Two More Years of Strong Auto Sales?

Auto sales continue to rise globally with the US market experiencing strong gains. The year-over-year streak may continue until 2018 when economic headwinds contribute to the first decline since 2009.

US auto sales are the strongest we have seen since before the last recession with domestic manufacturing plants operating at full capacity. Sales in September increased by more than 16 percent, translating to a selling rate topping 18 million units annually.

Ever since reaching bottom in 2009, the domestic market has been on a rebound. Indeed, Fiat Chrysler is currently enjoying a 68-month streak of year-over-year sales increases, Subaru is gaining market share at the expense of its rivals, and Audi continues to claim a larger slice of the luxury market and has a 57-month sales streak of its own.

IHS Automotive: Auto Sales Pull Back

The good news may continue for a while, but a pull back is coming. That’s the opinion of market research company IHS Automotive, whose forecast sees auto sales inching up over the next two calendar years before beginning to pull back over rising interest rates and other market factors.

US auto sales forecastOn Tuesday, IHS Automotive released a report, “Global Economic and Automotive Outlook,” offering a fall update of the global automotive market, including the status of the US automotive market. Presented by Charles Chesbrough, Senior Principal Economist — IHS Automotive, the report (opens to a .pdf) concluded that consumer buying desire remains high, while the strong labor market improves their ability to purchase a new car.

Annual Forecast Adjustment

The favorable conditions currently at play also include stronger consumer confidence, consistent job creation, slight increases in wages, low gas prices, and the widespread availability of high tech products. Further, manufacturers are benefitting from a lower cost of materials and have been responding with numerous new products and updates. Credit availability is excellent and low loan interest rates are making purchasing a new car possible for a larger group of consumers.

The continued upswing of the auto industry has prompted IHS Automotive to adjust its earlier forecast. The research firm now sees US auto sales finishing at 17.3 million units this year, up from 16.5 million in 2014. Further, IHS estimates that the market will support 17.8 million units in 2016 and peak at 18.2 million units in 2017 before pulling back in 2018.

The Coming Blow Back

Headwinds are on the way and that translates into an industry downturn beginning in 2018. By then, tighter credit will begin to restrict consumer access to the market with auto sales drifting downward to 17 million units sold annually by 2022 reports Automotive News. Notably, the anticipated decline does not factor in the typical sales plunge that usually follows peak auto sales, with Chesbrough leaning toward a more modest pull back.

Chesbrough also noted the industry is in a much better position these days with production capacity and demand ideally aligned. In addition, improved labor contracts along with incentive discipline are benefitting the industry. In times past the industry used various schemes to spike traffic, only to see sales fall and profits with it once the programs were ended.

China Sets the Pace

The IHS study examined global markets with China remaining by far the largest market for new cars. Indeed, China overtook the US as the top market for new cars in the last recession, reaching 23.5 million units sold in 2014.

China’s annual auto sales should reach 30 million units by 2020 with 32.2 million sales forecast by 2022. China alone will account for nearly half of the world’s incremental growth through 2020.

India is another market in the midst of a healthy growth cycle, while Brazil and Russia continue to experience losses, a trend that won’t end before 2017. Japan and the Eurozone are enjoying a modest uptick in gross domestic product (GDP), but at a pace slower than the current 2.6 percent global average.

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AutoPacific Forecasts Positive Auto Trends

US auto sales continue to grow and have started the year off strong. Across the board, analysts have been predicting sustainable growth for the year, but few have dared to look much further out in the future. Now, AutoPacific has released its forecast for sales through 2020, what may surprise some people.

AutoPacific Forecasts Three More Years of Growth for U.S. Light Vehicle Sales

Ever since the US auto industry plunged in 2009 to depths not observed in decades, experts in recent months have been noting that the current recovery — now in its sixth year — is an unusually lengthy one. Yet, few people are looking beyond 2015, with most simply content to state that sales will continue to rise this year.

AutoPacific Inc., an automotive marketing research and product-consulting firm, has bravely looked beyond this year in a bid to forecast annual sales for the intervening five years. AutoPacific expects sales to approximate 17 million units this year and continue to ascend for two more years, peaking at 17.24 million units in 2017.

Best Market in a Decade

For 2015, AutoPacific expects sales to escalate by 524,000 units over 2014, coming in just under 17 million units. If the company is precise in its assessment, then the market would reach a threshold last attained in 2006.

“U.S. sales recovery has been steady since hitting the bottom of the decline in 2009, though recent years have seen things taper off from 11% growth in 2010 to 6% in 2014, and a forecasted 3% growth this year,” says Ed Kim, Vice President of Industry Analysis at AutoPacific. Furthermore, AutoPacific’s forecast for the year sees a 55 percent truck to 45 percent car allocation as consumers continue to embrace crossover utility vehicles, especially compact models. That apportionment would represent the largest truck share of the market ever seen.

AutoPacific Forecast Through 2020

With 2017 forecast as the peak sales year for the decade, AutoPacific has not envisioned that a major market correction is in the offing. Instead, the company has forecast a slight contraction beginning in 2018 and continuing through 2020.

The logic given for that downswing is based on two factors:

1) a probable rise in interest rates in the next few years and,
2) young buyers, also known as Millennials, waiting longer to purchase their first new car.

