We primarily cover the electric vehicle market here on CleanTechnica. However, context is important, and that means sometimes looking at the broader automobile market. Therefore, I collect US auto sales data from almost all automakers on a monthly basis and take a look at their sales trends. I also split out car/sedan sales data for these automakers since the only mass-market electric vehicle currently on the market is a car (the Tesla Model 3).
At the beginning of each quarter, I get more data than in other months since Ford and GM now only report sales data on a quarterly basis. With the quarterly data, I use a simple method of dividing by 3 to estimate the last month of the quarter’s sales. So, note that there’s a larger number of companies analyzed in this report than in the last two months’ reports.
Jaguar does not report sales by model, so Jaguar is excluded from this analysis. Though, according to a company press release, its overall sales were down 10% in June 2019 versus June 2018 and down 12% for the trailing 12 months. Tesla doesn’t break out US sales at all, and only reports quarterly data, so it is not included here either. Though, I will publish sales reports for Tesla in coming weeks as I gather more global data and create what I think are somewhat solid US estimates. If you missed the previous news, though, note that Tesla’s global sales were up dramatically in Q2 2019 versus Q2 2018, and many if not most of those sales were in the US. January–June sales were also far higher than the previous year’s January–June sales.
As indicated in the headline, most auto brands saw their sales decrease in the first half of 2019. In order of volume losses, the following auto brands had their sales decrease in January–June 2019 compared to January–June 2018: Nissan, Jeep, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Chevrolet, Honda, Mercedes, Infiniti, Audi, Mini, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Buick, and Cadillac.
Other than Tesla, 11 brands had their overall sales increase. In order of total volume increase, they were: Ram, Subaru, Volkswagen, Kia, Hyundai, BMW, Genesis, Volvo, Acura, Lexus, and Lincoln.
In net, not including Tesla or Jaguar, US auto sales were down 161,810 in the United States. That’s probably more vehicles than Tesla has sold in the US this year, but the gap shrinks tremendously if you work in an estimate for Tesla.
Here’s a detailed look at June and January–June sales changes (compared to 2018) for 27 auto brands:
As is clear by now, the gasoline car/sedan market is being hit particularly hard. It appears that it is being hit by two trends: a shift toward larger vehicles (crossovers and SUVs) and Tesla’s rapid growth and consumer appeal.
Almost every brand saw its car sales decrease from January–June in the US. Only Genesis and Volkswagen were spared. Here’s a table of 25 brands:
As you can see in the table, there’s been a drop of nearly 300,000 car sales in the USA in 2019.
Insight & Future Implications?
Without a scientific, statistically significant analysis, we can’t distinguish a great deal of cause and effect while looking at shifts in the industry, but it does seem evident that Tesla is taking sales from other brands and crossovers/SUVs are taking sales from cars/sedans. Beyond that, it’s tempting to come to conclusions regarding specific companies or brands, but take these with a grain of salt.
To my surprise, BMW, Audi, and Volvo are holding up fine. Logic would tell us that they would be hit particularly hard by Tesla. While they are surely losing some sales to Tesla, they are also gaining sales in the crossover and SUV market.
Brands hit much harder are lower end brands like Nissan, Ford, Honda, Chevrolet, and Toyota. This does make sense in its own way. GM and Ford are phasing out major car models, which is even hurting their overall sales. Nissan, Honda, and Toyota are known for efficient cars, but their top models are now out-efficiencied (not a word, don’t look it up) by the Tesla Model 3. In fact, many consumers have learned that you can get a much quicker, much safer, much more technologically advanced, much cooler car (a Model 3) for a similar total cost of ownership as the most common mass-market cars out there. If anything, it’s surprising that so many people continue to buy Honda Accords, Toyota Camrys (Camries?), Nissan Maximas, and even Honda Civics, Toyota Corollas, and Nissan Altimas.
On that topic, a few thoughts came to mind. The sales losses to Toyota and Honda may seem relatively minor right now. Given the huge number of sales these companies achieve each month, even losing tens of thousands of sales only means a 2–4% drop overall. This is easy for Toyota and Honda to brush off. They may consider it a blip or a small trend but nothing to worry about. This is one of those reasons, in my opinion, that giants can be in so much risk. Complacency is dangerous. What may seem like a small blip today is, in my estimate, the beginning of disruptive, exponential growth in the electric vehicle market. Many early adopters bought a Model 3 instead of an Accord, Camry, Civic, Prius, BMW 3 Series, or Porsche. They will show this car to many more people, who will suddenly learn about the benefits of a good electric car — and Tesla’s cars in particular. Many of those people will buy an electric vehicle the next time they go auto shopping. Tesla will find more customers and other automakers offering compelling electric cars (Hyundai, Kia, and Volkswagen, for example) will continue to see market growth while complacent giants (Honda, Toyota, and Ford, for example) try to stay on cruise control with their successes from the 1990s. It is not a good idea, in my opinion.
We will see how the market evolves in the coming year. Though, I may drop the extra analyses for cars/sedans since it’s just a blanket of red and very time consuming to calculate.
Again, I will publish extra analyses for Tesla and its “market competitors” soon.