Car and truck sales in the United States were quite good last month, with new models and heavy discounting bringing an industry-wide 5.2% gain in volume — bringing the year’s gains, over six months, to 2%.
One of the big winners was Fiat Chrysler, with an 8% overall gain and the best retail sales since — believe it or not — 2004. The driver at FCA was Jeep, with 86,989 sales, nearly 14,000 more than in June 2017 (a 19% gain). Put Ram, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, and Fiat together, and you get fewer sales than Jeep alone. Overall, FCA is up 4.5% for the first half of the year — even though Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, and Ram all fell. It’s all on Jeep’s 22% gain, which led to 495,022 sales over six months — easily beating Ram (260,341) and Dodge (250,933). Even Alfa Romeo, incidentally, beat Fiat, 12,265 to 8,285.
Things looked good at the mighty General Motors, too; Mary Barra has continued and accelerated GM’s turnaround, with a 6% estimated gain over June, and a definite 4% gain in the first half. Ford gained 1% for the month, but is still 2% behind for the first half of the year, largely due to dropping sedan sales; Lincoln is down by 11% for the year.
World behemoth Toyota’s new TGNA platform is yielding results, with a 3.6% gain for the month and a 3% gain for the year; their 1.2 million sales were bested only by GM (1.4 million) and Ford (1.3 million), neatly beating FCA’s 1.1 million. Lexus was down around 3% for the month, but is up 1% for the year; with 135,000 sales so far this year, Lexus easily beats Lincoln and Genesis combined.
If you’re into luxury cars, so far this year Mercedes is #1, with 175,758 US sales for January-June. BMW has stopped its disastrous “do anything to beat Mercedes” campaign and stands at 153,386. Audi, with the 50 Shades books in the rear-view mirror, sold around 108,000 cars, and Porsche, from the same company, sold 29,421. As for the new kids on the block, Tesla’s 36,000 cars are a 36% gain over the first half of last year; Maserati fell 17% to 5,563, and Alfa Romeo rose 230% to 12,265.
The losers for the first half of 2018 were plentiful — Nissan (down 5%), Mercedes (down 2%, with “Smart” sales down 67%), VW’s Bentley (down 15%), Hyundai-Kia (down 2%, with the profitable Genesis plunging 27%), Honda/Acura (down 0.5%), Ford (down 2%, with Lincoln down 11%), and FCA’s Fiat, Dodge, Chrysler, and Ram — with Fiat down 44% from already tiny numbers. The 7% Ram shortfall must hurt almost as much as Chrysler’s 13%.
The author of Dodge Viper, Jeep’s Go-Anywhere Vehicles, and The Rise and Reinvention of Chrysler Minivans, David Zatz has been writing about cars and trucks since the early 1990s; he also writes on organizational development and business at toolpack.info and covers Mac statistics software at macstats.org. His latest book, for kids, is Meet the Jeep.
David has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. You can reach him by using our contact form (preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304.