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Sales of Full-Size SUVs Continue to Drop in January; GM is the Major Exception

Year-to-year change in January sales of full-size SUVs. Click to enlarge.

Sales of full-size SUVs in the US continued their decline, although not as precipitously as in some months prior. Total sales dropped 8.6% from 96,107 in January 2005 to 87,864 in January 2006.

The major exception to this was GM, which saw sales of its full-size SUVs climb 5.5% to 51,758 from 49,048 the year before. The GM swing was based primarily upon strong sales of the new Tahoe, which jumped 53% from 8,558 to 13,093 units year-to-year.

Tahoe led the surge in GM SUV sales.

GM, which overall saw its light-duty vehicle sales climb 6%, increased its share of new full-size SUV sales from 51% to 59%. The segment, however, remained at 17.7% internally of all units sold in both 2004 and 2005.

Ford suffered the largest absolute decline in the segment in January, with a 26% drop from 28,089 to 20,789. The Explorer, Ford’s segment leader, dropped 22.5% from 15,478 to 12,000 year on year.

Toyota beat out Ford for the dubious honor of the largest percentage drop in full-size SUV sales by .1 of a percentage point. It’s full-size SUV sales dropped 26.1% from 4,857 to 3,588.

Chrysler, which just introduced the full-sized SUV Aspen at the Detroit auto show saw sales of its Dodge Durango drop 14.7% from 8,993 to 7,668.

In 2005, GM said that even if the full-size SUV market were declining, it would increase its market share with its new products. If January 2006 is a bellwether, that is indeed happening.



Saving the SUV and US.

Hopefully GM will be very successful with their cost effective hybrid approach, and in 3 years make only hybrid SUVs. Akin to where, in three years, all Honda Civics will be hybrids.
But all of Industry needs to do this and quicker.
Individuals do not have the power, or the will, to stop fossil fuel pollution.
Our Government needs to step in and SAVE US from ourselves. They do it already with Drug laws, closing bars at 2AM, and pollution laws.
What the Government needs to do is to simply do what California tried to do. Slowly put a strangle hold on the exhaust by eventually mandating Zero exhaust pollution.
In Fact it will HELP the car industry and give them DESIGN GOALS. GM will no longer give us mediocre designs because of cost.
Please have your congressman talk to any Californian who still has an EV vehicle made by GM, Ford, or Toyota, if they say it is impossible.

I love SUVs- I own one. And I love my kids and the coming grand kids. But I hate the thought of frying them in the future because I did not get the Govn't to stop global warming.(or freezing them to death if they move to Europe).


The problem with this report is that every month we get year-on-year sales changes. Last month, we got Dec 2004 to Dec 2005. Now we get Jan 2005 to Jan 2006, but much of the sales drop in the fall is built into both figures. It is hard to tell whether SUV sales are flat, decreasing or increasing from such reports.

While interesting, I am thinking that it would be more interesting to get a simple plot of vehicle sales as a function of time. Maybe there would be a lot of noise in the month-to-month figures, but it would be easier to see what the trends are.


Although there is little doubt that the market share of large SUVs is slipping away, I agree with Eric that a time series graph will make it much clear than a month-to-month comparison.

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