For the second year running U.S. light vehicle sales set a record with 17,550,351 sold during 2016. This surpasses the previous 2015 record year of 17,479,469. This is only partially good news for some automakers.
The bad news is that the ongoing increase of incentives, longer loan terms, growing sub-prime lending – including on trucks – and the fact that the Detroit Three can’t give away a car is potentially troubling. Helped by incentives of more than $8,000 at year end, the Ford F-Series pickup retained its title as the best-selling vehicle in the land at 820,799.
The upcoming 2018 model F-Series will have a standard 3.3-liter V6 engine, with direct-injection for increased efficiency projected to be rated at the same 282 horsepower and 253 lb.-ft. of torque as the previous model’s standard 3.5-liter V6. Closely following Ford is Chevrolet Silverado at 575,000. If you add GMC’s Sierra pickup at 220,000, GM is close to outselling Ford. FCA’s Ram was in third place at 489,000. There’s a big bet on oil prices staying low by the Detroit Three here. Moreover the Detroit three are under attack in the truck segment by Toyota, Nissan and Honda. We have all seen this movie before. (EPA Keeps 54.5 MPG Fuel Economy Rules in Place, Power of Ridgeline Ad takes on Other Small Pickups, First Look: 2016 Nissan Titan Full Size Pickup)
During 2016, offshore brands continue to sell many – seven out of ten – of the of the most popular light vehicles in the U.S. Everything told, international brands ended 2016 with sales of 9,657,687 vehicles for a 55% share of the U.S. auto market. In the all-important Top Ten Category that accounts for more than 25% of total U.S sales volume, it’s where the money is, there was not one Detroit Three vehicle after the pickups.
The Toyota Camry, deservedly, remained the best-selling car for the year with sales of 388,616 cars. The Honda Accord with sales of 345,225 was close behind, and now has more U.S. local content than Ford Motor vehicles. Crossover SUVs continued their unabated growth. The Honda CR-V was up +3.4 % at 357,000. The Toyota RAV4 ended the year up +11.6% at 352,000. The Nissan Rogue was up +14.9% at 330,000. This growth was in a total market that only increased +0.4%. Car sales at 7.7 million were down -8.1%. Light trucks at 9.75 million were up +7%.
In December, U.S. shoppers favored trucks, SUVs and crossover SUVs following what looks to be a permanent trend. The Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram pickups continued their one-two-three-lead in sales as noted, but the Nissan Rogue moved to fourth place with sales up +52.9% at 41,000 (330,000 CYTD). In fifth, the Honda CR-V was up +21.1% at 38,000 over last December, while the Toyota RAV4 took sixth place with sales up +16.8% at 37,000. The Honda Accord was the top-selling car for the month, but ended in seventh place at 34,000, followed by the Toyota Camry in eighth place at 33,000. The Honda Civic in ninth at 32,000, and the Toyota Corolla in tenth at 31,000. Nary a Detroit Three car in sight.