Last Year's Record-Smashing SUV Sales Boil Down To Two Brands


All other automakers should take note.

We knew Jeep had a fantastic 2018, but only now are details coming to light that reveals just how spectacular the year really was, especially compared to its biggest rivals. According to Automotive News, five of the world's largest automakers – Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda and Nissan – all experienced sales declines last year. However, the No. 6 best-selling brand, Jeep, actually kept the industry in the black for 2018 thanks to a surge in SUV sales.

More precisely, Jeep had a 17 percent sales increase in the US for light vehicle volume, reaching a total of 17.3 million units, a 0.6 percent increase over 2017. It was also the fourth-highest sales figure of all time. Automakers sold around 96,000 more vehicles last year than in 2017, but Jeep alone sold 145,000 more.

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"Clearly, Jeep's been killing it," said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive. But it wasn't only Jeep that had a stellar year. Subaru also grabbed a huge share of the light truck market with its lineup of all-wheel-drive wagons and crossovers. Vehicles like the Crosstrek and Forester were so popular Subaru managed to surge past Hyundai to grab seventh place in the sales chart. In fact, 2018 was Subaru's 10th consecutive year of record US sales.

More people are buying light trucks, which consist of non-heavy duty pickups and SUVs, for a number of reasons, among them low fuel prices and generally high consumer confidence. Automotive News' internal data reveals that US light truck sales as a whole grew by 7.7 percent last year for a grand total of 11.98 million units. Light trucks consisted of 69 percent of the market. See why Ford decided to ditch traditional cars entirely?

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Jeep and Ram, both part of FCA, contributed an 8.5 percent gain. In fact, only one other brand managed to come close to Jeep's volume boost: Tesla. The EV carmaker's sales actually quadrupled to around 182,400. Like Jeep, it also outgained the industry on its own.

Tesla also single-handedly helped prevent traditional car sales from plunging even further thanks to the arrival of the Model 3. The arrival of a Tesla pickup truck in the near future will very likely elevate the brand's sales status. But the bottom line is that Jeep and Subaru have the perfect vehicle lineups for this reborn SUV era.

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