As anyone in the vast area affected by Hurricane Sandy could have guessed, the sprawling super-storm had a major dampening effect on new-vehicle sales. Consumers had other things on their mind, and flooding and power outages also kept buyers out of showrooms. As a result, the new-vehicle sales rate, which had been steaming along in the high end of the 14-million-unit range, dropped down to 14.3 million units. Industry totals for the month still managed a 7% increase over 2011 — not bad, but not as good as September’s 13% increase. Some industry watchers, however, see a silver lining for auto sales in the Sandy-related destruction: All those cars and trucks ruined by flood waters or crushed by falling trees will have to be replaced, which could mean that what Sandy taketh away in October, she could giveth in November.
OCTOBER 2012 SALES RESULTS, AND PERCENT CHANGE VERSUS OCTOBER 2011
GENERAL MOTORS +5%
Small cars continue to do well at Chevrolet, lead by the Sonic (+43%) and the Cruze (+34%); the Volt again came close to 3000 units, while the Spark topped 2000. Trucks did better than last month, with the Silverado able to notch a small gain (+6%) in the selloff ahead of the new version, but several big utilities declined: Tahoe (-30%), Traverse (-25%), and Suburban (-23%).
The Canyon’s sales roller coaster headed downhill in October (-39%), and the Yukon declined as well. But the franchise Sierra was up (+9%), as was the freshened Terrain (+15%), the big vans (+15%), and the Acadia (+12%).
The Verano is what’s pulling Buick ahead, as the Regal slides (-36%) and the LaCrosse and the Enclave stagnate.
The XTS outsold the falling CTS (-40%) for the first time, and the ATS added 1266 units to the brand’s total. On the truck side, the Escalades’ decline was just about offset by an increase for the SRX.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +0%
Ford remained flat in October, as Ford division’s wafer-thin increase was wiped out by Lincoln’s decline.
The F-series was huge again in October, its 56,000-plus sales just topping September’s total. The new C-Max rang in with 3182 sales, and the Focus enjoyed a big month (+48%). But there was bad news as well. The Fusion (-30%), still in the midst of a model changeover, was way down; the Expedition, like many big utilities, was down (-22%); and the departure of the Ranger and the Crown Victoria also hurt.
Lincoln fell further in October, and we can no longer blame the decline on the loss of the Town Car. The MKS (-29%), the MKZ (-17%), and the MKX (-9%) together were a much bigger factor.
TOYOTA MOTOR SALES +16%
Toyota’s year-over-year increase again handily outpaced the industry. The increase, however, wasn’t as huge as it has been, perhaps because last October’s Toyota sales weren’t as bad the preceding months.
Another big month for the Camry (+36%) kept it in the number-one spot among passenger cars, and the number three nameplate overall. The Corolla/Matrix (+29%) has shown incredible longevity, but the Yaris (-62%) is fading fast. The expanded Prius family continues to grow sales (+52%), and both the Tundra (+25%) and the Tacoma (+20%) did well this month.
Lexus volumes seem to have settled out. The new ES and the new GS continue to post large year-over-year increases, but the RX is essentially flat, and the LS and the CT are down.
Scion’s nearly 50% volume increase owes a lot to the FR-S, but the iQ helped quite a bit as well. Among the other models, the xD popped (+36%) while the tC dropped (-14%).
CHRYSLER GROUP +10%
Chrysler managed to keep the momentum going yet again in October.
Whereas last month it was the 200 that was up, this month it was down (-22%). No matter, the 300 (+40%) and the Town & Country (+31%) stepped up.
The arrival of the Dart was a big factor in Dodge’s big increase. Also helping were the Charger (+36%), the Grand Caravan (+49%), and the Journey (+18%).
Swan dives for the Compass (-52%) and the Liberty (-32%) overwhelmed smaller gains for the other models.
The big Ram did very well in a good month for big pickups.
Fiat posted a huge percentage increase, although sales actually weren’t quite as good as last month.
AMERICAN HONDA +9%
Like Toyota, Honda’s percentage gains over the tsunami-depressed sales of last year are trailing off.
Honda dealers reportedly have been told to aggressively sell down the current Civic ahead of a new version rumored to be revealed at the L.A. auto show later this month. And indeed, Civic sales were up (+28%), but so were those of the Accord (+26%), and the Fit (+34%). Decliners included the Insight, once again, (-49%); the Pilot (-29%); and the CR-Z (-16%).
