Auto sales are up 17% versus last year and are cruising along at a 12.6-million-unit annualized sales rate, same as in December. The good news is, this is much better than the last two years. The bad news is that it's still much worse than we had been doing before the big crash.
January sales results, and percent change versus year-ago figures
GENERAL MOTORS +23% (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC only)
All four GM divisions did better than most players this month, and the company claimed to have reduced its percentage of fleet sales. But industry watchers say GM had the highest incentive spending of any automaker this month.
The Impala was on fire (+39%) but may have stolen some sales from the Malibu (-14%). Chevy's bigger gains were on the truck side, with the Silverado (+24%), the Equinox (+35%), the Traverse (+50%), and the big vans (+91%).
In a reverse of the recent trend, the LaCrosse (-11%) took a breather, while the Lucerne (+62%) bounced back. The Regal trailed behind.
Caddy trucks, the Escalades and the SRX, were up 30%, but the better news was the performance of the CTS (+70%).
A good month for trucks meant a good month for GMC, led by the Sierra (+46%).
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +19% (excluding Volvo and Mercury)
Most sources are reporting Ford Motor Company sales up only 13%, which represents a minor loss of market share -- for the second month in a row. But filter out Mercury, which is now officially dead, and sold-off Volvo, and you see that the Ford brand is doing well but Lincoln is still struggling.
A 30% increase for the F-series put Ford on a solid footing for January, helped by the new Explorer (+73%), the somewhat new Edge (+43%), and the not-so-new Escape (+30%). The Taurus (-23%), Mustang (-33%), and Flex (-18%) disappointed.
The MKZ (+18%) was the bright spot for Lincoln in an otherwise grim month.