International Nameplate Sales Declined Slightly in 2017

Market Watch 01/04/18

Echoing the industry-wide trend for the year, international brand sales in the U.S declined slightly in 2017. Despite the downtick, dealers remain optimistic at prospects in 2018.

International brands were led last month by Audi (up 16.3 percent from last December), Hyundai (up 1.8 percent), and Mercedes-Benz (up 9.4 percent). Subaru's sales rose 0.3 percent in December to 63,342 vehicles, making 2017 its best year ever with a total of 647,956 vehicles sold. Despite being down seven percent in sales from December 2016, American Honda, which includes the Acura division, set an annual sales record in 2017 of 1,641,429 vehicles sold, up 0.2 percent from 2016. Light trucks continued to drive demand last month, rising 4.3 percent as a segment for the year, while cars continued to lag, slipping 10.9 percent.

“Dealers are entering 2018 with an optimistic outlook,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “Despite the expected slip in sales, the auto market remains healthy and consumer interest in new vehicles, particularly trucks and crossovers, is high.”

International Brands Finish 2017 Ahead of Domestics

International brands captured 55 percent of the U.S. auto market in December and 55.7 percent for 2017 overall. December market share figures were down slightly from the 56.2 percent share they held in November, although overall sales were up, totaling 882,393 units for the month.

For the year overall, international brands held 55.7 percent of the U.S. auto market and sold 9,590,918 vehicles. Overall market share increased slightly from 2016 when Asian and European brands held 55.1 percent of the U.S. market, but overall sales dipped from the 9,657,730 vehicles they sold in 2016.

Asian brands captured 44.7 percent of the U.S. auto market in December, down from 45.9 percent in November. Sales of 715,897 vehicles represented an improvement over 639,223 vehicles sold in November. For the year overall, Asian brands occupied 46.3 percent of the U.S. auto market and sold 7,985,746 vehicles. Figures were down 1.2 percent from 2016 when they sold 8,083,770 vehicles and occupied 46.1 percent of the market.

European brands logged a 10.4 percent share of the December auto market and sales of 166,496 vehicles, an increase over the 10.3 percent share they held in November and sales of 143,065 vehicles. For 2017 overall, these brands captured 9.3 percent of the U.S. auto market and sold 1,605,172 vehicles, putting them ahead of their 2016 sales totals when they occupied 9 percent of the market and sold 1,573,960 vehicles.

Domestic brands closed out 2017 with 45 percent of the U.S. auto market and sales of 720,736 vehicles, up from a market share of 43.8 percent and sales of 610,722 vehicles in November. Overall in 2017, domestic brands occupied 44.3 percent of the U.S. market and sold 7,639,518 vehicles. Figures were down 3.2 percent from the 45 percent share they held in 2016 and year-end sales of 7,892,664 vehicles.

Americans Close Out 2017 with Trucks and SUVs

December’s list of top-ten sellers was populated primarily by trucks and SUVS, continuing a trend that dominated 2017. The Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram pickups continued to lead among shoppers, occupying the top three spots. Shoppers looking for SUVs preferred the Nissan Rogue (fifth place), Honda CR-V (sixth place), Chevrolet Equinox (seventh place), Toyota RAV4 (eighth place), and Ford Explorer (tenth place).

The Toyota Camry finished the month in fourth place, making it the top-selling car in the U.S. It was joined on the month’s top-ten list by the Honda Civic.

American Dealer Lots Rely on N. American Manufacturing

North American manufacturing units supplied 542,364 vehicles for the U.S. auto market in December. These figures included 222,159 Asian cars; 275,853 Asian trucks; 15,804 European cars; and 28,548 European trucks. For the year overall, these units supplied 6,074,826 vehicles to U.S. dealer lots, including 2,766,496 Asian cars; 2,842,525 Asian trucks; 240,780 European cars; and 225,025 European trucks.


AutoData Corp. reports that the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for December was 17.9 million units versus 18.2 million units a year ago. Total industry unit deliveries, unadjusted for business days and including all brands, decreased 5.2 percent compared to last December and 1.8 percent from 2016, marking the first year since the Great Recession that auto sales did not grow. International nameplate brands were down six percent from December 2016 and 0.69 percent when compared to the whole of 2016.