What’s Up With Radio’s Biggest Ad Category?


After years of automotive sales records it appears radio’s biggest advertising category is cooling off. The National Automobile Dealers Association is forecasting 16.8 million deliveries for 2019, down from 17.3 million in 2018. Here’s how each brand is performing.

Fiat Chrysler had its 11-month sales growth streak end in February when deliveries dropped 2 percent. Jeep, which has been on a big-time sales role, posted a 4 percent decrease. On the positive side, The Ram truck brand was up 24 percent.

According to Edmunds GM sales fell 5.8 percent and Ford fell 6.4 percent, both worse than forecast. Those two companies have switched to quarterly reporting.

The following stats are courtesy The Detroit News
Toyota Motor North America declined 5.2 percent in February.
Nissan was down 12 percent
Honda’s overall sales were down 0.4 percent
Volkswagen dropped 3.6 percent.
Subaru of America was a bright spot in the automotive category, up 3.9 percent over a year ago. That’s 87 consecutive months of yearly, month-over-month growth for Subaru.
Hyundai Motor America also had a good month, up 2 percent.

Even though sales are slumping the average price for a new vehicle in February was nearly $1,000 higher to $36,590 from February 2018

Interest rates in February hit their highest level in a decade. The average interest rate on a new-car loan was 6.26 percent in February, compared to 5.19 percent in 2018.


  1. That’s what happens when you keep using the same print, (despite 50 years of shrinkage) cut radio and ad annoying digital when the customer can’t turn it off fast enough.

  2. Jonathan is missing the boat. National ad agencies are NOW reinvesting in radio because there’s not nearly enough sales volume in digital back doors and front doors. Dealerships have been sold a bill of goods to spend thousands on every SEO in the alphabet, and they are also being handcuffed by the manufacturers as well. In a commodity market, inventory drives sales. So dealers need to have buyers search THEM, instead of a VW Jetta. That drives all your ad dollars directly to your competitors, even if you HAVE the car. And if new car sales are off, and they ARE spending 60% of budget on digital, that’s a huge disconnect. And yes Ronald, any bozo who’s running old car ads is just as much to blame for poor sales. Just ask Roy Williams

  3. There is nothing in this article that makes any direct connection between national sales of cars and the local purchasing of advertising time on the radio or in any other media.

  4. Any car dealer using radio to market anything should be fired…Radio companies are dinosaurs when it comes to digital and targeting …which is what works for these dealers….and radio missed the boat…who is surprised…Turn out the lights………

    • If the auto industry is spending more than 60% of its total ad budget on digital, someone needs to explain to me why new car sales have been off or flat for three consecutive years. We’re being told that online/mobile/social media is the latest and greatest. Clearly internet ad fraud is a thing.

  5. Considering the spots written for local dealerships today are the same ones that were written 50 years ago – same styles, same intonation, same speeds, same intensities, same claims, same cliches and the same words.
    The only difference, so far as I can tell, is the placement of the decimal in the price points.
    And radio is shocked, surprised and worried?
    Still, it continues:
    “C’mon down today WITH THE MISSUZ, and make your best deal at Honest Zeke’s Beater Emporium! Honest Zeke’s will not be undersold! Eight miles past the E street overpass on 43rd Avenue, left on the Bellicose expressway and 4 miles to Honest Zeke’s. That’s HONEST ZEKE’S!!!”
    I mean, really?


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