Counting Cars

U.S. LV SAAR rises (slightly) for fifth straight month

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See company updates: U.S. Sales Summary table

U.S. L.V SAAR: 12.54 million units

U.S. auto makers sold 816,653 light vehicles in January, a 17.2% improvement over like 2010. The increase was powered in large part by General Motors' strong retail performance for the period. The monthly sales equated to a seasonally adjusted sales rate of 12.54 million units compared to December's 12.48 million SAAR, marking the fifth straight month the SAAR has risen.

GM sold 178,897 cars and light trucks, spending heavily on consumer incentives in a month that is usually one of the smallest volume months of the year. Paired with the company's leadership in the commercial fleet sector, GM's results, a 22.7% uptick in LV deliveries. The uptick in retail sales, as well as a decline in overall sales to rental companies decreased GM's over fleet mix to just 22% of its deliveries in Jan.

Balancing GM's volume increase were lower than expected results from Toyota and Honda. While Toyota's sales were up 17.3%, those results are in comparison with a January 2010 in which the company was beset by recalls and sales stoppages on its highest volume models. Honda, up just 13% versus year-ago, underperformed the overall market by several points.

Ford Motor Co., whose Mercury Div. is reduced to selling off inventory at this point, also saw a below market increase in year-over-year sales of 12.7%. However, this was largely in line with seasonal trends at the company.

Chrysler's sales rose 23% against a truly awful year-ago and collectively, the three U.S.-based auto companies registered a 19.3% improvement over same-month year-ago, taking a 45.7% share of the total LV market.

Nissan were up 14.8% over year-ago, on volume sales of 71,847.

Kia Motors (part of the Hyundai/Kia group of Korean auto makers) has shown the highest percent growth so far today, reporting a 25.6% increase over year ago. Preliminary reports show Hyundai up 22%.

Subaru had its best January ever, as it continues to expand its niche in the U.S. The company sold 18,858 vehicles during the month, up 20.8% vs. like-2010.

Audi sold 7,812 vehicles in January, up 20% over like 2010 while corporate-mate Volkswagen saw its sales rise just 2.1%

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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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