Truck/SUV Sales Increase-Cars On Life Support

The latest sales figures are in with pickups, crossovers, and SUVs accounting for almost 75% of new vehicle sales. This is the highest level we have seen in a continuing rise in such sales. While Truck/SUV sales increase, we are seeing cars drop down to life support. Not all was bad for cars, but SUVs are what’s driving sales.

Chevrolet Silverado trucks are displayed at a car dealership
Trucks are displayed at a car dealership | Getty Images

Hyundai sales rose 6.2% based mostly on its three crossovers. The Santa Fe was up 26% over last year. The Tucson rose 31%, while the Kona saw sales gains of almost 40%. The three-row Palisade increased by 21%.

The new Hyundai Venue, its least expensive crossover, was not available last year for comparison. It saw sales of almost 300 in November 2019. In case you weren’t counting that’s five SUVs that Hyundai markets. All of them gained substantially.

Both cars and trucks gain for Toyota

While Toyota saw a November record of 177,764 vehicles sold, not all of that was attributable to SUV sales. Light-trucks were up by 11%, but car sales were also up by over 6%. The same story came from Honda. Light-trucks rose by 18% with car sales up 2.2%, for a total of 12%.

This is supposed to be a down market we are experiencing now. Apparently, that is not true in all cases. Still, cars are on life support for most of the manufacturers.

A sold sign hangs on a truck after making a sale.
A “Sold” sign hangs from the rearview mirror. | Getty Images

Others saw similar increases including Subaru, Mazda, Volkswagen, Porsche, and Mitsubishi. Lexus was up 14%, adding to Toyota’s already bursting coffers. Honda’s Acura saw a modest car gain of 2.2% and an 18% increase for light trucks.

Nissan continues to see sales and profits drop a lot

But, not every company saw a similar rise in sales. Nissan continues to fall behind in vehicles sold as it tries to get back in the saddle. It saw its third straight month of declines with sales down 13% for the Nissan brand and 33% for the Infinity brand. Infinity declines have been for the entire year of 2019 so far.

We’ve followed Nissan’s steady decline for a while. It has been relying on fleet sales to prop up the sales picture. But with fleet sales profits are very slim. Since the new CEO took over it has been focused on pulling back from fleet sales but also working on replacing aging platforms. 

Both its full-size Titan pickup and midsize Frontier pickup will be all-new sometime starting in 2020. So, until then it must forge ahead with aging pickups in what is arguably the hottest segment-pickups. 

Mazda was up 18% with Volkswagen up by 9.1% and Mitsubishi up by 6.5%. November is good for many companies. US manufacturer figures will be out soon.

Hyundai has gone all-in on SUVs and crossovers and they are selling

Hyundai Sonata car
Hyundai Sonata car | Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

As can be seen with Hyundai’s gains SUVs and crossovers are where the market is at. Cars are on life support at this point, but not completely out of the running. It’s curious that US companies are throwing in the towel on car production, while Japanese, Korean, and European manufacturers have only slightly throttled back. 

By the end of 2020, Hyundai will also be entering the pickup truck segment with the Santa Fe. This is a new segment more like a smaller Honda Ridgeline-type of a truck. Many are comparing it to an El Camino car/truck but with four doors instead of two. 

Analysts will be eyeing how this new pickup segment does. If it does well this will further increase the truck/SUV market share. As can be seen, any way to add a new iteration to existing hot segments means capturing more consumers looking for just the right pickup or SUV.