kinda hard to choose between the 2 sales threads this month...
Midsize Sedan Deathwatch #13:
2017’s Grim First-half 198,000-unit Loss
TTAC - By Timothy Cain on July 5, 2017
Midsize car sales volume decreased by nearly 200,000 units in the United States during the first-half of 2017.
Year-over-year, that 18-percent decline
was caused by virtually every member of America’s midsize sedan fleet. Escaping unscathed, on its own, was the Volkswagen Passat, though Passat sales are significantly lower than they were in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Aside from the Passat, midsize cars are selling much less often this year than last at every competing automaker; from the top-selling Toyota Camry to the slow-selling Mazda 6, from the all-wheel-drive-optional Ford Fusion to the all-wheel-drive-standard Subaru Legacy; from the new-last-year Chevrolet Malibu to the never-again-new Chrysler 200.
Most automakers, however, are blessed to possess similarly priced compact crossovers that are making up all, much, or some of the slack.
This is the thirteenth edition of TTAC’s Midsize Sedan Deathwatch. The midsize sedan as we know it — “midsizedus sedanicus” in the original latin — isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but the ongoing sales contraction will result in a reduction of mainstream intermediate sedans in the U.S. market.
How do we know? It already has.
Consider the top-selling midsize cars in America and their respective utility vehicle compatriots. At Toyota, the Camry — set to be replaced in the coming weeks by an all-new 2018 model — has maintained its top-selling status in the category despite an 11-percent tumble in the first-half of 2017. Toyota Camry volume declined by 22,864 units compared with the first-half of 2016, but Toyota RAV4 volume grew by 18,866 units.
At Honda, where Accord sales are down 6 percent this year, volume has actually increased in each of the last two months. Honda has seen its total Accord volume fall by 9,263 units in 2017’s first-half, but sales of the new Honda CR-V have increased by 28,181 units.
Like the Camry and Accord, the third-ranked Nissan Altima is also approaching its replacement phase. Altima sales slid 15 percent in 2017’s first-half. The Altima rounded out the podium as the third member of a top trio which declined less rapidly than the segment as a whole. Nissan lost 26,411 Altima sales in the first six months of 2017 but added 46,806 total Rogue sales.
The Rogue, CR-V, and RAV4 are all, individually, outselling the Camry, Accord, and Altima. In the first-half of 2017, the top midsize car trio combined for 541,810 sales in the U.S. while the three top-selling utility vehicles (RAV4, CR-V, Escape) produced 480,353 sales. That 61,457-unit margin of victory is now turned on its head. The three top-selling utilities (Rogue, CR-V, RAV4) outsold the three top-selling midsize cars by more than 84,000 units just one year later.
It’s not just the top sellers, of course. Mazda lost 5,454 sales of the 6 but gained 5,466 CX-5 sales. Subaru lost 4,793 Legacy sales but gained 8,867 Outback sales and 7,702 Forester sales.
Losing sales is no automaker’s idea of bliss, but the benefit of cancelling out midsize car sales with utility vehicle sales is significantly higher average transaction prices. A typical compact crossover still requires incentivization — the market is becoming intensely competitive, after all — but the ability to generate profit is far greater. Before consumer incentives, Kelley Blue Book said the compact SUV/crossover segment’s average transaction prices in June 2017 were 13 percent higher than ATPs for midsize cars.
Nevertheless, the Mazda 6, at the bottom of the heap, has earned a designation from Mazda’s North American HQ as a model that wouldn’t be culled. Meanwhile, Toyota believes the new Camry could inspire a midsize sedan life watch.
But June 2017 was the midsize segment’s 16th consecutive month of decline. With barely more than 150,000 sales last month, midsize market share fell to just 10 percent, down from 12 percent a year ago, 14 percent two years ago, and 15 percent in June 2014.
The three top-selling midsize cars, however, grew their share of the midsize car market to 58 percent in June 2017 from 51 percent one year ago and 47 percent two years ago.