When new-car sales had a hiccup in September, we wondered if that was the start of a moderation indicating that pent-up demand was beginning to get sated. Instead, we saw in October that demand is still strong, and sales jumped by 10% versus a year ago. They might have been even better, but the first two weeks of the month were sluggish as the theatrics in Washington undermined consumer confidence. October’s annualized sales rate of 15.2 million vehicles was not as good as we saw during the torrid summer months, but it’s better than almost anyone was predicting at the beginning of the year. All three domestic automakers saw increases of greater than 10%, putting them ahead of the industry overall. Transaction prices set a new record but incentives are starting to creep up a bit. Analysts expect that the latter to increase as we get toward the year’s end, giving car buyers some help dealing with steep sticker prices — and also greasing the wheels of the marketplace to keep the surprisingly powerful auto-sales recovery rolling along.
OCTOBER 2013 SALES RESULTS, AND PERCENT CHANGE VERSUS OCTOBER 2012.
GENERAL MOTORS +16%
After a couple months of market-share declines — which were noted in a Government Accounting Office report and rebuked by GM North America president Mark Reuss — GM rebounded in October. All four divisions were up by double digits. And unlike last month, GM was also comfortably ahead of second-place Ford.
The addition of the Encore was again was a huge factor for Buick. In October, however, it was buttressed by the refreshed Regal (+47%), which finally reversed a string of down months.
The ATS and the XTS are running neck-and-neck to be the bestselling Caddy sedan. It’s too soon to tell whether the new CTS (-12%) will also be a contender for that title. All would have to double their sales to reach the SRX (-3%), however.
The Silverado new-model changeover seems to have settled out, as the Silverado added some 10,000 units to its prior-month total. The new Corvette was also gangbusters in October, roaring out of showrooms at triple the rate of the previous car. Midsize sedans did well: Impala (+40%) and Malibu (+64%); so did tiny ones: Sonic (+25%) and Spark (+10%). They might have squeezed out the Cruze (-16%) and the Volt (-32%).
The Sierra (+13%) didn’t jump the way the Silverado did, but it did add 2000 units compared to last month. The big SUVs also posted some impressive gains.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY +14%
Ford’s strong sales performance in October allowed it to gain market share, and easily kept Ford ahead of Toyota in second place among all carmakers. Ford, however, had the industry’s highest incentives last month, so those sales came at a cost.
Another 60k-plus month for the F-series (+13%) gave Ford a solid foundation. Building upon it were the Fusion (+71%), the Escape (+12%), the Mustang (+30%), and the Taurus (+23%). The Focus (-18%) was down again, however, and was joined by the C-Max (-21%).
The MKZ (+80%) appears to finally be gaining traction, and the brand got an assist from its other models as well. Only the MKT was below its prior-year total.
The new Avalon enjoyed another month of triple its previous sales, the new Tundra was up by nearly a quarter (+23%), and the new Corolla edged ahead (+13%). Also put the RAV4 in the win column, with sales up by two-thirds. Against that we have the Venza (-37%), the Prius (-7%), and the Yaris (-70%) — the latter plunging to well below 1000 units.
The new IS (+69%) is gaining strength, in an encouraging sign for Lexus. The brand’s SUVs all were up over last year, but the car side saw declines for the CT
(-30%) and the GS (-15%).
Again this month, the FR-S (+11%) was the only model to beat last year.
CHRYSLER GROUP +11%
Chrysler remained solidly in fourth place, with four of its five divisions posting increases. Best was Ram, as the big Ram pickup jumped 18% and actually overtook the Toyota Camry to become the third-bestselling nameplate, after the Ford and Chevy pickups.
The Town & Country (+28%) kept the Chrysler division in the black, offsetting losses for the 200 (-5%) and the 300 (-12%).
After a big increase last month, the Dart (+3%) leveled off. Instead, it was the Charger’s turn to jump (+60%), along with the Durango (+59%). The Avenger
(-29%) suffered the brand’s only significant decline.
Finally, finally, finally, the new Jeep Cherokee made its much-belated appearance in showrooms in October — but not yet in meaningful quantities. Instead, credit the Compass (+68%), the Patriot (+33%), and the Grand Cherokee (+20%) with moving Jeep ahead in October.
Like Jeep, the Ram division also welcomed a new entry last month: the ProMaster cargo van. Its volume, though, is still small.
With the 500 down by more than one-third (-36%), the 500L kept things (almost) at an even keel.
AMERICAN HONDA +7%
Honda division was up slightly, while Acura was up more. The Civic looked strong, and the CR-V passed the Ford Escape to take the bestselling SUV crown. Overall, though, Honda lagged the market.
