November 2014: Boom Times for Auto Sales Continue

November 2014 auto sales increase by 5 percent.

The good times are continuing for the US auto industry, now nearing the end of its fifth year of recovery from 2009’s depressively low sales numbers. Most automakers claimed healthy increases for November 2014, led by the Chrysler Group’s 20 percent increase over a year earlier. Sales for Toyota, Honda and GM also increased while Nissan and Ford registered slight declines for the month.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit
Jeep sales continue to pace the Chrysler Group.

GM, Ford and Chrysler

GM continues to lead the market, enjoying a 6 percent sales increase for November. Buick and GMC paced sales with Chevrolet sales increasing a modest 3 percent. However, Cadillac sales continue to pull back, falling 19 percent for the month. GM credited Black Friday sales with boosting is numbers. Said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations, “The buzz around Black Friday helped drive strong showroom traffic but there was a lot more at work in the market.” McNeil noted that more people have jobs, household wealth is on the rebound and gas prices are falling.

Ford sales fell for the third consecutive month as the automaker retools to produce its all-new 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck. Ford also said that it is ramping up production for two other models — Mustang and Transit — and expects brand sales to stay depressed for the short term. Even so, Ford managed to sell more than 8,700 Mustangs for the month, including its all-new version. Lincoln sales provided a bright spot for the month, rising by 21 percent as interest in the all-new MKC and the latest generation Navigator paced the brand.

Chrysler sales continue to outpace the industry, increasing an even 20 percent for the month. Sales of Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Fiat brand vehicles rose for the month with the Chrysler 200 sedan enjoying a 155 percent increase over the same month in 2013. Notably, 11 Chrysler Group models set records during the month with the Chrysler 200 recording its best sales month ever.

Toyota 4Runner

Toyota sales climbed by 6 percent in November 2014.

Toyota, Honda and Nissan

Toyota reported sales of 183,346 units, reflecting a three percent increase for the month. Camry, Corolla and RAV4 each topped 20,000 units sold with 4Runner sales up by 53 percent for November. Lexus sales increased by 7.3 percent, helping the luxury brand to keep pace with segment leaders. “Lexus set an all-time November sales record thanks in part to the momentum surrounding the arrival of the newest edition to the lineup, the RC coupes,” said Steve Hearne, vice president for sales and dealer development. “As a result, Lexus outpaced the luxury market with strong growth for both passenger cars and utility vehicles.”

Honda sales increased by 4.6 percent on strong sales of its CR-V crossover, midsize Accord and compact Civic lines. Honda sold a record 32,378 CR-Vs, the best-selling compact crossover utility vehicle in America. Honda’s truck sales, including utility vehicles, came in at 51,735 units, a November record. Sales for Acura, Honda’s premium brand, rose by 2 percent based on strong demand for its TLX and ILX sedans.

Nissan’s bid to catch Honda continues to stall as sales fell by 3.1 percent for the month. Nissan division sales fell by 1.7 percent while Infiniti sales sank by 13.3 percent. However, year-to-date sales are up 11.5 percent and the Nissan brand has already set its all-time US sales record. One particularly bright spot for Nissan was its Rogue crossover as its sales topped 15,000 units, increasing by nearly 44 percent for the month.

Kia K900

Kia sales continue to grow even as cousin Hyundai slips.
the flagship K900 sedan.

Subaru, Hyundai and Kia

With one month remaining in the year, Subaru has already broken its all-time sales record. November sales climbed by 24 percent and are on pace to top 500,000 units before the month is out. Like Chrysler with its 56 consecutive months of month-over-month sales increases, Subaru’s streak is now at 36 months. Two models, Forester and Outback, are leading the charge for Subaru.

Hyundai and Kia continue to go in opposite directions in terms of US auto sales. Hyundai sales fell by 4.2 percent for the month, while Kia sales rose by 6.6 percent. Kia continues to enjoy strong demand for its Optima sedan, its best selling model. Soul sales slipped in November, while Sorento sales declined slightly.

Hyundai sales fell for the month, but are still ahead of last year’s record-setting pace by 3,400 units. Elantra sales topped the 200,000 units sold threshold for the year with the Sonata expected to follow within the next day. Sales of the all-new Genesis sedan were up 57 percent for the month.

Audi Q3

Audi continues to win a larger piece of the luxury segment pie.

Volkswagen and the Rest

Volkswagen’s struggles may not be over, but it is seeing increased sales for the second month in a row. November sales rose by 3.2 percent, paced by Jetta sales up by almost 32 percent. The strongest gain was recorded by the Golf as sales rose by nearly 86 percent for the month. “We are thrilled with the accolades the Golf family of vehicles has received, including the 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year. These awards applaud the line up’s versatility, quality and value,” said Mark McNabb, chief operating officer, Volkswagen of America. “Partnered with the refreshed Jetta and upcoming redesigned Touareg, the potential for increased showroom traffic looks promising.”

