Sure, the winning streak is over, but why not celebrate the fact that U.S. sales had not had a run of seven straight annual gains in a century?
Also, the last time a streak of this magnitude ended, sales did not decline a measly 1.8 percent as they did in 2017. Instead they cratered 27 percent.
Face it, these are still the good times.
A rare share gain for GM
It’s not every year that General Motors can celebrate an increase in market share. In fact, since 1990, GM’s share has dipped every year but three – 2001 and 2002, a period when the company’s “Keep America Rolling” campaign after 9/11 boosted share, and 2011, when its share increased 0.5 percent as it emerged from bankruptcy. GM fell every year since 2011 until last year, when it climbed to 17.4 percent from 17.3 percent.
Ford’s still the one
Ford won the title of best-selling U.S. brand for the eighth year in a row. But Toyota closed the gap a smidgen. In fact, Toyota’s 0.3-point gain in share was matched only by Subaru in 2017. Toyota went from 12.0 percent to 12.3 percent, the highest U.S. market share it has achieved since 2010.
Crossovers accounted for 35 percent of U.S. sales in 2017, up from 32 percent in 2016. Compact crossovers alone surged above 3 million in 2017, or nearly one in every five vehicles sold.
Behind Jeep’s steep fall
Jeep’s 11 percent sales decline had more to do with FCA US falling out of love with daily rental sales than consumers giving up on SUVs. Production of the heavily fleeted Patriot ended in late 2016 and Cherokee fleet sales were reduced as FCA moved Cherokee production to Illinois to build more Wranglers. In fact, Jeep’s sales fall might be the least worrisome double-digit sales loss in the industry. The brand’s two most important vehicles, the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler, held their own in 2017, despite aging designs.
The F gets an A
Ford’s F series outperformed the pickup pack in 2017 and nearly returned to the 900,000 level it last achieved in 2005. Oh, and make that 41 straight years that the F series has been America’s best-selling truck.
A record for Ram
Ram for the first time sold a half million pickups (500,723) in the U.S. And then there were those 98,000 trucks it shifted in Canada.
We kept on truckin’
Truck sales went from 61 percent of the market in 2016 to 65 percent in 2017. Where does it stop?
Benz extends its reign
Mercedes-Benz made it two luxury-brand titles in a row, and this time it held a commanding lead throughout the year. Lexus outsold Mercedes and BMW in December, but the late push was not enough to prevent Toyota’s luxury marque from slipping to third place behind BMW for the full year.
Super-U of America
Subaru ended 2017 with the best month in company history – notching 63,342 sales. Subaru of America now has a streak of 73 monthly year-over-year sales increases and nine consecutive record years. The brand not only passed Kia in 2017, it closed in on seventh-place Hyundai. Subaru trailed Hyundai by just 17,005 sales last year compared with a gap of 152,925 in 2016.
Shifting sands for sedans
Another first for 2017: Compact cars outsold midsize cars for the first time – and by a not-so-slender margin of 1,990,427-1,786,070.
Despite the first full year of Chrysler Pacifica sales, industrywide minivan volume dipped below a half million for the first time since 2011. Sales of the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sedona and Nissan Quest all declined.
FCA’s retreat from fleet
FCA US’ losing streak grew to 16 months in December. But its fleet mix dropped to 12 percent for the month from 19 percent a year earlier. For the year, FCA US sales dropped 8.2 percent to 2,059,376, but its 88 percent retail mix is the highest since it emerged from bankruptcy.
A new compact crossover king
The Toyota RAV4 won the compact crossover sales race for the first time, while the perennial champ, the Honda CR-V, slipped to third behind the RAV4 and the Nissan Rogue.
Camry vs. Civic vs. RAV4
The Toyota Camry remained the best-selling car in the U.S., holding off a stiff challenge from the Honda Civic. But Toyota’s midsize sedan did lose its title of best-selling Toyota to the RAV4 crossover.
The Honda Civic fell short of knocking off the Toyota Camry as America’s best-selling car, but it did regain its top spot in the compact segment, pulling ahead of the Toyota Corolla.
A streakin’ miracle
Audi extended its industry-best streak of year-over-year monthly sales increases to 98 months, as December deliveries rose 16 percent to 26,977. Audi also passed Buick in the sales rankings for the full year.
More made in Japan
U.S. sales of vehicles produced in Japan rose almost 10 percent in 2017, pushing the Japan-built share of the market from 10.2 percent in 2016 to 11.4 percent. Shares of vehicles made in North America slipped from 78.1 percent to 76.8 percent.