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October U.S. Auto Sales Slip, Propped Up by Demand for Trucks

October U.S. Auto Sales Slip, Propped Up by Demand for Trucks

By Philly Murtha, November 01, 2016

Updated 11/2/2016

Despite two fewer selling days in October this year, U.S. new-car sales were a mixed bag of gains and losses, with most of the strength coming from demand for SUVs and pickups. Additionally, several October records were set by Audi, Hyundai, Porsche, and Subaru.

A mid-month update from J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive projected a continuing sales slowdown. U.S. total (retail and fleet) auto sales could reach 1.35 million units in October 2016, down about 6% from last October in a comparison of actual sales totals, but off only 0.2% when selling-day adjusted.

General Motors said sales dipped 1.7% from a year ago, which translates to a small increase when adjusted for two fewer selling days. Detroit-based Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) posted a steeper 10.3% decline. Following a reporting delay due to a fire at company headquarters in Dearborn, MI, Ford Motor Co. posted a 12% drop in October auto sales.

Among Japan’s major automakers, Honda (-4.2%), Nissan (-2.2%), and Toyota (-8.7%) Groups posted lower deliveries in real terms, but the first two automakers posted gains when totals are selling-day adjusted. There also was good news for South Korea’s Hyundai Group (+1.2%), which posted an October record for its Hyundai brand.

The larger Europeans reported lower October tallies. Daimler Group (-2.1%) said Mercedes-Benz sales dipped just 1%, which meant the German brand would claim the U.S. luxury sales crown in October. BMW Group (-16.6%) said BMW car sales fell by 26.6%, although SUV demand rose 2.3%. A boost from Audi (+0.1%) and Porsche (+10.7%) could not offset VW brand’s (-18.5%) steep decline, which gave VW Group (-11.6%) a double-digit fall-off. Volvo sales dropped (-14.6%), while Jaguar Land Rover (+6.9%) deliveries rose.

Among the independents, Subaru (+4.1%) posted another year-over-year increase and Mitsubishi Motors (+2.8%) deliveries were up, while Mazda (-10.8%) sales slumped from last October.

Highlights: October 2016 Auto Sales

Following are October 2016 new-vehicle sales highlights for each major automaker:

American Honda—On a selling-day adjusted basis, Honda brand (-2%) and Acura SUVs set October records. Although total deliveries (-4.2%) dipped to 126,161 units and Honda brand sold 113,292 units, both were up on a selling-day adjusted basis. Honda Fit subcompact deliveries nearly tripled, while the CR-V celebrated a best October with 30,306 unit sales and HR-V climbed 46.5%. Acura (-20%) sold only 12,869 units but posted gains from the MDX and RDX crossover SUVs.

BMW Group—BMW Group (-16.6%) delivered 27,971 units last month. BMW brand (-18.4%) sales totaled 24,017 units with stronger performances for the 7 Series and X1 and X3 sport utilities. Mini (-3.3%) sold 3,954 units in October.

Daimler AG—Total sales (-2.1%) were 31,801 units. Mercedes-Benz (-1%) delivered 28,659 units with gains for the CLA-Class, S-Class, and SL-Class, plus increases for GLA-Class, GLC/GLK-Class, and GL/GLS-Class SUVs. The C-Class was the volume leader. Van sales (-2.7%) dipped to 2,724 units and Smart (-42%) sold just 418 units.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—FCA (-10%) deliveries fell to 176,609 units. Ram trucks (+12%) were in demand, while former star Jeep (-7%) in October only posted gains from the Grand Cherokee and Patriot SUVs. A bright spot for Dodge (-16%) was a 17% gain for the Journey. Chrysler (-45%) only sold 7,758 all-new Pacificas in October. Fiat slumped 24% even with a gain for its 500 model line and deliveries of 444 Spider roadsters.

Ford Motor Co.—Total sales at Ford Motor Co. (-11.7%) declined to 188,813 units in October. High points included the F-Series—sales crept up 0.1% to 65,542 units for a best October total since 2004—and Transit vans were up 9% from a year ago. Ford brand (-12.5%) sales slumped to 179,744 units. Lincoln (+6.9%) sales rose to 9,069 units with strength from the MKX, MKZ, and the new Continental.

General Motors—October deliveries at GM (-1.7%) totaled 258,626 units. Buick (+7.4%) was the only GM brand to post a gain with lifts from the Encore small SUV and incremental sales from the midsize Envision SUV, although flagship Chevrolet (-0.8%) sales only dipped to 181,964 units, while Cadillac (-9.4%) and GMC (-6.2%) posted larger losses. Chevrolet car sales gains included the Camaro, Corvette, Cruze, Sonic, Spark, and the plug-in hybrid Volt. Trucks with gains included the Colorado, Suburban, Tahoe, Traverse, and Trax. Also noteworthy is the fact that Chevrolet was the top-volume brand overall in October, outpacing the Ford nameplate by 2,220 units. Cadillac was bolstered by the Escalade and the new XT5. GMC got a boost from the Acadia, Canyon, and Yukon.

Hyundai Group—Total Hyundai Group (+1.2%) sales were up to 111,482 units. Hyundai brand (+4%) had its best October with 62,505 unit sales, bolstered by a 17% increase for the 2017 Santa Fe Sport and gains from the Accent, Elantra, Tucson, and Veloster. The automaker’s new premium Genesis brand sold 1,211 units. Kia (-1.2%) deliveries slipped to 48,977 units, despite October records for the Soul and Forte plus Rio and Sportage gains.

Jaguar Land Rover—Sales at Jaguar Land Rover (+ 6.9%) rose to 8,751 units for the British luxury car brands.

Mazda—October sales at Mazda (-10.8%) totaled 22,711 units despite gains from the CX-3 and CX-9 crossover SUVs.

Mitsubishi—Sales at Mitsubishi (+2.8%) rose to 7,637 units, dominated by the Outlander Sport.

Nissan Group—Nissan Group (-2.2%) delivered 113,520 units with strength from SUVs and trucks (+12.7%) and a slight rise from Infiniti (+0.6%). Nissan brand (-2.5%) sold 102,312 units with stellar increases from the Murano, Pathfinder, and Armada SUVs as well as improvements for the Frontier and Titan pickups. Infiniti sold 11,208 units, with gains from the Q60 plus new QX30, QX50, and QX80 crossover utilities.

Subaru—Subaru (+4.1%) posted an October record with 53,760 unit sales due to a surge for the Outback, Crosstrek, and Forester.

Toyota Group—Toyota Group (-8.7%) sales fell to 186,295 units—down 1.7% when selling-day adjusted. The Toyota brand (-9.1%), including Scion, delivered 161,492 units. SUVs were hot sellers, especially the Highlander, Land Cruiser, RAV4, and 4Runner. The Tacoma and Tundra pickups were overachievers, as was the small Corolla sedan. The Lexus brand (-6.2%) sold 24,803 units with strength from the GS on the car side, and the NX, RX, and LX SUVs.

Volkswagen Group—Settlements were reached last month in the diesel emissions cheating software scandal, but VW Group (-9.5%) sales fell in October to 47,404 units. VW (-18.5%) brand sold 24,779 units, with dips for the Jetta, Passat, and Tiguan. Audi (+0.1%) moved ahead to deliver 17,721units, led by gains for the all-new A4 as well as the Q7 SUV. Porsche (+10.7%) celebrated an October record of 4,506 unit sales with strength from the Macan.

Volvo—October deliveries at Swedish automaker Volvo (-14.6%) fell to 6,340 units.

Additional Research:

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