January Strong, With Sales Records Broken
The numbers are coming in -- and it looks like as predicted, January is a banner month for auto sales, with automakers posting Usain Bolt-like records. Especially for the Detroit automakers. Ford posted a 22% increase versus last year; so did General Motors, and Chrysler was up 16%.
Ford cars saw a 34% increase, while blue oval SUVs and crossovers were up 23%. Truck sales improved by 11%. The new Fusion boosted the nameplate's sales by 65%, with 22,399 of the cars delivered, per the company -- Fusion's best month ever. Escape had its best January ever -- sales increased 16%, topping last year’s January record. The company said sales of the Explorer SUV were up 46% -- the model's best January since 2005.
Chrysler also just posted 2012 profits of $1.7 billion. The company had its best January sales stats since 2008, moving 117,731 Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and Fiat vehicles. The Fiat 500, Dodge Avenger and Chrysler 200 mid-size sedans; Dodge Challenger and the Jeep Patriot compact SUV posted best-of numbers, and the Ram pickup truck saw a 14% increase versus last January, per the company. Almost all of the Jeep models posted their best numbers in five years.
General Motors' Chevrolet division saw retails sales zoom over 18% versus last year, to 92,394. Luxury divisions Buick and Cadillac saw good numbers -- especially welcome news for Buick. The brand is now selling its first compact crossover -- the Encore, which fills a high-demand area below the Enclave crossover. The company also had strong sales for the Enclave -- its best January ever, with a 57% retail and 57% total.
Cadillac U.S. January sales were the best in 23 years, with a 47% increase for January. The new ATS compact sedan drove those numbers. The company says it estimates that it gained approximately three percentage points of share in the U.S. luxury market in January -- more than any major luxury brand. The company said segment market share for the new ATS doubled in January to 12.5%. Per Cadillac, 56% of ATS buyers came from competitors, or did not trade in any other car. One-fifth of ATS buyers are under the age of 35, twice the rate of Cadillac in general.
American Honda posted a 12.8% increase year-over-year, with sales of Honda division vehicles up 12.7% compared with January last year. Numbers were driven by the new Accord, for which sales increased by 75% from last year. January sales of luxury sibling Acura increased 13.2%.
Nissan North America, Inc. posted a 2% increase to 80,919, with Nissan Division sales 1.8% over the prior year. Although that's not a huge number, it reflects the company's strongest U.S. sales volume for January ever. The company's luxury division Infiniti saw a 4.9% over last January. The Pathfinder SUV, which was redesigned as a 2013 model last fall, saw a 202% increase in sales to 6,281 units. Sales of the Sentra were up 27%. Sales of the Versa subcompact were up 9% versus last year, marking its best January ever.