+19%) set a monthly record with 32,533 unit sales. Pathfinder and Murano sales grew, while the Titan and Armada were strong performers. On the car side, the Maxima and Leaf posted double-digit gains. Infiniti (+15.6%) bolstered overall results with 12,514 unit sales and strength from the Q50 and Q60 premium cars.

Subaru—Subaru (+12.1%) reported selling 56,135 units for a May high mark, with records for the month set for the Forester, Outback, and Impreza.

Toyota Motor Sales—May totals at Toyota (-0.5%) were 218,248 units, which translated to a 4.5% dip when selling-day adjusted. Toyota brand (+0.1%) sold 192,847 units, while Lexus (-4.8%) delivered 25,401 vehicles. Trucks were in demand with a best-ever May for the RAV4 (+18.9%) and Highlander (+22.5%). Gains also were recorded for the 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra. Lexus NX and LX SUVs celebrated double-digit increases. Toyota’s top-volume Camry (-11.8%) sold 32,547 units.

Volkswagen Group—Total deliveries at VW (+3.8%) rose to 49,509 units in May. VW brand (+4.3%) sold 30,014 units with best performances from the Golf and Jetta. Audi (+2.5%) delivered 19,197 units in May with double-digit gains for the Q7 and strength for the A4 and A5 cars. Porsche deliveries rose by 227 units to 4,805 units with boosts from the Macan and Panamera.

Volvo—Sales at Swedish automaker Volvo (+12%) increased to 6,202 units; the best seller was the XC90, with momentum for the XC60 (+18.9%).


Additional Research:


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