Jeep sales have now been in the black for 65 consecutive months

Jeep sales have now been in the black for 65 consecutive months

Automakers were reminded of the impact the calendar can have on light vehicle sales here in the US. Labor Day - a key end-of-summer selling day - falls this year on the first Monday (the 7th) in September. In August 2014, it fell on 1 September but was included in the August sales tally.

Consequently, total US light vehicle sales last month were off, albeit slightly, down 0.6% compared to August 2014. However, that was better than expected; analysts had forecast a deficit of more than 2%.

About 1.577m cars and trucks were delivered in August. Even though that total was down, the seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) was a phenomenal 17.81m. That’s the highest since July 2005.

The Detroit Three handily beat the forecasts and, for good measure, picked up an extra 1.2% of market share.

Despite almost unanimous predictions that Fiat Chrysler’s long streak of year-over-year growth would end, healthy Jeep sales kept things in the black for what is now 65 consecutive months.

Ford reported a much better than predicted 5.6% gain, thanks to strong light truck sales. The redesigned F-150 truck line is finally coming on strong and the European designed, mostly US-built Transit van rules the LCV market.

General Motors beat estimates in that its shortfall was smaller than expected. The General's sales fell 0.7%, mostly due to a 24.7% plunge in car sales that swamped double-digit growth in light truck deliveries.

Total car sales fell 10.7% in August as buyers flocked to crossovers and SUVs. Cars gave up 4.8% of market share: they’re now just 3.7% ahead of total utility sales.

Falling car sales bit Honda, Nissan and Toyota, as well. Honda's passenger car sales were down 16.9% last month and they fell 6.9% at Nissan and 13.9% at Toyota. Toyota’s problems were compounded by a 7.2% drop in utility sales and a small decline in pickups turnover.

Unlike its parent brand, Lexus was solidly in the black in August and blew past BMW and Mercedes-Benz to take the top spot in the premium market. BMW still holds a small advantage in year-to-date sales, but that lead is eroding.

Sales of crossovers and SUVs rose 10.5% in August. Jeep remains the leading brand. At the end of August, it was over 55,000 sales ahead of runner-up Ford. Almost every brand of utility vehicles reported improved sales.

Pickups continue to outperform the market. Mid-size trucks are still the hot ticket with sales up 39.3%. Despite the competition from the new GM entries, the Toyota Tacoma is still the leader by a huge margin and has outsold combined deliveries of the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, and the Nissan Frontier.

With the BP refinery in Indiana back on line, petrol prices are beginning to come down in the Midwest. Current national average prices are nearly a dollar lower than at this time in 2014. Buyers of diesel-powered vehicles are getting a big break as diesel fuel is now priced lower than mid-grade petrol.

As there doesn’t look to be anything that would cause a meaningful rise in fuel prices, it wouldn’t be surprising to see crossovers and SUVs claiming a larger market share than passenger cars by the end of the year.

It’s almost a given at this point that light trucks will have an all-time record piece of the pie.

Manufacturer Current Month Volume Daily Sales Market Share Calendar Year-To-Date Volume
Aug-15 Aug-14 Change Rate Change Aug-15 Aug-14 2015 2014 Change
FCA US LLC 201,672 198,379 1.66% 5.57% 12.79% 12.51% 1,461,518 1,386,169 5.44%
Ford Motor Co. 233,880 221,373 5.65% 9.71% 14.83% 13.96% 1,744,213 1,698,197 2.71%
General Motors Co. 270,480 272,423 -0.71% 3.11% 17.15% 17.18% 2,048,537 1,984,451 3.23%
Detroit Total 706,032 692,175 2.00% 5.93% 44.77% 43.64% 5,254,268 5,068,817 3.66%
American Honda 155,491 167,038 -6.91% -3.33% 9.86% 10.53% 1,054,816 1,042,382 1.19%
Mazda North America 29,938 31,305 -4.37% -0.69% 1.90% 1.97% 216,091 216,973 -0.41%
Mitsubishi 8,289 6,786 22.15% 26.85% 0.53% 0.43% 65,701 52,807 24.42%
Nissan North America* 133,351 134,388 -0.77% 3.04% 8.46% 8.47% 1,000,706 960,317 4.21%
Subaru* 52,697 50,246 4.88% 8.91% 3.34% 3.17% 375,632 333,968 12.48%
Toyota Motor Sales 224,381 246,100 -8.83% -5.32% 14.23% 15.52% 1,673,002 1,627,509 2.80%
Japan Total 604,147 635,863 -4.99% -1.33% 38.31% 40.09% 4,385,948 4,233,956 3.59%
Hyundai* 72,012 70,003 2.87% 6.83% 4.57% 4.41% 514,175 501,448 2.54%
Kia* 58,897 54,667 7.74% 11.88% 3.73% 3.45% 426,160 404,389 5.38%
Korea Total 130,909 124,670 5.00% 9.04% 8.30% 7.86% 940,335 905,837 3.81%
BMW North America 32,864 32,219 2.00% 5.93% 2.08% 2.03% 264,668 246,712 7.28%
Daimler AG* 31,250 30,294 3.16% 7.12% 1.98% 1.91% 243,509 228,805 6.43%
Jaguar Land Rover 6,368 5,673 12.25% 16.57% 0.40% 0.36% 52,769 46,006 14.70%
Maserati North America 1,245 1,233 0.97% 4.86% 0.08% 0.08% 7,506 7,807 -3.86%
Volkswagen Group** 56,362 57,063 -1.23% 2.57% 3.57% 3.60% 404,698 394,453 2.60%
Volvo Cars North America 5,869 4,960 18.33% 22.88% 0.37% 0.31% 40,854 39,184 4.26%
Other (est.) 2,133 1,925 10.81% 15.07% 0.14% 0.12% 16,390 14,528 12.82%
Europe Total 136,091 133,367 2.04% 5.97% 8.63% 8.41% 1,030,394 977,495 5.41%
Total Light Vehicles 1,577,179 1,586,075 -0.56% 3.26% 100.00% 100.00% 11,610,945 11,186,105 3.80%

* indicates a sales record.

**Volkswagen Group figures include Audi, Bentley, Porsche and Volkswagen brands

Other includes estimated sales for Aston-Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, Rolls-Royce and Tesla

Source: Manufacturer's reported sales