2014 Auto Sales: Winners and Losers

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

January is upon us and another 12-month span is in the books. Like tales of Genghis Kahn’s epic Eurasian conquests or new episodes of I Love Lucy, 2014 is history and what a year it was.

Automotive sales in the U.S. rose by a healthy six percent last year compared to 2013. Total deliveries topped 16.5 million, which is impressive, especially when you consider that in 2009 they sold just 10.4 million units, a 27-year low. If you’re curious, December sales increased by 11 percent, exceeding 1.5 million. Good times.

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For the year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles did extremely well with sales growing by 17 percent. General Motors’ performance was strong, growing by 5 points while Ford’s overall deliveries dropped by 1 percent in spite of its Lincoln division’s strong showing. The Hyundai Group’s sales grew by 4 percent; Honda deliveries increased by one percent; and Toyota swelled six percent.

That’s all well and good; the industry is back to health after years of economic recession. But which individual brands did best and which ones took a tumble? Let’s explore.

Naturally Subaru posted an extremely positive 21 percent sales increase last year. Does this little Japanese brand ever take a misstep? Total deliveries in 2014 topped 513,000 units. That’s enough to beat the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Ram and even Mazda.

Mitsubishi and Tesla are two automotive oddballs, for differing reasons. The former has essentially been on death’s door (in this market) for years now while the latter is an energetic upstart that sells pure-electric vehicles. And one thing they have in common is 25 percent, the amount their year-over-year sales grew in 2014. Triple-diamond dealers moved nearly 78,000 vehicles last year while Tesla sold more than 26,000 units.

Towing. Hauling. Dirt. Trucks. Ram. Chrysler’s rough-and-tumble pickup division had another blockbuster year with sales swelling 28 percent. This goat-themed division sold a whisker more than 469,000 vehicles in 2014. Will strong competition from the Chevrolet Silverado and a new aluminum-intensive F-150 blunt Ram’s success? Only time will tell.

The Pentastar’s Jeep brand is also extremely popular. It seems like this division can only go up. Deliveries increased by a whopping 41 percent in 2014. That sales surge resulted in more than 692,000 deliveries last year, a performance that was strong enough to make Jeep the best-selling brand in Fiat Chrysler’s portfolio.

But topping even Jeep’s stellar sales performance is Maserati, another FCA division. This exotic Italian brand’s sales grew by 171 percent last year. Naturally when your overall volume is small it’s relatively easy to get a huge percentage increase and that’s the case here. Overall deliveries fell just shy of 13,000 units, up from fewer than 5,000 in 2013. Still, our hats are off to the trident brand. Despite the strange name, people seem to be smiling on the Ghibli.

And now for some of last year’s losers. Bucking the overall industry’s increase in 2014 is Jaguar. The leaping-cat brand’s sales tumbled seven percent with deliveries falling to a little less than 16,000 units. In the month of December their dealers moved nearly 1,700 vehicles, a nine percent increase for the month.

Topping, or rather falling farther than Jaguar is Volvo. The Swedish automaker’s U.S. sales slid by eight percent last year totaling just 56,366 cars and crossovers. Further underscoring how strong the month of December was for the entire industry, this brand’s deliveries actually increased by one percent, exceeding 4,900. Still, that wasn’t enough for it to earn a plus sign in 2014.

The Volkswagen division’s sales fell by double-digits last year, tumbling 10 percent. Dealers moved nearly 367,000 vehicles in 2014. Curiously this brand’s monthly sales were totally flat, with a zero percent change comparing last year to 2013. Just 43 units separate VW’s December performance. How’s that for German consistency?

Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion brand suffered a 15 percent sales decline last year. Deliveries totaled 58,009 units in 2014, down from more than 68,000 the preceding year. As much fun as the FR-S coupe is to drive it’s apparently not enough to goose sales for Scion.

Aside from discontinued brands like Maybach, BMW’s MINI division suffered the largest year-over-year sales decline last year. Deliveries dropped by 16 percent in 2014, falling to just 56,112 units. December sales barely exceeded 6,600. 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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