January U.S. Auto Sales Post Traditional Slump

January U.S. auto sales posted a seasonally adjusted annual rate, or SAAR, of 17.61 million units, per AutoData. Once again, trucks and SUVs increased sales,  as cars sales continued to drop. All told, 1,143,549 light vehicles were sold in January, down from 1,690,429 units sold in December and 1,164,372 units sold in January 2016. Un-adjusted for business days, sales for all brands were down -1.8% from one year ago. Offshore brands as a group bucked that trend, rising +0.9% from a year ago.

The Detroit Three finished the month with 45.6% share of the U.S. auto market with sales of 520,949 units. Although domestic market share improved from the 44.4% share they held in December, sales were down overall—these brands sold 751,105 vehicles in January. Sales figures for domestics also declined from January 2016 figures at a 47% share of the U.S. market selling 547,328 vehicles.

Offshore Brands Maintain Lead in U.S. Market 

International brands took a 54.4% share of the market. They held a 55.6 % share they held in December 2016 and 53 % in January 2016. Overall sales totaled 622,600 units, down from 751,105 in December, but up from 617,044 sold last January.  For Asian brands, January sales totaled 515,914 units, earning them a market share of 45.1%, down from 45.7% in December, but up from 44.5% last January.

Sales totals were down from 772,421 vehicles sold last month and 517,898 sold January of last year. European brands logged a 9.3% share of the January U.S. auto market with sales of 106,686 units. The numbers were a decline from December 2016 sales figures when they sold 166,903 vehicles and occupied a 9.9% share of the market. However, they were up +7.6% over last January when they sold 99,146 vehicles to U.S. consumers and held an 8.5% market share.

Demand for trucks continued to surge with the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram pickups dominating the top three spots on the month’s top ten list. International brands had multiple SUVs at the top of the charts for the month, led by the newly redesigned Honda CR-V, which finished the month in fourth place. Sales for the vehicle were up +52.5% over last January. In fifth place, the Nissan Rogue saw a sales increase of +45.5%, while the Toyota RAV4 was also a strong small SUV. It finished the month in seventh place with sales up +2.8% compared to last January 2016.

Trucks  and SUVs are currently leading the U.S. market, cars – specifically the Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, and Toyota Corolla are strong players. The Detroit Three can’t give away a car. Although overall sales were down -13.6% from last January, the Honda Civic was the most popular car in America for the month, followed by the Toyota Camry in ninth place—with sales down -24.3%—and the Toyota Corolla in tenth—which saw sales slide by -10.1%.

About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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