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Much ado about not much

by Bill Cawthon on

Last month, Jeep sales missed their mark for the first time since September 2013 and questions are already flying about possible troubles ahead for America’s top-selling SUV brand.

Jeep-Wrangler-Sunrise-Web

While the doomsayers all note that one month doesn’t make a trend, they seem to imply that it does. But there are a number of factors that indicate their warnings should be taken with enough salt to induce high blood pressure.

September Jeep sales came in less than 2.7% behind the same month last year, but the shortfall is only a warning if it is taken out of context. September 2015 was a tough month to follow because year-over-year (YOY) sales had rocketed up by 42% — the highest YOY growth month in the entire year, beating even the December spike.

jeep-sales-2013-2016-web

Jeep wasn’t alone in September; crossovers and SUVs gave up market share industry-wide, compared with August. Jeep sales were down 2.7%, but Ford utility sales were off by 3.2%, with double-digit drops in sales of the Escape and Explorer. GMC utility sales tumbled by 13.5%, wiping out a mild gain for Chevrolet and leaving General Motors in the red as well.

Based on trends from similar years, we haven’t yet seen anything to justify concern. Jeep sales may be soft again in October, but should still finish the year ahead of 2015.

In the longer term, Jeep sales may fall, but most likely it will be part of an industry-wide drop as the market enters a long-overdue correction.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for just-auto.com, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.


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