To start, let me just put this out here: I’m not claiming Honda’s car sales are collapsing solely because of the Model 3 (even though Tesla Model 3 sales totaled ~140,000 in the US in 2018 and two of the top models buyers were coming from were the Honda Accord and Honda Civic). There has to be more to it than that. Right?
I collect auto sales from all US automakers each month in order to put together auto sales reports that put Tesla’s rise into fun and interesting context, and to also put overall electric vehicle (EV) sales into context (but sales of the other models are depressing, not fun).
While doing so, I sometimes notice interesting things that I never would have run across if not scouring the data the automakers put out. This month, it was some Honda numbers that jumped out at me (rather than Toyota or BMW numbers).
Honda Accord sales were down ~30,000 in 2018 in the USA, and Civic sales were down ~50,000.
My first thought: perhaps Honda is actually hurting the most from the Model 3’s rise.
This is approximately the time people should be exploding with the 100% certain claim that Honda’s car sales are down because of a shift to crossovers and SUVs. (Remember, ignore the 140,000 Model 3 sales in the US.)
I do see a ton of Honda crossover ads, but I took a look at Honda “truck” sales and that didn’t resolve the equation. Its “truck” (crossover & SUV) sales were only up ~25,000 in 2018. That leaves another ~55,000 Accord and Civic sales that disappeared.
What’s going on? Is that more or less the chunk of otherwise expected sales that Honda has lost due to the Model 3? Or put another way, if a Model 3 was born in the forest, would Honda execs and dealers hear it?
I also took a close look at Toyota sales after noticing the shocking Honda drop.
Toyota Camry sales were down ~44,500, and Corolla sales down ~25,500. In total, all Toyota cars were down ~110,000.
However, Toyota “trucks” were up ~110,000. It was an almost perfect trade.
How about Lexus sales? Well, Lexus cars were down ~11,500 while Lexus “trucks” were up ~5,000. Certainly not good news for Lexus and Toyota, but not a dramatic change in the grand scheme of things.
We know that the Model 3 now competes with the Camry, Corolla, Accord, and Civic in the sales rankings, but it has long been expected that BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and Lexus faced the biggest threat from the Model 3. Perhaps it was underestimated how much the Model 3 would pull from average car owners who never felt compelled to spend money on luxury cars.
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