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October 2014 Auto Sales: Low Gas Prices Produce High Truck and SUV Sales

October 2014 Auto Sales: Low Gas Prices Produce High Truck and SUV Sales

By Jeff Youngs, November 05, 2014

Thanks to falling gas prices, light trucks and crossover SUVs are said to be "booming," according to Fred Diaz, head of U.S. sales and marketing for Nissan, which enjoyed a 15% gain in sales last month compared with October 2013.

Auto industry analysts say that less-expensive gas prices bode well for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Ford Motor Company, and General Motors, traditional producers of full-size pickup trucks and large SUVs. Toyota also credits light-truck and crossover SUV sales for helping to produce the best October sales figures that the automaker has enjoyed in the past decade.

Inexpensive fuel, below $3 per gallon in many parts of the United States, is partially responsible for continued strength in auto sales. Additional factors contributing to strong demand include a favorable economy with declining unemployment, low-rate financing, increased incentive spending, and continued pent-up demand as consumers replace old vehicles with new ones.

Kelley Blue Book says that the average transaction price of a new vehicle in the United States rose to $33,641 in October 2014. TrueCar reports that incentives are up 2% from the same month last year, but in an interview with Automotive News, Larry Dominique, executive vice president of TrueCar, described the situation as "manageable" for automakers and dealers.

Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with Edmunds.com, said: "Dealers are welcoming a consistent flow of shoppers into their showrooms, and the pace will likely remain steady through the end of the year. With declining gas prices and strong truck and SUV sales, the industry is poised for a very busy holiday season."

Highlights: October 2014 Car Sales

In October 2014, Volkswagen appears to have started a turnaround in sales, one the automaker says is driven by the redesigned 2015 Golf and GTI models, as well as a refreshed Jetta. Meanwhile, Dodge, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Mini continue to suffer sales declines. Details pertaining to October 2014 auto sales follow below:

American Honda--American Honda sales rose 6%, with Honda brand sales increasing 6% and Acura sales improving by 8%. Honda set a sales record for October, with the Accord, CR-V, and Fit showing the most strength. Civic sales declined 12%.

BMW Group--Overall, BMW Group sales rose 8% in October, with the BMW brand increasing 11% over the same month last year, and Rolls-Royce sales improving by 6%. Mini declined 7%.

Daimler AG--Because Mercedes-Benz sales declined 4% in October 2014, Daimler AG's overall sales also fell by 4%. A 22% increase in Smart sales could not offset losses at Mercedes-Benz.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles--Starting this month, all Chrysler Group and Fiat Group sales will be reported under Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) results. Overall, FCA sales rose 22%, each brand increasing over the same period last year except for Dodge, which declined 8%. Maserati improved by 105%, Jeep rose 52%, Ram increased 36%, Chrysler was up by 18%, and both Ferrari and Fiat improved 1%.

Ford Motor Company--In October 2014, Lincoln sales rose 25% compared with October 2013, while Ford declined 3%. Ford says its sales are down as it re-tools factories to build the redesigned F-150, it's best-selling model. Overall, the company's sales dropped 2%.

General Motors--General Motors turned in an essentially flat sales performance in October, showing a 0.2% increase over last year. Buick was up 7% and Chevrolet sales rose 1%, while GMC and Cadillac both declined, by 1% and 8%, respectively.

Hyundai Group--Thanks to an increase in Kia sales of 12%, Hyundai Group's overall sales improved by 2% in October 2014. Hyundai brand sales declined 7%.

Jaguar Land Rover--Overall sales declined 20% as Jaguar sales dropped 34% and Land Rover sagged 15%. The automaker blamed restricted availability of the redesigned Range Rover Sport, Land Rover LR4, and the Jaguar XF for the declines.

Mazda--After several months of improving sales, Mazda declined 5% in October 2014.

Mitsubishi--Steadily, Mitsubishi continues to improve sales, which rose 31% from October 2013.

Nissan Group--Total Nissan Group sales increased 13% in October 2014, with Nissan brand sales rising 15% to offset a 1% decline at Infiniti. Blowout prices for the outgoing Murano, combined with continued popularity of the Rogue, Sentra, and Versa models, produced a record October for Nissan. The automaker also reports that it has sold nearly 25,000 Leaf electric vehicles this year.

Subaru--Subaru sales continued to improve on a year-over-year basis, rising 25% in October 2014 and putting the company on pace for a record-breaking year.

Tesla--Tesla reports that sales of its Model S electric vehicle rose 8% in October. The company has sold nearly 20,000 units of its luxury electric sedan this year.

Toyota Group--Total Toyota Group sales rose 7% in October, with Toyota brand sales improving by 8% and Lexus increasing by 3%. Scion declined 15% compared with the previous year.

Volkswagen Group--Volkswagen Group sales increased by 10% compared with October 2013, with the Volkswagen brand marking a long-awaited turnaround as evidenced by a sales increase of 8%. Audi improved by 17%, Porsche rose 3%, and Lamborghini increased by 2%, while Bentley declined 17%.

Volvo--Volvo sales increased 1% in October, following a month that had reversed the automaker's fortunes. A new version of its popular XC90 SUV is set to arrive in showrooms soon.

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