An overarching reason might also be weighted and that would involve loan terms. Notably, we are currently seeing loans for 72 months to as long as 96 months offered by some financial institutions, including the Navy Federal Credit Union. Indeed, the interest rate on 8-year auto loans underwritten by the NFCU presently stands at just 4.49 percent, although they are offered only to people with superior credit.

The Effect of Rising Interest Rates on Loan Terms

Once interest rates begin to ascend, then monthly payments will also begin to rise. Likewise, lenders may pull back and offer shorter term loans only, effectively shutting some consumers out of the new car market.

Speaking of loans, AutoPacific says that the average loan length today is 66 months (5.5 years) compared to 48 months (4 years) just a few years ago. Declared Kim about today’s loans, “Vehicle buyers will be in a negative equity position on their loans a lot longer than in the past, and that will have a profound impact on replacement demand in the future.”

Forecast Accuracy, Consumer Data and Purchase Intentions

AutoPacific’s forecast accuracy over the past 10 years has been 95.5 percent, with 2008 and 2009 coming in below 90 percent as most analysts underestimated the breadth and depth of the last recession. The company relies on consumer supplied data and economic forecasts to aid it with its own forecasting. Moreover, the company indicated that intelligence also helps analysts “…better understand vehicle buyer purchase intentions, including brand consideration and future segment intention.”

See AlsoJournalist Survey: Social Media Participation

Chart supplied by AutoPacific.

2014 US Auto Sales Magnify Industry’s Strength

2014

Sales rise by 5.9 percent and top 16.5 million units.

Merely five years ago, the US auto industry recorded one of its worst years in a generation. GM and Chrysler went bankrupt and restructured, and other automakers had to cope with sales that plummeted by 10 to 30 percent or more over the previous year. A “cash for clunkers” program provided some boost, but sales would only begin to revive the following year.

Five years later the US auto industry is back and with its sales that are now at pre-recession levels. In fact, sales rose by 5.9 percent on 16,522,000 units. In 2013, manufacturers sold 15,600,199 new vehicles.

Once again, the Ford F-150 is the best-selling pickup truck and model in America, while the Toyota Camry is the chart-topping car model for the 13th consecutive year. GM, Ford and Toyota continue to pace the industry with Chrysler, Nissan, Subaru and yes, Mitsubishi, all showing robust growth. Undoubtably, the market paradigm has shifted and industry analysts are waxing rhapsodic.

The Top Three Adversaries

General Motors continues to lead in the US. GMC and Buick brought in the largest percentage gains for GM, with Chevrolet sales finishing up by 3.8 percent. Cadillac transactions fell by 6.1 percent in a segment that continues to enjoy double-digit increases. New models and market discipline will most likely help GM’s luxury brand preserve profits and actualize increased sales for 2015. GM finished up by 4.8 percent for the year.

Ford sales slipped by 0.5 percent for the year as the automaker retooled assorted plants to prepare for its most momentous new model of the millennium: the 2015 F-150 pickup truck. To be sure, Ford has effectively sacrificed sales and market share to safeguard quality and positioning with its top-selling model, delivering the first trucks as the calendar year came to an end.

“Fusion and Escape posted record years, and our newest products – including Mustang and Transit and Lincolns – are attracting strong customer demand,” said John Felice, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service. “Demand for the all-new F-150 also is very high, and it now is the fastest-turning vehicle in Ford showrooms, averaging just five days on dealer lots in December.”

Perpetually conservative Toyota is now showing signs of risk-taking, fashioning new models that are pushing the styling envelope. Later in the year, the world’s largest automotive manufacturer unloosed an aggressive mid product cycle refresh of its Camry sedan, matching the verve of its chief competitors. Consequently, Toyota Motor Corporation sales climbed by 3 percent for the year, narrowing the divide between it and the No. 2 Ford Motor Company.

Fiat Chrysler in the Limelight

Two brands drove Fiat Chrysler (FCA) sales all year: Jeep and Ram. The pair not only delivered dependable double-digit gains month over month, but have helped FCA securely maintain FCA’s lock on the No. 4 spot in US sales. Nevertheless, FCA is overexposed on the truck and utility vehicle front and must continue to find ways to comply with increasingly rigid CAFE standards. FCA sales rose by more than 16 percent in 2014. Through December, the company has registered 57 consecutive months of month-over-month sales gains.

The Honda brand sold 1,373,029 new vehicles in 2014, an all-time sales record. With Acura included, American Honda recorded 1,540,872 units sold. A strong Dec. for both the Honda and Acura brands enabled this automaker to finish up 1 percent for the year.

“Despite the price of gasoline dropping well below $3 a gallon in many markets, Honda’s strong, balanced lineup of cars and trucks helped us achieve record sales in 2014,” said Jeff Conrad, Honda division senior vice president and general manager. “The great news is that we will build on this momentum with some great new products coming in 2015.”

As 2014 came to a close, Nissan once again found itself trailing Honda for fifth place in the US. Even so, the Nissan brand recorded a strong Dec. and finished up by 12.2 percent for the year. Infiniti also finished up for the year at 0.8 percent, while total company sales outpaced the industry, rising by 11.1 percent for the year.

Subaru Vigor and Mitsubishi Tenacity

Two of the smaller Japanese manufacturers, Subaru and Mitsubishi easily eclipsed the market and gained market share in 2014.

For instance, Subaru sold more than 500,000 models for the first time, continuing its meteoritic ascendancy. By the same token, Mitsubishi laid to rest (for now) rumors that it would exit the US market.

