Thoughts on today’s auto sales reports from Edmunds.com

CHRYSLER

From Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs: “The Jeep Liberty replacement, to be unveiled at the New York Auto Show next month, can’t hit the market soon enough. The winddown of the old Liberty hurt Jeep sales, which have led Chrysler’s revival. The freshened Compass saw a sales surge that bodes well for a revamped Liberty.”Other brands picked up Jeep’s slack with the small Dodge Dart gaining some traction; Dart had its best sales month since going on sale in last summer.”

FORD

From Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs:
“Much hand-wringing has taken place over multiple and early recalls of the Ford Escape and Ford Fusion, but that doesn’t appear to matter to consumers who bought those models in big numbers. It suggests that Ford has built up a healthy amount of good will in the marketplace, causing consumers to overlook those stumbles.”

GENERAL MOTORS

From Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs:

“The impressive sales performance of most vehicles in the Chevy line up help mask a significant issue: the all-new and high-volume Malibu’s sales were up a bit but nowhere near what they should be for a new model. The estimated True Cost of Incentives for Malibu averaged $3,200 per vehicle sold in January. Lease subsidies alone averaged over $4,000 per Malibu sold in January. By comparison, the Ford Fusion had blistering sales in January; they are selling as fast as Ford can make them.”

GENERAL MOTORS From Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell: “GM’s January sales reflect impressive momentum, perhaps partly due to buzz about the company’s strong showing at the Detroit auto show. All four GM brands are posting year-over-year gains, and even the outgoing Corvette is up 44%. By the end of the day we’ll know if the automaker kept its market share above 20% which it achieved in December for the first time since the summer of 2011 (when the Japanese automakers’ inventory had taken a massive hit following the tsunami.)”

OVERALL TRUCK MARKET

From Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Michelle Krebs:
“As Edmunds.com has been predicting, pickup truck sales are gaining on the strength of an improving housing market and the unleashing of pent-up demand. Chrysler’s Ram pickups showed 14 percent rise; Ford’s F-Series sales were up about 22 percent; and GM’s two trucks – the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra which will be replaced this year – had a 32-percent rise in sales. These vehicles are the volume sales and profit generators for Detroit manufacturers, so this has tremendous significance for the auto industry and the economy overall.”

TOYOTA

From Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell:

“It’s been three years since Toyota safety recalls seriously threatened its brand, but now sales are very strong and don’t look to be slowing. Incentives are low, the portfolio is rich with new product, and consumer consideration numbers are high for Toyota.”

VOLKSWAGEN

From Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell: “With all the hype about advanced drive vehicles, Volkswagen has quietly achieved a significant portion of its overall volume by selling diesels. The VW brand currently controls over 90% of the diesel passenger car market, which gives them a unique edge in comparison to other mainstream brands. Chevy, of course, is hoping to change this when it debuts the diesel Cruze next week at the Chicago Auto Show.”

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