In September, the happy news along automobile row was that the annualized sales rate was the best it had been so far this year, topping the 12-million-unit mark for the first time. In October, things were even a bit better. Two 12-million+ months in a row has auto executives hoping for a strong finish to the year. And Ford’s Alan Mulally has gone on record predicting that 2011 could see 13 million new vehicles sold.
For our company-by-company look at October sales, we’ll use year-ago comparisons. Overall, the industry was up by 13 percent over last year, which is slight improvement on the year-to-date increase. Anyone who posted a greater than 13 percent gain for October is running ahead of the pack, while those who didn’t are lagging behind.
GENERAL MOTORS +13% (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC only)
General Motors saw its sales rise exactly in sync with the market overall. The news might have been happier with a better performance by volume-leader Chevrolet, but a gain is a gain.
The new Regal is catching up to the faltering Lucerne (-34%), while the LaCrosse (+37%) and Enclave (+53%) continue to vie for the top spot in the Buick lineup.
The CTS (+45%) is finally feeling the affects of the coupe and wagon additions. The SRX (+27%) continues to grow.
The Aveo had another huge month (+314%) but the biggest-volume cars, Malibu and Impala, were essentially flat, while Camaro (-38%) declined. The Equinox (+62%) continues to be a big winner, while the Silverado (+8%) managed a modest increase; of the trucks, only the Tahoe (-13%) declined.
There was good news all across the board for GMC, be it new entries (Terrain, +82%), old pickups (Canyon, +101%), or family-size crossovers that are neither new nor old (Acadia, +65%).
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +18% (excluding Volvo)
Ford managed to stay ahead of the market, and so continued its winning ways in October. The F-series remains an outsized performer in the portfolio, while Lincoln continues to be a worry.
A 10,000-unit increase in F-series sales got things off with a bang. Other major contributors included the Fusion (+29%), the Focus (+23%), and the new Fiesta. The only discordant notes were sounded by the Taurus (-9%) and the Flex (-7%).
Despite the cloud hanging over the brand, all models save the Grand Marquis actually managed to finish ahead of last year.
Were it not for a big boost in the sales of the livery-favorite Town Car (+174%), Lincoln would have been down overall.
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES -4%
Toyota’s sales last October weren’t as depressed as most of its competitors, but still, the automaker’s decline — the only decrease among the major players — has to be a major disappointment.
The news for Toyota cars was all bad, led by the Camry (-17%, but still in first place) and the Corolla/Matrix (-28%). Trucks were a very different story, starting with the redesigned 4Runner, which enjoyed an eleven-fold increase over its year-ago number. Also doing well were the Highlander (+45%), the Sienna (+12%), and even the FJ Cruiser (+46%).
The redesigned GX had another big month (+283%) while the not-at-all-redesigned LS (+50%) led the way on the car side. Downers included the HS (-48%) and, just barely, the IS (-2%).
Scion has been waiting and waiting for new product, and it finally arrived, in the form of the redesigned tC. The tC’s sales doubled, which was enough to put Scion in positive territory at last.
AMERICAN HONDA +16%
Honda’s year-over-year gain wasn’t as big as Chrysler’s, but Honda’s year-ago wasn’t as depressed. So its 16 percent increase was able to nudge Honda ahead of Chrysler, even though the American company posted a larger year-over-year increase.
The new Odyssey opened big (+47%), as all Honda trucks (save the hapless Ridgeline) surged ahead. The car side saw generally smaller gains, ranging from 5% for the Accord to 18% for the Fit.
The MDX took a break this month, up only 3%, while its smaller sibling, the RDX, made a big move (+40%). Of the sedans, the RL actually had a big gain (+62%) but its volume is still a tiny fraction of the bestselling TL, which increased 21%.
CHRYSLER LLC +37%
Chrysler boasted a second big year-over-year increase in October. Jeep was the major engine of the company’s gain, with an assist by the Ram pickup.
Chrysler division was the reverse of most players in October, as its car side — meaning, basically the 300 (+79%) — outperformed its trucks — meaning, basically, the Town & Country (+18%).
For Dodge, what the Caliber gave (+376% from very low total last October), the Avenger largely took away (-31%). Similarly, the Nitro’s increase (+50%) was wiped out by the Grand Caravan (-9%).
A huge increase in Grand Cherokee sales (+291%) has got to be bringing a smile to Chrysler’s Italian masters. In lesser news, the two baby Jeeps also saw big percentage increases.
The big Ram pickup was the big story here.
