January 2014 Auto Sales: Winners and Losers

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Welcome to 2014! Apparently in Chinese Astrology it’s the year of the “wood horse” but let’s hope this timber pony can canter away and carry the auto industry to continuing sales success. Which brands drove away with buckets of cash and which ones took a tumble down the stairs? Let’s take a peek at last month’s showroom winners and losers.

Overall the market took a small slide in 2014’s first month. January’s inhospitable weather likely kept shoppers at home huddled in front of their heat registers instead of out and about shopping for cars. Compared to the same time period in 2013, new-vehicle deliveries declined three percent to a little more than one million units.

Sales moved in the wrong direction, though fortunately the decline wasn’t severe. Still, a number of automakers did post some welcome gains, though these were offset by others that dropped.

Chrysler’s Italian contingency saw strong sales last month. Fiat increased its deliveries by 29 percent compared to January 2013. Regrettably for folks in both Auburn Hills, Mich. and Torino, Italy, sales totaled just 3,222 units. That’s merely a drop in the North American automotive bucket, which is really more like an above-ground swimming pool. But increased sales are increased sales and that’s nothing to gesture threateningly at even though Fiat is Italian.

Jaguar is large and in charge. This jungle-dwelling big cat is far from a run-of-the-mill British shorthair tabby. The brand posted an impressive sales gain of 31 percent last month, though like Fiat the volume is laughably small. Dealers delivered just 1,347 cars.

With legendary capability, Jeep weathered January’s frigid weather far better than other brands. Chrysler’s most rugged division increased its deliveries by 38 percent compared to the same month in 2013. Overall sales fell just short of 42,000 units. The brand-new Cherokee midsize utility vehicle is moving at a pretty-darn-impressive pace, with 10,505 shipped. It accounted for nearly a quarter of the Jeep’s sales.

What is this?! Lincoln’s still in business? Apparently they are. Ford’s tarnished luxury brand posted a block-busting 43 percent sales increase last month. Honest Abe’s performance was buoyed by two vehicles, the new MKZ sedan and the MKX crossover. Dealers delivered 2,122 of the former and 2,479 of the latter. January 2014 was Lincoln’s best month in four years with sales hitting nearly 6,000; watch out Mercedes-Benz! Is a nascent turnaround in the works? Possibly, but more and better product is desperately needed.

And beating all comers in the sales race is Maserati… on a percentage basis at least. The lusty Italian performance brand sold 567 units last month, a paltry figure to be certain, but compared to January 2013 it’s a huge increase. The brand’s sales swelled by a whopping 230 percent and now their pants don’t fit.

And now for January’s biggest losers. Hey, the auto business doesn’t hand out participation trophies so deal with it! Regrettably for Detroit, GM’s two most significant brands both took a tumble. Cadillac and Chevrolet sales both fell by 13 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

Caddy’s deliveries totaled 11,386, down from 13,116 back in 2013. Chevrolet dealers shipped nearly 120,000 cars and trucks, though year-over-year they sold more than 137,000. Again, miserable weather is a likely culprit.

Lincoln is an easy target to make fun of. The brand has been mismanaged for so long it’s downright hilarious. But when this perpetually troubled division outsells a mass-market make from the world’s largest automaker laughter quickly turns into tears.

Toyota’s Scion brand dropped 18 percent last month; deliveries only hit 4,011 units. The FR-S may be a blast to drive but apparently it ain’t helping increase sales (at least not during the dead of winter).

Narrowly beating (or losing to?) Scion are two popular brands: Volkswagen and Dodge. The American and German automakers both suffered through a 19 percent sales drop last month. Dealers delivered just shy of 35,000 Dodges in January; VW stores shipped a whisker fewer than 23,500 units.

Looking for a common denominator to justify their identical declines we actually found one: the miserable Routan minivan. #Scapegoat

Volvo’s January performance was even more depressing than Volkswagen or Dodge. Year-over-year, the Swedish brand’s deliveries fell by 22 percent. What more can you say? It’s winter and Scandinavia is shrouded in darkness most of the day; there’s nothing to smile about. Plus, have you ever tasted pickled herring? It’s terrible.

Beating all comers is BMW’s MINI division. The maker of pint-sized cars took a 31 percent sales hit last month compared to January 2013. Deliveries totaled just 2,543, down from 3,682 the year prior. Brands including Porsche, Land Rover and even Mitsubishi sold more vehicles. Ouch…

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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  • Dr Dr on Feb 04, 2014

    wood horse... really? i see you guys get your info on other topics just like how you do your car reviews.