International Nameplate Auto Sales Held Steady in February

Market Watch 03/02/18

Despite a slowing U.S. auto market, international brands maintained a strong presence in February. International brands were led last month by Audi (up 12.4 percent from last February), Mazda (up 12.7 percent), and Toyota (up 4.4 percent). Toyota had its best February ever for light truck sales, while Subaru, up 3.8 percent, hit its 75th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases. Throughout the industry, light trucks continued to drive sales demand last month, rising 3.8 percent as a segment, while cars lagged, slipping 12.6 percent.

“Auto sales have been steady for the start of 2018,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “At around 17 million units a year, that’s a healthy place to be. Our dealer members are focused on what they do best: selling quality products at competitive prices with excellent customer service.”

Despite Market Slowdown, International Brands Remain Strong

International brands finished February with 55.4 percent of the market, down from the 57.4 percent share they held in January, but up slightly from 53.9 percent in February 2017. Overall, they sold 720,982 vehicles for the month, up from 662,412 vehicles in January, and up slightly from 719,376 vehicles in February 2017.

Asian brands occupied the highest share of the U.S. auto market with 46.1 percent, down from 47.6 percent in January, but up from the 45.5 percent share they held in January 2017. Sales of 600,402 vehicles for the month were an improvement over January when they sold 549,805 vehicles, but were down 1 percent from February 2017 when they sold 606,706 vehicles.

European brands occupied 9.3 percent of the market and sold 120,580 vehicles. While their market share was lower than January, overall sales were an improvement over the 112,607 vehicles sold last month. With Volkswagen leading the charge, European brands saw an 8.4 percent improvement over February 2017 sales figures when they sold 112,670 vehicles and occupied 8.4 percent of the market.

Finally, domestic brands finished the month with 44.6 percent of the market and sales of 581,146 vehicles—down 5.4 percent from February 2017 when they occupied 44.6 percent of the market and sold 614,134 vehicles. In January, they occupied 42.6 percent of the market and sold 492,473 vehicles.

Trucks, SUVs Remain Top Choices for Shoppers

Seven of the top ten selling vehicles in February fell into the truck or SUV category. The Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado pickups remained on top, although sales for the Silverado fell by 16.3 percent from last February.

In third place, the Nissan Rogue remained the top selling SUV for the month, with sales up 15 percent over last February. The Toyota RAV4 also saw strong sales, taking the sixth place spot for the month with sales up 13.3 percent. The Honda CR-V took seventh place, but sales for the model were down 19 percent. In ninth place, the Chevrolet Equinox saw a sales improvement of 7.1 percent.

Cars were down, but not out entirely for American shoppers. The Toyota Camry saw sales up 12.2 percent and finished the month in fifth place. The Honda Civic was down 4.5 percent and logged an eighth place finish, while the Toyota Corolla finished in tenth and saw sales slide 7.3 percent.


North American Manufacturing Plays Pivotal Role in Vehicle Supply 

NAFTA negotiations continue, but North American vehicle manufacturing is still strong. In February, facilities located in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico supplied 451,463 vehicles for American dealer lots. Asian automakers built 421,807 vehicles, including 201,042 cars and 220,764 trucks. European automakers built 29,656 vehicles in North America. These included 10,400 cars and 19,256 trucks.


AutoData Corp. reports that the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for February was 17.08 million units versus 17.45 million units a year ago. Total industry unit deliveries, including all brands and unadjusted for business days, decreased 2.4 percent compared to last February. Sales were down 12.7 percent compared to January 2018. International nameplate brand sales were essentially flat, up just 0.2 percent from February 2017.