With help from a big finish over Memorial Day weekend, the auto industry pushed the bad days of 2009 further into the past, with sales increasing 19% over last year. That equates to a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate of 11.8 million units, which is not only a damned sight better than 10.4 million at this point last year, but is even a bit ahead of last month’s 11.5 million rate.
MAY 2010 SALES, AND PERCENT INCREASE OVER 2009
GENERAL MOTORS +32% (that’s New GM: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC)
With the liquidation of Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer almost complete, there’s no point in having them handicap GM’s performance. The continuing brands had a very good month, giving GM one of the best year-over-year increases in the industry. That big 32% figure is tempered only by the fact that GM sales were dismal last May, as bankruptcy rumors swirled around the company.
The LaCrosse is the driving force here, doubling last year’s volume. The Regal, with only 150 units sold, is not yet a factor.
The SRX enjoyed its second month as the number one Caddy, outselling all three Escalades combined as well as the CTS and the DTS. The latter two did at least provide an assist with Cadillac’s May surge.
Chevrolet saw growth on both the car and the truck side. In the former, the Aveo (+88%), the Camaro (+64%), and the Malibu (+54%) were standouts. Only the Corvette (-13%) slipped. Among trucks, the Equinox continued to rock (+256%), but we also should mention the Suburban (+101%), the Avalanche (+87%), and the Traverse (+65%). The Colorado (-30%) was the only downer.
As at Chevrolet, GMC’s small pickup, the Canyon, slumped (-44%). The addition of the Terrain accounted for most of the brand’s increased volume. Interestingly, the Yukon balance has shifted dramatically in favor of the XL, which in May ran neck-and-neck with the standard Yukon.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +22% (or +23% without Volvo, which slipped 17%)
Ford enjoyed another solid month, although any dreams of beating GM for the year-Ford was number one for the month of February-appear to be fading.
The Taurus (+98%) had a banner month, but with its massive volumes, the F-series (+49%) was a bigger engine of sales growth. The Edge (+43%), the Escape (+17%), and the Fusion (+13%) also helped. And the Mustang (+16%) regained the ponycar lead from the Camaro.
Mercury’s slipping sales in an up month may have contributed to Ford’s just-announced decision to phase out the brand.
Things weren’t much better at Lincoln, with only the MKS (+18%) able to better year-ago sales.
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES +7%
Toyota saw greatly diminished results from its continued incentive spending in May. However, while Toyota’s sales increase was far less than the industry average, its year-ago totals weren’t quite so awful as those of other automakers.
Trucks did better than cars at Toyota, mostly because of fresh metal in the form of the 4Runner (+245%) and the Sienna (+50%). The far-from-fresh FJ Cruiser (+65%) also bounced up, as did the Tundra (+32%). The Sequoia (-21%), the Tacoma (-15%), and the Highlander (-11%) all fell. On the car side, the Yaris (-59%) lead the decliners, which included every nameplate save the Corolla/Matrix (+14%) and the Prius (+41%).
Lexus fared far better than the Toyota division in May, with every model advancing except for the LX570 (-31%) and the nearly irrelevant SC430 (only 34 cars sold). Removed from Consumer Reports’ probation, the new GX surged 112%, but the biggest volume increase came from the RX (+22%). The addition of the HS250h (1,360 units) didn’t hurt either.
Another down month for all three Scions. Seems like we’ve been saying that a lot lately.
AMERICAN HONDA +19%
Honda’s increase was exactly on par with the industry average.
The surging Accord (+33%) enjoyed another month as the bestselling passenger car in the United States, and the Civic (+37%) wasn’t far behind, passing the Toyota Corolla/Matrix. Both fuel sippers, the Fit and the Insight, dropped. All trucks saw gains except for the Odyssey, which is likely suffering at the hands of the new Sienna.
The TSX overcame weak sales for the TL to make the car side a wash. The gains came from the RDX (+51%) and particularly the MDX (+66%). So far, the addition of the ZDX (305 sold) has had little impact.
CHRYSLER LLC +33%
After a nightmarish two years, Chrysler is starting to see the light. This month’s gain was better than last month’s and put Chrysler over the 100k mark for first time in a while.
Credit the Town & Country (+68%) here, with an assist from the Sebring (+42%).
