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Vans, Luxury Trucks Help CUVs Lead U.S. Sales to February Gain

Vans, Luxury Trucks Help CUVs Lead U.S. Sales to February Gain

Small vans continued their resurgence as February deliveries jumped 33.7% above year-ago with nearly every vehicle posting hefty gains.

February U.S. light-vehicle sales continued January’s strength by finishing the month with a 17.4 million-unit seasonally adjusted annual rate.

The year-to-date SAAR – also 17.4 million – is well above 2-month 2015’s 16.5 million, and kept the industry on the path to the 17.8 million units WardsAuto forecasts for the year.

The market’s strength continued to center on CUVs, but vans and luxury trucks also heavily contributed to February’s positive results.

LV volume totaled 1.34 million units, 6.7% above year-ago – both periods had 24 selling days. Calendar year-to-date sales were up 3.2% to 2.48 million units.

Truck deliveries rose 12.2% and penetration for the month of 58.4% was a February record, beating the 55.5% mark set last year.

Cars were short year-ago’s total by 0.3%, marking the fourth straight month of decline and ninth in the last 13.

CUVs rose 12.4% and their penetration increased to 30.3% from year-ago’s 28.8%. However, the gain was the smallest year-over-year total since March 2015.

A 59.0% surge in sales of Small CUVs on the strength of old and new products, along with help from Middle Luxury and Large Luxury CUVs, made up for less-than-stellar results in the Middle and Large CUV segments.

Middle CUVs, the market’s largest segment, posted a small 3.4% increase, but their market share dropped to 17.8% from February 2015’s 18.3%.

Small Vans continued a resurgence of sorts. February deliveries jumped 33.7% above year-ago and were up 29.2% year-to-date. But there were some anomalies in the segment as nearly every vehicle posted double- or triple-digit gains.

First, FCA’s minivans had strong year-over-year gains, but were going up against weak year-ago results when the manufacturer was heading into a re-tooling shutdown for the Chrysler Pacifica. That model started production this month.

Sales of the Ram ProMaster City, which was new a year ago with roughly one-fourth the inventory it had this year, were up 1,300%.

Furthermore, and for no obvious reason, deliveries of the Nissan Quest nearly quadrupled year-ago’s total. The same was largely true for the Kia Sedona, with sales up 69%. Also recording big gains were the Ford Transit Connect, Chevrolet City Express, Honda Odyssey and Nissan NV200. Volume for the Toyota Sienna, the segment leader, was up a tepid 5.5%, but sales in the first two months of the year were 13.4% above like-2015.

Middle SUVs, with big year-over-year gains by the Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Toyota 4Runner, posted a 16.8% increase from like-2015. Large Luxury SUVs also recorded double-digit gains.

Sales of pickups were up 6.1% in February, but market share declined slightly from year-ago to 14.3% due to declines by the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Canyon and Toyota Tundra – all full-size pickups. The new Nissan Titan increased sales 29.9% from year-ago, while the Chevrolet Colorado, Nissan Frontier, Ram Pickup and Toyota Tacoma all recorded increases above the segment group’s average.

Huge increases by the Ford Transit, Chevrolet Express, Nissan NV and Ram ProMaster lifted February Large Van volume 30.4% above year-ago and to market penetration of 2.0%, compared with like-2015’s 1.7%.

Combined sales of luxury CUVs and SUVs increased 17.6% and were up 16.1% in the first two months of 2016.

Increases over year-ago in the Small, Middle and Large Car groups failed to offset an 8.5% decline in luxury cars in order to keep total car deliveries from falling.

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