U.S. Auto Sales Cool Off a Bit in January
January new-vehicle sales in the United States cooled from a hot ending in December 2016. The Detroit Three automakers—Ford Motor Co. (Ford), General Motors (GM), and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US (FCA US)—reported declines, while Japan’s Toyota Group sales also fell. On a brighter note, Japan’s Honda and Nissan Groups plus Europe’s Volkswagen (VW) Group saw improvements and set some monthly records in January 2017. Overall industry sales fell 1.9% in January.
Total sales for January—usually one of the year’s weakest sales months—dipped nearly 2 percentage points from a year ago to about 1.1 million units, as estimated by J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive in a recent sales update. Light trucks continued to outpace cars, incentives were hefty, and inventories were high, according to the update.
Ford (-0.1%) sales slipped the least among the Detroit Three, while GM (-3.8%) sales were off for three of the automaker’s four brands. FCA US sales fell 11.2%. Among Japan’s majors, Nissan Group (+6.2%) and American Honda (+5.9%) posted January bests, while Toyota Group (-11.3%) sales sagged. Hyundai Group (-1.4%) sales dipped, although the Hyundai brand posted a January record.
European automakers posted better results in January than their domestic and Japanese counterparts. Although BMW brand (+0.1%) sales edged up in January, Group (-0.5%) sales slipped, while Daimler rose 3.5% due to a January record set by Mercedes-Benz (+3.5%). VW Group (+17%) continued to climb back after settling its diesel emissions cheating debacle. Jaguar Land Rover (+29.9%) advanced with demand for SUVs. The three independents posted increases, led by Mazda (+10.1%), Subaru (+ 6.8%), and Mitsubishi (+3.1%).
Highlights: January 2017 Auto Sales
Following are January 2017 new-vehicle sales highlights (based on actual totals) for each major automaker:
American Honda—Deliveries at American Honda (+5.9%) rose to 106,380 cars and SUVs, setting a January record for the automaker. Honda brand (+7.7%) sold 97,178 new units, while Acura (-10.2%) faltered and delivered 9,202 premium cars and SUVs. Honda brand’s truck sales soared (+30.2%). The CR-V compact SUV set a new January record (+52.5%) and HR-V sales escalated (+36.2%), while the new Ridgeline pickup added incremental sales. Acura sold fewer units in January, with only the RDX posting a rise (+3.2%).
BMW Group—BMW Group (-0.5%) delivered 21,219 units in January. BMW brand (+0.1%) sales rose by 27 units to 18,109 deliveries with gains from SUVs (+35.1%), including the X1, X3, and X5. Mini (-4%) sold 3,110 units.
Daimler AG—Daimler Group (+3.5%) sales totaled 27,900 units in the first month of 2017. Mercedes-Benz (+3.5%) was January’s premium brand sales leader and delivered 25,527 units, setting a monthly record with gains for its top-volume C-Class (+27.1%), E-Class (+48.9%), and GLE (+8.4%). Van (+7.9%) sales rose to 2,049 units, while Smart (-18.8%) sales totaled 324 units.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—FCA US (-11%) deliveries fell to 152,218 units in January despite a lift from Ram trucks (+5%). Jeep (-7%) sales slipped even with January records for the Renegade and Grand Cherokee. Chrysler (-39%), Dodge (-17%), and Fiat (-9%) brands sold fewer units in January, with better performances from the new Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Journey, Fiat 500, and Spider, and 108 unit sales for Alfa Romeo.
Ford Motor Company—Deliveries at Ford (-0.6%) dipped to 172,612 units (including heavy trucks) in January with strength from SUVs (+7%) and pickups (+5.5%). America’s best-selling model, the F-Series (+12.5%), sold 57,995 units last month. Ford brand (-1.6%) delivered 163,827 units and remained the top-volume brand in January, with gains for the Escape, Explorer, Expedition, and Fiesta. Lincoln (+22%) continued to reap gains with 8,785 deliveries, led by the MKX, MKC, Navigator, and the new Continental.
General Motors—January sales at GM fell 3.8% to 195,909 units. Only GMC (+1.1%) posted a gain, while Chevrolet (-1.1%) posted the smallest dip with 135,170 unit sales, followed by Cadillac (-4.1%) and Buick (-28.2%). Top performers for Chevrolet included cars: Cruze, Spark, and the Volt EV. Suburban, Traverse, and Trax SUV sales rose, while Silverado and Colorado pickup totals climbed. Other GM models to post stronger sales in January included the Buick Cascada, Cadillac Escalade ESV and the new XT5, and the GMC Acadia and Yukon.
Hyundai Group—Collectively, Hyundai and Kia sales dipped 1.4% to 82,129 units. However, Hyundai brand (+3.3%) set a January record with 46,507 unit sales. The Santa Fe SUV was a top performer, while the Elantra, Accent, and Veloster were up in double digits. New luxury brand Genesis built momentum with 1,818 sales, up 5% from December. Kia (-7%) brand sales declined to 35,626 units, with the only gain coming from the Forte compact car.
Jaguar Land Rover—Jaguar Land Rover (+29.9%) deliveries reached 9,102 units with triple-digit demand for Jaguar’s new F-Pace. Land Rover sales improved 9% to 6,163 units, and Jaguar sales more than doubled to 2,939 units.
Mazda—Best January sales in five years were reported by Mazda (+10.1%), which sold 21,698 units with strength from the CX-5, CX-9, Mazda 6, and MX-5 Miata.
Mitsubishi—January deliveries at Mitsubishi rose 3.1% to 6,457 units, with the Outlander SUV up 9.4%.
Nissan Group—Nissan Group (+6.2%) delivered 112,319 new vehicles in January 2017 with truck and SUV deliveries surging 22%. Nissan brand (+4%) sold 100,761 units with another record January for the Rogue, its best-selling model. Pathfinder, Titan, and Armada sales also climbed in double and triple digits. Infiniti (+35.8%) added momentum with 11,558 unit sales and SUV demand rising by 43.9%. Top performances were turned in by the Q50 and QX60, and demand for the new Q60 coupe added incremental sales.
Subaru—Japanese automaker Subaru (+6.8%) set another January record and sold 43,879 units, with best January totals for the Outback and Forester.
Toyota Group—January deliveries at Toyota Group (-11.3%) declined to 143,048 units. Toyota brand (-9.2%) sales fell to 127,476 units in the first month of 2017, although the RAV4 and Highlander set January records and total SUV deliveries rose 8%. Yaris sales rose significantly, while deliveries of the automaker’s bread-and-butter Camry (-24.3%) fell to 20,313 units. Premium Lexus (-25.6%) sales slumped more than most to 15,572 units, without any year-over-year gains for any of its models.
Volkswagen Group—VW Group (+15.1%) sales totaled 36,560 units, rising after a year of declines following resolution of its diesel engine emissions cheating scandal. VW brand (+17.1%) sold 23,510 units, with double-digit increases for the Tiguan, Golf SportWagen, and Passat. Audi (+11.4%) delivered 13,201 units, with the Q3 and Q5 SUVs and A4 and A6 sedans leading volume gains. Porsche (+5.7%) set a January record with demand for the Macan.
Volvo—Sales at Volvo (-18.2%) slipped in January to just 3,472 units.