The Japan Big Three posted mixed sales results in the U.S. in March, with Toyota and Honda falling and Nissan rising, WardsAuto data shows.
Toyota lost 2.1% of its year-ago volume (there were 27 selling days in both March 2017 and March 2016) on what it says was a 1.2% decline for the Toyota brand and a 7.5% falloff at Lexus. WardsAuto data still separates former Scion models from Toyota, revealing Toyota-brand models rose 2.7% while Scion sales fell 99.6%.
Despite Toyota’s light trucks climbing 4.8% to a best-ever March tally of 99,376 – driven by March sales records of the RAV4, Highlander and 4Runner – Toyota cars offset that gain, falling 7.3%.
Toyota’s core car models, the Camry, Corolla and Prius, were down from last year, with sales of the 4-model Prius lineup falling 19.2% to 9,761.
The Avalon large sedan also posted a steep drop, falling 25% from March 2016.
However, the Camry still was Toyota’s No.1 seller (35,648), while the Corolla edged out the RAV4 by just 680 units for the No.2 spot (32,707 vs. 32,027).
The RAV4 Hybrid continued to be a strong-seller for Toyota, with deliveries rising 13.8% vs. like-2016 to 3,497 units. Toyota has sold 9,476 RAV4 hybrids this year, up 25.7% from first-quarter 2016.
At Lexus, cars plunged 28.2%, pulling the entire brand down last month despite a 9.5% climb in light-truck deliveries.
Every Lexus car model suffered double-digit percentage losses, with the CT 200h down the least (13.5%) and the GS sedan down the most (51.6%).
While Lexus’ best-selling model, the RX midsize CUV, fell 2.1% in March, sales of the remaining Lexus utilities, the NX compact CUV and GX and LX SUVs, rose sharply, up 24.0%, 31.0% and 20.8%, respectively.
In a statement, Jack Hollis, Toyota Div.’s new group vice president and general manager, says March might be the industry’s first sub-17 million seasonally adjusted annual rate since June 2016.
While both he and Lexus Vice President Jeff Bracken tout strong CUV and SUV deliveries, Toyota nevertheless lost 6.4% of its year-ago volume in Q1 2017, as cars continue to fall out of favor among American buyers.
At Honda, sales fell 0.7% in March to 137,227 units. Honda-brand sales inched up 1.8%, while Acura deliveries fell 21.2%.
As with Toyota, Honda says it set a March sales record with its light trucks, rising 12.6% vs. year-ago to 61,975.
CR-V sales jumped 23.0% to what Honda says is a March-record 32,872 units. The new CR-V went on sale late last year.
The 2-year-old HR-V subcompact CUV continues to pay dividends for the brand, rising 19.6% from year-ago to 7,653. Honda delivered nearly 20,000 HR-Vs in first-quarter 2017. Last year an American Honda official told WardsAuto the brand is aiming for 90,000 sales of the small CUV this year.
Honda’s new Ridgeline compact pickup tallied 3,778 March sales and 9,724 units in Q1.
After showing resilience last year, Honda’s Accord is sliding, as are other U.S.-market midsize sedans. Accord sales fell 12.1% in March and were down 9.4% in Q1.
Also weakening was the Civic lineup, which this year will see the addition of the performance-slanted Si and Type R variants. The compact sedan and coupe lost 4.1% of their year-ago volume.
Honda recorded 23 Clarity fuel-cell-vehicle sales last month, bringing the year’s tally to 92.
At Acura, all models but the MDX large CUV (up 1.3%) were in the red. The usually strong compact RDX CUV fell 29.0%.
The TLX sedan, which will debut a refresh at next week’s New York auto show, fell 25.3%.
Acura sold 37 units of the new NSX supercar, bringing the car’s Q1 tally to 133.
For first-quarter 2017, Honda sales rose 2.1% to 365,293.
Nissan was the sole Japanese Big Three automaker to be in positive territory in March in the U.S., with deliveries rising 3.2% to 168,832. The gain largely was driven by Infiniti, which saw a 32.6% increase, thanks to its utility-vehicle lineup.
Infiniti’s new QX30 compact CUV accounted for 2,960 of the brand’s 18,266 deliveries last month, while the QX70 midsize CUV and QX80 large SUV rose 62.9% and 41.3%, respectively.
The new Q60 coupe sharply padded that model’s results, with 1,829 sold vs. 105 year-ago.
Nissan-brand sales rose just 0.5% from March 2016 due to a 17.0% falloff in car deliveries.
The Altima sedan fell 18.2% and the Sentra compact and Versa subcompact cars lost 16.2% and 24.1% of their year-ago volume, respectively.
Like Toyota and Honda, Nissan’s light trucks set a March volume record. Sales of 77,258 were up 25.6% from year-ago, the brand says.
The Rogue midsize CUV topped its CR-V and RAV4 competition by selling 39,512 units last month, a March sales record for the vehicle and a 42.6% increase from like-2016.
Deliveries of the refreshed Armada large SUV jumped 215.4%, while Pathfinder CUV sales were up 19.8%.
Nissan’s Titan fullsize pickup posted a 334.8% increase, but its year-to-date sales of 11,295 were a fraction of the volume of its competition. Ford sold 190,479 F-Series pickups in Q1 2017 to lead the sector.
Through March, Nissan U.S. sales were up 4.2% to 416,891, WardsAuto data shows.