February Auto Sales Boosted by President’s Day Sales Events, Super Bowl Ads
U.S. automakers reported healthy new-vehicle sales gains in February, likely due in part to car shoppers taking advantage of President’s Day sales incentives and being drawn in by Super Bowl ad spots. Also, low gasoline prices continued to prime SUV demand.
Among corporations, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA); Ford Motor Company; and Honda, Hyundai, and Nissan Groups celebrated double-digit increases vs. the same month in 2015 and broke prior February records. Last month’s brisk pace led to a 6.8%* rise in total sales, marking the strongest February in more than a decade, as projected by J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive in a previous update.
Two of the three Detroit-based automakers—Ford Motor Co. (+20.4%) and FCA (+11.8%)—posted gains, while General Motors sales were off 1.5% from a year ago. Among the major Asian automakers, American Honda (+12.8%), Nissan North America (+10.5%), and Hyundai Group (+6.4%) posted records for the month, while Toyota Group reported a 4.1% gain.
The Europeans, on the other hand, reported weaker results. BMW Group sales fell 12.3%, with a 10.7% drop for the BMW brand. Daimler Group’s Mercedes-Benz brand posted a smaller 0.3% dip due to strength from Sprinter van deliveries. Volkswagen Group’s Audi brand (+2.3%) surpassed its previous February record, but, despite Porsche’s positive month, the automaker could not offset the VW brand’s 13.2% decline. Two independents—Subaru and Mitsubishi—posted single-digit gains, while Mazda sales fell 16%.
At the corporate level, Ford Motor Co. (+20.4%) ended the month with the best gain, while at the brand level, Scion (+50.2%), Lincoln (+30.4%), and Volvo (+30.1%) were top performers.
Highlights: February 2016 Auto Sales
Following are February 2016 new-vehicle sales highlights for each major automaker:
American Honda—Sales for the group (+12.8%) totaled 118,985 units in February. The Honda brand (+11.6%) set a February record of 106,212 new-vehicle deliveries. Honda got a big boost from sales of its redesigned 2016 Civic (+31.7%), and its CR-V (+13.2%) sold a record 25,250 units last month. The Accord and Odyssey also saw double-digit gains. Acura (+4.1%) sold 12,773 units with strength from its new ILX (+56.4%).
BMW Group—BMW Group (-12.5%) February sales dropped by more than 3,500 units, compared with the same month last year, to 25,377 units in February 2016. BMW (-10.7%) brand sales declined to 22,498 units, with its only momentum coming from the new 2 Series and X1 and X3 SUVs. Mini deliveries sank 23.7% from a year ago.
Daimler AG—Group (-0.5%) deliveries dropped to 25,632 units. Mercedes-Benz sales dipped 0.3% to 22,941 units. The C-Class remained Mercedes’ volume model even with a dip, but the GLE (formerly M-Class) and GLC (formerly GLK) were strong performers. Sprinter van (+35.5%) deliveries set a record. Just 422 Smart (-7.9%) cars were sold.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—Sales for FCA climbed 12% from last February to 182,879 units, running the tally to 71 straight months of year-over-year gains. Jeep (+23%) and Ram (23%) were the stars. Four Jeep models celebrated February sales records: Jeep Cherokee, Compass, Patriot, and Wrangler. Dodge (+12%) set sales records with the Journey, and the Challenger and Caravan nearly doubled deliveries from February 2015. In contrast, Chrysler (-26%) sales fell, despite a 16% gain from the Town & Country, while Fiat’s 9% sales decline could not be offset by the new 500X.
Ford Motor Company—Ford Motor (+20.4%) sold 217,192 units in February, with a 10% improvement in its perennial best-selling F-Series pickup deliveries (60,697 deliveries). Ford (+20.1%) remained the company’s brand sales leader in February with 209,153 new-vehicle sales. SUVs and cars posted the best gains for the brand. Also, Focus sales climbed by nearly one-third. Other models with double-digit gains were Fusion, Taurus, and Mustang. All Ford SUVs posted gains, led by the Edge, Flex, Explorer, Expedition, and Escape. Lincoln’s sales surged 30.4% from a year ago, mainly due to doubling MKX SUV sales and a gain from the MKZ sedan.
General Motors—Sales at GM (-1.5%) slipped to 227,825 units, primarily due to a cutback in fleet rental car sales, officials said. Buick (+2.3%) gained ground, with double-digit climbs for its Encore and Enclave SUVs, and the new Cascada posted 495 sales in its second month on the market. Chevrolet (-0.7%) saw major gains on the smaller truck side, including the Colorado, Express, and City Express. The full-size Silverado and Suburban posted declines from a year ago. On the car side, Sonic and Volt plug-in sales climbed in high double-digits. Cadillac (+0.9%) increased slightly due to strong demand for the Escalade. The GMC truck brand (-6.8%) lost sales last month, with the Yukon and Yukon XL posting its only significant gains.
Hyundai Group—Group sales climbed 6.4%, with Hyundai (+1%) and Kia (+13%) setting February records. Hyundai brand strength came from the new Tucson, which nearly doubled deliveries, and the Sonata midsize sedan. Kia got a small boost from the Forte, Sportage, Sedona, and Soul.
Jaguar Land Rover—Combined sales were up 25.3%, with strength from the Range Rover SUV.
Mazda—February (-16%) deliveries declined from a year ago, even with strength from niche model MX-5 Miata (+48.5%) and Mazda’s highest-volume CX-5 (+1.8%).
Mitsubishi—Sales rose 4.5% from a year ago, led by the redesigned Outlander and Outlander Sport SUVs.
Nissan Group—Nissan Group (+10.5%) delivered 130,911 new vehicles, setting a February company record. Nissan Division (+12.9%) benefitted from Rogue, Pathfinder, Quest, and Murano increases. Maxima sales doubled and Sentra rose 34.2%, while Altima dropped by about 100 unit sales. Nissan’s two truck models—Frontier and Titan—achieved gains, too. However, Infiniti (-11.8%) sales slipped again in February, with only QX50 sales rising exponentially.
Subaru—Subaru (+1.6%) managed to pull out a February record with strong sales for the Forester, Legacy, and Outback.
Toyota Group—Toyota Group delivered 187,984 new vehicles (+4.1%) in February. The Toyota brand (+4.7%) sold 164,864 units. On the car side, the Corolla posted a 5.4% gain, while Camry (-1.6%) sales remained flat with 32,405 deliveries. Meanwhile, Toyota trucks and SUVs—Highlander, 4Runner, RAV4, Land Cruiser, Sequoia, and Tacoma—posted double-digit gains. Prius sales (-12.2%) fell, while Scion (+52.2%) gained due to new models: iA and iM. Lexus (+0.4%) delivered 23,090 cars and SUVs in February, with a double-digit decline on the car side, but gains from its SUVs—especially the top-volume RX Series (+10.8%)—gave it the luxury sales lead in February.
Volkswagen Group—VW Group deliveries fell 7.1% last month despite premium brand gains. Fallout from the diesel emissions embroilment continues to hamper the VW brand (-13.2%), although the Tiguan SUV set a February record (+78.4%). The VW Golf was off in single digits, while Passat and Beetle deliveries posted larger declines. Audi (+2.3%) saw higher demand for the A7 and new Q7, and Porsche (+11.2%) reported strong sales of its SUVs.
Volvo—Sales rose 33.1% in February 2016 to 5,260 units, with half its sales coming from the new XC90.
*There were 24 selling days in February in both 2016 and 2015. Sales percentage changes are unadjusted and based on actual totals.