Crossovers and SUVs rule July US sales

By Bill Cawthon | 4 August 2016

US July SAAR numbers soared to 17.86m compared to 16.69m last month

US July SAAR numbers soared to 17.86m compared to 16.69m last month

US light vehicle sales squeaked by with a 0.5% gain in July, totalling just over 1.5m and beating last July's total by 7,760 units.

The small increase in volume did wonders for the seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR), which jumped from June 2016's 16.69m to a strong 17.86m. The figure was also nicely ahead of last July's SAAR of 17.58m.

The big news for the month is crossovers and SUVs. Utilities supplanted passenger cars as the largest segment by volume for the first time ever, taking 40.7% of the total market while car volume dropped 9.1% to a 38.1% share.

FCA's Jeep remains the top brand in the utility segment and FCA has sold the most utilities this year, however, General Motors got a nice boost from its models and took the top spot for July.

Cars still have the lion's share for the first seven months of the year, but that margin is getting slim.

A small gain at FCA, was more than offset by deficits at Ford and General Motors.

Sales by the Detroit 3 fell 1.7% as the trio lost a full point of market share.

The Korean automakers were the big beneficiaries, gaining a half-point as both Hyundai and Kia set new monthly sales records. The Japanese were next, picking up 0.4% as total sales rose 1.6%. American Honda, Nissan North America and

Subaru all set new July benchmarks. Toyota was the only loser in the group, with sales off by 1.4% bringing its year-to- date (YTD) deficit up to 2.5%.

The European carmakers delivered mixed results. BMW and Volkswagen Group both came up short by 0.5%, but Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo delivered large gains. Jaguar sales were up 173.6% in July as sales of the new F-Pace soared.

Volvo followed the rapid growth of the well-regarded XC90 to a gain of 52.8%.

When added to a modest increase in Mercedes-Benz deliveries, the European market share rose by 0.1%.

Mercedes-Benz edged out Lexus and BMW in the premium segment in July and still holds the lead after seven months.

While utilities get all the glory, the hot segments are vans, both commercial and passenger. Minivan sales rose 15.4% in July and have increased 22.3% YTD. LCVs grew 16.5% last month and are now 18.2% ahead of the same 7-month period a year ago.

Pickup sales, long regarded as a bellwether of the U.S. automotive industry, rose 4.2% but that growth was entirely due to mid-size trucks.

Sales of the smaller trucks were up 28.9% in July but sales of the larger models were essentially flat, a scant 373 units ahead of July 2015.

The market share for full-size pick-up, the third-largest segment of the U.S. marketplace, fell 0.1% in July. It's still up 0.4% for the year, but this bears watching to see if a trend develops. Ford, which issued a warning about the industry facing challenges for the

remainder of the year, depends on its best-selling F-Series pick-up for nearly a third of its sales, so any disruption in demand raises a red flag for the folks in Dearborn.

Industry analysts have widely varying outlooks for the industry. Some see sales falling below last year's record while others don't see a plateau until 2017 or 2018.

They all agree that it will take some significant spending to keep the pace going, even at the current level. Incentives are already eating away at the growth in average transaction prices and the competition for conquest sales should make the next five months quite interesting.

ManufacturerCurrent MonthVolumeDaily SalesMarket ShareFull YearVolume Change
00-1600-16ChangeRate Change00-1600-1620162015
FCA US LLC180,727180,1240.30%0.30%11.90%11.90%1,325,5361,269,2774.40%
Ford Motor Co.215,268222,014-3.00%-3.00%14.20%14.70%1,560,4381,510,3333.30%
General Motors Co.267,258272,512-1.90%-1.90%17.60%18.00%1,706,1731,778,057-4.00%
Detroit Total663,253674,650-1.70%-1.70%43.60%44.60%4,592,1474,557,6670.80%
American Honda*152,799144,7115.60%5.60%10.00%9.60%945,154899,3255.10%
Mazda North America27,91527,1572.80%2.80%1.80%1.80%173,269186,152-6.90%
Nissan North America*132,475130,8721.20%1.20%8.70%8.60%930,589867,3557.30%
Toyota Motor Sales214,233217,181-1.40%-1.40%14.10%14.30%1,412,0331,448,621-2.50%
Japan Total587,405578,3061.60%1.60%38.60%38.20%3,852,4203,781,8001.90%
Korea Total134,972127,3246.00%6.00%8.90%8.40%837,359809,4263.50%
BMW North America30,55132,161-5.00%-5.00%2.00%2.10%209,131231,044-9.50%
Daimler AG31,96531,2602.30%2.30%2.10%2.10%181,132182,124-0.50%
Jaguar Land Rover9,4736,25351.50%51.50%0.60%0.40%57,11246,40123.10%
Maserati North America811957-15.30%-15.30%0.10%0.10%6,0136,261-4.00%
Volkswagen Group**51,16553,852-5.00%-5.00%3.40%3.60%324,449348,336-6.90%
Volvo Cars North America8,5845,61952.80%52.80%0.60%0.40%45,23834,98529.30%
Europe Total132,549130,1021.90%1.90%8.70%8.60%823,075849,151-3.10%
Other (est.)3,0663,103-1.20%-1.20%0.20%0.20%51,21448,1906.30%
Total Light Vehicles1,521,2451,513,4850.50%0.50%100.00%100.00%10,156,21510,046,2341.10%

* 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