Among the German luxury makes, Audi continues to shine the brightest. Audi sales rose by 22 percent, BMW sales fell by 2.3 percent and Mercedes-Benz sales increased by 2 percent. With a 20,000 unit lead going into December, Mercedes has sewn up first place for luxury brands this year.

Other manufacturers and brands reporting sales included Mitsubishi, up 7.6 percent; Mazda, up 2.4 percent; Tesla Motors, up 6.5 percent; Volvo, down 14.4 percent; Jaguar Land Rover, down 19 percent and Porsche, up 18.5 percent.

November 2014 Auto Sales

Automotive analysts have pegged November’s SAAR at 17.2 million units based on 1.3 million+ models sold for the month. The five percent increase comes as manufacturers ramp up year-end specials. Keep an eye on special deals that can shave even more money off of sticker prices.

See AlsoRocking October 2014 Auto Sales Lift Industry

Note: November 2014 photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. Sales information provided by the manufacturers and Autodata Corporation (Motor Intelligence).

Mitsubishi Shows Radical Concept, Insists That They’ll Stay in the US

Smallest Japanese manufacturer makes plans for the future.

Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV

This just in: Mitsubishi says that it plans to stay in the United States. To support its contention, this Japanese car manufacturer showed a concept XR-PHEV vehicle at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show to underscore its future design direction. A near 30 percent year-to-date sales increase and auto show news conference notwithstanding, Mitsubishi still has much work cut out for it.

Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV

First, the concept vehicle at hand. As the renderings show, what we have here is the requisite crossover utility vehicle, precisely what manufacturers are leaning on in far greater numbers in response to current auto trends. I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it increasingly more difficult to get excited about any crossover as there are so many of them. Me thinks that they’ll soon peak in popularity with customers wanting something different — coupes, maybe.

Now back to the concept. If this is Mitsubishi’s styling direction, then they’ll be making as radical a design shift as any manufacturer has proposed in this current millennium. What we have here is a vehicle with an extremely high hood line smacking right into the A-pillar, a rising belt line and a rear fascia that is beyond easy description.

Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV

No doubt Mitsubishi’s designers were given the license to “go radical” with the concept. I’m not sure how much good it will do.

As is becoming quite common these days, the concept is yet another plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Yes, whether you want one or not. Manufacturers continue to design vehicles based on ever more stringent federal mpg ratings. It’ll be a wonder whether customers will actually want said vehicles.

Starship-Themed Interior

Radical that the exterior of the concept XR-PHEV is, the interior is full-on futuristic, with a decidedly starship theme. Oddly, as Mitsubishi declares that it will stay in the US, it serves up a right-hand drive interior.

Sure, you don’t have to do too much imagining to consider how the interior might look for the US market, but if you’re trying to convince American consumers that you’ll be staying, then how about showing us a left-hand drive interior?

Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV

That interior is peppered with LCD screens for the instrument gauge, across the dashboard and up and down the center console. It looks like a video game display and a big distraction at that. Perhaps Mitsubishi has autonomous driving in mind for the XR-PHEV? If not, the interior would most certainly have to be toned down. Yes, I don’t get the steering wheel design either.

Mitsubishi is Here to Stay

Second, Mitsubishi shared the obligatory remarks to confirm its plans. We brought the Concept XR-PHEV to LA so that we could talk about our new design direction and how future products will be taking clues from its dynamic lines, said MMNA Executive Vice President, Don Swearingen. We also brought it to LA to reinforce the message that Mitsubishi is here to stay in the United States. As we regrow the brand we will introduce new models while updating existing ones, creating a new look and a new value proposition for the brand.

Well, let me throw some cold water on this pronouncement. Mitsubishi’s rebound this year is certainly noteworthy as the automaker is far outpacing the industry’s growth and sales are increasing faster than most any other manufacturer. Even so, the company’s sales are far below the 345,000 units it sold as recently as 2002 according to Wards Auto.

Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV

This year, Mitsubishi’s US sales should top 70,000 units, thanks to renewed interest in its Outlander Sport crossover and its Mirage subcompact. However, Ford sells a greater number of its Edge crossovers alone each year than Mitsubishi sells of its entire product line.

Next Industry Downturn

To survive in this market you need volume and Mitsubishi certainly does not have it. When the next industry downturn arrives, Mitsubishi just may not be strong enough to weather the crisis. That’s something to keep in mind if you plan to shop for one.

Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV

Photos courtesy of Mitsubishi North America.

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