2018 was another near-record year for the car industry in the United States. Sales rose to 17.3 million vehicles, which includes cars, pickups, SUVs, and crossovers. This is the fourth straight year the total has topped 17 million. Only just over 20 models sold more than 200,000 units each last year, demonstrating how much the auto industry is concentrated on a few products.
Two trends were the story in the industry in 2018. The first was that the sales of mid-sized and small cars have plunged. Ford decided it will kill almost all of its models in these two segments. What had been the heart of its car lineup — Focus, Fiesta, and Taurus — will no longer be available in the U.S. market. Other car makers will thin out these sections of their model lines as well. Americans, who used to buy millions of high gas mileage, low-priced cars, have turned to other vehicles.
The second trend was the spike in sales of SUVs, pickups, and crossovers. The top three selling vehicles in America have traditionally been the only full-sized pickups — Ford’s F-Series, GM’s Chevy Silverado, and Fiat Chrysler’s Ram. While these vehicles have continued to sell well, SUVs led by the Jeep and Explorer have become the fastest-selling segment. Every major manufacturer, and some smaller ones, have SUV brands that sometimes have several models. The “crossover,” invented as a cross between a car and SUV, has also become a tremendous growth area for most manufacturers.
The 20 top-selling models in the U.S. are made by only a few manufacturers. These include GM, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, and Nissan. Unit sales increases and decreases across these 20 models in 2018 show just how much the shift away from cars and toward SUVs, pickups, and crossovers has changed the entire industry.
24/7 Wall St. compiled a top-selling vehicle list for 2018 from individual manufacturers’ sales totals and the Reuters summary of this data. Analysis includes December totals for 2017 and 2018, and year-to-date numbers for the 12 months of both years. We have only used the annual data. All base prices for vehicles are for 2019 where available.