By The Numbers

May 2016: FCA wins, Ford and GM stumble on weak car volumes

Crossovers and trucks continue to fuel American car sales.

The May 2016 sales numbers are in, and it looks as though FCA is getting some vindication for boldly cancelling two slow-selling car models. Meanwhile, Ford saw overall sales dip and GM's May volume took a big dive versus the same month in 2015.

While Marchionne's decision to axe the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart has drawn criticism as being short-sighted, it's working for FCA so far. Although the Dart and 200 aren't out of production yet and no capacity has been shifted to crossover or trucks, May's numbers show that the emphasis on Jeep and Ram models makes sense right now. FCA's US sales rose 1 percent last month compared to May 2015, putting the year-to-date total at 955,186 vehicles, an increase of 6 percent compared to the same period last year. Standouts included the Jeep Renegade, Compass, and Patriot, and the Fiat 500X. Ram pickup sales were down 3 percent. And your fun fact is that Alfa Romeo sales were up precisely 10 percent, for a total of 44 4Cs sold versus 40 in the same month last year.

At FoMoCo, the Ford brand took a hit to the tune of 6.4 percent from May 2015 to 2016, registering 226,190 sales last month. Lincoln showed improvement on its modest numbers, going from 9,174 to 9,807, a 6.9 percent increase. Overall, Ford was down 5.9 percent for the month to 235,997; despite the slump, year-to-date total Ford sales are up 4.2 percent to 1,112,939. Strong sellers included Escape, Expedition, F-Series, and Transit - big stuff. Most small and/or efficient models ( Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, C-Max) saw sales slides. Fusion sales were also down, likely due to effects of model changeover to the freshened 2017 model. Ford has promised four new crossovers and SUVs by 2020 and if things keep trending this way the company will be able to sell them, but things could change in the next four years.

GM saw the worst of it for domestic brands. Retail and fleet sales were down for each of the four divisions, with the May 2016 total dropping 18 percent to 240,450 vehicles. GM's year-to-date sales are down 5.0 percent in 2016 to 1,183,705. Both the Sierra and Silverado were down significantly, and the majority of Chevy, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac nameplates saw sales decreases, with both small cars and larger utilities included. Not even big stuff could help GM this month, it seems.

We'll have more on the rest of the industry's May sales as those figures trickle in.

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