January 2013 Auto Sales: Break Out the Champagne!

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

January is known for two things: raucous New Year’s celebrations and miserably cold weather across many parts of the country. Despite holiday hangovers and blizzard conditions, vehicle shoppers snapped up cars and trucks like free earbuds at an iPhone launch.

The auto industry is finally starting to put the devastation of the Great Recession behind it. Sales in the United States were unusually strong, with dealers delivering in excess of 1,037,000 vehicles, a 14 percent increase compared to January 2012.

Among mainstream manufacturers Toyota posted the biggest gain at 27 percent year-over-year. Total deliveries for its three divisions hit nearly 158,000 units. Scion’s sales grew the most, jumping 38 percent, but Lexus was right on its heels with a 32 percent increase. With more than 16,000 sales Toyota’s luxury division outsold Scion by more than three to one.

The Blue Oval had an unusually strong January as well. Year-over-year sales were up 22 percent, but all of that growth came from the Ford brand. Lincoln couldn’t even pull its own weight. In fact the distressed luxury make’s sales dropped 18 percent to barely more than 4,000 units. More Fiesta subcompacts were delivered in January than every Lincoln model combined.

Chrysler’s performance was nothing to sneeze at, either. All told the Pentastar brand delivered just shy of 118,000 new cars and trucks last month, a 16 percent increase compared to 2012. Of its multitude of brands Dodge shone the brightest. Sales were up 37 percent to more than 43,000. All other divisions were up as well with the exception of Jeep. They saw a modest 4 percent decline. Interestingly Fiat’s sales improved 31 percent; 2,503 500s were sold. Is this scrappy little Italian brand finally starting to catch on in the U.S.?

SEE ALSO: GM’s January Sales Performance

Year-over-year Honda’s sales grew by 13 percent; Daimler increased by 11 percent while BMW remained almost flat with a 2 percent gain, a figure shared with Hyundai/Kia.

Against the odds January turned out to be a real seller’s market. Almost every automaker posted a gain, but there were a few that did not. Mitsubishi was down 1 percent, delivering only 4,659 vehicles in January. How much longer this brand can hang on is a mystery. The triple-diamond would be wise to follow Suzuki and bow out of the American market.

While Mitsubishi’s decline was no surprise, the brand has been on life support for decades, Mazda’s drop was quite a shock. Zoom-Zoom sales were off 11 percent with deliveries topping 21,300 units.

Glancing at the sales sheet it looks like the company’s midsize sedan, the Mazda6, was partly to blame for decline. Sales were off 56 percent compared to January 2012 with just 2,147 deliveries for the month. The Mazda2 and Mazda3 were also off, but curiously sales of the MX-5 Miata increased nearly 3 percent to 315 units… in JANUARY.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Mazda6 Review

Perhaps the Hiroshima, Japan-based automaker’s fortunes will reverse when the brand-new Mazda6 arrives at dealers later this month.

[Source: Automotive News]

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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