The numbers are in, and there is a dramatic difference between the car sales winners and losers for January, 2010. The most significant observation is that 21 brands saw a sales increase when comparing January 2010 to January 2009. That alone is worth celebration.
Mercedes-Benz wins the award for most improved, with a 45 percent gain for 15,158 vehicles total sold. Buick nipped at the German automaker’s heels with a 44 percent gain (10,061). Volvo rounds to 42 percent (4,128), with the imminent sale to Chinese-automaker Geely having only a positive effect on the bottom line.
Volkswagen makes good on its boasts to dramatically increase volume with a 41 percent gain (18,019), year on year, followed by Audi at 38 percent (6,510).
Two companies that soldiered bravely through a year of auto crisis remain strong, with Subaru showing 28 percent (15,611) and Hyundai 24 percent (30,503).
Some American brands fared well, with Chevrolet at 36 percent (105,294) and Ford 26 percent (99,888). The newfound momentum from these core brands should continue as they launch impressive, new products such as the Chevy Aveo, Cruze, and Orlando, as well as the Ford Fiesta, Focus, and later the Explorer.
Nissan also deserves a nod with a notable 20 percent gain (55,861).
Other brands with positive results include Lincoln (16 percent), GMC (11%), Mini (8%), Porsche (8%), BMW (8%), Mercury (6%), Lexus (5%), Land Rover (4%), Mazda (2%), Dodge (1%), and Kia (a whisker).
This brings us to, well, the losers. The greatest year-on-year decline was seen with discontinued GM brands, Pontiac (95 percent) and Saturn (91 percent). Trendy, pocket-size Smart took a hard hit at 84 percent, selling just 278 cars. Hummer tanked with a 78-percent decline. Saab was there with a 46-percent drop, moving just 511 cars.
Suzuki dropped 44 percent (2,040), despite introducing the promising Kizashi sedan.
Toyota brand was down 19 percent (83,279), taking a hard hit late in the month with widespread news of its latest safety-related recall and voluntary sales halt. As a corporation, sales were down 16 percent.
At the corporate level, Ford Motor Company was the big winner, with a 25 percent increase. Nissan was next with 16 percent, followed by General Motors at 14 percent.
Chrysler Group dropped 8 percent, despite the good news shared by the other domestic companies, pointing to challenges ahead. The new Jeep Grand Cherokee should help in the spring, but it will be a long time before notable, new models arrive on the scene. A new Dodge Charger should help bring some good publicity, and interior updates to several models can’t hurt, but a real boost to the product line appears to be quite distant.
In total, the January sales figures show many positive signs for the industry and the economy in general. Next month, we’ll see what the full impact of the Toyota recall has been, both in lost sales and conquests by competitors.
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