The Civic popped but the Accord dropped, so the smaller Honda passed its larger brother, and became the number two passenger car while the Accord slipped to number three. Sudden Insight: Honda’s fuel-sippin’ hybrid was up by 85%, but still sold only 463 units.
Acura was able to reverse its fortunes in October. The ILX swung from negative to positive (+31%), and the new RLX found more than twice as many buyers as in September. The brand’s two biggest sellers, the RDX and MDX SUVs, were up by a quarter and a half, respectively. Not all the badness was wiped away though: the TL fell hard again (-49%), as did the TSX (-23%). Both of those aging sedans will converge next year to become the new TLX.
HYUNDAI – KIA +1%
The Koreans were just barely able to beat their October 2012 total, in a market that was up by 10%. Actually, Kia was down but Hyundai — which claimed its best-ever October — was up just enough to compensate.
The new Santa Fe did well (+36%), as did the revised Sonata (+19%) and Equus (+14%). On the down side we find the Tucson (-42%), the Azera (-39%), and the Veloster (-12%).
The new Cadenza outsold its sibling rival, the Hyundai Azera, 2 to 1. But that wasn’t enough to keep Kia from sinking in October, weighed down by the aged Sedona (-41%), the Forte (-20%), and the Sorento (-15%).
NISSAN NORTH AMERICA -6%
Nissan outpaced the market in October, on the strength of volume models like the Rogue, the Sentra, and the Pathfinder.
The new Pathfinder nearly doubled, and the new Sentra — backed by a major ad campaign — was up by half. So, too, was the Rogue, as Nissan announced that it will sell the old version alongside the new one. The Frontier (+72%) was able to capitalize on booming demand for pickups, but the Titan (-38%) was not.
Despite some well-publicized problems, the new Q50 became the top-selling Infiniti in October. The JX was basically flat, but all other models were down by 10% or more.
The Beetle (+5%) was the lone Volkswagen for which October 2013 was better than October 2012. Aside from the departing Routan minivan, the Touareg (-43%) and the CC (-42%) experienced the most precipitous declines.
Audi’s car sales were stagnant despite good turns for the A4 (+11%), the A5 (+14%), and the A6 (+14%). Blame the loss of the A3 — a situation that will soon be corrected. Meanwhile, it’s the SUVs that keep Audi moving forward: the Q5 and Q7 were both up 39%.
The return of the Cayman accounts for Porsche’s increase last month.
Subaru zoomed ahead by nearly a third, thanks to the powerhouse new Forester (+137%) and the XV Crosstrek (which tripled). Oh, and the BRZ nearly doubled. The only clouds in the sky looked strangely like the Legacy (-14%) and the Outback (-20%).
The 6-series and the 3-series both popped 20% (the new 4-series has yet to arrive in showrooms). All SUVs were down, with the important exception of the X1 (+60%), which became the bestselling BMW SUV in October.
The Countryman was up (+22%) but other Minis were down (-15%). Last month it was the other way around.
The arrival of the CLA means that Mercedes-Benz no longer needs the count the Sprinter van in order for its volume to beat BMW’s
The CLA (which sold nearly 5000 units) is now really being felt at Mercedes-Benz. Some of those sales might be stealing from the soon-to-be-replaced C-class (-14%) but not from the E-class (+23%) or, naturally, from the new S-class (+75%).
Smart’s decline accelerated in October.
Mazda claimed that 2013 was its best October result since 2007. It was all on the strength of the Mazda 6 (+105%) and the CX-5 (54%). The other models were down.
Volvo’s SUVs both fell, but its car sales were up — they just weren’t up enough to keep Volvo from sliding lower overall.
JAGUAR LAND ROVER +52%
Jaguar easily takes the honors as the brand with the biggest year-over-year sales increase — and it wasn’t all due to the arrival of the F-Type. XF sales also doubled, and the XJ was up 75%, both assisted by new all-wheel-drive options.
Land Rover +37%
The big Range Rover nearly tripled, while the Evoque (+49%) and the LR2 (+44%) trailed in its wake. The Range Rover Sport was down (-9%) with the model changeover.
The new Outlander was up by two-thirds. It was joined by the Outlander Sport (+20%). The Lancer, meanwhile, was down (-8%). Sales of the i-MiEV shot up from 20 last month to 28 in October.
TOP 10 BESTSELLING NAMEPLATES IN OCTOBER 2013
1. Ford F-series 63,803
2. Chevrolet Silverado 42,660
3. Dodge Ram 29,846
4. Toyota Camry 29,144
5. Honda Civic 27,328
6. Honda Accord 25,162
7. Toyota Corolla/Matrix 23,637
8. Honda CR-V 22,554
9. Ford Escape 22,253
10. Nissan Altima 21,785