U.S. light-vehicle sales, led by double-digit increases at Chrysler Group and Nissan Motor Corp., rose 6 percent to 1.28 million in October, matching forecasts, with crossovers and light trucks fueling much of the industry’s gains.
The seasonally-adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR), a broad measure of the industry’s health, hit 16.5 million, slightly above projections and up 7 percent from 15.4 million a year earlier. The SAAR has now topped 16 million every month beginning with March. In August, the SAAR surged to 17.5 million, the highest since January 2006.
Chrysler Group’s U.S. sales rose 22 percent while Nissan group sales were up 13 percent. Toyota Motor Sales sold 180,580 Toyota, Scion and Lexus models last month, an increase of 7 percent. The results reflected record October demand for the Toyota RAV4 and Highlander, strong Camry shipments, as well as robust SUV volume. Lexus volume rose for the 12th consecutive month.
Sales edged up 0.2 percent at General Motors, with Buick volume rising 7 percent and Chevrolet deliveries up 1 percent. Sales slipped 1 percent at GMC and 8 percent at Cadillac. The company’s retail volume dropped 2 percent, on lower consumer incentives, while fleet shipments rose 6 percent. GM’s car deliveries slipped 1 percent while truck volume rose 6 percent. GM said its crossover deliveries declined 8 percent on the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Captiva Sport, which has been sold to only rental and fleet operators.
At Ford Motor Co., volume declined 2 percent as the company retools U.S. plants to build the redesigned F-150 pickup. The F series is Ford’s top-selling nameplate. Sales fell 3 percent at the Ford division but climbed 25 percent at Lincoln.
Chrysler Group’s U.S. sales continue to be buttressed by strong demand for the Jeep lineup and Ram pickups. The latest results extended the company’s streak of year-on-year U.S. sales increases to 55 consecutive months.
Volume surged 52 percent at Jeep and 36 percent at Ram, with Ram pickup deliveries advancing 33 percent to nearly 40,000. Sales rose 1 percent at Fiat and 18 percent at Chrysler Division but slipped 8 percent at Dodge. Overall, Fiat Chrysler’s light-truck deliveries rose 28 percent and car demand edged up 4 percent.
Aided by strong crossover and small-car demand, sales at the Nissan division rose 15 percent to 94,072 — an October record — but volume slipped 1 percent at Infiniti, the company said. Overall, Nissan group’s car deliveries rose 15 percent and light-truck volume climbed 11 percent. Demand for the Nissan Rogue compact crossover increased 14 percent while sales of the Murano midsize crossover jumped 38 percent. Nissan division’s U.S. sales have now set records in 13 consecutive months. The Leaf set an October sales record of 2,589. Nissan said the Leaf has set a record for most U.S. sales in a year by an EV at 24,411 — with two months to go.
American Honda posted sales of 121,172 vehicles, an increase of 6 percent vs. October of last year. Honda Division set an October record on volume of 105,745 vehicles, a gain of 6 percent for the month.
At Acura, sales rose 8 percent to 15,427. Honda cited higher demand for three core nameplates — the CR-V compact crossover, Accord midsize sedan and redesigned Fit subcompact — for the results, though deliveries of the Civic compact dropped 12 percent.
Sales of the Fit rose 83 percent to 6,851 — an October record for the nameplate.
Subaru’s sales jumped 25 percent to an October record of 43,012. The company has posted 35 consecutive months of year-over-year growth and is on track to produce its sixth successive annual sales record. Subaru said it expects to surpass its 2013 annual volume record of 424,683 vehicles sold in the coming weeks.
Volkswagen broke a string of 18 consecutive monthly sales declines with an 8 percent rise in October volume.
Audi posted its 46th consecutive month of record sales, with October volume rising 17 percent to 15,150. The company said strong demand for SUVs, despite lean stockpiles, and the revamped A3 spurred the gains.
Sales rose 31 percent at Mitsubishi, 12 percent at Kia — helping set an October record of 44,694 units sold — and 1 percent at Volvo.
At the BMW Group, BMW brand sales rose 8 percent to 35,977 but Mini volume slipped 7 percent.
Land Rover posted sales of 3,643 units, down 15 percent, and Jaguar’s October volume slid 34 percent to 1,007 units. The company blamed low availability of three popular models — the Range Rover Sport and LR4, and Jaguar XF sedan — for the drop in volumes.
Light-truck demand, which has propelled the market this year, received another boost from falling gasoline prices. Overall, light truck volume rose 9 percent last month, easily outpacing the 3 percent increase in car deliveries.
Solid economic growth, expanding payrolls, pent-up demand, low-rate financing and higher incentives also continue to spur industry sales. TrueCar estimated average incentives among major automakers edged up 2 percent from October 2013 to $2,629 last month, but fell 12 percent from September levels.