October U.S. Auto Sales Robust; Many Brands Set Records
Attractive interest rates, lower gasoline prices, the launch of new and redesigned models, and deals on outgoing ones helped the U.S. auto market surge last month.
October car sales likely surpassed 1.45 million units—a 13% improvement (unadjusted) from a year ago and the strongest sales pace for the month in over a decade, according to automaker statements and a recent sales forecast from J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive.
In addition, there was a boost from an extra weekend of sales in October this year vs. October 2014.* Trucks—SUVs and pickups—primed the market.
The four major Asia automakers set October records: Toyota (+13%), Honda (+8.6%), and Nissan (+12.5%) Groups reported high demand for new models and SUVs. Hyundai Group (+16.1%) also set an October record.
All three Detroit-based automakers celebrated double-digit increases: General Motors (+16%); Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (+14.7%); and Ford Motor Co. (+13.4%). GM said Chevrolet (+17.6%) had its strongest October since 2004. FCA’s Jeep (+33%) brand again bolstered results, while Ford reaped more gains from its best-selling, redone F-Series.
Results were weaker for automakers based in Europe. BMW Group (-6.6%) said BMW brand sales fell (-3.8%), although BMW held onto the monthly premium sales lead. Daimler Group’s Mercedes-Benz (+1.3%) was up slightly, while Volkswagen Group (+5.4%) sales were lifted with help from Audi and Porsche, despite its diesel engine emissions-software cheating debacle.
The independents also posted double-digit gains: Mazda (+35.4%); Mitsubishi (+19.8%); and Subaru (+20%), buoyed by demand for crossovers. Overall, the five brands with the largest increases in October were: Land Rover (+97.6%); Volvo (+86.9%); Scion (+49.9%); Mazda (+35.4%); and Jeep (+33.3%).
Highlights: October 2015 Auto Sales
Following are October auto sales highlights for each major automaker:
American Honda—It was a record month for Honda (+8.6%) in October with 131,651 total sales. Honda brand (+9.3%) posted record SUV deliveries and Acura (+4.2%) sales surged. Civic and Accord posted double-digit gains, while the all-new Pilot soared 63.4%. Honda CR-V and Odyssey also posted gains. Acura had strong results from SUVs—notably the RDX (+22.4%), while the TLX (+18.1%) posted an October record.
BMW Group—Although BMW Group (-6.6%) sales fell in October with a dip from BMW brand (-3.8%) to 29,439 unit sales, BMW was the luxury sales leader for the month. BMW’s top-selling 3 Series (+8%) improved and crossovers—X3, X4, X5, and X6— climbed 56.7% collectively. Mini (-22.9%) dropped, even with a boost from the new 4-door Cooper S.
Daimler AG—Group sales rose 3.7%. Mercedes-Benz (+1.3%) brand sales rose by 359 units (without Sprinter) to 28,952. Sprinter posted a 30.8% gain and the Smart brand of city cars rose 23.2%. The Mercedes C-Class (-1.7%) was the volume-seller, although E-Class (+18.4%) posted a major gain. Other car and SUV models with increases were: SLK-; CLS-; G-, GL-, and GLA-Class.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—Jeep (+33%) remained the group’s star. Altogether, eight models in the FCA stable posted records. It was the 67th straight month of gains for FCA (+14.7%), which sold 195,545 units last month. Chrysler (+1%), Fiat (+1%), and Ram (+3 %) were steady performers, while Dodge posted a 12% gain with Dodge Charger (+24%) and Challenger (+31%) setting October records.
Ford Motor Company—Ford (+13.4%) reported its highest October totals in 11 years and delivered 213,938 units for the month. The Ford brand (+14.3%) was the month’s leading nameplate, with 205,453 unit sales. The redesigned F-Series eclipsed October 2014 sales totals, with 65,000 unit sales. SUV sales surged 10.8% with Explorer (+29.7%) and the redesigned Edge (+38.6%) bolstering deliveries. Combined, Transit and Transit Connect posted exponential gains. Fusion (+3.6%) set an October record, while Focus climbed 19.6%. Premium Lincoln (-4.5%) declined, although the all-new MKX (+9.7%) set an October record.
General Motors—GM (+16%) outpaced the industry with 262,993 unit sales. All brands except Buick (-0.2%) were up: Chevrolet and GMC (+18%), and Cadillac (+13%). Redesigned midsize and large pickup sales increased in double digits. Crossovers gained 58%. Best-sellers were: Chevrolet Equinox (+25%); Traverse (+16%); GMC Terrain (+47%); Buick Encore (+39%); and Cadillac SRX (+65%) and Escalade (+47%).
Hyundai Group—Group sales climbed 16.1%. Hyundai (+20%) set an October record with strength from Santa Fe and Tucson—both redesigned. Veloster and Elantra also posted major gains. Kia (+12%) led by Optima and Soul set its sixth straight monthly record.
Jaguar Land Rover—Combined brand sales soared by two-thirds, with Land Rover (+97.6%) nearly doubling its sales and Jaguar off slightly (-1.9%).
Mazda—Sales for Mazda (+35.4%) in October were the highest they’ve been in two decades. The redesigned MX-5 Miata nearly tripled sales and the CX-5 (+54.6%) set a record. Gains were also posted for the Mazda3, Mazda6, and CX-9.
Mitsubishi—Sales rose 19.8%, with an October record for the Outlander Sport.
Nissan Group—Nissan Group (+12.5%) reported 116,047 unit sales in October, a record for the month. Nissan brand (+11.5%) sales surged, although best-selling Altima (-12%) declined, while Versa, Sentra, and Maxima sales improved by double digits. SUVs were stars, especially the Rogue (+69.8%). Infiniti (+23.2%) posted strong gains from the Q50, Q70, and premium crossovers: QX50, QX60, and QX80, which were up by nearly two thirds.
Subaru—Subaru (+20%) set another monthly sales record, reporting best October results for Crosstrek, Forester, Impreza, Outback, and WRX/STI.
Toyota Group—Toyota Group (+13%) set an October record with 204,045 unit sales. Toyota brand (+12%) sales rose to 177,609 units and Lexus (+13.2%) deliveries were 26,435 units with help from the new GX (+14.8%). Best-sellers for Toyota were: RAV4 (+31.3%), 4Runner (+36.2%), Sienna (+17%), and Sequoia (+43%). The redone Tacoma bumped up pickup sales by 17%. On the car side, Camry (+4.9%) totals reached 34,781 units, and Corolla was up 12%. As the redesigned Prius hits showrooms, the hybrid line posted a 12.5% increase. Scion (+49.9%) sales were bolstered by two new models—the iA and iM.
Volkswagen Group—Deliveries were up 5.4%, mainly due to strength from Audi (+16.8%) and Porsche (+11%). Audi Q3, Q5, and Q7 sales climbed, while Porsche Cayenne sales doubled. VW brand sales were stable (+0.2%), although the best-selling Jetta fell 36.1% and Beetle sales dropped 34.1%. Passat and the Tiguan posted gains.
Volvo—Sales of Volvo cars and SUVs rose 86.9%, to 7,422 units vs. 3,972 units a year ago with strong demand for the new Volvo XC90 crossover.
*There were 28 selling days in October 2015 vs. 27 days in October 2014.
Sales percentage changes are unadjusted.