Subaru sales rose by 21 percent on the strength of demand for its Forester and Outback models, while Mitsubishi sales surged by 24.8 percent, largely due to demand for its subcompact Mirage and Outlander Sport utility vehicle models.

“December marked the tenth consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases and helped us close out the year with an increase of nearly 25% over the previous year,” said Don Swearingen, Executive Vice President MMNA. “Our core models lead the way with Outlander Sport having its best-ever sales year since its introduction, Mirage selling well beyond expectations and Outlander coming in strong up over 6% for the year.”

Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi Compete

The three German luxury automakers have been enjoying strong sales and 2014 was no exception for Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Audi reported sales topping 182,000 units, representing an increase of 15.2 percent over 2013. Its best-selling model is its Q5 crossover. Three car lines — A4, A6 and A3 were also significant contributors. Notably, Audi now has 48 consecutive months of month-over-month sales gains under its belt.

BMW Group sales — BMW and Mini brands — topped 395,000 units for the year. BMW sold 30,000 more vehicles than it did last year, finishing up by 9.8 percent, while Mini sales declined by 15.2 percent for 2014.

Mercedes-Benz reported sales volume of 330,391, up 5.7 percent for the year. The Mercedes brand reported 312,534 units sold to 25,745 for Sprinter. Smart sales came in at 10,453 units. Pacing Mercedes were its C-Class, E-Class and M-Class lines.

BMW finished as the luxury brand leader again in 2014 on 339,738 vehicles sold. The second and third place was held by Mercedes-Benz and Lexus (311,389) respectively.

Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen Report

It has been touch and go for Hyundai all year, but the Korean manufacturer managed to sell 725,718 units for the year or just under 5,000 more vehicles than it did last year. Two crossover models, the Santa Fe and Tucson, provided the momentum for Hyundai to push ahead.

“We ended the year on a high note,” said Bob Pradzinski, vice president of national sales. “And it was evident that the CUV segment was red hot with our exceptional sales for the year for both Santa Fe and Tucson.”

Kia may be the second name in the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, but it continues to enjoy vigorous sales. Indeed, for 2014 Kia sales rose by 8.4 percent, based largely on renewed interest in its Soul and Sport utility vehicles. December sales surged by nearly 36 percent with most models seeing increases.

Volkswagen sales finished down by 10 percent for the year, but a late surge in sales over the final months reduced those losses. Nonetheless, the Volkswagen brand continues to lose market share, selling just 366,970 new vehicles in 2014. Golf sales were the only model to see improvement for the year.

In Other Sales News

Mazda sales topped 300,000 units sold, providing this company with its best year since 1994. Sales rose by 7.7 percent in 2014 on strong demand for the Mazda 2, Mazda 6 and CX-5 crossover.

Jaguar Land Rover sales finished up 0.4 percent for the year, thanks in large part to a strong Dec. for the Jaguar brand. However, for the year Jaguar finished down by 7 percent, while Land Rover was up by 2.9 percent.

Tesla Motors hit a plateau in 2014, but has new models coming that should help this electric vehicle automaker enjoy more robust growth going forward. For the year, Tesla sold 18,750 units, down 3.1 percent over 2013.

Porsche sales rose by 11.1 percent to 47,007 units. Ferrari and Maserati also reported year over year increases.

Looking Ahead

With another banner year behind it, manufacturers know that keeping the sales momentum up will take much work. Most analysts have expected a more modest boost for 2015, with sales expected to come in just shy of 17 million vehicles by year-end. That would make for a rare six-year streak of year-over-year sales increases.

Sales data supplied by the car manufacturers and Motor Intelligence.


Are you looking for a new car? Check out our car reviews section for more information. We reviewed 60 new vehicles during the 2014 calendar year, offering comprehensive information about each model driven.

Ford Auto Trends: Worse Before It Gets Better

Ramping up production of the 2015 F-150 continues.

US auto sales continue to rise and are up 5.4 percent through the first 11 months of 2014. Across the board increases are being felt by all major manufacturers with one important exception: the Ford Motor Company.

Ford brand sales are down for the year with overall company sales off by 0.7 percent through November. That represents a modest decrease and sales are likely to finish down for the year when 2014’s statistics are released in early January. Moreover, Ford has told Automotive News that additional declines are likely over the next several months as it launches its ground-breaking and innovative 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck.

Declining Market Share

Ford blue ovalFord has seen its market share fall in the past year, declining from 15.3 percent in November 2013 to 14.3 percent in November 2014. The Chrysler Group is among the automakers that may have benefited from that decline as its own share of the market now stands at 12.5 percent, just behind Toyota and Ford.

The Ford F-150 is hardly in any danger of losing its place as the top-selling pickup truck, the best-selling model of any kind in America. Sales are down 1.4 percent for the year, but Ford should still sell about 735,000 units for the year.

Ramping Up Production

Gumming up the works for Ford is the transition the company is making at factories that previously built the last generation F-150 and are now manufacturing the new model. Ford has been deliberate in its change over as it shifts to an aluminum-based body. The new, lighter model loses more than 700 pounds in the process and now delivers a segment-leading 26 mpg on the highway. Ford has so much invested in its most popular model that its execution must be flawless. Likely, it will take several more months before Ford completes is production ramp up and enjoys increased sales with it.

