Toyota Sales Dip in August, Honda and Nissan Rise

All three Japanese automakers saw light-truck sales rise and car sales decline, continuing a year-long trend reshaping the U.S. auto industry.

September 4, 2018

5 Min Read
2018 Toyota RAV4 hybrid
RAV4 Hybrid nearly has outsold Prius sedan this year.

Toyota U.S. sales fell 2.0% in August, on both a volume and daily-selling-rate basis. There were the same number of selling days, 27, in August 2018 as there were in August 2017.

Despite the decline, the automaker’s 223,055 August deliveries were good enough to exceed Ford’s 212,393 sales in the U.S. last month, Wards Intelligence data shows.

Lexus accounted for the majority of Toyota’s August loss, with sales down 7.0% as the luxury brand’s lineup of passenger cars continues to slump given Americans’ growing fondness for pickups and utility vehicles. Last month, Lexus and Toyota both recorded best-ever light-truck results, they say.

Overall, Lexus cars fell 19.7%, Toyota says, with every nameplate down save for the new LS. The flagship sedan rose 123.5% on 923 deliveries last month.

Lexus’ utility lineup rose 7.4%, although only the NX and RX CUVs were in the black, up 2.3% and 4.7%, respectively. The GX and LX SUVs declined 16.9% and 9.4%.

Slumping car sales were the culprit in Toyota’s loss, as well.

Only the low-volume Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell sedan, up 65.7%, and the new Corolla iM hatchback, up 44.2%, registered gains. Every other Toyota car nameplate was in the red, including the year-old Camry midsize sedan, whose deliveries fell 18.6% to 30,141 units.

The Avalon large sedan, redesigned for ’19, also suffered a drop, down 17.8% from August 2017.

The RAV4 once again easily outsold the Camry, with 42,222 sales for the midsize CUV in August. However, that volume represented a 2.4% decline from year-ago.

The RAV4, with 281,707 deliveries this year, looks to easily repeat its 2017 win as Toyota’s best-selling model in the U.S., as the Camry trails it by roughly 45,000 units.

Toyota nearly has sold as many RAV4 hybrids this year (32,536) as it has Prius sedans (35,101). While RAV4 hybrid sales are up 5.8% through August, Prius sedan sales are down 22.7%.

Total Toyota light-truck sales rose 8.6%, with increases coming from the C-HR small CUV (32%), Highlander midsize CUV (23.6%), 4Runner SUV (24.2%) and Land Cruiser SUV (22.4%).

Likely reflecting its age and the segment falling out of favor among vehicle buyers, sales of the Sienna minivan fell 34.7%.

Toyota’s midsize and large pickups the Tacoma and Tundra saw sales grow 35.3% and 7.2%, respectively, last month vs. same month year-ago.

Through August, Toyota sold 1.621 million light vehicles in the U.S., up 1.0% on volume from the same period year-ago. Lexus’ 189,025 sales are trailing year-ago by 2.3%, while Toyota’s 1.432 million units represent a 1.5% increase in volume.


American Honda sales rose 1.3% in August to 147,903, with Acura brand’s 14.8% gain offsetting the Honda brand’s (-0.1%) flat performance, Wards Intelligence data shows.

Acura’s CUVs the RDX, redesigned for ’19, and the MDX combined to post Acura-best light-truck results for August, American Honda says. RDX sales rose 23.8% to 5,793 and MDX sales gained 38.0% on 6,252 deliveries.

Acura says the RDX’s total is its best-ever for the month of August, while the automaker credits the refreshed MDX’s new A-Spec package for boosting that CUV’s sales.

Other than the low-volume RLX midsize sedan, all other Acura cars declined in August.

At Honda, a 17.1% rise in light-truck sales couldn’t quite offset the 14.9% decline in car deliveries.

The Civic compact lineup suffered a 24.0% drop last month and sales of the Accord midsize sedan fell 11.0%. Fit subcompact sales were nearly half August 2017’s tally.

Honda touts it sold more than 5,000 electrified vehicles for the second month in a row, with the new Insight selling 2,212 units and the Clarity lineup tallying 1,689 last month.

Despite America’s love affair with the light truck, Honda points to supply constraints as being the reason for the decline with some of its car nameplates.

On the light-truck side, the CR-V midsize CUV continues to easily outsell the Accord and Civic, with 34,610 CR-Vs delivered last month, up 11.8% from August 2017.

It also was a strong month for the Pilot large CUV, up 60.2% on 15,332 sales.

Honda expects both the CR-V and Pilot to reach new high-water marks in a calendar year at the close of 2018. CR-V sales through August total 247,034 (a 1.2% decline from like-2017), while 104,437 Pilots have been sold, up 41.3% on volume from January-August 2017.

At odds with the Sienna’s loss is the Odyssey’s gain. Sales of the Honda minivan, redesigned last year, rose 13.5% last month and are up 5.1% for the year.

Honda’s HR-V small CUV experienced a 2.5% dip, a possible reflection of supply issues at its flood-hit Celaya, Mexico, plant.

Ridgeline pickup sales rose 7.0% to 2,792, although for the year the Ridgeline remains in the red, down 14.8% on volume through August.

Total Honda sales are down 1.3% through August to 1.074 million. Honda-brand sales are down 1.5% and Acura is off 0.2%.


Nissan sales rose 3.7% in August to 112,376, with Nissan brand up 4.4% and Infiniti down 1.7%.

Like Toyota and Honda, Nissan also saw car sales fall (-17.3%) and light-truck sales rise (21.7%).

The Rogue lineup continues to sharply outsell every other Nissan nameplate, with 33,400 Rogue CUVs sold in August compared to 14,925 Altima sedans, its next closest competitor.

Rogue sales rose 11.9% last month and through August are up 6.7% to 275,137.

The Altima’s number represents a 1.4% increase from August 2017, although for the year sales of the car – soon to be redesigned – are down 15.6%.

The Murano and Pathfinder CUVs posted hefty gains last month, as did the Titan fullsize pickup truck. The latter rose 32.4% to 4,661.

Nissan’s new Kicks small CUV added 3,876 to the automaker’s August tally.

Of Nissan models still on sale, the Armada SUV took the biggest plunge, down 60.1% to 1,775.

Five of Infiniti’s eight nameplates saw declines in August, bringing about the brand’s 1.7% loss.

The brand’s best-selling model, the QX60 3-row CUV, fell 22.4% to 2,870. Only the Q50 sedan, QX50 CUV and QX80 SUV were in the black, up 0.4%, 78.8% and 18.5%, respectively.

Through August, Nissan sales are down 5.2% in the U.S. to 1.002 million, with the Nissan brand falling 4.8% and Infiniti declining 8.2%.

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