The Caliber, the Avenger, and the Charger all saw sales more than double from grim, year-ago figures, while the Grand Caravan (+66%) and the Challenger (+42%) rebounded somewhat less spectacularly. The Journey (-6%) and the Nitro (-4%), however, didn’t bounce back at all.
A big move by the Compass (+154%) with an assist from the Patriot (+30%) couldn’t overcome declines for the Liberty, the Commander, and the Grand Cherokee-the latter at least should start to see the benefit of the new version next month.
The Dakota nearly doubled (+87%) and the big Ram (+12%) pushed ahead, easily offsetting the loss of the Sprinter to Mercedes-Benz.
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA +24%
Nissan reaped the benefit of a big Memorial Day sale to gain some market share in May, overtaking Hyundai-Kia in the process (after being passed by Chrysler and the Koreans in April).
The sports cars were the only downers among Nissan cars, where the low-end offerings-the Versa (+96%), theSentra (+60%), and the Cube (+32%)-made the biggest gains. Trucks were all in positive territory except for the Murano, which slipped just a bit.
No surprise that the new M posted big gains this month (+62%), but all Infinitis did better than last year.
Although Hyundai-Kia was passed by Nissan in May, the Koreans still outperformed the industry as a whole.
The new Tucson is on fire (+227%) as is the new Sonata (+92%). The Elantra (+41%) didn’t do too bad, either. The Accent (-29%) was the only declining nameplate of any real significance.
The Forte, with 7,299 sales, would have zoomed to the top of the Kia sales chart had it not been for the white-hot Sorento, which more than quadrupled year-ago volume. Bad-news Kias included the Rondo (-76%) and the Sportage (-48%), the latter just ahead of a redesign.
VOLKSWAGEN GROUP +21%
The CC (+87%), the Golf (+82%), and the Tiguan (+73%) all had banner months.
Audi’s increase was good, if not quite as good as that for Mercedes-Benz. The A5/S5 (+145%), the A3 (+77%), the A6/S6 (+52%), and the Q5 (+44%) supplied the muscle.
Again, Subaru outpaced the industry. And again, Subaru’s increase was all the more significant because it is actually coming off a good year-ago sales figure. The new Outback more than doubled sales for last May, while the Forester (+29%) and the Legacy (+19%) showed more modest increases. The Tribeca, meanwhile, continues to earn its black-sheep status, with sales off by two-thirds.
A major month for Mazda sees it zip past Daimler A.G. and the BMW Group. A 54% increase for the franchise Mazda3 is a good start, and the Mazda6 (+30%) also lent a hand. The CX-7’s increase (+55%) outpaces the CX-9’s (+41%), but the bigger crossover still wins the sibling rivalry with 5 more units sold than the smaller CX-7. The real disappointment was with the sports cars: Miata sales dropped by a quarter and the RX-8 fell by more than half.
BMW GROUP -4%
Aging products are hurting BMW, which showed declines for the 5-series (-41%), the 6-series (-37%), and the X3 (-28%). The 1-series (-16%) and the 7-series (-4%) were also down. The larger SUVs were up, as were the Z4 and the 3-series, but it wasn’t enough to keep BMW from backsliding.
Mini’s big boost will come with the Countryman, which doesn’t arrive until early next year.
The Ghost has yet to reach our shores, so Rolls-Royce is still selling only Phantoms-26 of them this month, down from 27 last May.
DAIMLER A.G. +22%
Mercedes’ sales increase handily beat the industry average, but it was no doubt all the sweeter for beating Audi’s (while BMW declined).
Smart’s unrelenting monthly sales declines are making the brand look like one of the rare failures for Roger Penske.
As in April, three Maybachs were sold.
Any positive number is a good one for Mitsubishi, which saw nice gains for the Galant (+59%), the Outlander (+56%), and the Lancer (+13%). The Eclipse, like other sporty cars, fared poorly, as did the Endeavor.
JAGUAR LAND ROVER +8%
The new XJ can’t arrive soon enough for Jaguar.
Land Rover +22%
The LR4 and the Range Rover more than doubled, while the volume Range Rover Sport was exactly flat and the aged LR2 sank.
More bad news for Suzuki, where the Kizashi couldn’t hope to overcome skidding sales for the SX4, the Grand Vitara, and the Equator.
The Boxster’s surge (+52%) was offset by the decline for the 911 (-24%). Meanwhile the addition of the Cayman couldn’t make up for a slump in the Cayenne, which is undergoing a model changeover.