America In February 2011: Return Of The Buyers, Bigtime

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
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america in february 2011 return of the buyers bigtime

“The consumer is back to the showrooms,” said Brian Johnson, an analyst with Barclays Capital to the Los Angeles Times. No kidding. The consumer is back with a vengeance. February new cars sales were up 27 percent on the year. The world’s two biggest automakers report sales increases we thought only possible in China.

GM reports that February sale rose 45.8 percent compared with a year earlier to 207,028 vehicles.

General Motors total sales in the United States rose 49 percent to 207,028 units in February. The number was actually dragged down by fleet sales. Retail sales rose 70 percent – the highest year-over-year gain in the company’s history. Fleet sales for GM’s four brands were 43,900 for the month, a 2-percent increase for the month, with sales to rental fleets down 5 percent.

A similar, but not as pronounced picture at Ford. Retail sales increased 23 percent. Ford hasn’t broken out fleet sales yet, but they appear to be similarly tepid. Ford’s total February sales, including sales to fleet customers, were 156,626, up 14 percent.

Chrysler’s sales increased a sedate 13 percent. Fleet sales are not available yet, but it is a fair assumption that they are likewise down. “Our retail sales were up substantially in February, proof positive that the 16 all-new or significantly-refreshed models we launched during 2010 are resonating with consumers,” said Fred Diaz, President and CEO – Ram Truck Brand and Lead Executive for U.S. Sales.

Toyota surprised delivering sales performance in the same league as GM. Toyota’s U.S. sales were up 41.8 percent to 141,846 units. Toyota branded cars are up 48.5 percent to 128,032 units. Lexus sales are flat from last February.

Analysts had predicted February total car sales to rise 20 percent.

U.S. Car and Light-Truck Sales, Feb. 2011

Complete table

AutomakerFeb. 2011Feb. 2010Pct. chng.2 month

20112 month

2010Pct. chng.BMW Group19,96318,01311%38,66333,46516%BMW division16,41615,1009%32,32128,26314%Mini3,5032,87122%6,2545,11822%Rolls-Royce44425%88845%Chrysler Group LLC95,10284,44913%165,220141,59217%Chrysler Division12,62816,925–25%22,33327,368–18%Dodge33,56132,9752%57,87552,9289%Dodge/Ram53,85544,18522%91,18975,17021%Jeep28,61923,33923%51,69839,05432%Ram20,29411,21081%33,31422,24250%Daimler AG16,66515,8345%34,30131,27710%Maybach56–17%1012–17%Mercedes-Benz16,17615,3865%33,44930,54510%Smart USA48444210%84272017%Ford Motor Co.156,232142,00610%283,213258,28310%Ford division150,284123,22822%271,459222,85922%Ford/Lincoln/Mercury156,232137,36514%283,213249,51414%Lincoln5,9486,681–11%11,50613,717–16%Mercury–7,456–100%24812,938–98%Volvo–4,641–100%–8,769–100%General Motors207,028141,53546%385,925287,85034%Buick15,8079,12173%29,07619,18252%Cadillac15,7689,27370%28,34917,71360%Chevrolet142,91999,79743%268,308204,89631%GMC32,53420,24261%60,19241,23046%Hummer–296–100%–561–100%Pontiac–84–100%–473–100%Saab–97–100%–608–100%Saturn–2,625–100%–3,187–100%Honda (American)98,05980,67122%174,328148,15018%Acura10,7968,93921%18,75716,07117%Honda Division87,26371,73222%155,571132,07918%Hyundai Group76,33958,05632%141,342110,68128%Hyundai division43,53334,00428%80,74764,50725%Kia32,80624,05236%60,59546,17431%Jaguar Land Rover3,2472,79316%6,4535,38220%Jaguar692761–9%1,6271,39217%Land Rover2,5552,03226%4,8263,99021%Maserati15910453%27320533%Mazda19,38717,05414%33,65432,7483%Mitsubishi6,8934,01972%12,6078,18954%Nissan92,37070,18932%164,217132,76124%Infiniti9,1447,04130%16,54913,75220%Nissan Division83,22663,14832%147,668119,00924%Porsche2,0191,53132%4,4193,31733%Saab Cars North America546––%1,204––%Subaru21,68318,09820%40,54133,70920%Suzuki1,6431,37520%4,2053,41523%Toyota141,846100,02742%257,702198,82330%Lexus13,81413,7870%26,67429,304–9%Scion3,9443,02730%7,2196,06219%Toyota division124,08883,21349%223,809163,45737%Toyota/Scion128,03286,24049%231,028169,51936%Volkswagen29,31524,42720%55,61049,04113%Audi7,7536,21625%15,56512,72622%Bentley101956%1831802%VW division21,46118,11619%39,86236,13510%Volvo Cars North America4,795––%9,071––%Other (estimate)2442411%4884694%TOTAL993,535780,42227%1,813,4361,479,35723%

Data courtesy Automotive News [sub]

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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5 of 39 comments
  • Mjz Mjz on Mar 02, 2011

