Not a blockbuster automotive sales month, as slippery ice and slipping consumer confidence kept sales fairly soft, but the bright side was trucks, comparatively speaking. With gasoline prices dipping to historic lows, people opted for crossovers, SUVs, and pickups. And, investment firm Sterne Agee reports U.S. light vehicle sales this month are on track to reach 1.26 million units, a 6% lift from last year.
Chrysler, with sales up 6%, reported its best February since the record-breaking 2007. It was also the company's 59th consecutive month of gains. And it was the best February ever for Jeep, whose sales lifted 21%. Chrysler brand was up 13% and Ram was up 7%, which means nearly five years straight of month-after-month sales gains for the brand, and the best Ram February since 2004.
General Motors' SUVs and trucks drove Chevrolet's best February since 2008. The automaker seems to have hit a home run with the new mid-size Colorado pickup, which, according to the automaker, is the fastest-selling pickup of any kind in the industry right now. The automaker posted a 37% increase in sales of its Chevy Silverado and Colorado, and GMC Sierra and Canyon pickup trucks.
More broadly, GM trucks and SUVs, whose sales were up 36%, drove a 4% increase in overall sales for GM. As with Ford, the volume was driven by trucks and SUVs, with sales of those vehicles up 36% versus February 2014.
Nissan's truck sales were up 13.9%. Toyota posted a 13.3% from light trucks and SUVs. The RAV4 set a new February record. Sales of the 4Runner SUV were up 37.7%, and the Tacoma mid-size pickup enjoyed a 13% gain in sales as that category has been resurrected by new competition from Detroit.
Sales volume for Ford was off 2% from a year ago, though the new, radically different F-Series pickup boosted the pickup nameplate 7%. The company is still bringing its Kansas City assembly plant on line. The company's other strong sales driver was Explorer, whose sales were up 32%. The new Mustang saw a 32% increase, giving it its best February since 2007. Sales of Lincoln vehicles increased 3%.
Honda, which isn't exactly a truck brand, also got huge impact from sales of its SUVs. The company reported that its truck lineup improved by 12.6% last month, with its Pilot SUV posted an 82.7% increase to 12,629 vehicles. Acura trucks set a sales record in February as well, thanks to the RDX crossover, which set its own record. The sibling MDX also sold near record volumes per the company, even in the midst of a changeover period with the 2016 model coming in. If there's an "argh" moment for Honda, it's that the Ridgeline pickup truck is not around right now. The pickup, introduced in 2006, was discontinued last year. The new version will probably be introduced next year.
Hyundai reported its best February ever, with a 7% gain over last year, principally because Genesis, Santa Fe and Sonata.
Trucks are also driving high transaction prices. TrueCar.com says transaction prices are also up 2% for the month versus last February. "Amid the best auto industry and economic fundamentals in a decade," says the firm. The digital auto marketplace finds that the average transaction price for a vehicle last month was $32,245, while average incentive spending per unit decreased by $79 to $2,623. General Motors, quoting J.D. Power's Power Information Network data said its transaction prices last month were $34,700.