Toyota had a 10.5% daily-selling-rate-based increase in September U.S. sales compared with year-ago, thanks to the redesigned Camry and continued clamoring for the RAV4 and Highlander CUVs.
In the first full month on the market for the ’18 Camry, sales of the sedan grew 8.8% on a DSR basis. There were 26 selling days in September 2017 vs. 25 in September 2016.
Despite the Camry’s 34,732-unit tally, the RAV4 comfortably bested it to be Toyota’s No.1-selling model in the month.
The RAV4 midsize CUV had another barnstormer of a month with 42,395 sold, a 44% volume hike from year-ago’s 29,438 and a 38.5% DSR jump. While the tally fell shy of the 43,265 RAV4s sold in August, September marked the ninth consecutive month the RAV4 set a monthly record, Toyota says. WardsAuto data shows it also was the fifth month in a row the RAV4 has been the brand’s best-seller.
In a conference call with media, Toyota Div. Vice President-Sales Operations David Christ says the automaker still is targeting 400,000 sales for this year.
He notes Toyota has seen nine straight months of record-setting results for the Highlander large CUV, as well. It had a 31.1% DSR increase last month on 20,359 units.
Total Toyota-brand light-truck sales rose 26.2% on a DSR basis in September, as the 4Runner (20.3%), Tacoma (10.4%), Tundra (12.9%) and Sequoia (1.3%) SUVs gained and the automaker sold 3,017 copies of its new C-HR compact CUV.
Year-to-date, 14,860 C-HRs have been sold, making it one of the lower-selling models in WardsAuto’s Small CUV segment this year. Honda’s rival HR-V, for instance, sold 74,034 units through September.
As a group, Toyota cars had one of their lowest decreases in recent months, down just 2.5% on DSR although up 1.4% on a volume basis.
The relatively good performance was reflective of the weak year-ago volume against relatively modest September 2017 sales for the Yaris iA and Corolla iM hatchbacks. Both are former Scion models integrated into the Toyota brand in August 2016.
While Toyota saw a spike in sales (156.4%) of the Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car, the Prius hybrid suffered another monthly loss, down 28.4% in September. The Prius has not had a monthly increase since December 2015, WardsAuto data shows.
Lexus luxury-division sales posted a 2.4% DSR dip last month on 26,196 units sold.
The brand’s cars continue to struggle to find buyers, with all models save for the LS large sedan, just redesigned for ’18, falling below year-ago.
LS sales rose 20.4% on a DSR basis. Some 432 were sold vs. year-ago’s 345.
The new Lexus LC sports car accounted for 249 units of Lexus’ September tally. Lexus has sold 1,698 LCs in the year’s first nine months.
Lexus utilities were up 8.6% on a DSR basis, as the GX, LX, NX and RX all posted gains. It was the NX and RX CUVs – Lexus’ best-selling models – that had the smaller increases. The GX and LX rose 47.1% and 33.3%, respectively, on 3,035 and 535 sales.
Both Christ and Andrew Gilleland, vice president-sales operations for Lexus, foresee a strong fourth quarter, based on historical trends, year-end sales campaigns and a relatively good supply of in-demand light trucks.
At the end of last month, Christ says Toyota had a 46-day supply of vehicles in dealer stock, although he noted the light-truck inventory was a bit lighter than cars.
Lexus had a 38-day supply to end the month, with cars at 42 days and light trucks at 35. “We finally have gotten our SUV/passenger-car balance where we need it,” Gilleland says.
Through September, Toyota stood at 1.831 million U.S. sales, a 0.5% increase from like-2016’s 1.822 million.
Honda Offsets Acura Loss
At Honda, U.S. sales grew 2.7% on a DSR basis, with the Honda brand up 3.3% and Acura dipping 2.8%.
A mix of cars and light trucks drove Honda’s growth in September.
The stalwart Accord and Civic models rose 5.3% and 20.9%, respectively, as the Accord is in selldown mode ahead of the launch of the redesigned ’18 model and the Civic lineup still is relatively fresh due to the recent additions of the Si and Type-R performance variants.
The Civic’s 35,452 sales topped the Accord as well as the CR-V. The CR-V midsize CUV, redesigned a year ago and Honda’s best-selling light truck, fell 6.6% on a DSR basis to 30,956. Honda cites “inventory issues” for the CR-V’s loss, but it’s possibly being undone by the RAV4. Toyota and Honda models typically are cross-shopped against one another.
A few months ago the RAV4 overtook the CR-V in 2017 sales and as the industry’s best-selling utility vehicle. Through September, CR-V sales of 280,933 are roughly 32,000 units behind the RAV4’s tally in the period.
The HR-V small CUV also may be a culprit in the CR-V’s loss as it continues to gain steam. Its sales were up again in September, by 12.6% adjusted. Its year-to-date tally puts it closer to Honda’s 2017 goal of 90,000 HR-V sales.
While the Pilot saw a 7.5% increase last month, other Honda light trucks dipped, including the recently redesigned Odyssey minivan, down 10.8% on a DSR basis to 8,310 units.
The year-old Ridgeline also fell, down 19.3%.
The Acura loss can be put down to the drop in RDX midsize CUV sales. Acura’s second-best-selling model, the RDX slid 9.4% to 3,693 deliveries. The MDX large CUV remained on top and gained, up 4.7% to 5,368.
Acura’s cars continue to struggle. Despite a 28.3% gain in ILX compact sedan sales, the higher-volume TLX was down 15.9%.
The NSX supercar tumbled 34.2% on a DSR basis with 26 sold vs. 38 year-ago.
Through September, Honda sales were flat, up 0.3% to 1.232 million from 1.228 million in the first three quarters of 2016.
Nissan, Infiniti Rise
After last month’s loss, its first since May, Nissan sales rose 5.3% in September on a DSR basis.
The Nissan brand delivered 127,187 units, up 5.1%, and luxury brand Infiniti 12,745, up 7.4%.
While most Nissan nameplates were below year-ago, a few key increases pushed it above September 2016.
Nissan’s best-selling model, the Rogue midsize CUV, gained 41.6% on a DSR basis. Its 38,969 units were more than double the number (16,569) of Altima midsize sedans sold.
The Altima, Nissan’s former best-seller, fell 36.4% in September.
The brand’s closely watched Titan fullsize pickup posted a 46.1% spike last month on 3,773 September sales. The Sentra compact car grew 34.5%, and the Maxima large sedan gained 23.0% from year-ago.
The Armada large SUV, refreshed for ’18, jumped the most of any model in the brand’s lineup, rising 149.8% on a DSR basis to 4,447 units.
Infiniti saw mostly gains in its lineup, which has a number of new, redesigned or refreshed entrants.
The redesigned Q60 midsize coupe was up 47.6%. The QX50, redesigned two years ago with a bigger backseat, continued to chug along, up 28.8%.
The year-old QX30 compact CUV had a big percentage gain (306.6%) on relatively low sales (1,053).
In the year’s first three quarters, Nissan sales were up 1.1% on a volume basis to 1.196 million from 1.183 million year-ago.