CHRYSLER GROUP +40%Again in February, Chrysler sales grew at the fastest rate of all the major automakers. The Chrysler brand led the way, paced by the 300, but all brands were on the upswing.
Sales of the 300 were up nearly five-fold, and the 200 wasn't far behind. Even the Town & Country, aided by no-charge leather and DVD, moved back into the plus column.
The increases at Dodge weren't as dramatic as those as Chrysler, with the Charger merely doubling (+125%, more accurately) and the Avenger (+89%) doing almost as well. The Grand Caravan (+20%), Challenger (+14%), Journey (+28%), and Durango (+26%) were up less dramatically. The Caliber (-46%), though, is fading out; time to send in the Dart!
A hefty increase for the Grand Cherokee (+47%) and lesser ones for the rest of the line kept Jeep well in the black.
The big Ram pickup had another big month, and was the 8th most popular nameplate overall. But the Dakota (-92%) is nearly dead.
Fiat sales increased by better than half compared to January, and the Abarth is still to arrive.
AMERICAN HONDA +12%Like Toyota, Honda continues to make progress climbing out of the morass of 2011.
The aging Accord (-2%) continues to fare poorly, and was once again crowded out of the top ten nameplates. But elsewhere, the news was quite good, starting with the Civic (+42%), which was the bestselling small car and the number 5 nameplate overall. The redesigned CR-V (+30%) was number 6, and the bestselling SUV. The worst drop was suffered by the CR-Z (-57%).
As was the case last month, the TL (+31%) and the TSX (+21%) overcame the weakness in the rest of the Acura lineup.
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA +16%Nissan's 16% growth was enough to keep it in place between American Honda and the Koreans. As usual, Nissan division did pretty much all the heavy lifting.
The Altima (+58%) was absolutely on fire, reaching the number 3 spot overall, in a big month for midsize cars. Other winners for Nissan were the Rogue (+18%), the Maxima (+24%), and the Frontier (+20%). Most worrisome was the Cube (-69%).
The QX (+29%) had another up month while the EX (-38%) slipped and the sedans were stagnant.
HYUNDAI - KIA +26%
Led this time by Kia, the Koreans once again handily outpaced the industry overall. But they remained behind Nissan, in sixth place among the major automakers.
The Sonata (+11%), the Accent (+29%), and the Elantra (+29%) led the charge for Hyundai, with a major assist from the Veloster. The Veracruz (-19%) and the Santa Fe (-10%) drifted lower.
There's no prize for guessing that the Optima (+139%) set the pace at Kia, although the Rio (+94%) wasn't far behind. The updated Soul (+63%) continues on a roll. As at Hyundai, the SUVs were less impressive; both the Sorento and the Sportage declined.
DAIMLER-BENZ +18%Mercedes-Benz slipped behind BMW in February, but the tally was close.
The fashionable CLS is outselling last season's model by a factor of 5, and the new SLK is selling at twice the rate of the old. Also making waves is the new M-class (+77%), but the formerly hot C-class (+17%) has cooled a bit, likely due to fresh competition from the BMW 3-series. Also suffering are the CL coupe (-24%) and the GLK (-12%).
Despite having nothing new, Smart somehow enjoyed an uptick in sales.
4 Maybachs were sold versus 3 previously. Sudden interest from collectors?