February 2011 Sales and Analysis

February was a great month for new-car sales, with the total volume up 21.28% over January, and almost 27% over February of 2010.  Those are the overall numbers, but the general trend for February was that American car companies had a good time, while most of their overseas competitors struggled.  Click past the jump for my analysis and graphs.

Month-to-month, the big winners were Dodge, Ford, Honda, Nissan, RAM and Toyota.  Year-to-year, all of GM’s brands (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC), as well as Ford, Hyundai, Nissan, RAM and Toyota had significant increases.  While that may not mean a lot, it shows that cars built in North America are selling at a much better pace than those built in Europe and Asia.  There may be a lot of reasons for this, but I suspect the main one is pricing.  The economy still hasn’t regained a lot of its strength, so buyers are wary of spending much over $40,000, which is where a lot of BMW and Mercedes-Benz products land.  Accords, Altimas, Camrys, Fusions and Sonatas are the bulk of sales for their respective companies, and with gas prices on the rise again, look for smaller cars to win out in the next few months.

Meanwhile, the surprise was RAM, which sold over 20,000 vehicles in February, a feat I doubt it will best if gas prices stay high.

On the negative side of things, Audi, Jaguar, Mercedes, Porsche, Saab and Suzuki had less sales in February than they did the previous month.  While Suzuki is nowhere near a luxury marque, the rest shows just how soft the luxury market is right now.  BMW had a minuscule 500-car increase in sales from January to February, which hardly counts during a month which saw 20-30% increases in month-to-month sales for some of its competitors.

With 1.8-million vehicles already sold this year in America, I’m going to stick with my 12.5-13 million new-car sales prediction.  The actual number of sales may be helped or hurt by rising gas prices, as more truck owners may want to make a trade in order to gain fuel economy.

by John Suit

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