October U.S. Auto Sales Revive after U.S. Government Shutdown

Cars on LotDespite the disruption of the 16-day U.S. government shutdown (Oct. 1 – 16), new-vehicle sales climbed in the second half of the month for nearly all automakers. More than 1.205 million new vehicles were delivered in October, according to J.D. Power and its strategic partner LMC Automotive.

October total sales were up 6.4% from October 2012 on a selling-day adjusted basis (there was one more selling day in October 2013 than in October 2012*). However, deliveries were down 9.7% from September 2013. The seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) translated to 15.2 million units—a million units stronger than last October’s 14.2 million pace, but slightly below the 15.3 million unit rate in September of this year.

Positive factors that benefited new-vehicle sales in October included declining average gas prices at the pump; continued availability of credit for financing and leasing vehicles—including low interest rates; and a slow but continuing recovery in commercial industries where trucks are needed—such as the energy and housing sectors.

Subaru Remains the Star among Independents and Multi-Brand Makers

2013 Subaru ForesterThe best year-over-year sales gain was achieved by Subaru, which also surpassed its 2012 annual sales figure in the first 10 months of 2013. Sales were up by nearly one-third from a year ago with Forester deliveries soaring nearly 150%.

The next three top performers in October were Germany’s Daimler Group followed by Nissan Group and Ford Motor Co. in a tie. Nissan Group’s October sales set a monthly record. Eleven of 12 automakers with multiple brands posted increases from October 2012. Only the Volkswagen Group’s sales declined, as Audi and Porsche increases could not offset a double-digit drop in VW brand deliveries.

The other major players in the U.S. auto market reported smaller increases. The Fiat-Chrysler Group’s sales gain was its 43rd in a row, according to the company. All of its brands, except Fiat, sold more units than a year ago. Toyota Group’s sales climbed nearly 5% on a selling-day adjusted basis, with the Camry remaining the best-selling car in the U.S. in spite of lower sales this year. Honda Group sales were up slightly less than Toyota, with its Honda Accord posting a dip, but CR-V sales setting a monthly record.

Hyundai Group’s sales were mixed with the Hyundai brand setting an October sales record with strong performances from the Sonata and Santa Fe, while Kia posted a double-digit decline, with dips for the Optima, Sorento and Forte.

2013 Jaguar XFBMW Group sales were up only slightly due to a dip in Mini sales. BMW car sales edged up while some crossover deliveries were down from a year ago. Jaguar Land Rover’s sales surpassed last October with Jaguar XF sales more than doubling, while Land Rover’s Range Rover sales also more than doubled.

Subaru was the star among the independents, but both Mazda and Mitsubishi Motors also posted better sales in October 2013 than a year ago. Redesigned Mazda6 sales doubled, although Mazda3 sales faltered. Mitsubishi Outlander sales climbed from a year ago.

At the segment level, sales of large pickups, midsize sedans and compact crossovers excelled in October 2013.

Large Pickup Sales Gains Bolster Detroit Three Results

Large pickups continued to boost sales and profits for the Detroit automakers. Ford sold as many as 60,000 large pickups in October, according to a company statement, while sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra were bolstered by the redesigned models’ deliveries. Ram sales and Toyota Tundra deliveries also were up in double digits.

The midsize conventional category, which is the largest of all the segments, posted some major sales gains. Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu deliveries climbed significantly from a year ago.

Compact CUVs continued to reap gains and outsell the large pickup segment. Segment leader Honda CR-V set a record, while sales surged ahead of last year for the Ford Escape and the redesigned Toyota RAV4.

Compacts Post Mixed Sales Results in October

The 2013 Honda Civic EX-L NaviCompact car sales results were mixed in October. Sales dipped from October 2012 for the Toyota Yaris and nearly all Scion models. Toyota’s hybrid compact Prius deliveries also dipped, while the redesigned Corolla compact car posted an increase from a year ago. Honda’s refreshed Civic also sold one-third more units than a year ago. Ford’s Focus was off pace but Fiesta sales improved. Sales of the Chevrolet Cruze, which is now available with a diesel powertrain, also advanced from a year ago.

Nearly all of the premium or luxury brands increased deliveries this year vs. October 2012. Mercedes-Benz led the pack, followed by BMW, Lexus and Cadillac. Even Lincoln, which has previously posted monthly declines, saw sales increase in October with a boost from the new MKZ. Premium brands with year-over-year sales gains included: Acura, Audi, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover and Porsche, while Volvo sales declined.

*There were 27 selling days in October 2013 vs. 26 in October 2012.

 

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