January 2016 Auto Sales: Winners and Losers

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

It’s a brand-new year and vehicle sales are off to a mixed start. Blizzard conditions across large portions of the country kept many shoppers away, but this didn’t stop brands like Scion and Buick from tearin’ it up.

Just shy of 1.2 million new cars and trucks were sold last month in the United States. This is simultaneously a strong and disappointing performance. It was good because the SAAR, that is, the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, climbed to an estimated 17.55 million units for the year. It’s also great that the industry delivered more than a million vehicles, which is nothing to sneeze at.

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But in spite of these upsides, that crotchety Old Man Winter and his suspiciously nubile partner, Jack Frost, had a negative impact on sales. Year-over-year, they were down by 0.4 percent.

Still, some automakers are laughing all the way to the bank. Here’s a list of the brands that made out like bandits in January, oh, and, of course, we’ve included the ones that that didn’t fare as well.

Winner: Jeep +14.6 Percent

Just like the products Jeep builds, this is one brand that’s simply unstoppable. January sales increased by nearly 15 percent compared to the same month in 2015, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. A hair more than 59,000 units were delivered.

Winner: Maserati +16.2 Percent

Edging out Jeep is Maserati. This exotic Italian brand’s January sales grew in excess of 16 percent. As always, total volume was small, just 525 cars were delivered. Still, things are moving in the right direction.

Winner: Dodge +19.1 Percent

Dodge hasn’t had much to smile about in recent months. Its sales have been declining at a rather steady – and depressing – pace. But last month they shot up more than 19 percent, which is significant. Overall, this FCA brand delivered more than 42,000 vehicles.

Winner: Scion +38.2 Percent

Like Dodge, Toyota’s Scion division has had mixed results over the past few months. But in January, its year-over-year sales increased by an impressive 38.2 percent. Deliveries totaled 5,009 cars. This is good news for the brand, though it was just announced that they’re pulling the plug on the brand going forward. Toyota’s Scion experiment will soon be over.

Winner: Buick +45.5 Percent

Beating all rivals, Buick’s sales increased by nearly 46 percent in January. Tri-shield dealers delivered more than 18,000 cars and crossovers last month, an impressive performance in what’s probably the coldest month of the year.

Loser: Bentley -15.6 Percent

Unfortunately, not every automaker had something to celebrate in January. Bentley’s sales, for instance, fell nearly 16 percent. They sold just 81 cars, a minuscule figure to be sure.

Loser: smart -18.9 Percent

At the opposite end of the automotive spectrum is smart. But if it shares one thing with Bentley, it’s a poor showing last month. Year-over-year, its sales fell by almost 19 percent, clocking in a just 399 units.

Loser: Fiat -20.3 Percent

Fiat’s showroom performance was pretty depressing last month, falling farther than either Bentley’s or smart’s. Its sales plummeted by more than a fifth compared to January 2015. Total deliveries clocked in at a hair less than 2,600. Ouch!

Loser: Chrysler -22.1 Percent

Like Fiat, FCA’s Chrysler division had a bad January. Walter P’s namesake brand saw its year-over-year sales slide by more than 22 percent. Deliveries totaled a little more than 18,000 vehicles, which is comparable to what BMW sold, and that’s not good for a mass-market car company.

Loser: Alfa Romeo -30.9 Percent

But the one brand that had the worst January of all was Alfa Romeo. This purveyor of exotic yet attainable Italian automobiles saw the bottom fall out of its sales. Year over year they dropped off a cliff, declining by nearly 31 percent. Alfa sold just 67 cars in January, fewer than Rolls-Royce, Ferrari and Bentley, though on the bright side they did beat Lamborghini by an estimated two cars.

[Source: Automotive News]

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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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