Don’t let the slight decline for the year fool you, GM had a fantastic 2016. Retail sales were up nearly 2% as GM slashed sales to rental car companies, opting for customers that produce profit margin. Retail sales climbed to 80.4% of GM’s total, up from 78% in 2015. Sales of the newly launched Chevrolet Malibu were up 17% for the year, and highly profitable trucks and crossovers performed well.
The only Detroit automaker to post a gain (1,535 more vehicles than a year ago), Ford took advantage of the growing popularity of trucks and SUVs. A 6.5% increase in truck sales and a 4.3% rise in SUVs made up for the 14.0% dive for the company’s car business.
Toyota’s car-heavy lineup was a tough sell as gas prices remained low and SUVs grew in popularity. In 2015, 51.3% of vehicles sold by Toyota were cars. Last year, that was down to 46.8% – marking the first time Toyota ended a year with more trucks and SUVs sold than cars. RAV4, Highlander, and 4Runner crossovers all posted double-digit growth, but they couldn’t make up for the steep declines for the Camry.
FCA US LLC
Jeep SUVs and RAM trucks kept company sales flat in 2016, making up for steep losses at Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo. FCA US had planned for weaker car sales last year, ending production of the Dodge Dart compact and Chrysler 200 mid-sized sedan during the year. At Chrysler, minivan sales were positive as the outgoing Town & Country and newly launched Pacifica reached 121,437 vehicles, up 24.5% from 2015’s Town & Country sales.
Honda HR-V small crossover sales nearly doubled (up 95.5%), generating nearly all of the company’s sales increase for the year. Unlike Toyota, Honda cars stayed strong in 2016, posting a 1.1% increase. Accord mid-sized sedan sales fell less than 3%, while Civic compact sales were up 9.4%. Honda’s only sour note came from its Acura luxury brand where sales fell 8.9%.
The fastest-growing company of the major, full-line automotive producers, Nissan was able to limit the damage done by falling car sales with strong results from the Maxima sedan (up 55.3%). Car sales fell 2.4%, and truck sales pulled the company into positive territory. Titan full-sized truck sales leapt 80.2% to 21,880 units. Frontier small pickup sales were also higher (38.4%), as were Murano crossovers (38.2%) and Rogue small crossovers (14.9%).
Kia and Hyundai both gained ground, posting all-time sales records, but Kia was responsible for the bulk of the increase. Kia’s Forte compact car defied industry trends and posted a 31% jump, making up for losses from the Optima mid-sized sedan. Solid increases from the Sportage crossover and Sedona minivan cemented Kia’s 3.5% increase. Hyundai gained 1.7% mainly from increased Tucson and Santa Fe crossover sales. Elantra compact cars – Hyundai’s leading seller – were down 13.8%.
Best-selling truck of 2016
Ford F-Series – 40th consecutive year
820,799 | Up 5.2%
Best-selling car of 2016
Toyota Camry – 15th consecutive year
388,618 | Down 9.5%
Percent of sales by vehicle type (seven largest manufacturers, 85% of industry sales)
Trucks/Commercial vehicles 21.6%
Trucks/Commercial vehicles 20.5%