Strong retail numbers pushed car sales higher in January, with double-digit gains scored by five of the Big Six automakers and by a host of other brands.
For the month, J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive estimate the pickup at 8 percent, with a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) at the retail level of 12.9 million units, and overall, of 15 million units.
The industry's recovery isn't quite complete, but the end is in sight, reports Power's John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates. The fast start to sales bodes well for the rest of the year, he says, and he believes sales "remain on a trajectory to return to pre-recession levels within the next few years.”
By the numbers, GM sales were up 15.9 percent; Ford's rose 22 percent; Toyota was up almost 27 percent; Chrysler was up 16 percent; Honda sales climbed 12.8 percent; and Nissan sales were up 12.9 percent.
This year could see overall sales approach 15.1 million units on an annualized basis, says Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive.
“The good news is that the U.S. market is primed to over-deliver as the recovery heats up," he says.
That recovery continues to waver, however. Today, the Department of Labor reported that January's unemployment rate was 7.9 percent, up from 7.8 percent the month before, with the nation adding only 157,000 jobs in the month.
The complete sales figures continue to roll in, but so far, the automakers have reported the following numbers:
General Motors: GM [NYSE:GM] sold 194,699 vehicles in January, a 15.9-percent increase over last year's numbers. Each of its brands was up on the month: Chevrolet sold 137,304 vehicles for a 10.9-percent increase, while Cadillac posted a 47-percent sales gain after its North American Car of the Year win for its best month in 23 years; sales totaled 13,116 units. Buick moved 13,463 vehicles, an increase of 31.9 percent, and GMC was up 23.4 percent to 30,816 units. GM says truck sales were up 32 percent on the month, but notes it's carrying an 80-day supply of units to be sold, on the high end of usually accepted figures, while it prepares for the launch of the 2014 Chevy Silverado and 2014 GMC Sierra.
Ford: Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] reports sales of 166,501 vehicles in January, a 22-percent boost over the same period last year. The Ford brand's 162,310 sales were good for a 23.3-percent rise, while Lincoln's 4,191 sales represented an 18.2-percent drop-off. The 2013 Fusion--TheCarConnection's Best Car To Buy--had a 65-percent sales increase on the month, and Ford F-Series sales were up almost 22 percent, while Mustang was off a little more than 3 percent.
Toyota / Lexus / Scion: In a brief sales preview, Toyota says it sold 157,725 units in January 2013, up 26.6 percent on an unadjusted raw volume basis and 21.6 percent on an adjusted basis.
Toyota said its sales were up 17.2 percent on the month, to a total of 161,695 units in November 2012. The Toyota division accounted for 138,976 units, up 17.3 percent; Lexus was up 16.8 percent to 22,719 units; and Scion rose 57.8 percent to 5,606 vehicles sold, with the 2013 FR-S coupe a big mover at 1,350 units.
Chrysler: Chrysler reported January sales of 117,731 units, up 16 percent over the same period a year ago. All of its brands were up except Jeep. The namesake Chrysler brand was up 18 percent to 20,696 vehicles, while Dodge rose 37 percent to 43,227 units. Jeep was off 4 percent, as it switches over to new model year production for Grand Cherokee and the end of production for the last-generation Liberty. Ram truck sales grew to 20,987 units, up 14 percent, and Fiat 500 sales were up 31 percent over the same period in 2012, to 2,503 units. With most models performing better, the Dodge Grand Caravan saw its sales drop 39 percent.
Honda / Acura: Honda reported sales of 93,626 vehicles in January, for a sales increase of 12.8 percent. The Honda brand accounted for 84,137 units, up 12.7 percent from a year ago, while Acura sales rose 13.2 percent, at 9,489 units. Sales of the revamped 2013 Accord are up more than 75 percent from a year ago. However, sales of the Insight hybrid were off almost 38 percent, and the TSX sport sedan, almost 44 percent.
Hyundai: CEO John Krafcik checked in by Twitter on Monday morning night with the brand's numbers: "All-time record January Hyundai sales +2%, paced by all-new Santa Fe, +24%, featured #SuperBowl Sunday. ^jfk" January sales totaled 43,713 units, up 2.4 percent versus 2012. Sales of Accent, Sonata, and Equus were down, and when sales are adjusted for actual selling days during the month, the brand's numbers were down just under 2 percent for the month.
Kia: Not yet reported
Volkswagen: Volkswagen says it sold 29,018 vehicles for its best January since 1974. In all, sales were up 6.7 percent; the Jetta slipped a little more than 5 percent, while the U.S.-built Passat saw a sales increase of more than 40 percent for the month.
Subaru: Subaru sales were up to 27,663 vehicles in January, which the company says is an increase of 21 percent over the year-ago period.
Mercedes-Benz: Not yet reported
BMW / MINI: BMW and MINI sold 20,195 vehicles in January, up 2.3 percent from the same period in 2012. The BMW nameplate accounted for 16,513 units, up 0.7 percent; MINI sold 5,248 vehicles, up 10.5 percent.
Audi: Audi sold 10,056 vehicles in January, up 7.5 percent and its 25th consecutive month of year-over-year record sales.
Jaguar / Land Rover: Not yet reported.
Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi sold 4,659 vehicles in January, off 1 percent from its year-ago totals.
Porsche: Porsche sold 3,358 vehicles in January, another record for the month, up 32 percent over the same period a year ago.
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