March 2016 Auto Sales: Winners and Losers

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Another March is in the books and U.S. deliveries were up a small but noteworthy amount, with soon-to-be-extinct Scion leading the pack for some reason. In contrast, one super-luxury brand saw its sales drop by more than 50 percent last month and that’s no April Fools’ Day joke.

Weather-wise, March may be one of the most “bleh” months of the year for much of America, but dank, dreary conditions didn’t prevent people from buying new vehicles. Continuing a successful string, delivers increased by around 3.8 percent compared to the same month last year.

SEE ALSO: How to Change a Flat Tire

Overall, dealerships sold around 1.5 million vehicles in March, which is nothing to sneeze at, even though you may have caught a cold from the frigid, wet conditions. So far this year, around 3.9 million cars, trucks and crossovers have been sold, which is nearly 4 percent better than what the industry did during the first three months of 2015. In any event, here’s a list of the brands that did best and the ones that weren’t as fortunate.

Winner: Mitsubishi +13.5 Percent

Despite having nearly nothing to sell, Mitsubishi’s sales grew by an impressive 13.5 percent last month. The troubled Japanese automaker sold more than 11,000 vehicles in March. How? We’re not sure. Perhaps they’re just giving Outlander Sports and Mirages away and counting them as sold …

Winner: Jeep +15.0 Percent

As we say every month, Jeep is practically unstoppable. FCA’s ever-popular off-road division saw its sales grow by a rock-solid 15 percent in March. That equates to more than 82,000 Jeeps. So far this year, they’ve delivered nearly 210,000 of them, up more than 17 percent compared to the first three months of 2015. All we can say is wow, just WOW.

Winner: Volvo +15.9 Percent

But Jeep was eclipsed by an unlikely rival. Volvo’s sales grew by nearly 16 percent last month. The Swedish-Chinese automaker sold nearly 7,000 vehicles in March, a figure that was probably buoyed by its award-winning new XC90 crossover. So far, deliveries for the year have exceeded 16,000 units.

Winner: Tesla +18.4 Percent

Tesla may have just announced its brand-new Model 3, an everyman’s electric sedan, but sales of Tesla’s other offerings are growing at an impressive clip. The American automaker is up an estimated 18.4 percent last month, with around 2,250 units sold. Sales for all of 2016 are up nearly 14 percent with nearly 6,500 cars sold.

Winner: Scion +64.1 Percent

But trumping even Tesla’s impressive performance was Scion, the brand that’s deader than even Mitsubishi. Toyota’s not-long-for-this-world youth-focused division saw its year-over-year March sales grow by more than 64 percent! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? They’re *literally* pulling the plug on this brand yet drivers are snapping ’em up. Perhaps people think they’ll be collector’s items in the future (hint: they won’t).

Smart -17.8 Percent

Now for the sales losers, and we start with an appropriate brand. S mart’s sales declined by almost 18 percent last month. Deliveries of the Daimler-engineered city car fell to just 479. For all of 2016, things are nearly as bad. Sales have sagged by more than 15 percent with just 1,300 fortwos finding their way into owners’ garages.

MINI -18.3 Percent

But small car sales don’t appear to be doing all that well right now. Case in point: MINI. This funky British brand’s deliveries slid by more than 18 percent last month. All told, they pushed out just 4,762 vehicles in March.

Fiat -23.9 Percent

Ditto for Fiat. Its sales were off almost 24 percent last month. Apparently, people just don’t want smaller vehicles, either that or quality actually matters. Just 3,422 cars and crossovers were delivered in March. For the first three months of the year, Fiat has moved a scant 9,009 units, a year-over-year decline of more than 18 percent.

Alfa Romeo -27.4 Percent

FCA’s other Italian division did even worse that Fiat. Alfa Romeo’s deliveries fell by more than 27 percent in March. Total sales clocked in at a paltry 53. For the year, Alfa Romeo has sold just 169 cars. What is FCA going to do? How about selling more Wrangler Unlimiteds?

Bentley -52.0 Percent

Finally, we come to the biggest loser, and that’s not a compliment about weight loss. Bentley’s year-over-year sales declined by an eye-watering 52 percent in March. Just 119 cars left dealerships in the U.S. last month. And things are even worse for the year. This brand’s sales are off 51.5 percent compared to the first three months of 2015. Ouch!

Check out our Tips and Advice Section!

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

More by Craig Cole

Join the conversation
 1 comment
  • Smartacus Smartacus on Apr 04, 2016

    Can we just admit it? Smart fortwo redesign is a very real failure here. Can we also admit the he onus is on Annette Winkler and she needs to be fired. She only got her position because ... Can we just say it? FIAT and Alfa are in real trouble. Mitsubishi will outlive FIAT and Alfa in the USA. And too bad we can't just say it: the MINI Super Bowl commercial has not helped.