The August weather may have been tepid in much of the country, but auto sales were anything but. Car and light-truck sales scorched to a new August record of 159,004. That was a 6.5-per cent gain over the same month last year, and 11 per cent above the August average over the previous 10 years. The previous August record of 158,400 was set in 2007.
It wasn’t quite a case of “a rising tide lifts all boats.” General Motors and Toyota essentially stagnated in August, while the BMW Group and Kia saw sales declines.
Ford and Chrysler matched the market while Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Subaru substantially outperformed the overall market and helped propel the Japanese bloc to an 11-per cent advance. The Americans (up 4.7 per cent combined), Europeans (4.3 per cent) and Koreans (3.1 per cent) all trailed the Japanese.
Chrysler claimed that as of August, its year-to-date sales are the highest since 1988. Ford, however, remains the market leader.
Total market year-to-date sales now stand 3.4 per cent ahead of last year’s pace. Despite August’s reversal, the Detroit Three are slightly outgrowing the imports (3.8 vs. 3.0 per cent) while light trucks have outperformed cars (5.6 vs. 0.7 per cent) and have grown their share of the market from 54.4 to 55.6 per cent.
While Detroit has raised its car and truck sales in roughly equal measure, the imports’ growth has been entirely on the truck side – up 9.2 per cent while cars have shrunk 0.7 per cent. Where is that coming from? One surprising part of the answer is Subaru’s XV Crosstrek. A new addition to the lineup last year, the Impreza-based crossover has achieved almost 4,000 sales so far this year.
As well, the Nissan Pathfinder in its new crossover identity is outselling its more truck-ulent predecessor by 300 per cent.
And then there are all those compact CUVs. Mazda CX-5 sales are up 61 per cent, the Subaru Forester 41 per cent, Toyota RAV4 29 per cent. But it’s not just the mass-market models doing so well: the BMW X3 is up 42 per cent, the Acura RDX up 34 per cent the Audi Q5 up 28 per cent and the Mercedes GLK up 20 per cent; in fact the Q5 is the top-selling model in Audi’s entire lineup, car or truck.
Midsize CUVs are also contributing to the imports’ truck growth: aside from the Pathfinder, the Mazda CX-9, Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot are all at least 20 per cent ahead of last year’s pace.
Among the top-selling models overall, the incredible Ford F-Series remains unassailable, while GM’s Silverado/Sierra twins are consolidating their hold on second place – a position they had unprecedentedly lost to the Dodge Ram earlier in the year.
Similarly, the Honda Civic has recovered its passenger-car leadership from the Hyundai Elantra, outselling its challenger by more than 2,000 units in August alone. The Honda CR-V, meanwhile, is barely hanging on in the Top 10, just 15 units ahead of the Chevrolet Cruze, while the charging Toyota RAV4 threatens to overtake both of them.