CHRYSLER GROUP +30%
Chrysler was back to its winning ways in May, growing not just sales but also market share, as all five brands saw increased sales.
Sales of the Chrysler 300 more than doubled, but that wasn't the only vehicle driving Chrysler's performance in May; the 200 (+87%) and the Town & Country (+56%) helped too.
The Avenger (+93%) and the Journey (+56%) again saw the biggest sales gains for Dodge, with the Challenger (+41%) not far behind. The Charger (-14%) and the Durango (-12%) both declined.
The Compass (-18%) was down again in May, and its twin, the Patriot (+8%) wasn't much better. Jeep's strongest gainers were also its strongest sellers: the Wrangler (+44%) and the Grand Cherokee (+40%).
Last month, we noted that the big Ram pickup had 20k-plus sales; this month, it was over 26,000.
Fiat sales topped 4000 cars (4003 sold) for the first time.
AMERICAN HONDA +48%
Like Toyota, Honda recorded a huge percentage increase in May, compared to the tsunami-depressed year-ago total. But it wasn't just the stark comparison with 2011; Honda was also up nearly 10% compared to last month. Some models, like the Civic, were up considerably more.
The Civic finally started exhibiting the strength of a redesigned model, powering into fourth place among all nameplates, with sales climbing by more than one-third compared to April. In so doing, it overtook the Accord, which fell to sixth.
The CR-V was once again America's bestselling SUV, and set a new best-ever monthly total. Honda's fuel misers, however, continue to struggle: Fit (-35%), Insight (-64%), and CR-Z (-81%) are all tanking.
The new RDX tripled its prior-year figure as the nameplate enjoyed its best-ever month. We had thought the new ILX might lend a hand in May, but it was only trickling into dealerships. Maybe next month. The ZDX, meanwhile, is only trickling out of dealerships; sales have dropped below 100.
Once again, Hyundai-Kia sales failed to keep pace with total industry growth. The Koreans were unaffected by the supply shortage that rocked the Japanese a year ago, so they are going to be hard pressed to grind out big percentage increases their strong sales in 2011.
Hyundai claimed its second-best-ever monthly sales total in May, aided by the new Azera, the addition of the Veloster, and a sudden quadrupling of Accent sales. The Sonata (-9%), however, is cooling off.
The Optima (+80%) and the Rio (+60%) were behind the gains this month. Kia's SUVs and minivan continue to show weakness: Sportage (-24%), Sorento (-7%), and Sedona (-22%).
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA +21%
There was a much bigger sales jump at Infiniti than at Nissan division, because Infiniti was much more affected by the disaster a year ago.
The Altima (-11%) has cooled considerably but is in the midst of a model changeover. The Cube and the Leaf have just gone cold, with the latter trailing the still-ascending Chevy Volt by a considerable margin. Buoyed by a redesigned sedan, the Versa (+80%) is looking strong, as are the Quest (which doubled), the Rogue (+72%), and even the Titan (+87%).
Infiniti looked good in May with its post-disaster bounce, but again, the picture also was impressive when viewed against the may total, as Infiniti leaped from 7000 to 10,000. Much of the credit -- 2678 units, to be exact -- goes to the new JX. The G (+35%) and the QX (+28%) also did well. Not so the EX (-32%) and the FX (-6%).
Mercedes' growth came via the C-class (+35%) and the new M-class (+66%), as well as the CLS and the sports cars. Let's not forget the Sprinter (+44%), which now outsells the S-class 2-to-1. The big percentage declines came from the soon-to-depart R-class (151 units, down 83%) and the never-to-depart G-class (68 units, off 38%).
Smart experienced another big bounce this month, but still lags behind the Scion iQ.
No doubt spurred by a rush of collectors, Maybach sales soared to 4 cars, from 3 a year ago.