Toyota stumbled out of the gate as its sales dropped by double digits as rivals from South Korea reported solid gains during January.
Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) reported January 2023 U.S. sales of 134,392 vehicles, down 14.8% on a volume basis. Toyota Division sales for the month totaled 113,953 vehicles, down 16.9% on a volume basis. Meanwhile, the company’s Lexus Division sales for the month totaled 20,439 vehicles, down 0.9% on a volume basis.
TMNA’s U.S. electrified sales totaled 33,004 vehicles, down 22.4% on a volume basis, according to the monthly sales report. But the Lexus Division’s electrified sales totaled 6,081 vehicles, an all-time best, up 53.9% for the month. The luxury division’s electrified sales represented 29.8% of total sales volume, also an all-time best, the automaker noted.
Toyota, which was certified as the world’s largest automaker for the third consecutive year this week, previously said its U.S. dealers have been hurt by limited inventory levels.
American Honda, Toyota’s top Japanese rival, enjoyed a stellar January, reporting a 14% sales increase. as inventory levels on dealer lots improved. Honda brand sales increased by 10.8%, while luxury unit, Acura, sales jumped 42 percent.
Subaru of America reported a modest 0.5% sales increase in January. It was the sixth consecutive monthly sales increase for Subaru.
South Korean brands enjoy solid January
Following the best retail sales in company history last year, Kia America began 2023 with a record-setting January performance of 51,983 units, up 22.3% year-over-year. January marked Kia’s sixth consecutive monthly sales record with four of Kia’s SUV and utility nameplates — Niro, Sportage, Telluride and Carnival — as well as the Forte compact sedan posting best-ever January totals.
Sales of Kia’s electrified models increased 128% during the same period last year.
“On the heels of our best-ever annual retail sales performance, Kia accelerated into the New Year with our sixth consecutive month of record-breaking sales thanks to the popularity of our capable SUVs and electrified models,” said Eric Watson, vice president, sales operations, Kia America.
“It’s poised to be another exciting year for the Kia brand with increased Telluride production, the new 2024 Seltos arriving soon and full production of the Sportage, EV6 and Niro.”
Sales of electrified vehicles also boosted Hyundai Motor America deliveries during January.
Hyundai reported total January sales of 52,001 units, an 9% increase compared with January 2022 and the third consecutive month for record total sales. Hyundai set total sales records in January for Venue (+7%), Elantra HEV (+574%), Ioniq 5 (+57%), Santa Fe HEV (+191%), Palisade (+6%), Kona EV (+334%) and Kona N (+49%).
January was an all-time best-ever retail and total sales month for the Elantra N. Hyundai fleet sales were 7.2% of total volume for the month.
“Achieving year-over-year growth in retail and total sales, as well as a record-breaking January, highlights the company’s commitment to delivering a great product line-up,” said Randy Parker, CEO, Hyundai Motor America.
“The positive feedback from our dealers during the 2023 NADA Show demonstrates Hyundai’s strong standing in the industry and the level of trust and confidence dealers have in the brand.”
Genesis, Hyundai’s independent luxury brand, posted a 7% sales increase during January as it set a new sales record for the month as it delivered 3,905 units for the brand.
Good month for most automakers
General Motors does not report monthly sales totals. It releases its sales tallies quarterly. But CFO Paul Jacobson told analysts this week the company’s strong sales during the fourth quarter carried over into January. GM had a “very good month” in January, he said, but did not provide any numbers.
Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, also told analysts she expected fleet sales, which have been starved during the steep decline in inventory, to increase substantially this year.
Overall, analysts for Cox Automotive noted the January 2023 auto sales pace, or seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), is expected to finish near 15.6 million, a large increase from December’s 13.3 million pace. However, some of the gain is due to statistical adjustments that correct for expected fewer sales in January and February.
With inventories improving daily, sales in January will benefit, increasing the sales pace. Sales volume for the month is expected to rise nearly 3% over January 2022’s inventory-constrained market but with the same number of selling days. January sales are expected to fall almost 20% month over month, largely due to three fewer selling days than December and the usual post-holiday drop in activity.