The Koreans easily outpaced the market overall, gobbling up more market share in the process. This month, Hyundai and Kia were about equal in their gains.
The new Sonata had another gangbuster month, more than doubling last year’s volume (+125%), but it wasn’t quite as gangbusters as September. The new Tucson (+260%) and the Veracruz (+104%), of all things, also made hay in October. The Santa Fe (-44%) and the Azera (-32%) were the big losers.
The redesigned Sorento outpaced its predecessor only by a factor of eight this month — versus ten in September — but the volume was nonetheless crept forward by another 500 units or so. Kia’s second-best seller, the Soul, also enjoyed a big upswing (+198%), as did the Sportage (+134%). The Rondo (-92%) and Borrego (-79%) fell hard.
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA +16%
Nissan managed to stay ahead of the market overall, despite weakness on the Nissan car side.
For Nissan, this month was the reverse of last month, as trucks, lead by the Rogue (+49%) and Frontier (+51%) made more progress than cars. In fact, of the cars, only the Altima (+29%) was able to beat its October 2009 total.
Again in October, all Infiniti models beat last year (the G just barely). The biggest movers were the new M (+119%) and the new QX56 (+89%).
VOLKSWAGEN OF AMERICA +16%
Trucks did better than cars at Volkswagen, with the Routan up 65% (!) and the Tiguan up by half, but Touareg volume dropped ahead of the redesigned 2011 model. Of the passenger cars, the Golf and friends (+62%) and the new Jetta (+32%) surged ahead while everything else declined.
Audi has a fairly good month — better than Mercedes but not as good as BMW. The A3 (+145%) and the Q5 (+70%) were shining stars, while the A4 (-18%) disappointed
BMW NORTH AMERICA +13%
The new 5-series (+62%) added the most volume this month, although the 1-series (+127%) was the biggest gainer in percentage terms. A shout-out also goes to the X5 (+49%), while we cast a jaundiced eye at the 7-series (-44%) and the Z4 (-64%).
It appears that Mini had successfully cleared out inventory last month, and so it’s October sales showed a decline relative to last year. Next month should reflect sales of the updated, 2011 model.
As was the case in September, Rolls-Royce delivered 26 cars last month, versus 27 the year prior.
SUBARU OF AMERICA +25%
Subaru again outpaced the market in October, as four of its five models chalked up gains (the Tribeca, again, declined). The redesigned Outback lead the charge, up 35%.
DAIMLER A.G. +3%
Mercedes-Benz car sales actually fell in October (including those of the new E-class), but the brand was able to eke out some forward progress anyway thanks to strong truck sales. The R-class posted a 52% increase (the redesign is working!), but it’s still one-tenth the volume of the ML, which was up 19%. Only the GLK (-24%) didn’t participate in the truck growth.
Another big down month, as Smart has fallen 61% year to date in 2010.
As in September, 3 Maybachs were sold in October.
Mazda again managed to outpace the overall market, thanks, in order, to a modest increase for the high-volume Mazda3, larger percentage jumps for the CX-9 and CX-7, and the addition of the Mazda2.
The Endeavor (+188%) and Outlander (+71%) racked up the big percentage increases, but volume-wise, the gains for the Galant (+23%) and the Lancer (+28%) were just as significant. What was not significant — at least not yet — was the Outlander Sport, of which only 30 copies were sold in its initial month.
JAGUAR LAND-ROVER +40%
Jaguar Land Rover’s 40 percent surge allowed it to surpass Volvo in sales this month.
The XJ continues to look great compared to last year, but sales then were only in the double digits. Still, the increase was enough to drive a healthy spike for Jaguar overall.
Land Rover +37%
Both the LR4 and the LR2 doubled their year-ago figures, as all four models were ahead of last year.
Volvo suffered another decline this month, and as a result, slipped below Jaguar Land Rover in the rankings. The new S60 is helping a bit, but it can’t make up for declines in sales of the S40, C30, and V50.
Again this month, the non-sports-car Porsches — the redesigned Cayenne and the Panamera — gave the brand its big boost.
Finally some good news for Suzuki, which has suffered a string of down months this year.
Saab did way better this October than in 2010, when it was a ward of General Motors. But its sales are still tiny (741 units) and were off quite a bit from last month’s total.
TOP 5 BESTSELLING NAMEPLATES (and rank last month)
1. Ford F-series 49,041 (#1)
2. Chevrolet Silverado 34,283 (#2)
3. Toyota Camry 25,014 (#3)
4. Honda Accord 24,344 (#4)
5. Toyota Corolla/Matrix 18,636 (#5)