May 2018 U.S. Auto Sales: FCA Is the House That Jeep Built

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All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

The American car market in May reflected several stereotypes, not the least of which being that Jeep is the engine that’s currently driving the FCA machine.

The picture as a whole? Well, it’s largely flat, with continued light truck demand seeming to offset dips in car sales.

A good example of this is Toyota, which reported a 1.3 percent decline for the month of May before going on to explain that car deliveries were down 11 percent but light trucks were up nearly 6 percent.

Like LeBron James, a man who single-handedly lifts the Cavs by scoring 50 points in a game only to see JR Smith throw it all away by thinking the score is tied, Jeep was largely responsible for FCA’s good fortunes in May. Proving the off-road brand remains the most valuable part of the empire, Jeep was up 28.8 percent last month — an increase of over 20,000 units.

This is not an aberration; the brand has increased sales by 22.5 percent so far this year, up nearly 70,000 units during the first five months of 2018. All by itself, Jeep has been responsible for 44.7 percent of FCA sales so far this year. That’s about 30,000 more vehicles sold than VW and Mazda combined. If you think you’re seeing more Jeeps during the commute, you’re probably right.

VW and Mazda are up 7.5 percent and 14.9 percent respectively this year, by the way. That’s encouraging news for anyone who likes the zoom-zoom brand from Hiroshima. VW is reportedly helped along by its crossovers, too.

Of course, any talk of GM is purely speculative, since the corporation decided a couple of months ago that the great unwashed are not worthy of sales updates every 30 days. Analysts believe The General did good business in May, thanks to a portfolio of new or fairly new crossovers and rebates on most everything else.

At the Glass House, Ford’s namesake brand was down about two percent from the same point one year ago. Lincoln saw a 5.2 percent drop last month, dragging it down 13.4 percent in 2018. IF the robust-selling Navigator didn’t exist, we’d likely be writing about even more depressing numbers. Long-time readers will know I find this news difficult, since I suffer from Stockholm Syndrome with the Lincoln brand.

Forecasts peg annual total market sales in 2018 to potentially dip below 17 million for the first time in three years. The industry saw seven straight years of annual gains as it crawled out of the depths of 2008/2009, capped by a 17.245 million number in 2016.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]