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Kelly Kleinman

Kelly Kleinman Digital Content Director

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Based on Calendar Month Sales, May 2017 vs May 2018 New Car Sales Data Looks Ominous

As I peruse the new car sales numbers by dealership in some of the top markets in the US, I can’t help but look at the calendar month sales data as a negative indicator of things to come.  Although sales have performed better than expected this year, deeper data diving (BASED ON CALENDAR MONTH) indicates big dealers got plowed this past May. How bad were new car sales if you compare May of ‘18 with May of ‘17 (sans the Ford F-150 which seems to be an evergreen)?  You be the judge. Here is an overview you’ll find nowhere else based on near-real time numbers at their time of collection.

LA Market Quaking? (Down Approximately 25.37%)

The LA new car market is getting absolutely shanked with catastrophic 30-50% downturns in sales across the areas top 10 dealers. Longo is still the world leader in auto sales, but sold 475 less cars this May than last!  That difference alone would be a hugely successful May for most car dealers across the country, but a 32.53% slide still isn’t the worst fall off in the market. Car Pros Kia sales have been KIA (Killed in Action), down 42.06% despite the release of the company acclaimed “Stinger”. Overall, minus luxury brands and Ford F-150s, the LA market has lost 25.37% May ‘17 over May ‘18.

Phoenix New Car Sales Drying Up As Well (Down Approximately 32.53%)

There is good news and bad news for AutoNation in the Zone.  First the good news; their Honda dealer in Chandler sold 287 cars this May vs 245 in May of last year.  Now the bad news; their Tempe Toyota store sold 217 cars less this May than last May! If misery loves company, AutoNation must love other Toyota dealers. As LA’s Eastern-most suburb, Phoenix too experienced a downturn in new car sales .  The average top 10 dealer is 30% south of last May’s sales numbers. That loud wind you hear is an Arizona scirocco carrying off new car sales and tumbleweed in its wake. Overall new car sales are down 32.53%!

No Wind in the Windy-City/Illinois Sales Down 25.21%

Toyota stores in Chi-town are getting mugged by Honda dealerships Valley Honda, and Schaumburg Honda Automobiles, as the 3 biggest Toyota franchisees in that market are averaging a 43% downturn in sales. Overall, Windy City new car sales are on life support as downturns in sales far exceed upturns. The good news is that Muller Honda and Ray Chevrolet are up over last May.with both dealerships plus 13%  Ray Chevrolet was somewhat of an anomaly when we consider that Phillips Chevrolet was down 29%. Although Currie Motors Chevrolet didn’t sell enough cars to make the top 10, it only missed by 3 (151) and had a 31% increase in sales which was somewhat of a positive outlier in the market. In total, Chicago area new car sales were down 25.19%.

Bay Area Bombing (Down Approximately 30%)

Fremont Toyota, Stevens Creek Toyota and San Francisco Toyota are all down an average of 32%, with 8 out of the areas top 10 dealers deep in negatives. Seemingly operating in an alternate universe, Honda has the only few stores that aren’t falling flat although Honda in the Bay area is pretty much halfway to the water treatment plant.  Anderson Honda is up almost 7%, and Capitol Honda is actually up 28% in sales from last May, but their Chevy store is down nearly 9%. Overall, the Bay area is down just under 30% in new retail car sales. With housing prices through the roof, the cost of living in the Bay area has to be hurting auto sales. Commuters spend 72 minutes per day going back and forth to work so the cost of gas, which is on the rise, especially in California, is having an impact as well.

Beantown Blow Out (Down Approximately 33.11%)

Boston dealers are getting hammered with the average dealership well into double figure disappointment.  Boch Toyota in Beantown is down nearly 54% from last year with only Quirk Works Subaru and Subaru of Wakefield (not a top 10 Beantown dealer) seeing any significant upswing in sales from last year.  Boch apparently botched some sales that Kelly Honda scooped up having sold 8 cars more this May than last. In fact, the Boch performance may have been the worst of any top 10 Honda dealer in any city in the USA.  The fall off of new car sales in the Boston area is 33.11% comparing May ‘17 with May ‘18 with nearly 1,000 fewer cars finding new garages.

Did You Know that San Jose is a Top Ten Market? (Down Approximately 29.6%)

They are!  The only top SJ market dealerships improving over last years numbers are Capitol Honda, and Anderson Honda. Dealerships there, as in DC, overlap with other major markets.  In San Jose, it’s San Francisco. The top 2 makes in No. Cal are Honda and Toyota with the average dealership experiencing a 25% fall off or more in sales. Only one American brand, represented by Capitol Chevrolet, made the top 10 list for new car sales in the area, but they were down by 8.76% over last year.  In total, the SJ market is down 29.6%.

