U.S. Auto Sales Continue to Fall, Slipping 2 Percent For The Year

Sales of trucks, SUVs, and crossovers continue to bolster U.S. auto sales, which have tapered for the first half of the year.

Overall, vehicle sales fell 2.1 percent for the first six months of the year and 3 percent in June. Sales of trucks and SUVs offset double-digit declines in passenger cars, with several automakers reporting sales records for larger vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Equinox, Toyota RAV4, and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Toyota Motor North America, which includes Lexus, posted its best-ever sales of light trucks and SUVs for the first six months of the year. The RAV4 compact crossover and Highlander mid-size SUV posted best-ever gains for June and for the first half of the year. Sales of the 4Runner SUV, Tacoma and Tundra trucks, and several Lexus crossovers also reported strong gains.

Overall, Toyota’s sales fell 3.6 percent year to date. “The auto industry has cooled off compared to last year’s record-breaking pace,” said Jack Hollis, group vice president and general manager for the Toyota division.

Trucks also set a June record at Honda, which posted flat sales for the first six months of the year, led by the HR-V subcompact crossover and the Ridgeline pickup truck. Honda’s Acura division reported increases for its two crossovers, the RDX and MDX.

Crossovers also outperformed cars at Nissan, which reported a 2.7% gain for the year. Its Infiniti division reported that SUV sales rose 23 percent for the year, led by the two largest models in its stable, the QX70 and QX80. Mazda’s sales fell 2.6 percent for the year, with a double-digit decline in car sales balanced by a gain for its SUVs.

Overall, sales at Fiat Chrysler slid 6.7 percent for the year, but its Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Renegade, Chrysler Pacific minivan, and the Ram pickup truck posted sales records. Ford’s sales fell 3.8 percent year to date, helped by increases for the Ford Expedition large SUV and F-150 pickup truck.

General Motors’ companywide sales also declined – slipping 1.8 percent for the year – but its crossovers overall, and the Chevrolet Equinox in particular, performed well. The company said that it expects sales of pickup trucks and SUVs to be even stronger in the second half of the year.

“Our crossover renaissance began last year with the introduction of the all-new GMC Acadia and Cadillac XT5, and continued this year with the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Equinox,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. vice president of sales operations. “The all-new Equinox is off to a strong start and we will leverage that momentum as we introduce four additional crossovers in the second half of 2017.”