January Cools Off Auto Sales
Nasty weather may have kept customers away from showrooms in many parts of the country as auto sales for January were flat compared to the same period last year. As in recent months, sales for Detroit's Big Three were weak while the major Japanese automakers reported strong increases.
Among the companies reporting sales:
- General Motors said its vehicle sales dropped 1.8 percent to 294,745 cars and trucks in January, excluding its Saab brand. GM's car sales were down 16.8 percent while its truck sales were up 12.8 percent. Nevertheless, GM left its North American first-quarter production forecast unchanged at 1.35 million vehicles, down 7% from a year earlier.
- Ford overall January sales were down 5 percent on lower sales of passenger cars. Ford's F-Series pickup sales were 61,979 — up 10 percent compared with a year ago. Sport-utility vehicles were up 6 percent compared with a year ago. Overall, Ford sold or leased 230,036 cars and trucks from , Mercury, Lincoln, Jaguar, Volvo, and Land Rover dealers in January, down 5 percent compared with a year ago, primarily reflecting lower sales of passenger cars (down 14 percent) while truck sales were essentially equal to a year ago.
- Chrysler Group reported U.S. sales of 147,001 units in January 2004, an increase of nine percent over January 2003 when 129,222 units were sold. January represents the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains, the company said in a news release. Highlights for Chrysler included a 38 percent gain compared to January 2003 for its new Dodge Durango and a record-setting January for the Dodge Neon with 10,758 units sold, a four percent increase compared to January 2003.
- Toyota reported "best-ever" January sales of 143,729 units, an increase of 15.8 percent over the same period last year. Toyota's luxury Lexus division had its best-ever January with sales of 19,834 units, up 19.1 percent over the same period last year. The Camry was Toyota's sales leader with 30,730 units, up 9.4 percent.
- Nissan reported January total sales of 72,164 units for its Nissan and Infiniti divisions, a 25.7 percent increase versus January of last year. January sales for Nissan-brand vehicles were up 27.0 percent when compared to last January, with 62,772 units sold. Sales for Infiniti, Nissan's luxury division, increased 17.4 percent from last January, with 9,392 units sold.
- Honda posted a new January record for total vehicle sales of 90,173, surpassing its 2003 record of 90,003. Honda's January light truck sales also hit a record high of 36,314 versus 34,945 in 2003, the company announced. Honda's Acura division sales increased 25.1 percent to a January record of 13,131 vehicles with strong demand driven by the new TL sedan, up 47.7 percent.
- Suzuki says it sold 5,099 vehicles in January 2004, a 62 percent increase in overall sales compared to January 2003.
- Mazda reported sales of 18,637 units in January — a 24.7 percent increase versus the same period last year and Mazda's best January since 1985. The increase marks Mazda's fourth consecutive month of double-digit monthly sales increases from the prior year, the company said in a statement.
- Volvo recorded January sales up 11.6 percent compared to the same period in 2003. There were 10,326 units sold in the United States, which marks the fifteenth consecutive monthly increase, dating back to the introduction of Volvo's first SUV, the XC90.
- BMW Group (BMW and MINI brands combined) reported January sales of 16,135 vehicles, down 19 percent from 19,823 units sold in the first month of 2003.
- Volkswagen reported sales of 13,205 for the month of January, compared to January 2003 sales of 17,811.
- Audi said its total January sales were 5,005, compared to January 2003 sales of 5,478.
- Mercedes-Benz reported sales of 15,169 new vehicles, down 3.1 percent from last year. Volume for the month was led by the C-class which recorded its best January ever with 4,763 units sold, a 3.3 percent increase over last year.
- Porsche announced "its best January in history," with a total of 2,218 sales. The result was up 65 percent compared to the previous January.
- Kia announced monthly sales of 17,029 units during January 2004. The , Kia's midsize sedan, which showed a 27% increase in sales during 2003, continued its sales momentum with 4,150 units sold, a substantial increase over January 2003. Other Kia models also showed increased numbers in comparison to last year, including the Sorento mid-size SUV, up 27%, and the Sedona minivan, up 10%, compared to January 2003, according to Kia.
- Hyundai announced sales of 23,738 vehicles for the month of January.
Mercedes-Benz Boosts Prices
Mercedes-Benz says in a news release that it will increase the prices of its vehicles in the United States by an average of 1.2 percent across the model line-up.
However, Mercedes noted, 17 percent of the company's models, including its super-luxury models, will have no price increase. The list below outlines the new manufacturer's suggested retail prices across M-B's model lines.
C230 Coupe $25,850
E500 4MATIC Sedan $58,825
+ no price increase
SOURCE: Mercedes-Benz USA