Despite the challenges it is facing with the F-150, Ford is seeing strong interest in another all-new model: the 2015 Ford Mustang. Ford’s pony car is once again the best-selling sport coupe model in America as sales climbed by 62.4 percent to 8,728 units sold last month. Its chief nemesis remains the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford should stay ahead of its competitor until at least an all-new Camaro is released next year. Through November, Camaro sales numbered 79,669 sold to the Mustang’s 73,124 units sold.

Another model that should benefit the blue oval is its all new to the US market Ford Transit van. The Transit is Ford’s full-size van and the replacement model for the E-Series. Like the F-150, the E-Series has had a lock on the large van segment for more than three decades. The new Transit is based on a model sold in Europe and should eventually top 10,000 units sold each month as Ford completes that transition.

Lincoln auto sales.

Lincoln sales are up significantly over 2013.

Lincoln Rising

Up until recently, the Ford brand has been the company’s brightest shining star. This year, its Lincoln brand has been a positive contributor with sales up by 15 percent through November.

Lincoln sales grew by 20.6 percent in November largely on the strength of its all-new, compact MKC crossover utility vehicle. Another utility vehicle, the Lincoln Navigator, is also new for 2015. Two other models, an MKZ sedan and its MKX crossover, are also ahead of last year’s sales pace.

If Ford’s sales do reverse course in December, incentives may play a big part in it. As the month advances, Ford may ramp up discounts on several models in response to deeper cuts made by its competitors.


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Rocking October 2014 Auto Sales Lift Industry

October 2014 sales remain in positive territory.

The US auto industry continues to record strong sales even as the overall economy shows only modest gains. Sales this year should top 16.5 million units with analysts forecasting at least 17 million units sold for 2015. And if October 2014 auto sales are a good indicator, the year should finish on a strong note.

Sales for the month were up by 6.1 percent as 1,281,313 light vehicles were sold according to Motor Intelligence by Autodata Corp. Through October 2014, more than 13.7 million units have been sold we are on pace for for the best year since 2007.

2015 Audi A3 -- October 2014

2015 Audi A3

Auto Sales Trends

As sales continue to rise, some might question just how much further they can rise. At least for the short term, sales seem likely to continue moving up.

Mike Rabkin, president of From Car to Finish, a national new vehicle negotiating service, contends that there is still pent up demand for new vehicles yet to be tapped. Specifically, Rabkin cited the average 11-year age of registered vehicles as one important factor supporting increased increased sales.

He went on to note that “late model used car transaction prices are also still near historical highs, which pushes people towards new vehicles since for similar money, they can get the peace of mind of a new vehicle, a full warranty, the newest features and technologies, better mileage, etc.”

2015 Corvette Stingray -- October 2014

2015 Corvette Stingray

GM, Toyota Up; Ford Sales Fall

GM paced the market in October 2014, but barely registered a month-over month gain, enjoying a 0.2 percent increase for the month. The strongest improvements came with the Cadillac CTS (up 49 percent) and the Chevrolet Cruze (up 51 percent). Strong sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra also helped keep GM in the positive column for the month.

Toyota sales rose by 6.9 percent, fueled by strong demand for the best-selling Camry. Camry and RAV4 sales were the difference for Toyota; the automaker also sold more than 20,000 hybrids across its Toyota and Lexus lines. Lexus sales rose by 2.8 percent for the month.

Ford sales fell by 2 percent as retail sales dropped by 13 percent while fleet and government sales rose. Ford is in the process of swapping out its E-Series van for the Transit and is also working diligently to bring its all-new aluminum-body F-Series to the market. Lincoln posted a 24.6 percent gain for the month, based largely on strong demand for the new MKC crossover.

2015 Hyundai Genesis -- October 2014

2015 Hyundai Genesis

Chrysler, Nissan and Honda

Chrysler once again enjoyed record sales, registering its 56th consecutive month of year-over-year gains. Chrysler Group sales rose by 22 percent as every Chrysler, Jeep and Ram Truck brand vehicle experienced increased sales. Jeep sales rose by 52 percent, Chrysler 200 sales were up by 40 percent and Ram pickup truck sales fell just shy of 40,000 units sold.

It may take Nissan another year, but it seems that Japan’s second-largest car manufacturer may finally overtake smaller Honda in the US market. Nissan has never outsold Honda stateside, but this year it is enjoying stellar sales, rising 13 percent year to date to Honda’s 0.6 percent gain. October was another strong performer as Nissan sales rose by 13.3 percent while American Honda recorded a 5.8 percent increase.

2015 Kia K900 -- October 2014

2015 Kia K900

Kia, Hyundai, Volkswagen and Audi

Kia and Hyundai continue to work with capacity constraints, but are seeing sales affected in opposite ways. Kia sales rose by 12.4 percent on the strength of big demand for its Soul multi-purpose vehicle and for renewed interest in its Sedona minivan.

Hyundai sales fell by 6.5 percent as demand for its two top-selling products, the midsize Sonata and compact Elantra lines fell. Sales of the all-new Genesis sedan rose for the month.

Volkswagen sales have been down all year, but in October the German brand enjoyed a healthy 7.8 boost on the strength of demand for its all-new Golf. Golf sales doubled for the month and Jetta sedan sales increased by nearly 25 percent. Sales for the year are still off by 12.2 percent. Audi sales rose by 16.5 percent, recording the 46th consecutive month of month-over-month sales. Its Q5 and Q7 crossovers along with the all-new A3 sedan led the charge for October.

