U.S. Sales Soar in March Madness. Ford Edges GM as Number One. Toyota Bests FCA for Third. Trends or Quirks?

AutoInformed.comOnce again truck and SUV sales were soaring during March 2016 at 908,000 posting an +11.4% increase compared to 2015. Car sales at 688,000 declined -6%. The leaders of the pack, as always were Ford F-Series (74,000), Chevrolet Silverado (48.000), Ram (45,000).

However, if you consider the high-profit GMC Sierra pickup sales at 22,000 then you get a different picture of second place since Sierra comes off of the Silverado platform so the Ford Motor versus GM pickup battle remains closer than a cursory glance reveals.

As to Ford displacing GM from Number One in total U.S. sales – the margin was 936 vehicles ( F 253064, GM 252,128), not enough to call it a trend. Yet. Toyota Motor also outsold FCA by 6705 (TMS 219,842, FCA 213,187), a development that AutoInformed will follow for the remaining quarters in 2016.

After the Top Three offshore brands swept the remaining Top Ten spots. Toyota Camry held its lead as America’s top-selling car with a fourth place finish, followed by another mid-size sedan, the Nissan Altima in fifth place. The other mid-size, Honda Accord was in eighth place. In sixth place – sales climbing 21.8 % compared to last March, the Honda Civic posted the biggest sales improvement of all the Top Ten vehicles. The Toyota Corolla followed in seventh place, while the Toyota RAV4 crossover saw sales jump +15.1% in tenth place. Not a Detroit Three car in sight.

“International brands led the industry with strong sales in the month of March,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “They continue to be the most popular cars on American roads, a trend which looks to be continuing in 2016.”

Well, there is a glaring exception – beleaguered Volkswagen. The German cheater brand saw sales decline -10%  in a market that grew by +3.2%. Year-to-date VW brand sales are down -13%, and dealers are suffering as VW and EPA try to reach a resolution on how to fix, recall or buy back more than 500,000 dirty diesel vehicles.

Offshore brands finished the month with 55% of the market, up from 53.4% in February, but down from 56.1% during March 2015. International auto sales in the U.S. totaled 877,183 in March, up from 717,943 units sold in February and 867,097 a year ago.

Asian brands held 46.3% of the March auto market, up from 45.5% in February, down slightly from the 46.7% share held in March 2015. Overall, Asians sold 738,970 vehicles. European brands sold 138,835 vehicles for an 8.7% share of the March U.S. auto market. Their market share was up from 7.9% last month, down from the 9.4% share they occupied in March 2015.

European sales figures were up from the 105,922 vehicles they sold in February, but down from 144,972 last March. Detroit Three brands finished the month with 45% of the U.S. auto market, down from 46.6% last month but up from 43.9% in March 2015 all on truck sales. The Detroit Three sold 717,679 vehicles, up from March 2015 when they sold 678,705 vehicles.

AutoData says that the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) in March was 16.57 million units, versus 17.14 million units in March 2015. Total industry deliveries increased by 3.2% as stated compared to last March and 18.7% versus February’s delivery figures. Industry-wide, 1,595,484 light vehicles were sold in March, up from 1,545,802 in March 2015. Un-adjusted for business days, sales for all brands for the year increased 3.4% for the year-to-date.

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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