February sales: Still searching for the 'real' 2018

February sales: Still searching for the 'real' 2018

by Byron Hurd

As expected, January's stronger start is fading.

Analysts predicted last week that February would be a rockier month than January for 2018 car sales. It appears, at least from early announcements Thursday, that they were essentially correct.

While the distribution is a bit off, the prediction of a slower month for Detroit holds true. FCA seems to have halted its slide a bit with just a one-percent sales deficit compared to last February, but GM and Ford weren't quite so lucky. Both took six-plus-percent hits to their overall deliveries, with retail shortfalls coming in even larger.

FCA's salvation was in Jeep--its only brand (besides Alfa Romeo, of course) to net positive in February. Even Ram was down 14%, but Jeep's greater overall volume and uptick in sales helped erase that drop. Honda also took a bigger-than-expected hit, with a five-percent drop overall. Acura defied the trend with an ever-so-slight February bump.

Nissan took one of its bigger hits in recent memory, with an overall drop of more than four percent compared to last year. It was also a rare (in recent memory, anyway) down month for the company's luxury division, which has largely held steady even in leaner months.

Mazda, on the other hand, is in its second month of good news. The company's sales were up nearly 13 percent compared to last February, making this the best 28 days the company has had since well before the recession. Volkswagen was projected to tick up just about six percent in February, and hit the nail right on the head.

Toyota also managed to defy the trend, with a 4.5-percent overall bump and positive months from both individual divisions. However, with fewer than 20,000 units delivered in February, we don't expect Lexus to be leapfrogging Benz or BMW for the luxury segment volume lead just yet.

In that segment, Mercedes-Benz took the month and holds the year so far with a total of just over 50,000 units sold. BMW is in second with 42,000 and change and Lexus is firmly in third with just 37,179 sold so far in 2018.

Subaru. Well, you know.

Remaining surprises include MINI, which had a bit of a gangbuster month, and Mitsubishi, which had a surprisingly strong January too. When taken in combination with Mazda's strong performance, we're comfortable saying that February was a pretty good month for the little guy, so long as the little guy isn't smart.

We're just about done here. Happy sales day.

February year-over-year:

2018 year-over-year:

*Automotive news est.
**Excludes Mercedes Vans