Winners and Losers
Now that we've had time to dissect all the numbers — well, at least most of them, since General Motors has recently decided to report sales figures on a quarterly basis instead of monthly like everyone else — we've spotted a few interesting auto sales trends worth sharing.
As you're aware, sales of crossovers and SUVs are almost universally up, while sedans and hatchbacks are withering on the vine. But when you look a little closer at the numbers, a few models and nameplates stand out from the rest, some for good, others bad.
Click on the image above to see some highlights from April's auto sales chart, starting with an SUV that barely missed out on cracking into the top 10.
Winner: Jeep Wrangler
The least-surprising news of April is the continued success of the completely redesigned Jeep Wrangler. The reasons are manifold. SUVs are hot, gas is cheap, and the new Wrangler is really, really good.
That all translated into 29,776 sales in April 2018. That's a 58 percent increase from the same month a year ago, and it's enough to push the Wrangler into the top sales spot for the Jeep brand (and the top of FCA) and into 11th position overall in America.
More sales successes from Jeep:
The Compass was up a monumental 227 percent last month, though a lot of that has to do with how poorly the last-generation Compass performed.
The Cherokee was up nearly 20 percent last month, which is great, but we have a feeling some of that gain came at the expense of at least one other model in Jeep's portfolio. Click over to the next slide to find out which Jeeps are on a downward sales trend.
Loser: Jeep Grand Cherokee
Sales are up at Jeep overall, thanks to the massive boosts we just covered of the Wrangler, Compass and Cherokee. But the Grand Cherokee, which has enjoyed a long run at or near the top of the Jeep sales charts, was down nearly 12 percent in April when compared to the same period a year ago.
We have a theory as to why.
Jeep has nothing but five-passenger models to sell here in the U.S. at present, and there's more than a little overlap in size and price between them. The Compass looks like a mini Grand Cherokee and is nearly the same size as the regular Cherokee, and both of those were up big last month. Combine the boost of those two nameplates and we have a feeling some buyers found that they could go down a size or two and end up with a loaded Cherokee or Compass instead of a more lightly optioned Grand Cherokee.
Moving all the way down Jeep's size ladder, the Renegade also saw a sales drop, down 10.3 percent in April. Stiff new competition is probably to blame for the Renegade's decline, but the good news is that recent spy photos prove a refreshed model is on the way.
Winner: BMW i8
At the end of 2017, we compiled a list of the worst-selling vehicles in America, limiting our options only to models that were currently marketed and sold for that model year. The BMW i8 made the list, with just 488 total sales. Judging by last month's figures, though, things are looking up for BMW's carbon fiber hybrid coupe.
BMW sold 57 i8s in April of 2018, up 148 percent from the year prior. That's still a small number, but if you extrapolate that number out for the rest of the year, you'd end up with nearly 700 i8s sold. That would be a healthy increase over 2017, and it's a figure we're going to keep our eye on as the rest of 2018 plays out.
But the i8 wasn't the only hybrid sports car that made our worst-seller list last year, and things are looking pretty bleak for its Japanese competitor.
Loser: Acura NSX
Yikes. Acura sold five total NSX coupes last month in America. Yes, five. That's down 95 percent from last year. We know there are reasons for the ridiculously low number, but even taking those into account, a measly five total sales for Acura's halo model is a miserable achievement.
The NSX is packed full of technology, and it's fast. It's pretty cool to look at, and even cooler to be seen driving. But it's very expensive, and the Acura badge doesn't carry the same cachet as Porsche, or even Audi. The Acura NSX is a cool car, but it's been nothing short of a disappointment on the sales floor.
Winner: Lincoln Navigator
The Lincoln Navigator is one of the best fullsize SUVs you can buy in America. It's posh, it's powerful, and it's pretty. Those three Ps were enough to propel the prodigious 'ute to 1,566 total sales in April. That's a nice 122 percent improvement over last year.
And it comes at a time when Lincoln could really use a hit. Overall sales are down for Ford's luxury brand, a slide that not even the flashy new Continental could reverse. We're expecting big sales numbers from the upcoming Aviator, too.
But the big Navigator's sales success hasn't translated over to its sibling from the Blue Oval. Click over to the next slide for more on that topic.
Loser: Ford Expedition
The Ford Expedition shares its underpinnings with the Lincoln Navigator, which, as we just considered, is up big in sales. The Ford, however, was down more than 22 percent last month when compared to the same period a year prior. And that's not an anomaly — the Expedition is down over 15 percent so far this year.
This downward sales trend comes at a time when SUV sales are up nearly across the board, and it's definitely not good news for Ford, which recently announced its intention to go all-in on utility vehicles at the expense of family and entry-level sedans and hatchbacks.
Bonus Loser: Nissan
So far, we've looked solely at individual models within a brand. But for Nissan, we're making an exception. You see, the only model from Nissan that posted a sales gain at all in April 2018 was the all-electric Leaf. That model's thousand-unit boost doesn't come close to covering the 16 percent drop of the Sentra, 28 percent slide of the Versa, 48 percent decline of the Altima, or 62 percent plummet of the Maxima.
And it's not just sedans that fell last month at Nissan. The Rogue, Nissan's best-selling nameplate, was down 15 percent, and its trucks, the Frontier and Titan, were down 20 and 34 percent, respectively.