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USA First Half 2017: Rogue, CR-V and RAV4 outsell Altima, Civic and Camry in crossover rush

The Nissan Rogue is up 30% to #4. 

* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 310 models by clicking on the title *

Halfway through the year, the U.S. new light vehicle market shows a disappointing picture with sales down 2.1% on the same period in 2016 to 8.452.134 registrations, a drop of almost 185.000 units. If U.S. sales have clearly peaked, let’s keep in mind the comparison base is unusually harsh: 2016 marked a second consecutive record year and 7th consecutive year of growth, a pace that couldn’t be sustained forever. The thorn in the side of the U.S. market this year has more than ever been “classic” passenger cars, with the U.S. customer accelerating its migration towards light trucks, namely crossovers. Passenger cars are down a debilitating 11.4% over the First Half of 2017 to 3.224m units, with midsize cars down 14.2% to 1.42m, small cars down 9.8% to 1.35m and luxury cars down 6.3% to 0.453m. Reversely, light trucks gain 4.6% to 5.229m sales, with crossovers the engine of growth of the U.S. market at +8.6% to 2.516m, SUVs up 2.4% to .883m and pickups up 4.4% to 1.337m. A new element has reinforced the truck domination in the U.S. this year: the combined sales figure for SUVs and crossovers now outpaces passenger cars, up 7% to 3.398.585 vs. 3.223.549. This is a very symbolic overtaking as we’ll see further down this analysis.

The Honda CR-V is up 18% to #5. Picture caranddriver.com

Group-wise, the Detroit Three drop 4.1% to total 3.776m sales, with General Motors (#1) down 1.7%, Ford Motor (#2) down 3.8% and FCA (#4) down a harsh 7%. The “Japan There” resist better at -0.8% to 2.767m sales. Toyota Motor drops 3.6% and Honda Motor is down 0.1% but Nissan Motor manages to go against the grain with a 2.7% improvement to just under 820.000 sales. Hyundai-Kia suffers at -8.6% but Volkswagen Group (+9.1%) and Jaguar Land Rover (+18.6%) shine.

In the brands ranking, Ford remains comfortably in the lead despite a 4.2% decline while Toyota (+1.3%) steps away from Chevrolet (-3.8%) keeping in mind all ex-Scion models are now Toyota-branded. Nissan (+1%) and Honda (+0.7%) keep their head above the water, rounding out the Top 5. Just below, Jeep (-13.2%), Hyundai (-10.1%) and Kia (-9.9%) struggle while Subaru continues to march ahead at +9.1%, the largest year-on-year gain in the Top 20. Ram (+8%), Volkswagen (+8.2%), Buick (+5.9%) and Audi (+6.6%) also post solid gains. Outside the Top 20, notice Infiniti (+21.8%), Tesla (+42.7%), Jaguar (+88%), Maserati (+35.6%) and Alfa Romeo (+1152%) all posting spectacular gains.

The Toyota RAV4 is up 11% to #6. Picture caranddriver.com 

Over in the models ranking, the Ford F-Series sails off with a stunning 9% gain to just under 430.000 units in just six months. This is the second-highest H1 volume ever delivered by the F-Series, only a couple of thousand sales below the 432.939 hit over H1 2014 which ended up being the best year ever for the F-Series at 939.511 units. This means Ford’s best-selling pickup is in position to beat its all-time record this year, as it would only need a slightly higher H2 result to do so. Keep in mind though that the F-Series’ 2004 score was help by near-100.000 unit-months in both September and December… In 2nd place, the Chevrolet Silverado is in difficulty with a 4% drop to just under 263.000 units. It was outsold during three consecutive months (March to May) by the Ram Pickup, itself up 7% to a little over 250.000 sales.

The Ford F-Series posts its second highest ever H1 volume. Picture caranddriver.com

It’s just below that we witness the most symbolic changeover the U.S. market has witnessed in the past decade, no less. Now that all manufacturers have reorganised their factory allocation to quench the never-ending thirst for crossovers and SUVs of the American public, the inevitable has happened. All “Japan three” manufacturers have a crossover for best-seller, not a passenger car anymore. What is remarkable about this trend is that it has happened simultaneously for the three carmakers. Nissan replaces the Altima (-15%) by the Rogue, up an incredible 30% and 8 spots year-on-year to #4 overall. Honda replaces the Civic (-7%) by the CR-V up 18% and five ranks to #5 and Toyota replaces the Camry (-11%) by the RAV4 up 11% and three spots to #6. If you were still in doubt that crossovers were the engine of U.S. growth, here is your proof.

The Chevrolet Cruze is up 22%. Picture caranddriver.com

In the passenger car battle, the Toyota Camry is now feeling the heat from its smaller sibling the Toyota Corolla (-8%) now that the ex-Scion iM sales are added into the Corolla’s total as the Corolla iM. Good performers inside the Top 20 include the Chevrolet Equinox (+10%), the Jeep Grand Cherokee (+16%), Chevrolet Cruze (+21%) and Toyota Highlander (+22%). As far as recent launches are concerned, there are no all-new nameplates in the Top 130 but the Chrysler Pacifica (+440%) climbs up to #36, the Cadillac XT5 is up 313% to #81, the Nissan Titan up 301% to #95 and the Buick Envision up 15-fold to #100. The Kia Niro lands at #138, the Infiniti QX30 at #157, the Genesis G80 at #170, Chevrolet Bolt at #172, Lincoln Continental at #188 and the Toyota C-HR at #192.

Previous post: USA June 2017: Market down 3% for 6th consecutive month of decline

One year ago: USA First Half 2016: Is this the first soft landing in a decade?

Full H1 2017 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 310 models vs. Full H1 2016 figures below.

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