Upward We Go
We are in the midst of what could easily prove to be the single largest US auto sales year in history. If trends are correct the US market will hit 17.7 million units sold before the calendar turns to 2016 which is simply amazing considering only a few years ago the industry was struggling to project even 10 million. This is of course new car sales and doesn’t account for the certified preowned or other markets, which is even larger, but with such amazing sales we can certainly appreciate the awesome numbers we are seeing right now.
In the middle of all this sales, the month of August was a reasonably good month with sales for the month flat to last year, but the overall sales for the year are up four percent over last year. So what segments were popular in August and which ones are just barely hanging by a thread? Let’s take a look at what we say during this previous month that might give us an idea as to what sales will continue to be like and what categories have become the most popular or are growing at a rate that is better than the others.
Miniature Crossovers are Taking Over
Last year we started to see movement toward the compact crossover market, but this year with many new entries into the category the sales have virtually exploded. It seems that we have told automakers what we wanted and they listened. These small SUVs showed an increase in sales of 64 percent over last year for the month of August and are simply becoming the cornerstone of the automotive market and why wouldn’t it be? Don’t we all want a vehicle that drives like a car but gives us some added space for more stuff and better elbow room?
Wagons Keep Lagging Behind
Actual wagons are not getting the attention you might think they deserve, which is a direct and lasting effect of the trend toward the tiny SUVs. For August there were only 15,000 units that were real wagons that were sold. It probably doesn’t help that there are only seven wagon models to choose from. It should be no surprise that the Subaru Outback made up most of these wagons for August with an overall sales total of 11,113 units alone. This trend is pretty simple to see, we want the capabilities of an SUV in a smaller version, but don’t want the cumbersome feeling a wagon brings, even though the added space is always appreciated.
More Midsized Pickup Sales
With only four real models and the few Ridgelines still in the market the growth for the midsized trucks was up 31 percent for August and 49 percent year to date. This is without an entry from Ford which makes for a serious surprise. The Tacoma continues to lead the way, but the Colorado and Canyon are not far behind, leaving the Frontier to bring up the rear. Once Ford does unleash the new Ranger on the market this segment just might explode as weekend warriors stake their claim for the trucks that give them everything they need.
Minivans Continue to Lose Ground
The sales for Minivans continue to plummet although they are still much better than wagons at 44,487 units during August across the six models on the market. Two of them did show growth, the Sedona and the Odyssey, but otherwise the minivans all took a huge hit with the FCA models down several thousand units and the Quest showing up at an almost completely forgotten total of 658 units. Even though two models showed some growth its becoming more obvious than ever that minivans are on their way out of the market and will probably follow quickly behind wagons when they are finally gone, both being bullied by the massive SUV market.
Better and Showing It
The Commercial van market did show an increase last month with several thousand more commercial vans sold than in the past. Ford had the highest sales they have had in 37 years in May and has continues to ride that wave through August with their smaller commercial vans which are considered some of the best for the business world. Even the large commercial vans showed growth in August and you can see a transition for many businesses to these vehicles for deliveries, storing needed tools and products and certainly as the right vehicles to make a huge difference in the transportation market as well.
With August behind us, the results are really not surprising with SUVS, especially the small ones, leading the way with excellent growth and continued interest. As we wind down the model year and the 2016 models start to show up on dealer lots it will be interesting to see what vehicles off the best deals for us to enjoy and show the highest growth trend to either finish 2015 or to begin the 2016 selling season.