Automaker sales in the U.S. managed to squeeze out a 0.6% gain for 2018 as December sales rose 2.2% lifting the full-year seasonally adjusted sales rate for light duty vehicles to 17.33 million vehicles compared to 17.24 million a year ago.
Although light-duty pickup trucks continue to be the country's best-selling vehicles, here we'll take a look at the 10 cars that sold best in the U.S. in 2018.
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Crossover SUVs continue to be among the most popular cars on the market, just as they were last year. An SUV as a car? Yes! That's because, although true SUVs are made on truck body platforms, crossover SUVs are made on car platforms and so are included in our list.
So even though the Toyota Camry and the Honda Civic are the best-selling cars in America, their sales plunged over 11% and 13%, respectively, last year while the Toyota Rav4 grew, maintaining its premier position atop the U.S. auto sales market for the second year running.
A coming U.S. slowdown
Ratings agency Moody's says that while the global auto market remains stable, the U.S. light vehicle market, in particular, is likely to see further declines. Western Europe, Japan, and China are forecast to see sales growth, but the ratings agency is forecasting a half-percent decline in the U.S., citing three specific reasons: higher interest rates, rising car prices, and, not surprisingly, trade tensions with China.
But the U.S. auto market is also going to look a lot different in 2019, if for no other reason than Ford has all but abandoned the North American car market, eliminating just about everything save the Mustang, Fusion, and Taurus. Cars will be just 10% of its vehicle production in 2020.
At the same time, GM is closing five factories and laying off 15,000 workers to save $6 billion, perhaps anticipating a slowdown in sales. With light-duty trucks and crossover SUVs remaining the top-selling models, and car buyers turning to just a handful of manufacturers again and again -- and most of those are Japanese automakers -- Ford's plan may just be the right one.
It took a last-minute surge in December to push auto sales over the top last year, but the industry may not be so fortunate in 2019 and the rankings could be significantly different come this time next year.
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Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Twitter. The Motley Fool owns shares of Moody's. The Motley Fool recommends Ford. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.