Strong sales by Japanese brands helped bolster sales of new vehicles in August – led by Toyota, Honda and Subaru – despite warnings the market could be on the verge of softening.
American Honda – Honda and Acura – broke an all-time monthly sales records for total vehicles and trucks and the Honda brand also recorded its best-ever month, driven by record truck sales and robust passenger car sales.
Honda cars also enjoyed a big August, with Civic up 25.8% and Accord up 14.3%. Each topped 30,000 units in sales and even sales of the subcompact Fit gaining 58.2%.
The figures from Honda appear to indicate that buyers are taking a second look as passenger cars, which are less expensive than trucks and sport-utility vehicles as average transaction prices continue to climb.
Transaction prices for new cars continued to rise year over year in August. According to Kelley Blue Book estimates, the average transaction price for a new vehicle in the U.S. was $37,401, which is down slightly from last month but up 2% from year-ago levels.
Both Honda and Toyota have made a point of emphasizing they had no plans to exit the passenger car business.
Toyota Motor North America also reported August increase of 11.3% on a volume basis and up 7.4% on daily selling rate basis versus August 2018. Sales of the Corolla increased 15.2% and sales of the Camry increased 6.2%.
Overall, Toyota division achieved a best-ever August Lexus division posted an increase 4.6% on a volume basis and up 0.8% on a daily sales rate.
Hyundai Motor America reported a 12% increase when compared with August 2018 and the 13th straight month of increasing total sales on a comparative monthly basis.
Another big winner in August was Subaru, which posted a 9.3% sales increase and enjoyed its best year in history last month.
“In closing out August, we are ecstatic to see Subaru achieve its best sales month in our history, with a record 93rd month of consecutive sales increases,” said Thomas J. Doll, president and CEO, Subaru of America Inc. “It is through the dedication of our retailers in satisfying our customers that we continue to see growing demand for our products, which should result in another record year for our franchise.”
Volkswagen also posted a 9.8% sales increase as it enjoyed the best August sales in six years. August sales up 3% with the launch of the all-new Q3 and continued growth of A6, A7, A8.
Nissan brands sales increased by 16.2%, breaking a long losing streak, but Infiniti-brand sales continued to struggle falling by 14.9% in August.
Volvo also reported a 2.4% sales increase during August with the S60 sedan seeing the greatest percentage increase in sales, 58%. BMW brand sales increased 7.2% in August 2019, while Mercedes-Benz USA reported August increased 21.8% increase over August 2018.
“August was our eighth consecutive month of growth and represents our best year since 2007,” said Anders Gustafsson, president and CEO, Volvo Car USA and Senior Vice President Americas. “Certified by Volvo sales also continued tremendous growth, up 30% year-to-date,” he added. “In July Certified by Volvo was the fastest-growing Certified program in the U.S, according to independent data.”
Jaguar Land Rover today reported August 2019 U.S. sales: Jaguar Land Rover total August U.S. sales reached 8,700 units, a 10% decrease from August 2018; Land Rover sales were 6,572 units, down 8% from 7,179 in August 2018; Jaguar sales were 2,128 units, a 14% decrease from 2,469 units in August 2018. For the calendar year, Jaguar Land Rover achieved 79,581 units, an increase of 3% vs. 77,303 in 2018.
General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler no longer report monthly sales figures, but analysts were expecting all three to match or come in just below the sales pace from August 2018.
“August sales are coming in hot as aggressive incentives lifted the market above our forecast. However, the calendar is significantly impacting today’s results, so a clear interpretation of market strength is difficult. An increase in August sales over last year was almost guaranteed given the extra selling day and inclusion of the Labor Day holiday weekend with August’s results,” noted Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist, Cox Automotive
“And, the surprisingly strong numbers may be misleading. Although the retail/fleet mix is not yet known, the strong performance of some vehicle lines suggests heavy fleet activity may have occurred for some brands. There are also some worrisome signals in the reported results. Small car sales were up big for some OEMs, bucking recent trends, while their luxury brand numbers were weak. This may suggest affordability is having an increasingly large impact on consumer purchases,” he added.
Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds’ executive director of industry analysis, said, “The model-year sell-down is still in full swing, and automakers and dealers are moving things along just like they should at this time of year.”