Some strong pull ahead from Independence Day sales is cited as one of the reasons why overall volume dropped in July versus year earlier numbers. The industry saw sales decline an estimated 3.7 percent as makers pulled back a bit on incentives and interest in traditional sedans continued to wane.

The only bright spot was an uptick in sales at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles largely on the success of the all-new 2019 Jeep Wrangler, which helped push volume up by 5.9 percent. A healthy sign is that most of those sales were retail as the share of fleet deliveries dropped to 10 percent. Volkswagen also saw a big jump in July sales with the nameplate seeing a 13 percent increase due to the popularity of its new Atlas midsize SUV and redesigned Tiguan compact crossover.

Ford saw sales decline 3.3 percent despite a 10-percent increase in truck sales. A double-digit drop in traditional car sales helped push overall volume down for July versus year-ago totals. Nissan also saw a big drop in sales, some 15 percent, as it cut back on both fleet deliveries and generous incentives in order to boost its margins. Industry analysts say the decrease in incentive spending at Nissan averaged almost 8 percent. Honda and Acura sales were also down 8.2 percent driven by a 19-percent decline in traditional car sales.

Subaru continues to post strong sales, gaining 6.7 percent in July. Most luxury brands also saw increases including Volvo’s 24-percent bump on the success of the new XC40, Porsche was up 3.1 percent and Audi 2.1 percent. BMW was virtually flat with a 0.1 percent increase, while Mercedes volume fell by 20 percent. The German luxury make blamed tight inventories and a changeover to 2019 model vehicles for a drop in deliveries, which reflected on sales reporting.

J.D. Power reports that incentives are declining, dropping to an average of $3,665 from $3,869 a year earlier. Car incentives are down an average of $579, while truck offers increased $5 on average. "Incentives spending in July was relatively restrained, as dealer inventory appears to be at a comfortable level,” said Brad Korner, Cox Automotive general manager of rates and incentives. He added that it’s a “sign automakers are managing production well in the post-peak era. Regional incentives are still being used where market share battles are heaviest.”

It appears the industry is dialing back both production and incentives allowing sales to settle in at comfortable levels that’s not too far below the industry’s record pace of the past few years. As a result, shoppers might want to wait to see if the deals get better as we get closer to the annual model changeover in October.

BMW cuts subscription price

BMW has introduced a new, lower-priced tier in its subscription pilot program in response to a low price announced by its rival, Mercedes-Benz. It also cut the price on its other two tiers on the subscription plan offered in Nashville, Tenn.

The new Icon tier is priced at $1,099 and provides access to BMW 3301, 330e iPerformance plug-in hybrid, X2, X3, M240i convertible and i3 electric models. The new price nearly matches the $1,095 lowest tier offered by Mercedes in its pilot, which is also in Nashville, as well as Philadelphia. BMW also cut prices on its higher tiers, reducing its Legend tier from $2,000 to $1,399 and its M Tier from $3,700 to $2,699. Legend vehicles include BMW 4 Series, 5 series, X5, and M2, while M Tier includes M4 convertible, M5, M6 convertible, and X6 M models.

CPO Sales Rebound

Certified Pre-Owned vehicle sales, after flattening in 2017, have rebounded 3.3 percent during the first half of this year, according to Automotive News. The increase in sales is attributed to a greater number of off-lease vehicles hitting the market. Also, last year’s plateau may have been influenced by heavy incentive spending on new models, a trend that seems to be abating.

Among the big gainers in CPO sales were Volkswagen and Jeep, which saw CPO activity increase by 33 and 32 percent respectively. VW attributes its gains to a new rebranded CPO program. Mazda said its 16 percent increase in certified pre-owned volume was due in part to a grassroot-effort by dealers.

By make, Toyota still leads in CPO volume, retailing nearly 180,000 vehicles in the first half, though that number is down 5 percent from a year ago. Honda is in second with 133,194 units retailed, a 2.4 percent gain, while Chevrolet was not far behind at 129,279, which was also an increase of some 2.7 percent. Nissan was in fifth with 115,035 sales, a gain of 13 percent, while fourth-place Ford saw a 6.7 percent decline to 115,557 units. BMW was also down 8.4 percent in CPO activity retailing 64,607 units.

2019 Jaguar F-Pace Priced

Jaguar announced pricing and added a new trim level to the 2019 F-Pace crossover SUV. In addition to adding content and increasing the base model price just over $2,500 to $44,600 plus $995 delivery for the 2019 Jaguar F-Pace 25t, the company introduced a range topping SVR sport model boasting a 550-horsepower 5.0-liter supercharged V8. That model is priced from $79,990 plus delivery.

All models, which are all-wheel drive, now have lane keep assist, driver condition monitor, emergency braking, rear camera and front/rear parking aids and the revamped InControl Touch Pro infotainment system as standard equipment. Jaguar has also added availability of adaptive cruise control with steering assist, blind spot assist, slimline sport seats and suedecloth headliner.

The three trim levels above the base 25t are Premium, Prestige and R-Sport. Premium 25t models equipped with a 247-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine start at $47,000, Prestige 25t begins at $51,600 and the R-Sport is $55,900. The 20d equipped with the 180-horsepower 4-cylinder turbodiesel are $1,500 more at each trim level, while 30t variants with the 296-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine are $3,000 higher topping out at $58,900 for the 30t R-Sport. At the top of the ladder are the 30t Portfolio at $63,000, the S model, which has a 380-horsepower supercharged 3.0-liter V6, costs $61,500 and the $79,900 SVR.

The rundown

Considering the donation of your old car to charity? If you use the new donate option here at Kelley Blue Book through Sept. 30, we’ll give an extra $100 to St. Jude’s Hospital. Details here.

Buick has added a third model to its upmarket Avenir sub-brand. The 2019 Buick Regal Sportback Avenir is expected to bow this fall with pricing announced closer to its on-sale date.

Audi has introduced a new flagship for its SUV portfolio in the form of the 2019 Audi Q8. We get behind the wheel in this First Review.

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