January 2012 Auto Sales


Another month, another big increase in Chrysler sales. Outpacing the industry overall by a factor of 4, Chrysler has been pulling up steeply out of the sales swamp for the better part of two years. The company is still leaning on fleet sales, at about 30% of the total, but otherwise thing are looking pretty good.

Chrysler +81%
When we talk about fleet sales, we naturally think of the 200, especially when we see that it has become the bestselling Chrysler model. The 300, though, is also way up (+273%), while the Town & Country continues to slide (-14%).

Dodge +29%
The Avenger (+146%), the Charger (+169%), and the Durango (+152%) are pushing Dodge ahead, while the Caliber (-52%) is dragging the brakes.

Jeep +37%
All five Jeep models were up by double digits in January. The Grand Cherokee (+40%) was the bestseller, while the Liberty (+68%) enjoyed the biggest increase.

Ram +42%
A very good month for the big pickup, but the Dakota (-81%) is slipping away.

1911 Fiats were sold in January, which less than half the pace that had been predicted right about this time last year.


Last year was every bit as nightmarish for Honda as it was for Toyota, but the company claims to finally be back to full production, and started off the year with a nice increase.

Honda +9%
The Civic (+50%) is finally showing strength but the Accord (+2%) was passed by a slew of competitors, including the Altima, the Sonata, the Impala and the Malibu. The new CR-V was up (+16%) as was the previously comatose Ridgeline (+46%).

Acura +5%
The TL (+43%) and the TSX (+17%) allowed Acura to overcome weakness in the rest of the lineup.


Much like the situation at Toyota, Nissan enjoyed an increase for its mainstream brand but saw its luxury nameplate decline.

Nissan +13%
The Altima's huge month (+36%) almost singlehandedly accounted for Nissan's increase over last January. Elsewhere, the Maxima (+27%) was up, but the Sentra (-26%) was down. The Cube (-72%) has gone cold and the Juke (-25%) seems on a path to follow it.

Infiniti -8%
The QX56 (+30%) was the sole source of good news at Infiniti.


It was a record January for the Koreans, but it wasn't enough to stay ahead of Nissan. While both Korean brands did well, Kia sprinted faster than Hyundai.

Hyundai +15%
The Elantra (+13%), the Sonata (+9%), and the Genesis (+29%) all showed modest increases -- for Hyundai -- and the Veloster chipped in 1693 units. All crossovers were up, even the aging Veracruz (+27%) and Santa Fe (+9%).

Kia +28%
The Optima (+131%) was the driving force this month with an impressive assist by the Soul (+51%), which already several years old, and by the new Rio (+170%). The Sportage (-6%) and the Sorento (-10%) weakened slightly.


After ceding the luxury-car crown to BMW in 2011, Mercedes-Benz jumped out of the gate ahead of its Bavarian rival in 2012.

Mercedes-Benz +23%
January was a very good time to buy a C-class (+56%); the new M-class (+61%) was also a draw. The C-class may have stolen some sales from the E-class (-14%).

Smart +39%

Maybach -20%

I buy cars that are 2 years old so I don't take the initial sticker hit or antiques I feel will appreciate so new car dealers hate me. That being said, I would like to focus on Buick and Lincoln in my comments. Buick: Your regal is an awesome platform. Sexy and aspiring in nature. Here are the problems. It is too expensive. Way too expensive. The price needs to go down. The engine options in Europe need to appear. The awd option needs to appear. The wagon version needs to appear. Why not the Holden Caprice and The Holden Monaro to show up quickly @ Buick instead of giving yet another car to Chevy? Why not the full Astra line with Buick? Why not a luxed out Zafira? You need to hire me as product manager. Dang.Lincoln. You need to be an all rwd brand that competes with Europe. Look to Caddy for better inspiration. Your car brand needs to feel more Mercedes e Class than Lexus e350. Just saying. Look to your Australian arm for help.

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