Toyota and Nissan Fall, Honda Inches Up in January U.S. Sales

Light-truck losses at both Toyota and Nissan were in addition to declines in their car columns, while strong CR-V sales lifted Honda’s light-truck results.

February 1, 2019

4 Min Read
2017 Honda CR-V gray
CR-V sales up for Honda in January, top RAV4.

Toyota started off 2019 with a sales dip, losing ground in both light trucks and cars.

The No. 1 Japanese automaker registered 6.6% fewer U.S. light-vehicle sales in January 2019 than in January 2018. There were the same number of selling days, 25, in both months.

The Toyota Div. saw a bigger drop (-7.1%) than the Lexus Div. (-2.8%) as Toyota-brand cars fell 6.6% and Toyota-brand utility vehicles and pickups declined 7.4%.

The luxury Lexus brand posted a 7.2% increase in cars, tempering a 6.6% loss in utility sales.

Posting the biggest losses for Toyota in January vs. year-ago were the Prius, Avalon and Yaris iA car nameplates, Wards Intelligence data shows. Per Toyota data, the Prius’ 57.0% plunge reflects the 61.6% drop in Prius sedan deliveries last month.

The Yaris iA liftback variant is being discontinued and lost 100% of its year-ago volume and the Avalon large sedan fell 46.6% despite a redesign for the ’19 model year.

While Toyota saw its biggest light-truck losses from aging models, such as the Sienna minivan (-41.8%) and the Land Cruiser large SUV (-55.3%), higher-volume models also dipped.

The brand’s best-selling vehicle, the RAV4 compact CUV, fell 8.1% to 24,505, likely due to the sell-down of its current generation and launch of the new ’20 model.

The Highlander midsize CUV also fell last month, down 6.9% from its January 2018 volume.

The only car model to rise was the Corolla, up 17.3% due to gains in both sedan and hatchback body styles. Toyota soon will debut a new-generation Corolla sedan; last year it launched a next-gen hatchback variant.

The 4Runner SUV and C-HR small CUV were the only Toyota utilities posting increases last month, while the Tacoma midsize pickup was flat, up 0.8% (although with 16,852 deliveries Toyota said it was best-ever January for the truck). Toyota will debut a refreshed Tacoma for the ’20 model year next week at the Chicago auto show.

The bulk of Lexus’ car increase came from the ES midsize sedan, redesigned last year and up 19.1% in January. The lower-volume RC midsize sports coupe also gained, up 62.7%.

The brand’s biggest percentage increase was posted by the LS large sedan. Redesigned in 2017, Lexus delivered 508 last month vs. 116 in January 2018.

All Lexus utility vehicles lost ground from year-ago, with the low-volume LX large SUV dipping the most (-31.0%) and the brand’s best-selling model, the midsize RX CUV, falling 18.3%.

The NX compact CUV and the GX midsize SUV were down 5.0%, while the brand sold 791 of the all-new UX small CUV.

Meanwhile, American Honda saw a 1.5% increase to start the year off, despite record cold temperatures in the East and Midwest that it says kept buyers at home the last week of the month.

Honda Div. set record light-truck sales in many months of 2018 and started off 2019 the same way. The brand delivered 51,598 light trucks last month, an all-time best tally for a January it says and up 2.4% from year-ago.

CR-V compact CUV sales rose 19.8% to 29,152, making it Honda’s best-seller in January and topping rival the Toyota RAV4 by more than 4,000 units for the month.

The CR-V’s performance was in contrast to all other Honda-brand light trucks posting declines, including the Pilot midsize CUV, down 26.4% from its year-ago volume.

Other gaining Hondas included the Accord midsize sedan (6.3%) and the Clarity green car lineup (49.0%).

Acura sales rose 9.6% due in large part to strong January results from the RDX midsize CUV. Redesigned last year, the RDX set an eighth consecutive monthly record in January, selling 4,172 units, a 40.9% hike from January 2018.

MDX large CUV deliveries were flat, with the same sales (2,968) as year-ago, while the ILX entry-level car gained 22.7%.

The TLX midsize sedan experienced the biggest drop, down 22.6%.

The No.3 best-selling Japanese automaker in the U.S., Nissan, saw sales fall 18.5% in January to 100,741 as Nissan Div. dropped 19.0% and Infiniti dipped 3.1%.

Nissan-brand cars fell 25.6% and light trucks were down 15.4%. On the car side, only the Leaf battery-electric vehicle was in the black, up 378.0% on 717 sales last month compared with 150 in January 2018.

Nissan’s car losses ranged from -8.3% for the Versa subcompact to -39.6% for the Altima midsize sedan, the latter redesigned last year.

On the truck side, only the Frontier midsize pickup and NV commercial vans were in positive territory, up 2.7% and 23.5%, respectively.

Nissan’s best-selling model, the Rogue/Rogue Sport compact CUV, fell 27.8% to 26,113.

At Infiniti, only two models gained on year-ago, although one, the QX60 3-row CUV, was Infiniti’s best-selling model. QX60 volume rose 38.3% to 4,188.

Infiniti also saw a 6.2% gain in QX80 large SUV sales, boosting overall truck deliveries 7.0%.

Infiniti’s cars fell 22.0%, with the brand’s second best-seller, the Q50 midsize sedan, down 17.1% to 2,249.

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