Subaru October 2014 Sales

Like Audi and Chrysler, Subaru continues to enjoy an extended sales streak. For October 2014, Subaru topped 40,000 units sold for the seventh consecutive month and also registered its 35th consecutive month of growth. Legacy midsize sedan sales more than doubled and both the WRX/STI and Outback enjoyed increases of more than 50 percent. Subaru’s sales for the month were up by 24.7 percent and are now up by 20.3 percent for the year.

2015 Infiniti QX70 -- October 2014

2015 Infiniti QX70

Best of the Rest

BMW may not catch Mercedes-Benz for the year, but at least they are trying. BMW brand sales were up by 11 percent, while Mercedes-Benz sales fell by 4.3 percent. Other manufacturers reporting sales included: Mitsubishi (up 30.5 percent), Mazda (down 4.8 percent), Tesla (down 15.4 percent), Volvo (up 1.4 percent), Jaguar Land Rover (down 19.8 percent) and Porsche (up 2.9 percent).

Sales figures culled by the respective automotive manufacturers.

See AlsoSeptember 2014 Auto Sales: Bada Bing, Bada Boom

September 2014 Auto Sales: Bada Bing, Bada Boom

Light vehicle sales up 9.4 percent for the month.

Toyota 4Runner

4Runner sales helped pace Toyota in September 2014.

Analysts had expected that September 2014 auto sales would rise and they were not disappointed. GM, Chrysler and Nissan paced the industry, with each enjoying sales gains of 19 percent for the month. Ford sales dipped slightly, Toyota moved up just under 2 percent, while Honda sales rose by 12 percent.

September 2014 Auto Sales

The big news for the month came from the Chrysler Group. Not only did the company register its 54th consecutive month of month-over-month sales, but it surpassed Toyota in sales: 169,890 to 167,279 units sold. Likely, Chrysler won’t be able to sustain its hold on third place and is still 238,000 units behind Toyota for the year.

September 2014

Silverado sales topped 50,000 units in September 2014.

GM’s surge was led by GMC and Chevrolet, up 27.7 and 20.4 percent respectively. Buick sales rose by 11.8 percent while Cadillac sold one more vehicle in Sept. than they did last year for virtually no change. The biggest gainers were the Chevrolet Silverado on 50,176 units sold or up 54.4 percent for the month. The Chevrolet Cruze, up 44.7 percent and Traverse up 45.1 percent also paced the bow-tie brand. GMC, by the way, saw sales of its all-new Yukon nearly doubled. GMC Sierra sales also came in strong, up 24.7 percent for the month.

“GM saw strength almost across the board in September, and outpaced the industry with the newest trucks and SUVs at exactly the right time,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations. “We will have improved availability of heavy-duty pickups and large SUVs in the months ahead, and the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are arriving in showrooms as we speak. This sets us up to finish the year on a very strong note.”

Chrysler continues to ride the crest of mushrooming Jeep sales with Ram also contributing. Cherokee sales have now moved past the Grand Cherokee and are also ahead of Wrangler. The biggest gainer for the month was the Patriot as sales rose by 51 percent. Jeep’s September 2014 sales were up 47 percent.

Ram continues to benefit from interest in its large pickup truck, the 1500 series. That truck recorded 36,612 units sold for the month, up 30 percent month-over-month. Ram sales finished up by 35 percent for the month and are up 25 percent over 2014.

Nissan, Ford and Toyota

Nissan Versa Note

The Versa Note is Nissans entry-level hatchback.

Nissan group sales rose by nearly 19 percent, held down by a 13 percent decrease in Infiniti sales. Several models contributed to the onslaught with the biggest gainers coming in the Rogue (up 51 percent) and Sentra (up 61 percent). Frontier sales rose by 47 percent for the month.

Ford’s loss of 3.2 percent for the month can be attributed largely to the reduced availability of its best-selling F-150 pickup truck. As of this writing, Ford is transitioning from its 2014 to 2015 model year, bringing to the market an aluminum-bodied truck. Even so, Ford sold 59,863 pickup trucks to lead all comers. Ford reported strong sales for the Fusion, Transit Connect and the all-new Transit van. Lincoln sales rose 12.5 percent largely on demand for its all-new MKC crossover and a new Navigator SUV.

Toyota’s sales inched up by 1.7 percent even as demand for the Camry and Corolla slipped. Sales of the RAV4 and Highlander crossovers, as well as the 4Runner SUV, helped move Toyota forward. Lexus sales increased by 7.3 percent for the month.

Honda, Hyundai and Kia

Honda CR-V

CR-V sales rose as Honda introduces an all-new model.

Honda’s sales rose by 12 percent as both its Honda and Acura brands notched double-digit sales increases for September 2014. The outgoing Honda CR-V, now being replaced by an all-new model, contributed 23,722 sales for the month, ahead of the Civic’s 22,263 and behind the Accord’s 32,956 units sold. Increased demand for the MDX and RDX crossovers and demand for its ILX sedan fueled growth.

With all core Honda models now made in North America, the Honda brand is continuing to gain strength with American car buyers, said Jeff Conrad, Honda division senior vice president and general manager. And with the redesigned 2015 Honda CR-V going on sale today we expect our momentum to continue to grow as step-by-step we reinforce our light truck lineup.

