May Sales: Great, But Not Great Enough For Spoiled Analysts

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

GM up 11 percent. Ford up 13 percent. Chrysler up 30 percent. Nissan up 21 percent. Volkswagen up 28 percent. Toyota up a whopping 87 percent. A few months ago, these numbers would have set champagne corks and fireworks flying. Today, these numbers were greeted by a communal meh and by stocks of automakers going south.

People who only read headlines may think the sky is falling. “May auto sales disappoint; demand slows,” headlines Reuters.

The numbers are great, but not good enough for high expectations, caused by optimistic forecasts and exuberant analyst notes. If you don’t meet sky-high expectations, you get slaughtered.

Ironically, falling gas prices are fingered to dissuade people from buying cars. Swiss bank UBS says that higher fuel prices in the first quarter prompted consumers to swap older, less fuel-efficient models to lock in fuel savings.

Also, there is fear that the pent-up demand is not what it was said to be. Students of car crises know that steep falls are usually followed by a sudden pop until the market finds its new groove. The fear is that sales in the past months were the pop, and that we are heading into the groove. Whatever the groove may be.

AutomakerMay 2012May 2011Pct. chng.5 month

20125 month

2011Pct. chng.BMW Group28,35326,4827%131,003116,80612% BMW division22,16820,6517%104,77992,06817% Mini6,1535,8016%26,06424,5886% Rolls-Royce32307%1601507%BMW Group28,35326,4827%131,003116,80612%Chrysler Group150,041115,36330%689,257519,53833% Chrysler Division29,67416,36481%140,89179,53977% Dodge45,79340,20014%217,263186,49717% Dodge/Ram72,16661,66717%334,636284,04818% Fiat4,0031,759128%16,7023,141432% Jeep44,19835,57324%197,028152,81029% Ram26,37321,46723%117,37397,55120%Chrysler Group150,041115,36330%689,257519,53833%Daimler AG25,26320,80022%117,25897,69220% Maybach4333%201533% Mercedes-Benz24,55620,30521%113,50795,45119% Smart USA70349243%3,7312,22668%Daimler AG25,26320,80022%117,25897,69220% Ford Motor Co.215,699191,52913%933,179876,3217% Ford division208,425184,13013%898,761841,4317% Lincoln7,2747,399–2%34,41834,642–1% Mercury–––%–248–100%Ford Motor Co.215,699191,52913%933,179876,3217%General Motors245,256221,19211%1,066,9631,046,2752% Buick18,56515,57919%71,34778,731–9% Cadillac9,87111,623–15%50,68865,262–22% Chevrolet177,943161,40110%781,564747,7005% GMC38,87732,58919%163,364154,5826%General Motors245,256221,19211%1,066,9631,046,2752%Honda (American)133,99790,77348%576,174523,55010% Acura14,5869,00062%57,56651,97211% Honda Division119,41181,77346%518,608471,57810%Honda (American)133,99790,77348%576,174523,55010%Hyundai Group118,790107,42611%530,237463,64714% Hyundai division67,01959,21413%292,856263,58811% Kia51,77148,2127%237,381200,05919%Hyundai Group118,790107,42611%530,237463,64714%Jaguar Land Rover4,5134,1628%22,86519,16119% Jaguar1,0751,271–15%5,4765,0219% Land Rover3,4382,89119%17,38914,14023%Jaguar Land Rover4,5134,1628%22,86519,16119%Maserati22620610%1,06090817%Maserati22620610%1,06090817%Mazda20,35717,87514%123,886103,07220%Mazda20,35717,87514%123,886103,07220%Mitsubishi5,5757,568-26%27,46235,816–23%Mitsubishi5,5757,568-26%27,46235,816–23%Nissan91,79476,14821%485,484433,03212% Infiniti10,5926,38966%43,94140,9867% Nissan Division81,20269,75916%441,543392,04613%Nissan91,79476,14821%485,484433,03212%Porsche2,8522,8171%13,44812,9964%Porsche2,8522,8171%13,44812,9964%Saab Cars North America–383–100%–3,148–100%Saab–383–100%–3,148–100%Subaru29,72420,03648%136,602112,25522%Subaru29,72420,03648%136,602112,25522%Suzuki2,3602,2903%10,69611,125–4%Suzuki2,3602,2903%10,69611,125–4%Toyota202,973108,38787%868,300701,85124% Lexus21,46312,30574%88,11077,23714% Scion6,0474,69629%26,72123,16515% Toyota division175,46391,38692%753,469601,44925% Toyota/Scion181,51096,08289%780,190624,61425%Toyota202,973108,38787%868,300701,85124%Volkswagen50,36140,78324%223,903172,20430% Audi11,50310,45710%52,49445,85815% Bentley201226–11%85466528% VW division38,65730,10028%170,555125,68136%Volkswagen50,36140,78324%223,903172,20430%Volvo Cars NA6,2467,359–15%27,51129,203–6%Volvo Cars NA6,2467,359–15%27,51129,203–6%Other (estimate)2622562%1,3101,2773%TOTAL1,334,6421,061,83526%5,986,5985,279,87713%

Table courtesy Automotive News [sub]

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4 of 22 comments
  • Speed3 Speed3 on Jun 01, 2012

    Hey, just a few questions. Why isn't Maserati counted as part of the "Chrysler Group"? Shouldn't it now be called the "Fiat Group" and include Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, Fiat, Maserati, and Ferrari, (and soon Alfa Romeo)? Maybe its just technicalities. I'm also assuming that niche automakers fall into the other category: Farrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Lotus, etc or are swallowed up in the Volkswagen group (for Lambo and Bugatti obviously).

  • JK43123 JK43123 on Jun 01, 2012

    Mitsubishi should just give up. John

    • See 1 previous
    • NeonNoodle NeonNoodle on Jun 01, 2012

      Mitsubishi's numbers were one of my take away's after seeing the chart. It doesn't look good for them. My other observations: Is the Fiat 500 (finally) catching on? Their number looks really strong over last year. Not necessarily in sheer numbers of cars sold, but at least percentage wise. I am shocked that Lincoln has remained essentially flat over last year. My sense was that their sales were going to have really dwindled further. Hyundai continues to show strength. Volkswagen's goal/dream of selling WAY more cars in the US seems to be following the right trajectory.

  • Damon Thomas Adding to the POSITIVES... It's a pretty fun car to mod
  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.