Counting Cars

January Sales Thread: U.S. LV SAAR Tops 15 Million for 3rd Month


Double-digit gains for Detroit 3 and Toyota were offset by lower than expected gains from Honda, and year-over-year declines in daily sales from other manufacturers.The estimated U.S. Light Vehicle SAAR fell just below December's rate, to 15.24 million units, marking the third consecutive month the seasonal rate topped the 15 million mark.

January 2013 Light Vehicle Sales Volume:

WardsAuto forecast: 1.059 million units
January actual sales: 1.040 million units
Actual/Forecast differential: -1.8%

January 2013 Light Vehicle SAAR:

WardsAuto forecast: 15.53 million
Current projected SAAR: 15.24 million

WardsAuto tracks sales throught the day. Year-over-year change represents the change in daily sales rate (DSR). January had 25 selling days this year, and 24 last year.

3:45: FINAL: All in. Industry daily sales of light vehicles were up 9.7%, (sales volume for the month was up 14.3% with one extra selling day). The SAAR hit 15.24 million units, 1.8% below WardsAuto expectations, but still strong, marking the third consecutive month of 15 million-plus sales rates.

2:30 Update: With only Jaguar Land Rover yet to report, the estimated U.S. Light Vehicle SAAR fell just below December's rate. 

Kia sales mimicked followed sister-auto maker Hyundai's, with a 2.2% increase in volume sales giving the Korean company an "all-time record January" even though its daily sales rate fell 1.9% from year-ago. Mazda 21,319 deliveries  beat expectations, but the company's waining daily sales were still off 14.7%.

Daimler bucked the relatively downbeat trend among European auto makers, posting a 6.4% bump in daily sales, and outselling competitor BMW Group by roughly 3,900 units.

1:30 p.m. The top four auto makers this month had significantly better months than the second tier of companies. Detroit 3 and Toyota all had double-digit DSR gains this month, lifting early SAAR estimates as high as 15.63 million. The second big wave or company reports pulled that estimate to down to just 15.1 million.

Nissan's daily sales were down 2.1% versus year-ago, with the extra selling day this year boosting the auto maker's monthly volume  2%, much like Hyundai (see 1:15 update).  BMW similarly reported sales of just 20,195, a 1.8% decline in daily sales. 

By comparison - Honda, 8.3% uptick in DSR, against weak year-ago results, looks fairly strong until you compare it to Toyota's 21.6%, or even Chrysler's 12.1% gain. 

1:15 p.m.: Hyundai claims best volume January ever, but daily sales rate actually dropped 1.7% from prior January. Nissan, too, reports 2% volume gain, but DSR was down 2.1% versus year-ago. Both companies, and likely VW too, feeling the pressure from a resurging Toyota and Honda?

Estimated SAAR falls to 15.45.

Other notes: Strong month for Cadillac (up 41%) and Large Pickups boosts GM DSR 17%, for auto maker's best January in five years. Chevy/GMC large pickups outsell F-Series by biggest margin since September 2011.

11:45 a.m update: Volkswagen up just 2.4% this month - its lowest year-over-year gain in 24 months. Audi slightly better, with 3.2% bump in DSR. Companies combine for 39,074 deliveries. SAAR sits at 15.56 million.

11:00 a.m.: Subaru reports strong Forester and Outback sales, boosted the auto maker's January daily sales 16.4%, to 27,663. Estimated SAAR rises to 15.6 million.

10:30 a.m.: All three Detroit auto makers have reported. GM sales were up 11.3%on a daily basis over last January, to 194,699 units. Ford sales jumped even higher, up nearly 17% over year-ago's DSR, to 163,319 - beating Toyota by 5,600 units to retain the No. 2 monthly position. Ford saw strong Fusion sales after several months of low inventories, and an engine recall hampered the new vehicle's early sales. And Escape, also recovering from a recall-related December sales dip, had a record January for Ford.

Chrysler sales rose 12.1% in January. Detroit 3 combined deliveries were up 13.3%

Toyota had a very strong month as well, nipping at FOrd's heals, with strong retail sales complemented by a boost in fleet sales caused by delayed December orders. 


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What's Counting Cars?

Blogs and commentary about automotive data, industry trends, and the future of the auto industry.


John Sousanis

John Sousanis oversees WardsAuto data operations as Director of Information Content, and is Ward’sAuto sales analyst. Follow John on Twitter @CountingCars.  

Haig Stoddard

Haig Stoddard is a veteran automotive industry analyst. His current focus is North America production and longterm sales forecasting.
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