After slowing a bit in April, U.S. auto sales are accelerating heading into summer. The annualized sales pace was back over 15 million units in May, driven by continued strong pickup truck sales, residual demand, affordable and available financing, and also some fairly hefty incentives. The industry overall beat last May by a robust 8%. With trucks a major factor -- thanks particularly to a fast-rebounding housing market -- the domestic automakers did particularly well. Nissan and Subaru also were two import brands that enjoyed a particularly strong month. But automakers that saw modest gains overall had at least something to boast about in press releases. It looks like the start of a sizzling summer.
MAY 2013 SALES RESULTS, AND PERCENT CHANGE VERSUS MAY 2012.
GENERAL MOTORS +3%
General Motors' overall increase was unspectacular although the company claimed that its retail business was much better and that lower fleet sales dragged down the total. Pickup trucks were particularly strong and Cadillac is seeing volume growth with the arrival of the ATS and XTS.
Even with the addition of the Encore, Buick sales were down due to weakness in the Regal (-37%), the Enclave (-21%), and the LaCrosse (-15%).
The ATS and the XTS combined to add more than 5000 units to the brand's total, which made for a big gain overall despite CTS volume that was depressed by the model changeover.
Once again, trucks kept Chevrolet in the black, lead by the Silverado (+25%), which topped 40,000 units and by the Equinox (+13%), which had its best month ever. On the car side, the Sonic (+32%) also had its best month ever, but the other news was bad, particularly for the Malibu (-36%) and the Impala (-32%) -- the latter still mostly the outgoing version.
The Sierra (+22%) rode the big-pickup wave, and the monstrous Yukon XL had a monster month, as sales more than doubled. The regular Yukon, however, was down (-28%), as were the big vans and the Terrain.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +14%
Ford came within 7000 units of frontrunner General Motors.
Powered by a buoyant pickup market -- and incentives of some $5000 -- the F-series had a giant month, cresting 70,000 units. Ford had other big winners in May, just not as big as the F-series. The Escape had its best-ever month and was the country's bestselling SUV. The Fusion came close to 30,000 units, and the Focus wasn't terribly far behind.
Its production problems fixed at last, the MKZ posted a big sales increase (+42%); all other Lincolns were down, except for the Navigator (+10%).
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES +3%
Toyota had only a modest increase over last year, but last May was pretty big for the Japanese automaker, which was then just coming back to full strength after the tsunami.
The Camry was down slightly (-1%) but when you're the bestselling passenger car, and move almost 40,000 units in a single month, who can complain? The elderly Corolla/Matrix (-12%) is finally slowing down but the Yaris (-50%) is really sinking. Meanwhile, the new Avalon more than tripled.
The new ES doubled, as did the not-really-new LS. Against that were drops for the IS (-29%), the RX (-18%), the LX (-10%), and the GX (-8%).
Once again, the FR-S was able to overcome sinking sales for all other Scion models, and once again the worst of those was the iQ (-41%).