Hyundai and Kia are gradually moving to a place where the two Korean automakers should sell 100,000 units monthly between them. Kia sales were up 6.9 percent for the month while Hyundai sales increased by 1.6 percent. Both automakers, joined at the hip, are feeling the effects of capacity constraints. Nevertheless, the two manufacturers are operating their US factories at full tilt and are relying on imports to satisfy customer demand.

Best of the Rest

The 2015 Mazda CX-5.

The 2015 Mazda CX-5 compact crossover.

The rest of the market saw sales all over the place. The Volkswagen Group continues to struggle, falling 9 percent on the month. VW brand sales fell by 18.6 percent, but Audi sales rose by 14.2 percent. Mazda sales rose by 6.7 percent, Mitsubishi surged by 38.9 percent and Volvo sales rose by 11.4 percent.

Subaru continues to shake up the market, enjoying a 30.7 percent boost for the month. Subaru sales rose by nearly 10,000 units, representing the seventh time this year the automaker surpassed 40,000 vehicles sold in one month.

Jaguar sales fell by 13 percent, Land Rover was down 8.3 percent and Porsche sales increased by 16.6 percent. BMW sales rose by 8.6 percent, Mini sales plunged 20.5 percent, Mercedes-Benz recorded an 10 percent increase and Smart sales climbed by nearly 20 percent. Tesla sales fell by 15.4 percent.

September 2014 and Year to Date

In all, 1,246,006 new vehicles were sold in September 2014, up 9.4 percent for the month. Light trucks continue to outsell passenger vehicles 665,746 to 580,260. Through September 2014, sales are up 5.5 percent for the year to 12,431,305 vehicles sold. Annualized, sales are on pace to top 16.5 million units for the year.


See AlsoHighlights of August 2014 US Auto Sales

Sales data supplied by car manufacturers and Autodata Corp.

Highlights of August 2014 US Auto Sales

Subaru, Chrysler and Nissan Headline Aug. 2014 US Auto Sales.


Jeep Grand Cherokee auto sales

US auto sales for August 2014 were robust with some surprises in the mix. Toyota, projected to experience a decline for the month, sold more than 246,000 vehicles last month, moving ahead of the Ford Motor Company for second place behind GM. Ford sales rose by about 1 percent; GM sales fell by nearly 1 percent.

Subaru, Chrysler Keep Streaks Alive

The big news, however, came a bit further down the sales line. Subaru, one of the smaller Japanese automakers, continues to break sales records. In August, Subaru hit a new milestone with 50,246 vehicles sold. Sales for the month were up by 22.3 percent and for the year are up nearly 19 percent. It was also the 33rd consecutive month-over-month increase with the Forester leading the way.

Chrysler sales fell just short of the 200,000 unit mark with 198,379 models sold. Sales rose 20 percent for the month, representing the 53rd consecutive month-over-month sales increase. Jeep (up 49 percent) and Ram (up 33 percent) continue to provide the boost that carries the company. Chrysler brand sales rose by 4 percent based on the new 200 sedan.

“Chrysler Group sales soared 20 percent last month resulting in our strongest August sales in 12 years” said Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. Sales. “Our Jeep brand continued its torrid sales pace recording its best August sales ever and our Ram Truck brand contributed with a massive 39 percent sales increase, both helping Chrysler Group achieve its 53rd-consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth”

The Nissan brand set a record for the month, topping 125,000 units sold for the first time. Together with Infiniti, 134,388 models went out the door. Nissan brand sales were up on the strength of the Altima, Rogue, Sentra and Versa, rising 15.3 percent for the month. Infiniti sales fell by 22.9 percent.

New Models on Deck

Ford and GM sales have been subdued, as both automakers are set to introduce all-new models that should boost volume significantly. GM has a pair of smaller GMC and Chevrolet pickup trucks set for release this fall and claims 28,000 dealer orders for the Chevy Colorado and 14,000 dealer orders for the GMC Canyon, five times the rate the company had anticipated. Ford will be debuting its next generation and aluminum-body F-150 pickup truck by year-end with the 2015 Ford Mustang also on its way.

Toyota sales rose by 6.3 percent, surprising analysts who were expecting a slight drop for the month. “The industry had its best August in over a decade with sales topping 1.5 million vehicles, said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager. Boosted by standout SUV sales and a record-shattering month for RAV4, Toyota was the number 1 retail manufacturer in August.

Hondas auto sales nearly topped an August record, but fell just short of a record. Still, American Honda sales rose by 0.4 percent on the strength of a record-breaking month of 51,075 Accords sold. The CR-V and Civic both topped 34,000 units as Honda once again relied on its 1-2-3 punch to sustain the brand.

The fundamental strengths of the Honda brand are on full display as the Accord strengthened its position as the best-selling car uniquely driven by retail sales to individual buyers, said Jeff Conrad, Honda Division senior vice president and general manager. Our other core models, Civic, CR-V and Odyssey are also performing well and continue to drive our retail sales leadership in 2014. And the early market response to the redesigned 2015 Fit is a strong indicator of great things to come as supplies improve, added Conrad.

Korean Manufacturers Climb

Hyundai manufacturing is strained to capacity, but the Korean automaker continues to quickly sell everything it produces. Sales finished at 70,003 units, only the second time Hyundai has hit the 70K milestone. Hyundais auto sales rose by 6 percent and are up 2 percent for the year.

Kia was also up for the month, rising by 5.1 percent and is up by nearly 7 percent for the year. Sales of 54,667 units were an August record as the Optima sedan and Soul multipurpose vehicle led the way.

