December 2016 U.S. LV Sales Thread: U.S. Automakers Set Light-Vehicle Sales Record in 2016

(UPDATE FINAL) U.S. automakers sold 17.465 million light vehicles in 2016, besting the previous record, set in 2015, by 0.4%.

John Sousanis, Director, Information Content

January 4, 2017

5 Min Read
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WardsAuto Forecast LV Sales

1.63 million

December Actual LV Sales

 1.68 million

WardsAuto Forecast LV SAAR   

    17.7 million

December Actual LV SAAR

   18.29 million

WardsAuto tracks light-vehicle (LV) deliveries throughout sales reporting day. Monthly year-over-year change represents the change in daily sales rate (DSR).  December had 27 selling days this year compared with 28 days in 2015, meaning DSR % change will be higher than straight volume %change for year-over-year comparisons this month.

Related Table 

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Summary table


U.S. automakers outpaced analyst expectations in December, ensuring that 2016 was the best year for light-vehicle sales ever. A total of 1.68 million LVs were sold in the final month of the year, edging the full-year tally 0.4% over the prior record, set in 2015.

The record year corresponded with slight year-over-year downturns for the market's top four automakers - GM (-1.3%), Ford (-0.2%), Toyota (-2%) and FCA (-0.4%) as market share shifted smaller automakers.  

Among companies recording their best sales in the U.S. were Honda, Nissan, Audi, Daimler (by less than 200 units), Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, Jaguar Land Rover and Porsche.

Despite their declines, there was no change in overall position for the top automakers from 2015 to 2016. GM grabbed an industry-leading 17.4% of the market, followed by Ford (14.6%), Toyota (14%) and FCA (12.8%). Honda remained in the No.5 spot with a 9.4% LV share.

See below for individual company results. 

UPDATE 2:30 PM ET: Hyundai fell below expectations with 62,305 December deliveries, but still finished 1.7% ahead of full-year 2015, with 775,005 2016 sales. Daimler, too, missed WardsAuto's December projection, but finished 2016 ahead of year-ago in LV sales by less than 200 units.

UPDATE 1:01 PM ET: Honda had its best year in the U.S. ever, beating WardsAuto's December forecast by some 10,000 units, with 160,477 deliveries (+10.3% DSR) to finish with 1.64 million sales in 2016, up 3.2% from 2015.

BMW finished the year going in the opposite direction, with December DSR falling 1.9%, leaving the automaker's full-year tally at 365,204 - a 9.7% year-to-year decline.

UPDATE 12:45 PM ET: Mitsubishi did its part to push 2016 ahead of 2015, delivering 7,383 vehicles in December (-2.9% DSR) to finish 1% over full-year year-ago. Porsche delivered 54,280 LVs in 2016, up 4.9% over 2015. And Subaru finished strong, improving its December daily sales by 16.4%, for a 12-month total of 615,132 units, up 5.6% from full-year 2015.

12:15 PM ET: German luxury automaker Audi improved its December DSR by 17.9%  compared with year ago, lifting its final YTD sales total to just over 210,000 - a 4% increase over full-year 2015. Sister brand Volkswagen outpaced its December year-ago DSR by 24.7%, but fell 7.6% below full-year 2015, with 322,948 2016 LV deliveries. 

Mazda improved its December DSR 1.8% but fell short on besting year-ago  volume for the month, and finished the year 6.7% below year-ago, with 297,773 LV sales in 2016.

UPDATE 10:50 AM ET: General Motors delivered 318,904 LVs, a 13.9% DSR improvement over year-ago, as well as a sizeable gain in volume for the month. The strong finish, however, still left the market's leading LV seller's full-year sales nearly 40,000 units shy of its 2015 total. 

Toyota, similarly beat its year-ago December tally, with 243,229 units, up 5.8% on a daily basis, but fell 2% shy of its 2015 annual total, by a nearly identical amount to GM. 

FCA daily sales dipped 7% vs. same-month year-ago, on 190,437 deliveries, bringing the company's full-year light-vehicle total to 228,578, a hair below year-ago. 

Nissan sold 152,743 LVs in December, a 13.7% gain in daily sales, that lifted its full-year 2016 sales 5.4% above 2015's to 1.564 million units.

Ford delivered just over 2342,00 LVs in the final month of the year, (+4.1% DSR) but fell a few thousand units shy of its 2015 LV sales. 



About the Author(s)

John Sousanis

Director, Information Content, WardsAuto

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