2016 was a record year for auto sales as demand for trucks, Sport Utility Vehicles, and Crossovers drove sales 0.4 percent higher than reported a year earlier, according to the Wall St. Journal.
It said total sales came to 17.55 million eclipsing the previous record of 17.5 million. So it was a squeaker.
Cars made up just 40.5 percent of sales, while trucks rang up 59.5 percent, according to the Detroit News.
More December sales in brief: (For additional info, see yesterday’s late report).
Hyundai said yearly sales rose 1.75 percent but were off nearly two percent in December. Robust demand was reported for the Tucson, Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport.
Kia Motors America announced all-time best annual sales of 647,598 vehicles in 2016, up 3.5 percent over 2015. December sales totaled a record 54,353.
Honda sales set an annual total vehicle record: up 4.8 percent to 1,476,582. December sales rose nearly 7 percent with the CR-V setting annual and monthly sales records. Acura sales declined 8.9 percent for the year but its trucks saw record demand in December, up 8.9 percent.
BMW sales fell 9.5 percent in 2016 while December sales fell one percent. Demand was strong for the 7 Series and the compact X1 crossover.
Subaru reported record-breaking sales of 615,132 vehicles for the year; an increase of 5.6 percent over the previous annual record set in 2015. This is the eighth consecutive year of sales records for Subaru of America and ninth consecutive year of sales increases. Suby sales also set a record in December, up 12.3 percent.
At Mazda, December sales were down 1.8 percent blamed on one less selling day this year. Calendar year sales were off 6.7 percent.
And for the year, Audi sales gained 4 percent surpassing 2015 as the brand’s best annual performance. December sales increased 13.7 percent thanks mainly to SUV’s.
At the CES, as it is now known, Audi announced a partnership with NVIDIA to use artificial intelligence to deliver highly automated vehicles starting in 2020. Audi said it will introduce the world’s first Level 3 automated vehicle equipped with a first-generation central driver assistance controller that integrates NVIDIA computing hardware and software.
The BMW Group, Intel, and Mobileye announced a fleet of approximately 40 autonomous test vehicles that will be on the roads by the second half of 2017. The BMW 7 Series will employ cutting-edge Intel and Mobileye technologies during global trials starting in the U.S. and Europe. “Making autonomous driving a reality for our customers is the shared ambition behind our cooperation with Intel and Mobileye. This partnership has all of the skills and talent necessary to overcome the enormous technological challenges ahead and commercialize self-driving vehicles,” said Klaus Frohlich, a BMW board member.
Among the automakers at the CES, there is a lot of talk about how the automobile, once fully autonomous driving takes over, will become little more than extension of your living room – what a Harman spokesman called “an inflexion point within the auto industry.” This will include an in-car theatre and the ability to conduct in-car conferencing.
But dig deep enough and you will find experts who believe that for regulatory, safety, and insurance purposes alone, the fully autonomous car is still many years away. The technology also has to conquer snow covered roads, fog banks, and poorly marked roads. So don’t throw away your driving gloves quite yet.