If you listened closely to the voices of those attending the L.A. Auto Show, more than a few people gave Honda’s new Passport the backhanded compliment of it being a perfectly competent crossover that fails to break any new ground.
Here’s the truth: most of the time, it’s only some journalists and a few fanatics who care about a car “breaking new ground” — especially when that car is a commoditized crossover. In reality, the Passport is perfectly sized for most shoppers (or at least they think it’s perfectly sized for them, which is all that matters) and bears the badge of a familiar and trusted brand. They’ll sell boatloads.
And, according to November’s sales numbers, it can’t arrive at dealers soon enough.
American Honda reported a gob-smacking 9.5 percent drop in November sales compared to the same timeframe last year. So far in 2018, with one month to go, the Big H is off 2.8 percent, and that’s despite an 11 percent increase at Acura.
Civic? Plunging 30 percent in November. Accord? Down 13 percent for the year. It’ll be interesting to see how many Passport customers are cannibalized from those two models, especially once the ever-so-helpful sales staff start flipping their “ups” from Accords to Passports because you can get yourself into a comparably-sized all-wheel drive for just this much more per month. Oh, and the dealer is having a secret competition to see who can sell the most Passports in their first month on the lot … unbeknownst to the customer, of course.
Meanwhile, FCA rode the wave of increased retail and the all-important fleet sales to an increase of 17 percent this month. That’s its third straight month of year-over-year growth, in case you’ve been keeping track. Getting production of the new Ram 1500 up and running is certainly paying dividends, jumping an enormous 42 percent last month to 52,056 trucks. Through the end of November, Ram pickups are up 5 percent and will very likely crest half a million units when all is said and done in 2018.
At the Glass House, numbers were down 7.3 percent on the month for Ford and up 3.3 percent for Lincoln. That translates to a 2.7 percent and 8.4 percent year-to-date drop for those brands respectively. A total of 2,276,544 Ford and Lincoln vehicles have found new homes this year. Note that 29.8 percent of this number are fleet sales, up 0.7 points from last year.
There were 25 selling days last month, an equal number to November 2017. It’ll be very interesting to study year-end numbers a month from now. Will the market crest 17 million units for the fourth straight year? How much of the total will be made up by light trucks? What will the prize at Main Street Honda be for selling the most Passports when they arrive?
I already have an answer to that last question: less than the cumulative extra payment taken on by new Passport customers who walked into the place planning to buy an Accord.
You’ll note Audi’s numbers are missing. We will update those when they become available and will have more analysis of sales numbers in the days ahead.