Auto Sales: Best of the Rest

Volkswagen continues to go in the wrong direction as brand sales fell by 12.8 percent. Golf and Golf GTI sales were among the bright spots for the beleaguered brand. Volkswagen needs new product; a refreshed Jetta may not be enough.

Auto sales for other manufacturers were as follows: BMW brand up 11.6 percent, MINI down 21.1 percent for a net increase of 5.4 percent. BMW is on pace to sell more than 300,000 models this year. Mercedes-Benz sales also rose on the strength of a record-breaking 27,192 units sold. M-B sales were up 15 percent; Sprinter sales climbed by 15.6 percent and Smart sales surged by 57.1 percent.

Volvo sales fell by 10.4 percent, Jaguar Land Rover dropped by 14.8 percent and Tesla sales plunged by 17.9 percent. Porsche sales climbed by 36.5 percent. For the month, sales finished up 5.5 percent to 1.586 million units and are on track to approach 17 million units for the year.

Auto sales data based on manufacturer-supplied news.


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Highlights of July 2014 US Auto Sales

Chrysler, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Nissan shine.

The car manufacturers couldn’t wait to post July 2014 auto sales data. Chrysler, usually the first out of the gate, reported its numbers in the wee hours of the morning on Aug. 1. A number of other manufacturers also supplied data early, making it possible for analysts to accurately gauge the month’s performance before lunch time on the east coast.

For the month, 1,435,342 light vehicles were sold, up 9.1 percent over the 1,315,194 sold in July 2013, according to Autodata Corp. Year to date, approximately 9.6 million units have been sold, up 5 percent over last year. Looking toward the end of the year, analysts believe that 16.5 million units will be sold, representing quite a turn around from the 10.4 million units sold in 2009 when the country was mired in a deep recession.

Toyota RAV4.
RAV4 sales are helping Toyota stay strong.

Big Six Automakers

Among the Big Six manufacturers (GM, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, Honda and Nissan), Chrysler reported the largest increase as its sales volume rose by 19.7 percent. Nissan is up 12.6 percent for the year and with Honda sales down by 1.3 percent for 2014, there is a chance that Nissan will finally overtake its Japanese rival. If it does, then Nissan will get a huge monkey off of its back — Nissan outsells Honda worldwide, but has always trailed Honda stateside. It is doubtful that Honda will go down without a fight — we may see this conservative manufacturer increase its incentives, especially on its slower moving models.

For Chrysler, July 2014 was the 52nd consecutive month of month-over-month sales increases. More than four years have passed since Chrysler sales have reversed course and it is the Jeep brand that is leading the charge. Indeed, Jeep has broken sales records every month so far this year. The Grand Cherokee, Wrangler and Cherokee are its top models, each averaging approximately 15,000 units sold per month.

Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep sales are up by 41 percent through July 2014.

Nissan Moves Forward

Both Nissan Group brands — Nissan and Infiniti — are outperforming the market with Nissan up by 12.5 percent and Infiniti up by 13.1 percent for the year. The Altima, Rogue, Sentra and Versa contribute the lion’s share of sales for Nissan. The all-new Q50 sedan is doing the heavy lifting and is already the best-selling Infiniti model.

Toyota sales are on the rise and the world’s largest automaker by volume continues to narrow the space between it and No. 2 Ford in the US market. Camry sales are up by 8.3 percent according to Good Car Bad Car, selling nearly 40,000 units in July 2014. Toyota is also seeing even larger gains from its compact Corolla and RAV4 models, with each one on pace to enjoy a double-digit increase for the year. The RAV4 was all-new for 2013; the Corolla is all-new for 2014.

“Rising consumer confidence, coupled with momentum in the marketplace, boosted auto sales in July,” said Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager. “Led by an all-time record month for RAV4 and double-digit gains for both Camry and Corolla, Toyota was the number one retail brand.”

Mitsubishi Mirage
Mirage sales are helping Mitsubishi reverse its losses.

Mitsubishi Strikes Back

Mitsubishi has been languishing in the domestic market for many years, but this year it is making a case for staying put as sales are up by 29 percent for the first seven months of the year. July 2014 sales data reveals strong growth from several vehicles including its Outlander and Lancer Evolution models. The tiny Mirage is all-new, providing the bulk of the brand’s lift for the year.

Our year-to-date sales are up by nearly 29 percent over the same period from last year thanks to strong sales of our core models, said Don Swearingen, MMNA Executive Vice President of Sales. This sustained sales momentum is a good indicator for the brand as we begin to launch our 2015 models.

Subaru XV Crosstrek
Subaru’s July 2014 sales broke an all-time record. Again.

July 2014: Record Month for Subaru

The typical Subaru press release goes something like this: “Subaru reports best-ever sales month.” In July 2014, the niche Japanese automaker sold 45,714 units, an all-time record. That represents 32 consecutive months of year-over-year gains, with the Forester and Outback contributing more than half of those sales. Strong growth is also now coming from the Legacy, as the all-new for 2015 edition boosts its sales.

“With the all-new Legacy and Outback models arriving at retailers and most of the model year change over complete, we can expect a very positive end to the year.” said Jeffrey A. Walters, senior vice president of sales for Subaru of America, Inc..

The Ford F-Series remains by far and away the best selling model in America. Through July 2014, sales are up a slight 0.3 percent and may fall in August as the all-new 2015 model is being readied for production. The newest F-150 will feature an aluminum body as well as an optional 2.7-liter, V-6 EcoBoost engine.

Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept
Volkswagen will have to wait two years
before it gets this new crossover.

The Market Through July 2014

GM continues to lead the US market as company sales are up by 3.5 percent for the year, despite a record number of recalls. Ford sales are off by 0.4 percent, but the big news continues to be Volkswagen as its sales continue to fall.

Through July 2014, Volkswagen sales are down by 6.4 percent. An all-new Golf is due in early 2015 while a much-needed midsize SUV does not arrive until late 2016. At least Audi and Porsche continue to do well, helping to lift Volkswagen Group sales overall.

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Photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine except for Mitsubishi Mirage and Volkswagen CrossBlue, manufacturer contributions both.

What Shutdown? Strong Oct. Sales Buoy Automakers

Just a few weeks ago, automakers were wringing their hands as a federal government shutdown began to impact sales. By Oct. 17 the shutdown ended and many car dealer showrooms soon witnessed a surge in traffic. That boost erased earlier losses with Ford, GM, Subaru and Chrysler among the manufacturers reporting strong gains in month-over-month sales.

Shining Star: Subaru

Subaru’s sales rose by 32 percent and even with two full months remaining for 2013, this automaker has already set its all-time US sales record. Through Oct., Subaru has sold 336,441 vehicles, its fifth straight year of sales records. Subaru is also the only manufacturer to have enjoyed a sales increase during the past six years, including throughout the Great Recession.

Nissan sales jumped by 14.2 percent on the strength of a 53.1 increase in demand for its compact Rogue crossover. Pathfinder sales surged by more than 90 percent and sales for its small Frontier pickup truck climbed by more than 70 percent. Infiniti, which had been seeing a decline for much of 2013, reversed course. The all-new Infiniti Q50, released during late summer, helped move the brand’s sales up by 4.4 percent.

Nissan Versa Note Shutdown.

2014 Nissan Versa Note.

Shutdown Recovery: The Big 3

Among the “Big 3″ American manufacturers, GM reported the largest increase for the month. Sales for Buick led the way, increasing by 31 percent and helping to drive overall sales up by 16 percent. Big gainers for GM included the Cadillac ATS and XTS, three Chevrolet models: Cruze, Malibu and Impala, and strong demand for the Buick Encore, a subcompact crossover that hit the market in Jan.

Chrysler sales rose by 11 percent and Ford was up by approximately 14 percent. The Chrysler Group saw its best Oct. in six years as all four of its major brands posted gains. Its most significant gainers included the Jeep Compass, the Dodge Durango, and the Chrysler Town & Country.

Ford achieved its best Oct. for retail sales since 2004, thanks to the strength of two models. About the sales boost Erich Merkle, Ford Sales Analyst said, “A lot of it is our new vehicles. So, when you start taking a look at vehicles like the Escape and particularly the Fusion, that really helped us to have a really great October retail sales month, which was our best October retail sales month going all the way back to 2004.”

Shutdown Top down fun.

Top down fun with the Chrysler 200 Limited Convertible.

 

Toyota and Honda

Toyota sales increased by nearly 9 percent as demand for its Prius family hit record levels. The all-new Avalon continued to post three-digit gains while sales of the midsize Camry sedan approached 30,000 units. More than 23,000 copies of the all-new Corolla were also sold. Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, acknowledged that the government shutdown affected sales early on, but Toyota did recover. Fay also noted that the auto industry continues to play a leading role in the nation’s economic recovery and said that “…Toyota is on track for a strong close to the year.”

Honda sales rose by 7.1 percent, largely on the strength of its three core products. Its midsize Accord accounted for 25,162 units, its compact Civic line added 27,328 vehicles sold, and its compact CR-V crossover brought in 22,554 customers. Its Acura division enjoyed a 17 percent boost in sales as its all-new MDX paced the brand with 5,608 units sold.

Shutdown and the Toyota Tundra.

Three editions of the 2014 Toyota Tundra.

 

The Korean Cousins

Hyundai and Kia have limited US capacity and have tapped out their respective manufacturing plants. Nevertheless, the Korean cousins continue to squeeze more production out of what they have with the Santa Fe leading Hyundai’s 7 percent increase with its sales jumping 36 percent for the month. Kia sales, however, took a tumble falling by over 6 percent. The company is in the process of introducing seven new or improved products by year end including the second generation Kia Soul.

Volkswagen sales fell by 18 percent, effectively cutting into its huge growth these past three years. VW reported that Beetle convertible sales accounted for a 4.8 percent model line increase, with the GTI the only other model showing an increase, finishing up by 6.8 percent. Volkswagen noted that it is now operating at a “new plateau,” but it still expects sales for the year to top 500,000 units as it did in 2012.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

The 2013 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

Best of the Rest

Other manufacturers reporting included BMW of North America with its sales up by 3 percent. Daimler sales rose by 22.4 percent, Volvo fell by 6.7 percent and Mazda climbed by 6 percent. Mitsubishi sales rose by 19.4 percent, Jaguar Land Rover soared by 51.5 percent and Porsche sales increased by 10.9 percent.

All in all, US sales increased by 10.6 percent for Oct., and are up by 8.4 percent for the year. Sales for the year should hit 15.6 million units, up 5 million units from 2009, the heart of the last recession.


See Also — Slipping Sept. 2013 Auto Sales: What’s Up With That?