Automakers should party like it's … 2012. Sales kicked off the new year at the same pace as they ended the last, with figures from the top seven largest automakers up a combined 15.6% versus January 2012. Ford and Toyota led the way with gains of 20% or better, but Nissan and Hyundai-Kia both saw a roughly flat month. None of the six automakers saw a sales decrease, however.
Ford's banner month shifted the top 10 best-sellers. The Focus compact dropped from the list, but the Fusion sedan and Escape SUV reprised their standings; both were absent in December 2012. Despite two recalls following its launch early last fall, the redesigned Fusion shot up 64.5%, and this came with lighter incentives than the outgoing Fusion a year ago. The redesigned Honda Accord — winner of our recent Cars.com $26,000 Midsize Family Sedan Showdown — picked up even better speed, packing on 75.2% to stay 1,525 cars ahead of the Fusion. Keep an eye out: That race could end the year in a photo finish.
J.P. Morgan analyst Ryan Brinkman pegged sales right around December's annualized rate, Automotive News reports , meaning January would tie for the second best sales month since February 2008. Shoppers kept buying despite fewer deals. Total dealer and automaker discounts now combine for $5,223, according to CNW Marketing Research. That's down more than $500 versus January 2012, and combined with rising MSRPs, it's driven the average new car to $32,163 in January — up 6.6% versus a year ago.
Pickup trucks had a strong month, with GM's Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra twins up more than 30% apiece. Both trucks have 2014 redesigns, but year-over-year incentives are up as much as $2,000 on the Silverado. Truck shoppers clamored for Ram pickups (up 14.3%) and Ford's F-Series (up 21.7%), too. Panelists at December 2012’s Society of Automotive Analysts conference in Detroit predicted this, tying pickup truck sales to accelerating housing starts — which in December hit their highest annualized levels since June 2008. How much are the two correlated? Try about 95%, Citi analyst Itay Michaeli said.
Here are the top 10 best-sellers: