NEWS: Motor City Blogman: Car (Truck) Sales Continue to Brighten

April 3, 2013
2013 Nissan Altima 3 5 SL Right Side View
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The days of double-digit sales increases are over, because we are no longer comparing year-over-year numbers against dismal statistics. Car sales ended 2012 at 14.5 million, so if we buy, say, 15.1- to 15.5-million this year, the increase won’t look as dramatic. That didn’t stop auto execs from revealing a bit more optimism than usual as the industry posted an overall gain Tuesday of about 4 percent over March 2012, the best March for the industry since 2007.
Even Toyota’s Bob Carter was happy. Toyota’s 1 percent rise was below industry average. (It was 4.8 percent if you count the daily selling rate, as Toyota prefers, which would raise everyone’s results.) And the Nissan Altima outsold perennial favorite Toyota Camry by 100 units. Carter says he’s seeing more pent-up demand being satisfied on the truck side than on the car side.
Ford would agree. Its F-Series bestseller was up 16.3 percent, to 67,513. Most months, the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra pair combines to come within a couple-thousand units of the Ford, though last month, they totaled 53,378, with the Chevy up 8.4 percent and the Jimmy off 0.2 percent. Ram pickup sales rose 25 percent, to 33,831. Both GM and Ford say the improved new home construction market is helping drive pickup truck sales.
GM says we’ll see the much-anticipated 2014 trucks in showrooms about this time next month, though the three-factory transition is being done so slowly and deliberately that they’ll be plenty of ’13 models to last through most of the calendar year.
In a Captain Obvious moment, one GM exec explained that pickup buyers will split between the big-discount bargain hunters and buyers who want the latest look and features. Next year, it will all be about the new sheetmetal, unless Chevy pulls another Impala Limited plan and continues to build the old truck for fleet-only.
Ford also reported record sales for its Escape CUV and Fusion midsize sedan, with the latter selling well enough to give the Camry/Accord/Altima troika a run for its money.
GM credits much of its 6.4-percent March sales increase on Buick and Cadillac, while at Chevrolet, the compact Cruze is ahead of the midsize Malibu for the first quarter, 55,713 to 49,179 units.
Details …
1. GM: 245,950 up 6.4 percent. First quarter: 664,963, up 9.3 percent
*Market share has crawled back to 17.7 percent. *Chevy Silverado was +8.4%, to 39,561. *Chevy Camaro was -12.8%, to 8102, but beat Ford Mustang, -15% to 7688 and Dodge Challenger, +42% to 6132. *Buick was +37.4%, to 18,007, led by Enclave, +55.1% to 5676 and Verano, +42.7%, to 3564. *Cadillac was +49.5%, to 15,751, led by SRX, +5.4% to 4368, and ATS, at 3587. *Chevy Volt was -35.4% to 1478. Chevy division was +0.5%, to 173,859.
2. Ford Motor Company: 236,160 up 5.7 percent. First quarter: 598,483, up 11 percent
*Fusion was +6%, to 30,284. *Escape was +27.6%, to 28,934. *Focus was -11.9%, to 24,929. *Lincoln division was -22.5%, to 6825. *Ford says Lincoln MKZ stock will be up to demand level next month. Sales fell 19.5%, to 2360.
3. Toyota Motor Sales: 205,342 up 1 percent. First quarter: 529,444, up 8.7 percent
*Camry was -11.5%, to 37,663. *Corolla was +11%, to 31,423. *Avalon sales more than doubled for the new model, to 6982. *Scion sold 1828 FR-Ses. *Lexus had a stronger month, +15.1%, to 23,190. *Lexus RX was +28.6%, to 9072.
4. Chrysler Group: 171,606 up 5 percent. First quarter: 428,352, up 8 percent
*Jeep Wrangler is Mopar’s second-bestseller, +3% to 12,901. *Jeep Grand Cherokee is next, -10% to 12,629. *Chrysler Town & Country was -7%, to 11,626, while Dodge Caravan was -19%, to 11,110. *Dodge sold 8091 Darts, Fiat sold 3807 500s, +3%.
5. Nissan North America: 137,726 up 1 percent. First quarter: 318,281, off 1.3 percent
*Nissan Altima sales -8%, to 37,763. *Versa, +2.1% to 15,917, beat Sentra, -0.9%, to 13,965. *Rogue was -9.4%, to 15,381. *Pathfinder was +177.1%, to 9071. *Infiniti was +9% to 11,103.
6. American Honda: 136,038 up 7.1 percent. First quarter: 337,651, up 5.5 percent
*Honda Accord was +36.4%, to 36,504. *Civic was -1.9%, to 27,665. *CR-V was -12.9%, to 26,897. *Acura division was +26.3%, to 14,100. *Acura sold 336 RLXes.
7. Hyundai: 68,306 off 2 percent. First quarter: 164,330, up 0.4 percent
*Elantra was +33%, to 26,153. *Sonata was -22.6%, to 18,031.
8. Kia: 49,125 off 14.6 percent. First quarter: 126,932, off 8 percent
*Optima was -4.3%, to 14,366. *Soul was -11.2%, to 12,080.
9. Volkswagen: 37,704 up 3.1 percent. First quarter: 98,178, up 4 percent
*Passat was -5.1%, to 9521. *Jetta was +0.3%, to 15,005. *Beetle was +107.3%, to 4082.
10. Subaru: 36,701 up 13.3 percent. First quarter: 92,527, up 14.8 percent
*Outback was -34%, to 10,453. *Forester was +46.2%, to 9050.
11. BMW North America: 33,149 up 11.2 percent. First quarter: 78,957, up 4.3 percent
*BMW brand was +13.1%, to 27,078. *BMW 3 Series was -10.5%, to 8858. *Mini Countryman was +11.5% to 1761.
12. Mazda: 32,028 off 1.1 percent. First quarter: 78,283, off 4.6 percent
*CX-5's best month, at 7116, +96.1%. *3 was -20.6%, to 10,505. *6 was -22.3%, to 6102.
13. Mercedes-Benz USA: 27,104 up 6.3 percent. First quarter: 75,214, up 12.4 percent
*Mercedes brand was +6.5%, to 24,646. *C-Class was +32.4%, to 8396. *E-Class was -28% to 4009. *Smart was -7%, to 979.
14. Audi: 13,253, up 14 percent. First quarter: 34,186, up 16 percent
*A4/allroad was +20%, to 3951. *Q5 was +39.3%, to 3099.
15. Jaguar/Land Rover: 5722 up 4 percent. First quarter: 16,004, up 14 percent
*Land Rover was +3%, to 4314 in March. *Jaguar was +7%, to 1408 last month.
16. Volvo: 5365 off 19.8 percent. First quarter:  off 8 percent
*Sold 1957 S60s, 1690 XC60s.
17. Mitsubishi: 5286, off 26.2 percent. First quarter: 15,996, off 3.7 percent
*Outlander Sport was the bright spot, at 2442, +48.6%.
18. Porsche: 3487, up 41 percent. First quarter: 9650, up 34.8 percent
*Cayenne led at 1508, +20.2%. *911 was +112.9%, to 990.
CLOSE RACE IN MIDSIZE CARS
1. Nissan Altima                     37,763 2. Toyota Camry                    37,663 3. Honda Accord                   36,504 4. Ford Fusion                       30,284 5. Chevrolet Malibu               18,539
2013 Nissan Altima 3 5 SL Right Side View

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