May was a red-letter month for auto sales, with good news from just about every corner, from domestic to import, luxury to mass-market. Not surprising -- given its troubles this year -- Toyota's gains were only modest, and weaker than in April, when it boosted incentive spending.
The Torrance, Calif. automaker sold 162,813 vehicles last month among its Lexus, Toyota and Scion marquees -- a 6.7% increase versus the year-ago month. The Toyota division was up only 3.6%, although Lexus saw sales improve 31.3%, more in line with other automakers.
And Ford may be heading for a changing of the guard that has made it the No. 2 automaker after GM for decades. While General Motors -- which had a strong month, selling 32% more vehicles than in the month last year -- has sold 874,749 vehicles year-to-date versus Ford's 743,845, Ford actually sold more than GM in February, and has been narrowing the distance.
Korean siblings Kia and Hyundai, and Audi, all posted best-ever May sales. Kia Motors America sold 31,431 units -- a 20.6% increase over the same period last year, with year-to-date (YTD) sales up 14.6%. Hyundai Motor America sold 49,045 vehicles last month, a 33% increase versus May 2009. The all-new Sonata lifted the nameplate's sales 92%. Sales of Audi vehicles were up over 22% last month. Competitor Mercedes-Benz saw sales improve over 26% for the month.
Ford, Lincoln and Mercury saw a 23% improvement between them to 192,253 vehicles, with YTD sales up 31% across the three brands. The company says that because of strong demand it will increase production this quarter by 16%, or 80,000 vehicles.
General Motors posted its fifth month in a row of gains, with Buick, GMC, Cadillac and Chevrolet sales up 32% and 31% YTD. Between the four brands, GM sold some 222,305 vehicles in May.
The company says its new products -- the Chevrolet Equinox and Camaro; Buick LaCrosse and Regal; GMC Terrain; and Cadillac SRX and CTS Wagon -- accounted for a quarter of retail sales in the U.S. "With each brand launching new vehicles in the next few months, we are optimistic about the remainder of the year," said Steve Carlisle, vice president, U.S. Sales Operations, in a statement.
The company says Chevrolet sales rose 31%, Buick was up 37%, GMC saw a 26% improvement in sales, and Cadillac enjoyed a 54% improvement.
Chrysler Group LLC today reported a U.S. sales increase of 33%, the second consecutive year-over-year percentage sales improvement, and the first time that monthly sales have topped the 100,000 threshold since March 2009. Both Nissan and Honda saw their volume improve last month by 24% and 19%, respectively.