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January Sales Strong Despite Winter Storm Jonas

January Sales Strong Despite Winter Storm Jonas

By Philly Murtha, February 02, 2016
January car sales in the United States dipped a fraction of a point (-0.4%) compared with the same month last year, to nearly 1.15 million units. That translates into a 3.4% increase when numbers are adjusted for two fewer selling days this year.* In a recent sales forecast update from J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive, a J.D. Power official suggested that a major weekend snowstorm in 14 Eastern states only took away about 15,000 unit sales.

The snow event wasn’t a calamity, although some multi-franchise automakers had to temporarily close dealerships, which meant mixed results. Two of the three Detroit automakers—General Motors (+0.5%) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) (+6.9%)—posted gains, while Ford Motor Co. (-2.6%) sales slipped from the same month in 2015. Among major Asian automakers, Nissan Group (+1.6%) and Hyundai Group (+0.6%) sales were up, with Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia brands reporting January records. Germany’s Daimler Group (+1.3%) said its Mercedes-Benz brand achieved a record for the month.

American Honda (-1.7%) and Toyota Group (-4.7%) recorded lower deliveries in January 2016. Among the Europeans, BMW (-4%) and Volkswagen Groups (-6.9%) also saw sales decline last month. Yet, sales for Jaguar Land Rover (+7%) and Geely’s Volvo (+11.9%) improved from a year ago. Among the three independents, Subaru (+0.7%) sales edged up, while Mazda (-2.8%) and Mitsubishi (-3.5%) reported reduced sales.

Overall, at the corporate level, FCA (+6.9%) ended the month with the best sales percentage gain, while at the brand level Buick (+45.5%) outpaced competitors. Rounding out the three top-performing brands were Scion (+38.2%) and Dodge (+19.1%). The three brands with the steepest declines were Chrysler (-22.1%), Fiat (-20.3%), and VW (-14.6%).

Highlights: January 2016 Auto Sales

Following are January new-vehicle sales highlights for each major automaker:

American Honda—Group sales dipped 1.7% in January to 100,497 units. Honda brand car sales rose, with strength from the Civic (+43%). Accord (-1.3%) sales were stable, but CR-V (-17.2%) deliveries declined. The newer HR-V small SUV sold 4,177 units. Meanwhile, Acura (-14.5%) sales were down except for the ILX (+24.3%).

BMW Group—BMW Group (-4%) sales dropped to 21,320 vehicles, and BMW (-4.7%) brand sales fell to 18,082 units, although there was momentum from the X1 and X3 SAVs and the new 7 Series.

Daimler AG—Sales of Daimler Group (+1.3%) vehicles rose to 26,962 units. Mercedes-Benz (excluding Sprinter) rose 1.3% to 24,664 units, giving the German brand the January luxury sales crown over Lexus and BMW. The C-Class (-18.6%) was Mercedes’ volume model, but the CLA-, SLK-, G-, and GLA-Class all posted gains. Van deliveries rose 26.2%, while January Smart sales dropped 18.9%.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)—Sales at FCA (+7%) climbed to 155,037 units from a year ago, which represents 70 consecutive months of year-over-year increases and a best January total in nine years. The Jeep brand (+14.6%) remained a January star, along with Dodge (+19%) and Ram (+5%), while sales for Fiat (-20%) and Chrysler (-22%) fell. The Jeep Cherokee, Patriot and Compass, as well as the Dodge Challenger, Charger, and Journey recorded their best January sales ever. The Ram truck brand posted its best January in history.

Ford Motor Company—Ford Motor (-3%) sold 173,723 units in January. SUV and truck gains couldn’t offset 12.2% lower car sales. Even the best-selling F-Series (-5.2%) posted a dip, although 51,540 pickups were delivered in January. Ford (-3%) remained the overall brand sales leader in January with 166,546 units sold. The Fusion, Taurus, Edge, Flex, Expedition, and Transit all posted gains. Lincoln (+8.4%) also had a good month, with strength from the new MKX and low-volume MKT.

General Motors—GM (+0.5%) delivered 203,745 units in January—its best January in eight years. Buick (+45.5%) gained ground with strong Regal and LaCrosse sedan sales, and GMC (+3.5%) was up with help from the Sierra (+13.9%). Cadillac (-8%) and Chevrolet (-3.6%) sold fewer new vehicles than a year ago. Cadillac SRX deliveries rose 37.1%. Chevrolet sold 137,803 units for the month. The Camaro (+11.2%) and Malibu (+24.1%) saw double-digit gains, and the Silverado saw a single-digit gain (4.9%). Additionally, the Impala (+7.9%) and Sonic (+4.5%) were up in single digits, while Trax sales doubled. Although a niche model, the plug-in electric Chevrolet Volt nearly doubled its sales from January 2015.

Hyundai Group—Group sales climbed 0.6%, with the Hyundai brand (+1.1%) and Kia (up 6 units) setting January high marks. Strength on the Hyundai side came from the Sonata, Tucson, and refreshed Santa Fe. For Kia, the Soul, Sedona, and Sportage helped boost deliveries.

Jaguar Land Rover—Combined brand sales for Jaguar and Land Rover were up 7%; Jaguar sales rose 6.8% from a year ago and Land Rover deliveries increased 7.1%.

Mazda—January sales for Mazda (-2.8%) slipped slightly. The CX-5 (+7.0%) celebrated its best January ever and the MX-5 Miata posted its best January sales since 2008. Combined SUV sales (+24%) set a record for Mazda.

Mitsubishi—Sales edged down 3.5%, or by 229 units. The redesigned Outlander (+53.8%) and Outlander Sport SUVs reaped healthy gains for the automaker.

Nissan Group—Nissan Group (+1.6%) sold 105,734 units in January. The Nissan brand (+2.9%) got a lift from its crossovers (+17.8%), especially the Rogue, Pathfinder, and Murano. Maxima sales doubled, and the Sentra rose 12.2%. Infiniti (-11.8%) sales slipped, but QX50 deliveries increased fourfold.

Subaru—Subaru (+0.7%) managed to pull ahead by 281 units, with January sales records for the Crosstrek, Forester, and Legacy.

Toyota Group—Toyota Group (-4.7%) delivered 161,283 units in January. The Toyota brand (-3.9%) sold 140,350 of those units. On the car side, the Camry (+0.3%) remained America’s best-selling car, while light trucks—Highlander, 4Runner, Sienna, Land Cruiser, and Tacoma—posted volume gains. The RAV4 set a record for the month. Prius (-24%) sales fell, while new models, including the iA and iM, bolstered Scion deliveries (+38.2%) in January. Lexus (-9.5%) delivered 20,933 units, with dips on the car side, even with gains from its crossover utilities: the NX, LX, and RX Series.

Volkswagen Group—VW Group (-6.9%) sales fell even with gains from the automaker’s premium brands. The diesel-emission debacle continues to hurt VW brand (-14.6%) sales. The Tiguan was up, but Passat deliveries plunged. Audi (+2.7%) saw higher demand for the new Q7, and Porsche (+10.6%) reported sales strength from the Macan and Cayenne SUVs.

Volvo—Sales for Volvo rose 11.9% to 4,244 units in January, with more than half of its sales coming from the new XC90 SUV.

*There were 26 selling days in January 2016 vs. 28 days in January 2015. Sales percentage changes are unadjusted and based on actual totals.

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