December 2013 Auto Sales: Winners and Losers

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

The numbers are in, figures tabulated and Champaign corks popped. It’s a brand-new year and 2013 is forever in the rear-view mirror. New-vehicle sales for December have finally been reported.

Overall deliveries were pretty flat across the board. Roughly 2,600 vehicles separate last month’s performance from the same period in 2012. Cold, snowy weather kept would-be buyers away from dealerships. Still, steady as she goes beats a big drop any day.

As for they the whole of 2013 things were considerably better. Sales were up about 8 percent compared to the year prior with deliveries falling just shy of 15.6 million units. That is a major victory for the automotive industry as it continues to recover from the great recession.

As for December’s numbers, here are the top sales winners and losers for the 12th month of last year. Naturally this list excludes brands like Maybach and Suzuki that have bowed out of the market.

Chrysler’s rough-and-tumble Jeep brand posted an impressive 34 percent year-over-year sales increase for December. Deliveries topped 53,000 units with a lot of that growth coming from the controversial new Cherokee SUV. Sales of this reborn nameplate topped 15,000. Sounds like Jeep’s got another winner in its lineup.

RAWR! Jaguar leapt ahead of its December 2012 performance with a 47 percent increase last month. That great news for the British Indian-owned brand, though its overall deliveries were still pretty modest. Just 1,544 big cats were sold. Still, progress is progress.

But if Jaguar’s numbers are small Bentley’s are downright microscopic. The Volkswagen Group’s English division sold a paltry 350 vehicles in December 2013. What, that’s probably about how many F-Series trucks as Ford sells in 0.002 seconds, right? In any event deliveries for the entire year fell just short of 2,900 vehicles.

What, the dead-and-buried Mitsubishi brand posted a sales gain, and a SIGNIFICANT one at that? What’s going on here, have we all fallen into some sort of cosmic wormhole and landed in a parallel dimension? No, apparently not. The triple-diamond brand’s sales jumped 56 percent last month compared to the same time in 2012. That’s huge growth for this troubled company; their deliveries topped 6,400 in December. For all of 2013 Mitsubishi was up 8 percent compared to the year prior.

Whoa, Nelly! Maserati beat all comers, posting a monstrous 216 percent year-over-year sales increase last month. Deliveries clocked in at 1,053 for December and the prestigious Italian brand’s performance for all of last year was just as impressive. In 2013 its sales increased 75 percent, hitting nearly 5,000 units.

Now for a look at the brands that fell short. First up is a surprising company, Mazda. The Japanese firm’s deliveries took a 16 percent tumble last month compared to December 2012. They build some of the industry’s most engaging vehicles so this drop is a bit of a surprise, especially since their products are always really well executed. Luckily they finished 2013 with a 3 percent overall sales increase compared to 2012.

So much for Scandinavian luxury; year over year Volvo’s December deliveries dropped 21 percent. Sales totaled a surprisingly alliterative 4,888 last month. Sadly the company’s performance for the entire year wasn’t much better. Volvo sales dropped 10 percent in 2013 compared to 2012 with total deliveries clocking in at a little more than 61,000 units. If you can believe it Mitsubishi outsold them both for the month and the year.

Tying Volvo’s depressing drop is Chrysler. The Pentastar division’s sales also fell by an alarming 21 percent year-over-year in December. Sales still topped 20,000 in but the brand is headed in the wrong direction. Fortunately comparing 2013 to 2012 things are much less worse. The Chrysler division’s deliveries only dropped by 2 percent.

Toyota’s Scion youth division might be starting to get old with customers. The brand’s December sales fell by 22 percent compared to the same month in 2012. Fewer than 4,400 vehicles were delivered. More troubling is Scion’s performance for all of 2013. Their sales were down 7 percent to a few hundred more than 68,000. How do you say “uh-oh” in Japanese?

And rounding out the list of December losers is Volkswagen. For whatever reason the bottom fell out of this German brand’s sales; they dropped by 23 percent compared to the last month of 2012. Perhaps the wintry weather was to blame. VW’s deliveries came just shy of 55,000 units in December, though for all of 2013 they nearly hit 612,000 sales, which is a mere 1 percent decline compared to 2012.

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 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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  • Richard Joash Tan Richard Joash Tan on Jan 09, 2014


  • Chuck Chuck on Jan 10, 2014

    Mazda is overrated. Bought a 2013 Mazda 3 and the suspension feels antiquated. Sure it takes turns well but just having tight suspension doesn't make it fun to drive. It takes poor roads very poorly and doesn't inspire confidence when driving the car.