Toyota, Nissan, Honda sales edge up behind strong truck volume
Honda, Nissan and Toyota chalked up June U.S. sales gains while the Detroit 3 slipped as the industry appeared headed for its sixth straight monthly decline.
The advances at the biggest Japanese companies were all in the low single-digit range, fueled largely by truck sales. Ford retreated 5.1 percent after posting its first sales gain of the year in May. General Motors fell 4.7 percent while continuing to point to a reduction in lower-profit sales to daily rental fleets. Fiat Chrysler was down 7 percent.
As has been the case throughout the year, the results were marked by steep declines in car sales amid rising incentives.
U.S. light-vehicles sales, down 2 percent through May, were projected by analysts to fall again in June. The downturn follows seven consecutive years of rising demand, including records in 2015 and 2016.
The market is “catching its breath,” said Jeff Conrad, general manager of the Honda Division.
The seasonally adjusted, annualized sales rate is expected to come in at 16.6 million for June, based on the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg. GM on Monday also pegged the SAAR at 16.6 million.
June would mark the fourth straight month the SAAR has dropped below 17 million after six straight months above that threshold, including 18.38 million in December.
Company by company
Volume rose 2.1 percent at Toyota Motor behind a 3.2 percent gain at the Toyota Division, offsetting a 5.4 percent dip at Lexus. It was the ninth straight monthly decline for Lexus.
Nissan said June deliveries rose 2 percent, with volume up 1.2 percent at the Nissan brand and 11 percent at Infiniti.
At GM, volume was off 6.4 percent at Chevrolet, 3.6 percent at GMC and 12 percent at Cadillac. Buick, behind demand for the new Envision crossover, saw sales rise 16 percent.
GM’s sales have now dropped four out of six months this year. GM said June daily rental fleet shipments dropped by 11,000 vehicles, or 54 percent, over June 2016.
Ford Motor sales were dragged down by a 23 percent drop in car volume. Ford said its pickup and van sales rose 1.2 percent while SUV and crossover demand rose 3.2 percent. Deliveries dropped 5.4 percent at the Ford Division and rose 5.3 percent at Lincoln.
At Honda, deliveries edged up 0.8 percent behind record truck volume. Sales slipped 1.3 percent at the Honda Division but jumped 24 percent at Acura. Truck deliveries rose 1.9 percent to a June record of 70,067, with volume surging 31 percent at Acura.
The company cited “inventory issues” for a 1.6 percent drop in truck volume at the Honda brand. Overall, American Honda’s car sales slipped 0.3 percent last month.
“Against a sea of competitors clinging to market share via heavy incentives and fleet sales, Honda’s success is driven by retail customers attracted to a cadence of strong new products,” said Honda’s Conrad.
Fiat Chrysler volume dropped 7 percent, with every brand but Ram posting a decline. It was the company’s 10th straight monthly decline year over year.
FCA reported U.S. retail sales dipped 5 percent to 139,947 units last month while fleet deliveries dropped 15 percent to 47,401. The largest planned volume reduction in June fleet sales came at the Jeep brand, where fleet volume skidded 49 percent year over year. FCA said fleet sales represented 25 percent of its June deliveries.
Among other automakers, volume rose 12 percent at Subaru, 15 percent at the VW brand, 3.1 percent at Jaguar Land Rover and 5.3 percent at Audi, but slipped 15 percent at Mazda.
The number of selling days last month — 26 — was the same as June 2016.
Ahead of today’s reports, among major automakers, only Toyota, Honda and Volkswagen Group were forecast to post higher sales in June, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg. The steepest drops in volume were expected to be posted by Fiat Chrysler, Ford and GM.
“While six straight months of sales declines sounds troubling, June is sandwiched between two major holiday sales events, which makes it a bit of a gloomy month historically,” Edmunds.com analyst Jessica Caldwell said.
With inventories growing and demand weakening, automakers are cutting output and sweetening deals. J.D. Power says June new-car incentives averaged $3,955, up $249, while truck deal discounts averaged $3,494, up $350.
ALG estimates average U.S. light-vehicle incentives rose 9.7 percent to $3,550 in June from a year earlier. The biggest spenders on deals per new vehicle last month were Fiat Chrysler ($4,389), GM ($4,361), Nissan ($4,148), Ford ($4,157), VW ($3,460), Kia ($3,384) and Hyundai ($3,259), ALG estimated. (See incentive chart below.)
A rise in used-vehicle supplies spurred mostly by off-lease cars and some light trucks, lower fleet shipments and slowing retail demand have undermined volume this year.
Retail demand, a better measure of the industry’s financial health, is down less than 1 percent from 2016’s record levels. June fleet sales are expected to drop 20 percent at GM and 15 percent at Ford, according to estimates from JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst Ryan Brinkman.
The estimated average transaction price for light vehicles in the U.S. was $34,442 in June 2017, Kelley Blue Book estimates. New-vehicle prices have increased by $511, or 1.5 percent, from June 2016, while remaining relatively flat, down 0.1 percent, from last month.
“Transaction prices grew more slowly than normal in June, increasing less than 2 percent,” said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “As the industry enters a ‘post-peak’ environment for new-car sales, more pressure will be placed on transaction prices.”
Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas says the U.S. new-vehicle market is entering a period of an “eroding plateau,” when the SAAR remains at healthy levels but overall monthly unit volume continues to decline or remain flat year over year.
“The debate at this point is not whether or not the cycle will get worse, but rather if the cycle will be more of a gradual erosion, or if the cycle is in imminent danger. We fully acknowledge the datapoints are incrementally worse,” Jonas said in a report last month. “Datapoints indicate more of a steady erosion within the deeper part of the U.S. auto cycle, with the industry still solid on an absolute basis. U.S. volumes will likely remain elevated, supported by [automaker’s] incentives, and auto financing is still healthy.”
|Automaker||June 2017||June 2016||Pct. chng.||6 mos.
|BMW of N.A.||–||–||–%||–||–||–%|
|Fiat Chrysler Automobiles||187,348||202,421||–7.4%||1,067,362||1,144,283||–6.7%|
|Ford Motor Co.||227,166||239,096||–5.0%||1,294,397||1,345,170||–3.8%|
|Honda Motor Co.||139,793||138,715||0.8%||791,886||792,355||–0.1%|
|Hyundai Motor America||54,507||67,511||–19.3%||346,360||374,060||–7.4%|
|Kia Motors America||–||–||–%||–||–||–%|
|Jaguar Land Rover N.A.||8,706||8,448||3.1%||56,504||47,639||18.6%|
|Mitsubishi Motors N.A.||–||–||–%||–||–||–%|
|Nissan North America||143,328||140,553||2.0%||819,688||798,114||2.7%|
|Subaru of America||52,057||46,598||11.7%||304,810||279,458||9.1%|
|Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.||202,376||198,257||2.1%||1,155,165||1,197,802||–3.6%|
|Volvo Car USA||–||–||–%||–||–||–%|
|VW Group of America||47,099||42,485||10.9%||265,885||247,095||7.6%|
Numbers in this table are calculated by Automotive News based on actual monthly sales reported by the manufacturers and may differ from numbers reported elsewhere.
Source: Automotive News Data Center
**Renault-Nissan acquired controlling interest in Mitsubishi Motors on Oct. 20, 2016.
***Reflects Aston Martin, Ferrari and Lotus sales.
Fuente: Automotive News