Atlanta Hardly a New Auto ATM (Down Approximately 20.24%)

The top 8 dealers in Atlanta all dropped off from May of last year with another AutoNation disappointment, this time in the form of the Toyota Mall of Georgia. It fell off 99 sales from last Mays sales. They may have lost market share to Stone Mountain Toyota who sold 166 new cars.  Stone Mountain is a relatively new Toyota dealership. Toyota South Atlanta went from 90-175 sales last month which explains why all the other Toyota dealers tanked last month. It’s hard to believe that being down 20.24% in new cars sales is well below the national average but it’s true.  

DC Is Loaded With Rich Politicians and Lobbyists (Down Approximately 29%)

Sadly, far fewer of them bought a new car this May than they did last May. In the DC top 10, Hamilton Honda is one of the only major area dealers to shop an increase in new cars sales over last Mays numbers. They sold 37 more vehicles than in May of ‘17. Smithtown Nissan actually did very well with an increase of 105 new cars leaving their lot.  That’s a 33.55% increase, mind boggling considering how sluggish the national market is. The Honda brand dominates the DC market. There are 30 Honda dealers in the expanded DC market, and 8 of the top 10 selling dealerships in May of ‘18 sold Hondas. In that top 10, only Open Road Honda and Hamilton Honda showed growth. Huntington Honda sold 308 new cars, selling 149 less new cars this May than they did last May.  In total, new car sales were down May 18 over May 17 by 29%.

San Antonio New Car Sales Going the Way of the Alamo? (Down approximately 20.23%)

Again, we see a May over May trend that just sits in our craw.  New car sales are down 20.23%. Texas is its own glorious economy, but even Texans suddenly stopped buying new cars at the pace they previously were. WTS, there were a few outliers such as the Ancira-Winton Chevrolet which sold 96 cars this May more than they did last May, Vara Chevrolet sold 44 more new units, and Nissan of San Marcos sold 43 more than they did the previous May.

Sadly, we have no dealer-specific Ford data, but we know 85K or so F-150s are sold every month, and is clearly the most popular vehicle in the US - especially in Texas. Top Toyota dealers are now relying fully on Highlander, Tacoma, and RAV4 sales to keep them competitive against other brands.  On the San Antone battlefront, only North Park Toyota of San Antonio held serve in May up by just 1% over last May. Gunn Honda stayed flat moving 266 units while Gillman Honda of San Antonio was actually up 3% although they sold 98 fewer units than Gunn. Other than that, Toyota/Lexus make up 6 of the top 10 selling dealerships and 5 of the 6 were down approximately 23%.  Minus Ford/Lincoln, Audi, or VW, it’s fair to say that the May sales swoon may be an indicator of the much anticipated car sales slowdown...even in Texas.

Philadelphia Free Fall, New Car Sales Fell 28%

As has become pretty apparent, May comparisons over the last two years demonstrate a sector of the economy that may be set to implode.  Here’s what we saw in the Philly top ten last month:

The top two dealers both improved over May ‘17s numbers.  Hamilton Honda sold 37 more cars and Open Road Honda sold 2 more cars than they did in May a year ago.  Reedman - Toll Subaru sold 30 cars more than the previous May but that’s pretty much the end of the good news.  Top dealers DCH Toyota sold 115 less units, Burns Honda sold 96 less units, and aside from smaller players like Porter Chevrolet, Freehold Chrysler Jeep, and All American Subaru of Old Bridge which improved their lot, most did not.   

DFW New Car Sales A Little Bit Good, A Lot of Bad (Down Approximately 26.28%)

Let’s talk about the cup being half full. Vandergriff Chevrolet sold 162 more cars than they did last May.  That’s a 114% increase in sales for you mathematicians. They sold just 4 cars less than Clay Cooley Nissan who also was up 43.4% in sales.  At the top of the list was Classic Chevrolet with 322 sales, down 21.27% from last May’s numbers. Chevrolet is strong in Texas and El Dorado Motors another Chevy dealer, also saw a strong month up 18% over May 2017.  Overall, DFW new car sales are down 26.28%. The DFW market is big on Lexus with two dealers in it’s May ‘18 top 10, but neither did well comparative to May ‘17. Park Place Lexus Plano was down 16%, and Sewell Lexus was down 37%, while Park Place Lexus Grapevine was down 11%.

The data crunch we performed takes a look dealership specific numbers with certain data sets simply not available to us, but would not have skewed numbers all that much.  There are 4 brands not reported in the spreadsheet and that makes this incomplete. Still, most of the major sellers are on the list and until we see how June pans out, we can’t make any rash judgments or definitive statements, but there is something odiferous emanating from the fan.  The big disclaimer is that we are basing all of this not on sales month, but calendar month.  This doesn't take into consideration 11 other months, but with new car loans (at decent rates) tougher to get, interest rates rising, and off-lease inventory glutting, how can it get better?  You never know.


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Brandin Wilkinson

Great work ethic to dig this info up Kelly!

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