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USA March 2019: Ram (+15.5), VW (+14.8%), Kia (+10.2%) defy market down 3.1%

Jetta sales are up 64.7% in March, helping Volkswagen up 14.8%.

It’s a third consecutive month of decline for the U.S. light vehicle market with March down -3.1% to 1.605.715 units, bringing the Q1 tally down -3.2% to 3.989.468. However a bright spot is the Seasonally Adjusted Annualised Selling Rate (SAAR) back up above 17 million for the first time in 2019 at 17.42m, up from 16.61m in February and 17.33m in March 2018. This year the U.S. market is artificially pushed by stronger fleet sales at +2.4% to 367.800 in March or 22.9% share vs. 21.7% a year ago. Vehicle prices continue to climb, with the average transaction price for a light vehicle up 2.3% year-on-year in March to $36,733 according to Kelley Blue Book, lifted by demand for pricey full-size pickups. More bad news for potential buyers is the average interest rate on a new vehicle loan at its highest in a decade: 6.36% in March according to Edmunds, up from 5.66% in March 2018 and 4.44% five years ago. Somewhat surprisingly, manufacturers contain their incentives, down 5% year-on-year to $3,604 per vehicle according to ALG (see brand detail below).

The Top 5 groups all see their volume drop year-on-year in March whereas the following 5 all gain ground. Ford Motor (-9.1%), General Motors (-8.3%), FCA (-7.7%), Nissan Motor (-3.7%) and Toyota Motor (-3.5%) dropping for the 5th straight month all fall faster than the market but the VW Group (+7.8%), Subaru (+6%), Hyundai-Kia (+5.6%), Honda (+4.3%) and the BMW Group (+0.4%) all edge up. Brand-wise, the Top 4 all drop: Ford (-5.5%) dominates ahead of Toyota (-5.1%), Chevrolet (-7.4%) and Nissan (-5.3%) with Honda (+4.1%) the only gainer in the Top 5, scoring record car and light-truck deliveries for the month. Jeep (-11.2%) is once again in difficulty, posting a third consecutive decline following 12 straight months of growth. But Ram (+15.5%) is the most dynamic brand in the Top 10 (and Top 19), Kia (+10.2%) shines with a double-digit gain and Subaru (+6%) extend its incredible run to 87 consecutive months of year-on-year increases. Below, Volkswagen (+14%) takes advantage of a 20% uptick in crossover deliveries and cars bucking the trend at +8%, Mitsubishi soars 36.9% to its largest monthly volume in 15 years (since March 2004), Tesla (+46%) continues to surf on Model 3 deliveries and Lamborghini (+90%), McLaren (+36.4%), Volvo (+16.2%) and Jaguar (+12.9%) stand out among smaller brands.

Blockbuster start: the Kia Telluride sells over 5.000 units for its 2nd month in market.

This report includes our exclusive BSCB estimates for GM and Ford models sales as these two companies now only report quarterly. Some strong selling nameplates have been estimated by ANDC. The Ford F-Series (-0.6%) edges down but continues to dominate the models ranking head and shoulders, selling almost twice the amount of the Ram Pickup (+9.4%), #2 overall for the 6th time in the past 8 months while the Chevrolet Silverado (-18.4%) is enduring a troubled generation changeover. The Chevrolet Equinox (+16.9%) surges ahead to take the lead of the SUV charts ahead of the Nissan Rogue (-15.1%) and Toyota RAV4 (-5.1%), both in difficulty, with the Honda CR-V (-0.1%) in tow. For once, a couple of passenger cars manage to climb up into the Top 7: the Honda Civic (+3.3%) is up 4 spots on February to #6 and the Toyota Camry (-4.7%) up two to #7. The Nissan Sentra (+2%) shoots up 8 ranks on last month to break into the Top 10 for the first time and outselling the Toyota Corolla (-22%) also for the first time. Other great gainers include the Tesla Model 3 (+166.7%), VW Jetta (+64.7%), Jeep Grand Cherokee (+25.7%), VW Tiguan (+21.9%) and Toyota Tacoma (+12.6%) singing a 17th straight month of upticks.

Newcomer: almost 2.200 BMW X7 found a buyer in the US for its inaugural month.

The Subaru Ascent (#64) continues to dominate new launches (<12 months) ahead of the Nissan kicks (#92) but just below these two the Kia Telluride manages an astounding result for its second month in market, up 131 spots to break into the U.S. Top 100 at #94 with over 5.000 deliveries. Below we find the Ford Ranger (#102), Cadillac XT4 (#130) and Honda Passport (#132). In March we welcome the BMW X7 directly at #150 with almost 2.200 sales and the Mercedes A-Class at #205 with just under 900 units.

Previous month: USA February 2019: Hyundai-Kia, Subaru, Ram strong in slowest start of the year since 2014

One year ago: USA March 2018: Largest gain in over 2 years, Jeep beats volume record

Full March 2019 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 285 models below.

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