    Acc azda atch, Re: Lincoln. The point I was trying to make is that Ford prematurely chopped Mercury from the market, and now Lincoln is suffering because of it. There was absolutely no reason to cut all the Mercury models now. The Milan and Mariner could have continued until the replacement models were due. This would have given Ford more time to develop new and hopefully higher volume Lincoln models to take their place. Last February, Lincoln-Mercury dealers sold over 14,000 units, this year, less than 6,000. The decline is due entirely to the deletion of Mercury, and with less people coming to the dealerships, Lincoln is dropping as well, as I'm sure some of those Mercury shoppers were converted to Lincoln buyers. I still don't see Ford investing billions of dollars to prop up Lincoln as a North American only brand. Virtually all other luxury models are global products, sold through out the world's markets, even if the marque names are not used (i.e. Acura RL is Honda Legend in some markets). I don't think the Lincoln brand has an international cache that will allow Ford to take it global. I also don't think that Ford has to have a luxury brand to succeed in the market. The new Ford models are becoming more and more upscale, making the need for a seperate brand redundant. For example, The Taurus is arguably nicer that the Lincoln MKS and when fully equipped, can nearly match it in price. That's why MKS sales are slowing to a trickle. Regarding combining Lincoln and Ford dealers, that's just not going to work. Luxury cars buyers will not want to shop at a Ford dealership, they want the full blown luxury car treatment and don't want to mix with the "riff raff" at the dealerships. Case in point: a friend of a friend who took his Lincoln in for service was given a Ford F-150 as a loaner car! Can you imagine this happening at a Lexus/BMW/Mercedes dealership?

    • See 1 previous
    • SVX pearlie SVX pearlie on Mar 02, 2011

      At BMW & Merc, no, because they don't have a lower tier to give. At a Lexus / Toyota? Sure.

  • Zackman Zackman on Mar 02, 2011

    I hope with Mercury gone and Lincoln shaking in it's tires, that Ford can make it. Even though they didn't take bailout money doesn't mean they're off the hook. They are in deep, deep trouble like GM and especially Chrysler. I don't believe I'm fooling myself, but I kind of compare this to the consumer electronics industry, namely, televisions. Zenith, Philco, Admiral, Motorola, Magnavox and others were doing just fine and dandy 40 years ago then suddenly Sony comes out with Trinitron and the picture quality blew everyone else out of the water. Imperceptably, U.S.-made TV's began a downward trend with Zenith on top for years, then the U.S. brands were either bought up by others, licensed to foreign makers or just faded into history. Automobiles are the last major U.S.-made consumer good of any importance and being really simplistic, it appears to me it's happening to them now. Any domestic names that may remain will be just that - names. GM is on its way, so is Chrysler and then Ford. Homogenized milk is supposed to be healthier for you. What about automobiles?

    • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Mar 03, 2011

      My dad owned a small chain of appliance stores, and he wouldn't touch Zenith, Philco (probably the worst of the bunch, with Zenith close behind), Admiral, Magnavox or Motorola Tv's with a 10 foot pole back almost 50 years ago. Yeah, he sold all of them. They were crap, even back then, a lot of them had point to point wiring (remember "Hand Crafted"?), and even the Motorola "Quasar" modular sets had solder joint issues. The RCA's made at the time were pretty much top of the heap, most of them were very good, even if we did get a clunker in the late 60's that was a tube/solid state hybrid that blew the audio circuit out of it 3 or 4 times the first year, mostly because the audio circuit board was put right over a large tube, and the heat cooked it. They tried several shields, and after that didn't work, they made up an umbilical cord and moved the PC board over about 6 inches and until it got zapped in a storm, it was trouble free. I had a steel cased 23" RCA "institutional" TV that was made for a prison or mental hospital that lasted about 20 years, and was working great when it got nailed by a lightning strike and had to be scrapped. It had a slot for a hunk of plexiglas to prevent screen damage, and the controls had a door that could be locked to prevent "tampering by unauthorized personell". About 1969 or so, we bought a Sharp portable that I used for almost 30 years. The picture tube finally died on it. A lot of the middle 70's RCA sets were rebranded Panasonics and were really good too. I have a Panasonic/RCA portable that still looks great when hooked up to cable. It's at least 30 years old. My dad and his brothers had to sell the stores when my uncle pulled the biggest boner ever and bought a million dollars of Philco TV's, last year's models on top of that, and nobody wanted them. They sold out to the company that became Circuit City a few years later. I could tell you what a mess that outfit was, until the "idiot" son in law got control of the company from the "old man" and his two sons, and created Circuit City.

  • Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.
  • Carsofchaos The problem with congestion, dear friends, is not the cars per se. I drive into the city daily and the problem is this:Your average street in the area used to be 4 lanes. Now it is a bus lane, a bike lane (now you're down to two lanes), then you have delivery trucks double parking, along with the Uber and Lyft drivers also double parking. So your 4 lane avenue is now a 1.5 lane avenue. Do you now see the problem? Congestion pricing will fix none of these things....what it WILL do is fund persion plans.
  • FreedMike Many F150s I encounter are autonomously driven...and by that I mean they're driving themselves because the dips**ts at the wheel are paying attention to everything else but the road.
  • Tassos A "small car", TIM????????????This is the GLE. Have you even ever SEEN the huge thing at a dealer's??? NOT even the GLC,and Merc has TWO classes even SMALLER than the C (The A and the B, you guessed it? You must be a GENIUS!).THe E is a "MIDSIZED" crossover, NOT A SMALL ONE BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION, oh CLUELESS one.I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THE NONSENSE you post here every god damned day.And I BET you will never even CORRECT your NONSENSE, much less APOLOGIZE for your cluelessness and unprofessionalism.