January 2015 Auto Sales: Every Automaker Enjoys Increased Sales
By Jeff Youngs, February 04, 2015
In January, U.S. auto sales increased for every automaker group, and an overall sales increase of 14% compared with the same month in 2014 set the fastest pace in nearly a decade.
However, analysts are quick to remind the industry that the United States experienced unfavorable winter weather patterns in January 2014, and during that time many car buyers stayed home rather than shop for a new vehicle.
In an interview with Automotive News, AutoNation Inc. CEO Mike Jackson said that year-over-year sales comparisons for the remaining months of 2015 would appear to be less impressive than January's results. Nevertheless, Jackson believes total sales (including retail and fleet) will top 17 million units this year.
A new survey conducted by Bloomberg is aligned with Jackson's prediction. The survey indicates that falling gas prices and lower unemployment rates will add 200,000 additional vehicle sales in 2015, compared with previous forecasts. Bloomberg now predicts 16.9 million new-vehicle sales in 2015.
Low gas prices are likely fueling light-truck and SUV sales, which rose 19% in January, compared with a 7.8% increase in passenger car sales. At General Motors, sales of pickup trucks rose by 42%, compared with January 2014, bolstered by the new Colorado and Canyon midsize trucks.
"Consumers feel very good because more people are working, the U.S. economy is expanding, and fuel prices are low," said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of sales operations for GM, in an interview with Automotive News.
An improving economy and low gas prices are also inflating the average transaction price of new vehicles. Kelley Blue Book says the average transaction price of a new vehicle sold in January was $33,993, up 5.2% from the same month in the previous year.
While optimistic, AutoNation's Jackson is also cautious, telling Automotive News: "Long term, the industry is to have to deal with this issue: That we've been mandated to sell fuel efficiency, manufacturers are investing billions in the technology, and that's not what the consumer is asking for, because of gas prices."
Highlights: January 2015 Car Sales
While auto sales increased for every automaker group in January, not every brand saw improvements. Sales for Bentley, Buick, Jaguar, Maserati, Scion, and Smart all declined, compared with the same month in 2014, with Bentley experiencing a 50% reduction in sales.
Following are additional details regarding January 2015 auto sales for each major automaker:
American Honda--Sales increased 11.5% over the previous January, with Acura and Honda each posting double-digit gains for the month. The Honda CR-V compact crossover SUV was the best-selling model in the company's lineup, exceeding sales of both the Accord and Civic models.
BMW Group--Sales increased by 6.8%, compared to last January, with Mini sales improving by 26.9% due to a plentiful supply of the redesigned Cooper Hardtop model. BMW and Rolls-Royce sales also increased over the same month in 2014.
Daimler AG--Though Smart brand sales declined 5.6% in January, Daimler AG sales increased 9% overall. Smart models accounted for a small percentage of total company sales; therefore, the effect of the brand's decline was negligible.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)--Across all of its brands, FCA sales increased by 13.8%. Maserati, which had enjoyed a year of triple-digit sales increases throughout 2014, was the only FCA brand to decline in January, and by 20%, compared with the same period in 2014. Jeep and Ram continued to see sales increases greater than 20% year over year.
Ford Motor Company--Sales increased by 15.6% in January, with both Ford and Lincoln brands enjoying double-digit gains. The automaker's redesigned F-150 and Mustang models--and the new Lincoln MKC--were readily available to consumers in January, which helped boost sales.
General Motors--Truck sales fueled an 18.3% increase in GM sales in January. Buick declined by 5.6%, while GMC increased by 28.6%, thanks in large part to the new Canyon pickup. Chevrolet rose by 20% and Cadillac posted a modest gain of 2.6%.
Hyundai Group--Total Hyundai Group sales increased 2.2% in January compared with the same month last year. Sales for the Hyundai brand rose a meager 1.1%, while Kia improved by 3.5%.
Jaguar Land Rover--A 13% rise in Land Rover sales bolstered the automaker, with overall sales increasing by 8.7%. Jaguar sales declined by 6%.
Mazda--Mazda continued its upswing in January, with deliveries rising by 7.7%, compared with the same month last year.
Mitsubishi--Mitsubishi sales rose 33.4% in January based on the continued popularity of the Outlander Sport crossover SUV and Mirage sub-compact car.
Nissan Group--Nissan Group sales increased 15.1% in January. The Infiniti luxury brand improved by 7.3%, while the Nissan brand increased by 15.9%.
Subaru--Subaru continued its momentum and set sales records in January 2015. Overall brand sales exceeded 40,000 units for an 11th consecutive month, demonstrating a 23.7% increase over the previous year. Most individual Subaru models recorded their best January U.S. sales in history.
Tesla--Sales of the Tesla Model S electric luxury sport sedan rose by 2.3% in January.
Toyota Group--Overall Toyota Group sales rose by 15.6%, with Lexus posting a 31.2% increase following the debut of the company's new NX compact crossover SUV. Toyota brand sales rose 14.2%, while Scion sales declined 8%.
Volkswagen Group--While Volkswagen Group sales increased 5.9% in January, and though the automaker doubled sales of its Golf model, Volkswagen brand sales were flat in January, with dealers selling 10 additional cars, compared to the same month in 2014. Porsche sales increased 27.2%; Audi sales rose by 14.3%; and Lamborghini improved by 3.3%. Bentley sales declined by 50%.
Volvo--Volvo sold two more vehicles this January than it did last January, with the company posting a sales increase of 0.1% for the month.