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There is a massive shift in the U.S. light vehicle market that has been underway for several years. It has now crossed over a seminal point in terms of the type of car that’s selling the most – sedans giving way to SUVs – and it’s got a brand new leader: Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY) Rogue. It’s the new sales king in the U.S. car market.

For purposes of this discussion, I have divided the market into three buckets that reflect the three best-selling categories of light vehicles:

  1. Pickup trucks.

  2. Sedans – midsize/fullsize and compact/midsize.

  3. “Small” SUVs.

The point of this study is to include only the best-sellers. Not all pickup trucks, not all sedans, not all small SUVs – but the best-selling ones from the major mainstream brands by the largest automakers: Nissan, Honda (NYSE:HMC), Toyota (NYSE:TM), Kia, Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru, Jeep (NYSE:FCAU), Ford (NYSE:F), Volkswagen (OTCPK:VLKAY) and Chevrolet (NYSE:GM).

Let’s start with pickup trucks. Here are 1Q 2017 US sales:

US unit sales

2017 1Q

2016 1Q

change

Ford F-series

205281

186121

10%

Chevrolet Silverado

128467

128965

0%

GMC Sierra

49810

51131

-3%

RAM pickup

119199

113298

5%

TOTAL pickup

502757

479515

5%

As you can see in the table above, the segment leaders were up 5% collectively. That’s good in an overall US light vehicle market that was basically flat in 1Q 2017 compared to the prior year.

You also can see that these are the best-selling nameplates of any sort in the US market here, including the perennial leader Ford F-series. The Chevrolet and GMC models are essentially the same vehicle, so you should consider them on a combined basis.

Okay, what about traditional sedans? For years and decades, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have been fighting for pole position here, although recently the Honda Civic has overtaken the Accord. Here are the 1Q 2017 results:

US unit sales

2017 1Q

2016 1Q

change

Toyota Camry

83459

96245

-13%

Toyota Corolla

76086

84260

-10%

Honda Accord

69815

77073

-9%

Honda Civic

81654

87303

-6%

Nissan Altima

73985

85332

-13%

Nissan Sentra

51414

62944

-18%

Chevrolet Malibu

35005

58222

-40%

Chevrolet Cruze

53923

37241

45%

Ford Fusion

50786

74994

-32%

Ford Focus

36705

50215

-27%

Hyundai Sonata

37869

61457

-38%

Hyundai Elantra

54202

39363

38%

VW Passat

18267

14063

30%

VW Jetta

24563

28022

-12%

Subaru Legacy

12703

14478

-12%

Kia Optima

26945

29768

-9%

TOTAL sedan

787381

900980

-13%

As you can see in the table above, it’s a massacre. Not a single car sold over 100,000 units in 1Q 12017, and out of all these cars, only three were up – admittedly all three by a lot – VW Passat, Hyundai Elantra and Chevrolet Cruze.

These sedan segment leaders were down 13% collectively. Ouch!

But what’s a car anyway? Regular sedan sales are being supplanted by sales of two-row SUVs. That being the case, aren’t all of these unibody “SUVs” (crossovers) just simply lifted station wagons with optional all-wheel drive? Yes, they sure are. They are, for all intents and purposes, “cars.” So let’s take a look at those small-ish SUV sales:

US unit sales

2017 1Q

2016 1Q

change

Nissan Rogue

101421

69036

47%

Honda CR-V

94057

71188

32%

Toyota RAV4

80533

76122

6%

Ford Escape

76338

71594

7%

Chevrolet Equinox

62709

59879

5%

Hyundai Tucson

21155

20384

4%

Kia Sportage

15414

17467

-12%

Mazda CX-5

24374

23607

3%

VW Tiguan

10211

9292

10%

Subaru Forester

41476

38427

8%

Jeep Renegade

25345

22154

14%

TOTAL small SUV

553033

479150

15%

As you can see in the table above, here is where the action is. The group as a whole was up 15%, or more than the sedans were down (13%). Only one model was down year-over-year, and that was the Kia Sportage.

But look at the best-sellers! Two of them – Nissan Rogue and Honda CR-V – sell more than any sedans of any kind in the U.S. market, including Toyota Camry and Honda Civic. The Toyota RAV4 comes very, very close.

Of these best-selling cars, only one of them sold more than 100,000 in the quarter – the only non-pickup to do so – and that was the Nissan Rogue. It is the new car sales leader in the U.S. market.

The Nissan Rogues sold in the U.S. market are made in Tennessee, Japan and Korea. Yes, for this best-selling car in the U.S. car market today, three factories are necessary.

Helping the 1Q 2017 sales for the Nissan Rogue is the fact that it added a hybrid version effectively approximately at the beginning of the quarter: here.

Toyota had added its own hybrid of the RAV4 one year prior. You can read the finer details about the differences between the Nissan Rogue hybrid vs. the Toyota RAV4 hybrid in my article referenced above.

Bottom line: The U.S. car market has a new sales king, and it is the Nissan Rogue. It was the best-selling non-pickup light vehicle in the first quarter of 2017, up a whopping 47% from the prior year. At this pace, it’s on target to sell over 400,000 units this year, more than any sedan and more than any other SUV nameplate.

Disclosure: I am/we are long F, GM.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: At the time of submitting this article for publication, the author was long GOOGL, GM and F. However, positions can change at any time. The author regularly attends new vehicle launches, press conferences and equivalent, hosted by most major automakers. Nissan, Toyota, Mazda, Kia and Jeep hosted production introduction events.

Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

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