March 2016 U.S. LV Sales Thread: SAAR Falls Below 17 Million For First Time Since June

(FINAL) U.S. automakers sold 1.59 million light vehicles in March, as daily sales dipped 4.7% from year-ago, and the SAAR fell to a 13-month low.

John Sousanis, Director, Information Content

April 1, 2016

5 Min Read
WardsAuto logo

March 2016 US LV SALES

Forecast vs Reported 


WardsAuto Forecast LV Sales

 1.67 million

Current projected LV Sales

 1.59 million

WardsAuto Forecast LV SAAR   

    17.3 million

Current projected LV SAAR

   16.5 million

WardsAuto tracks light-vehicle (LV) deliveries throughout sales reporting day. Monthly year-over-year change represents the change in daily sales rate (DSR).  March had 27 selling days this year compared with 25 days in 2015, meaning DSR % change will be smaller than straight volume %change for year-over-year comparisons this month.

Related Table 

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Summary table

Overview:  Expected record-March sales failed to materialize as U.S. automakers under-performed against an earlier WardsAuto forecast.  (See article).

Instead, the industry's daily sales rate (DSR) fell 4.7% from same-month year ago, as automakers delivered a total of 1.585 million light vehicles in March. That brought the full first quarter tally to 4.06 million units, up 3.1% from same-period year-ago. 

General Motors narrowly edged out Ford as the No.1 LV seller in March, delivering 252,128 cars and light trucks compared to Ford's 247,414 LVs. GM accounted for 15.9% off the market, followed by Ford's 15.6%.

Toyota 13.9% take was good enough for the No.3 spot, followed by FCA's 13.3% market share. Nissan, which recorded its best single-month sales every, pushed by Honda to claim the No.5 position with 10.3% of LV sales. 

The seasonally adjusted annual rate fell to 16.46 million-units, the lowest SAAR since February 2015, and the first sub-17-million SAAR since June last year. 

Today's sales report thread appears below. See related articles for additional details.

UPDATE 2:05 PM ET: Hyundai is the most recent automaker to report a year-over-year decline in daily sales, with 75,310 deliveries equating to a 7% drop in DSR. The South Korean automaker, however, is outpacing year-ago YTD by a slim margin on 173,330 units through the first quarter.

UPDATE 1:35 PM ET: BMW performed even worse against year-ago than chief rival Daimler (see below). The automaker delivered 34,795 BMW- and Mini-brand vehicles in March, resulting in a 19.7% decline in daily sales from same-month year-ago.

Through the first quarter, BMW sales trail year-ago by nearly 11%.

Kia saw its DSR fall 8.2% in March, on 58,279 deliveries, leaving its YTD sales to 3.7% above like-2015.

Subaru's daily sales also fell in March, lagging year-ago by 7.1%. The automaker's YTD sales are tracking 1% over year-ago Q1.


Audi bucked trend, outperforming WardsAuto's expectations, but still failed to match year-ago DSR. The automaker's DSR was down 0.4% from year-ago on 18,392 deliveries. YTD Audi sales are up 4.6%.

UPDATE 12:25 PM ET: Daimler joined the list of companies whose DSRs dropped below year-ago levels in March. The automaker delivered 31,731 LVs in the Month, a 10.7% decrease in March daily sales compared with 2015. The automaker's year-to-date sales are 1.1% below first quarter year-ago.

Fellow German automaker Volkswagen saw its VW brand vehicle sales fall 17% on a daily basis, on just under 27,000 deliveries. VW is tracking 12.5% below year-ago for the first three months of the year.

UPDATE NOON ET: Toyota daily sales fell nearly 10% from year-ago levels, on just under 220,000 March deliveries. On a volume basis the company's March sales were some 6,100 off year-ago pace, despite two additional selling days. Toyota's year-to-date sales are tracking 1.1% behind same-period 2015.

UPDATE 11:10 AM ET: Honda fell short of expectations, improving its March DSR by just 1.4% over same-month year-ago. The automaker delivered 138,221 vehicles in March. Through Q1 Honda sales volume is up 7.1%.

UPDATE 10:35 AM ET: Nissan reported its best sales month ever, with daily sales jumping 4.4% over the automakers prior best DSR set one year-ago. Nissan delivered 163,559 LV in the month setting a volume record and besting the company's next highest-selling month (March 2014) by over 14,000 units. Nissan YTD sales for the first quarter are up 8.9%.

UPDATE 10:00 AM ET: General Motors delivered 252,128 LVs in March, a 6.6% drop in daily sales compared with year-ago, and 3% below WardsAuto's forecast. GM's March sales leave the company's year-to-date sales for the first quarter event with same-period year-ago at roughly 684,000 units.

Ford daily sales were down 0.6% from like-2015, on 247,414 LV deliveries, in line with earlier projections. The automaker finished Q1 up 8% over year-ago, with just under 627,000 sales. 

FCA missed WardsAuto expectations by 4%, but eked out a 0.2% improvement in its DSR from same-month year-ago, delivering 211,616 LVs in March, and finishing the first quarter 9% over year-ago on 547,126 deliveries. 

About the Author(s)

John Sousanis

Director, Information Content, WardsAuto

Subscribe to a WardsAuto newsletter today!
Get the latest automotive news delivered daily or weekly. With 5 newsletters to choose from, each curated by our Editors, you can decide what matters to you most.

You May Also Like