Despite some harsh the harsh winter weather across a substantial portions of the U.S., new vehicle sales got off to a fast start in 2015 with Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and Nissan all reported double-digit sales increase sales during January as sales of trucks and utility vehicles continued to gain momentum.
GM reported its best January sales in seven years. Total sales were up 18% compared to a year ago. Retail sales were up 14% and fleet deliveries were up 32%.
“Consumers feel very good because more people are working, the U.S. economy is expanding and fuel prices are low,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations.
“Consumer and commercial demand for trucks and crossovers is really driving our business, and our move into the small crossover segment with the Chevrolet Trax and Buick Encore, and mid-size pickups with the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, was well-timed.”
Year-over-year pickup deliveries increased 42%, following last month’s 43% increase. Large pickup sales were up 22% and more than 8,000 all-new mid-size trucks were delivered, according to the Detroit-based automaker.
Ford posted a 15% sales increase in January, with sales of 178,351 vehicles. Retail sales of 128,666 vehicles marked a 13% increase, providing the best retail January results since 2004.
Retail passenger car sales were up 6%, utilities saw a 10% increase and trucks gained 23%.
“It was obviously a great month for sales in the U.S.,” said Joe Hinrichs, president of Ford operations in North and South America.
(Ford unveils new Focus RT. For more, Click Here.)
Hinrichs added consumers were not deterred by the winter weather. The weather “didn’t have much impact”, far less than the bad weather that hit much of the U.S. all through Jan 2014, he said.
“Customer demand is strong for our newest vehicles, driving retail sales gains across our lineup in January,” said Erich Merkle, Ford’s U.S. sales analyst. “Momentum is especially strong for our F-Series pickup, with the all-new F-150 the hottest product on our dealer lots in January.”
(Click Here for details about global auto sales nearing 90 million in 2015.)
Led by Jeep, FCA US LLC, the former Chrysler reported a 14% increase compared with sales in January 2014 to record the group’s best January sales since 2007.
“We kicked off 2015 with a 14% increase in sales and extended our year-over-year sales streak to 58 consecutive months,” said Reid Bigland, head of U.S. Sales. “In spite of some tough 2015 comparisons, we remain confident in our ability to post year-over-year sales increases on the back of strong retail demand for our products.”
(To see more about GM’s push into Indonesia, Click Here.)
Nissan Group reported total U.S. sales for January 2015 increased 15.1% year-over-year to set a January record. Volkswagen also reported a small sales increase.
True Car, the California-based car buying service, estimates U.S. sales of new cars and light trucks expanded 13.2% last month, reaching the highest January volume since 2000. The average transaction price for light vehicles was $32,812, up 3.5% from a year ago, while average incentive spending per unit increased by $93 to $2,642.
“January turned out to be a very healthy month for several automakers, with GM, Honda and Subaru all posting net revenue gains of over 20%,” said Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights for TrueCar. “With consumer spending rising at the highest rate since 2006, consumer sentiment at a decade high and low gasoline prices we’re bullish on automakers’ total revenue for the year. TrueCar projects a 4.8% increase from last year, reaching an astounding $553 billion in new vehicle revenue.”
Consumer optimism rose last month as well. The University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumers notes optimism is at its highest level in a decade. Most of the gains were recorded since mid-2014, according to U-M economist Richard Curtin, who directs the surveys. Importantly, the gains during the past six months were as large among households with incomes under $75,000 as over that income level.