Toyota Flat, Honda and Nissan Gain in April

Strong light-truck sales could’t offset depressed car deliveries for Toyota, while Honda cars and a smattering of Nissan products put those two automakers ahead of year-ago.

May 3, 2016

5 Min Read
Civic up 199 in April
Civic up 19.9% in April.

Toyota U.S. sales were flat last month, in contrast to gains by its chief Japanese rivals Honda and Nissan.

Toyota tallied 211,125 sales in April, up 0.0% on a daily-selling-rate basis. There were 27 selling days in April 2016 vs. 26 in April 2015.

While Toyota Div. sales, which include the departing Scion line, were up 1.1% on a DSR basis, the Lexus luxury brand fell 7.4% due to a steep dropoff in car deliveries.

Lexus cars plunged 29.1% collectively on an adjusted basis, with all but the ES sedan posting double-digit percentage losses. Losses ranged from 9.0% for ES to 52.5% for the CT hybrid hatchback.

In contrast, Lexus CUVs and SUVs rose 16.0%, with the GX SUV the only model below year-ago, down 2.5%. The recently redesigned RX had the biggest gain of any Lexus model last month, up 24.0%.

Toyota Div. car sales slipped 6.0% but were offset by an 8.7% gain in light trucks.

Toyota’s No.1 and No.2 sellers, the Camry and Corolla, fell 3.8% and 3.3%, respectively.

The brand’s No.3 seller, the RAV4 midsize CUV, continued its impressive winning streak, up 26.7% last month to 30,152 units, just a couple thousand shy of Corolla. It was the eighth straight monthly gain for the RAV4, WardsAuto data shows.

All other Toyota cars were in the red vs. like-2015, including the Prius. Recently redesigned for ’16, the Prius fell 24.6%.

Toyota reports it sold 41 Mirai hydrogen-fuel-cell cars last month, and 138 from January through April. The car is available for sale or lease in select California regions.

Scion rose 48.4% thanks to added volume from the new iA and iM subcompact and compact cars. Their roughly 4,500 combined sales offset steep losses by the brand’s other models.

The RAV4 was not the only reason for the 8.7% adjusted gain in Toyota light-truck sales. Also in the black were the 4Runner SUV (31.3%), Highlander CUV (5.2%), Sequoia SUV (13.8%) and Land Cruiser SUV (71.5%).

Toyota Div. Group Vice President Bill Fay says in a statement the RAV4, Highlander and 4Runner results were records for the month. 4Runner sales tallied 10,135 and the Highlander 15,037.

Toyota trucks had mixed results, with the Tacoma, new for ’16, up 11.4% but the Tundra fullsize pickup down 7.5%. Toyota has been prioritizing Tacoma builds at the expense of the older, slower-selling Tundra at its San Antonio, TX, plant.

Civic and Accord, RDX Push Honda Ahead

Honda April sales rose 10.2% on a DSR basis to 148,829, vs. 130,068 in April 2015, WardsAuto data shows.

Honda brand sales posted the larger increase, 10.9%, while Acura deliveries were up 4.9%.

As was the case in March, the Accord and Civic were strong sellers. The Accord, refreshed for ’16, rose 11.4% on an adjusted basis to 31,526, while the all-new ’16 Civic sedan and coupe boosted that model line 19.9% over like-2015 to 35,331.

There was some recovery from last month in Honda’s light-truck sales. CR-V midsize CUV deliveries still were below year-ago, but by less than 10%.

The CR-V fell 5.5%, while Pilot large CUV sales slipped just 2.4%.

It appears the sell-down of the current Odyssey, in preparation for a new generation due later this year, has begun. Sales of the minivan rose 13.3%.

Honda’s subcompact Fit car was the brand’s worst performer last month, down 24.3%, while the Fit-based HR-V CUV added 6,969 sales to Honda’s April tally.

Acura’s increase can be credited to the RDX CUV, as all other model lines were in the red.

The smaller of Honda’s two CUVs, the RDX posted a hefty 43.2% rise to 5,905 units. The larger MDX was in negative territory again, down 8.3%.

Honda has said the slowdown in sales of its CUVs can be traced to lack of supply, and it is working to build inventories of the Pilot and MDX, which share a manufacturing plant in Lincoln, AL.

Honda plans to also source the MDX from its East Liberty, OH, plant, although production of the model there isn’t scheduled to begin until early next year.

Cars, Trucks, CUVs Propel Nissan Upward

Nissan sales rose 8.6% in April to 123,861, WardsAuto data shows, on the strength of vehicles in all categories.

While the midsize-sedan segment is stagnating, Nissan’s Altima posted a 24.1% adjusted hike last month, to 28,484 units.

Nissan’s Frontier midsize pickup also was up 24.1%, while the Murano CUV gained 45.6% from like-2015.

However, it was Nissan’s largest car, the Maxima, which had the biggest increase for the automaker in April, rising 159.7% to 4,573.

The 5-year-old Quest minivan also continued to post positive results, up 22.5% last month, although its 1,099 deliveries paled in comparison to the 13,047 Odysseys Honda moved.

On the CUV front, the 3-row Pathfinder slipped 2.3% while the midsize Rogue inched up 2.5%.

In the red were the Armada large SUV, soon to be redesigned, as well as the Juke small CUV and the Leaf electric car. Leaf sales of 787 were half of year-ago’s 1,553 as low fuel prices and loss of government incentives in some regions continued to negatively impact alternative-propulsion models.

Infiniti sales were flat, up just 0.7% adjusted due to hefty losses by the luxury brand’s largest cars and light trucks.

Q60 coupe sales fell 76.1%, while QX70 CUV sales were down 19.6%. Infiniti will launch next generations of both models soon.

A refresh of its smallest CUV, the QX50, continued to pay dividends for the brand. QX50 sales climbed 629.3% last month to 1,401 units.

Q50 sedan and QX60 CUV sales were up 18.2% and 12.7%, respectively.

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