The TSX was down by nearly half, and was almost outsold by the new ILX. Besides the ILX, the engine of Acura’s growth was the new RDX (+63%).
Hyundai suffered a rare decline in October but Kia was able to keep the Koreans in the black.
After a big boost last month, Veloster sales collapsed in October (-34%). The Accent (-30%) wasn’t much better. On the plus side were the new Santa Fe (+16%), the Elantra (+12%), and the Equus (+12%).
Kia’s increase was done without any help from the SUV side; witness the Sportage (-37%) and the Sedona (-26%). Instead, cars such as the Optima (+50%), the Rio (+31%), and the Forte (+25%) powered the division ahead.
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA -3%
Nissan was the only major manufacturer to suffer a sales decline in October — a small decline, granted, but a decline nonetheless.
The new Altima enjoyed another good month (+13%) but it was still only good enough for third place, behind the Camry and the Accord. The Sentra slipped during its model changeover (-33%) but the Cube staged a surprising comeback (+140%), as did the Leaf (+86%). The new Pathfinder did well (+47%), as did the not-so-new Quest (+39%) but all other Nissan trucks and SUVs declined.
The new JX didn’t account for all of Infiniti’s increase, but certainly the majority of it. The M (+11%), the QX (+18%), and the FX (+19%) all kicked in too.
Big gains for Mercedes-Benz’s sports cars, and modest increases for most of the higher-volume models, failed to keep Mercedes ahead of BMW in October — although it’s still out in front for the year.
The ForTwo slipped (just) below 1000 units, but still did way better than last year.
Three were sold.
VOLKSWAGEN GROUP +22%
The Volkswagen Group continues its winning streak.
It was the sweet sixties for VW in October, with a 60% increase in sales for the Tiguan, a 61% jump for the Beetle, and a 66% increase for the Passat. The only significant drop was the Eos (-41%) but even that wasn’t very significant because its volumes are so small.
The A3 (+60%) and the Q7 (+43%), were up again, although not as much as last month. The A8/S8 (+55%) also gained, but the sports cars — TT (-34%) and R8 (-32%) — were down.
Boxster, Boxster, Boxster! The new version is finally hitting its stride, and nearly outsold the Panamera. Only four (4!) Caymans were sold; presumably buyers are awaiting the new model, which will is expected to be at the Los Angeles auto show. In other news, the Cayenne (+64%) shot ahead, and the new 911 (+34%) also was up.
BMW GROUP +19%
BMW retook the luxury crown from Mercedes-Benz in October, and the division’s performance further powered the BMW Group past Subaru. Only the 5-series (-16%) and the 7-series (-43%) failed to participate in the good times. All other models were up, from niche players like the Z4 (+167%) and the X6 (+41%), to volume models like the 3-series (+26%) and the X3 (+40%).
Last month, the Countryman was way up; this month, it’s down (-9%). But the other Mini models plodded ahead.
Subaru posted another nice increase over its low-inventory, 2011 figures. The new Impreza more than doubled, and the XV Crosstrek, in its first volume month, added 1735 units to the brand’s total. That’s more than three times as much as the BRZ.
Mazda squeaked out a small gain, thanks to the Mazda3 (+34%), and the new CX-5.
The XC60 had another huge month (+82%), but the XC60 can’t do it all alone.
The Outlander Sport keeps moving ahead (+30%), but the Outlander Sport can’t do it all alone.
JAGUAR LAND ROVER -20%
A few more XKs were sold but both sedans were down.
Land Rover -20%
The Evoque is now counted in Land Rover’s year-ago figures, so the percent change suddenly looks less rosy.
Suzuki went from negative to positive in October, thanks mostly to the Grand Vitara (+64%).
TOP 10 BESTSELLING NAMEPLATES IN OCTOBER
1. Ford F-series 56,497
2. Chevrolet Silverado 38,739
3. Toyota Camry 29,926
4. Honda Accord 28,349
5. Ram pickup 25,222
6. Nissan Altima 24,623
7. Toyota Corolla/Matrix 20,949
8. Honda Civic 20,687
9. Honda CR-V 20,205
10. Ford Escape 19,832