Corporate, Brand, Model-Level Performance: U.S. Auto News in the First Half

Most domestic, European and Asian-based automakers improved their car and light-truck sales in the U.S. auto market during the first six months of 2012 in comparison to the same period in 2011. A few highlights about the market during  the first half of 2012 are summarized below:

• Among the three Detroit-based automakers, Fiat-Chrysler boasted the best share gain, as market share increased by 1.36 percentage points to 11.49% from 10.13% a year ago.

• General Motors Company was still the largest automaker in the U.S. market, although its share of industry sales fell by 1.84 points to 18.13% from last year’s mid-year industry share of just under 20%.

• Detroit-based Ford Motor Co. also lost more than a point of market share this year—its first-half share was 15.55% vs. 16.76% a year ago. However, Ford’s corporate share was slightly higher than Toyota Group’s share.

• Toyota’s three brands gained more than 1.5 points of share to end the first half with 14.41% of industry sales. Toyota’s sales and share gain is based on their recovery from last year’s disastrous challenges with the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami and Thailand flooding issues that limited supply through much of the year, according to Dave Cutting, senior manager of North American Forecasting for LMC Automotive.**

• Transplants and imports both gained sales in the first six months of 2012 vs. the same period in 2011.

Brands with Strength in the US Market

• At the brand level, Ford (14.97%) and Chevrolet (13.25%) were the two leading nameplates in the U.S. market, even though each lost share to Toyota (12.44%), which gained more than a point of share this year vs. 2011.

Mercedes-Benz was the luxury brand leader in the U.S. market through the first half of 2012, although BMW was just 2,091 units behind in the premium sales race. Lexus was third in luxury sales, followed by Acura, Audi and Cadillac, respectively.

And at the Model Level:

• The Ford F-Series (HD and LD models) continued as the best-selling model in the U.S. market with first-half sales nearing 289,100 units.

• The new Toyota Camry remained the top-selling car in the first six months of 2012, and also was the second-best-selling model overall with sales of 213,902 units.

Chevrolet Silverado (HD and LD models) was the second-best-selling truck and third-best-selling model in the U.S. during the first six months. Some 194,508 Silverados were sold in the first six months of 2012.

• Half of the 10 best-sellers in the U.S. market in the first half of 2012 were Midsize Conventional car models. In addition to Camry, the top-selling Midsize Conventional models were the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu and Ford Fusion, respectively.

• The Toyota Prius was back among the 25 top-sellers this year and VW’s Jetta also ranked among the 25 models with the highest sales.

Minivans Make a Comeback

• At the segment level, the Midsize Conventional category, which continues to be the largest segment in terms of sales, captured nearly two more points of market share, ending the first half of 2012 with 17.65% of sales, up from 15.5% a year ago. In the first half, more than one of every six new vehicles sold was a midsize sedan or coupe.

• Demand for Compact Crossovers (CUVs) maintained the sales pace from last year—up 14% from 2011. The segment, which was led by the best-selling Honda CR-V, captured 11.44% of industry sales—up from 11.35% in 2011. Compact CUVs were so popular that they continued to account for a larger share of U.S. light-vehicle sales than the high-volume Large Pickup segment, which ended the first half with a 10.5% share, slightly down from last year.

• Two other categories that boasted stellar gains this year vs. the same period in 2011 included the Midsize Van and Sub-Compact segments. Midsize Van sales climbed over 17% and accounted for a larger 3.82% share vs. last year’s 3.69% share.

• Sub-Compact Conventional model sales roared ahead by 40%, due to new entries such as the Chevrolet Sonic and Toyota Prius C as well as stronger demand for models including segment leader Nissan Versa and the Fiat 500, Kia Rio and Toyota Yaris hatchback.

• Among the 27 vehicle segments, only five posted lower sales this year: Compact MPV, Compact Premium Sporty, Midsize Premium Utility and Large Premium Conventional categories.Philly Murtha, editor at J.D. Power and Associates

*There were 27 selling days in June 2012 vs. 26 days in June 2011.

**J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive have a strategic alliance to share data and produce sales forecasts based on J.D. Power’s real-time transaction data collected by PIN, with analysis and intelligence from LMC Automotive.

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