By on September 5, 2014

U.S. auto sales growth by units gained August 2014Forecasts didn’t call for rain on August 2014’s auto sales parade, but there was definitely a general feeling of overcast heading into Wednesday as automakers prepared to release their monthly and year-to-date sales results.

The rate of growth in the U.S. auto industry since the recession ended has been striking, but the chances of that growth lasting forever – particularly when a month like August is compared with a very strong month like August 2013 – seemed slim.

Yet auto sales increased by 5.5% to more than 1.58 million in August 2014, an improvement of more than 80,000 units.

The forecasts weren’t all wrong. High-volume brands like Chevrolet, Dodge, and Volkswagen all reported losses, a 13% decline in Volkswagen’s case, the 17th consecutive month in which Volkswagen brand sales have decreased in the United States.

Jaguar volume fell 31%. Infiniti volume fell 23%. Fiat was down 20%. Scion sales likewise slid 20%. Cadillac volume was off August 2013’s pace by 18%. Sales at BMW’s Mini brand were down 17%. Buick and Volvo both lost 10%; Acura and Land Rover fell 9%. Lincoln was just south of level.

The bright spots, however, were particularly bright. Jeep, Ram, Subaru, Nissan, and Toyota were the biggest brands to post significant increases. Maserati, Porsche, Smart, Mitsubishi, and Audi were among the lower-volume auto brands to post meaningful improvements: 278%, 36%, 34%, 28%, and 22%, respectively.

Mazda, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, GMC, and Lexus all grew by at least 10%. Toyota brand sales were up 7%. Hyundai grew 6%. (Kia, Chrysler, Honda, Bentley, and Ford improvements were all below the market’s 5.5% growth rate.)

Back to those five large and fast-growing brands, Jeep reported its best-ever sales month for the new Cherokee, America’s eighth-ranked SUV/crossover in August. Ram’s market share in the full-size truck category grew by more than four percentage points. Subaru sold more than 50,000 vehicles for the first time in a single month, and Nissan reported a car sales improvement of 18% in a car market that improved by just 2%. Toyota shot the RAV4 up to top spot among utility vehicles with record sales in a second consecutive month.

As for the fast-growing lower-volume brands, Maserati outsold Jaguar, albeit by just 49 units. Even with the Macan excluded, Porsche sales jumped 7.3%. Mercedes-Benz reported more than 1000 Smart Fortwo sales for the third time in five months, having not done so previously since September 2012.

Mitsubishi is not back to being a brand that can sell more than 300,000 cars annually in the United States, but sales have increased in six consecutive months and in ten of the last eleven months.

Audi reported its highest-ever monthly sales in the U.S. in August, generating 41% of the brand’s sales with Q models and the A4 Allroad, including the first 243 Q3 sales.

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12 Comments on “The Source Of August 2014’s U.S. Auto Sales Growth...”

  • avatar

    So, 55,251 car buyers said no to Honda YTD.

  • avatar

    Obviously this is totally anecdotal, but I know a number of people who have bought new cars in the last 12 months, and of those cars that got replaced, the newest were 2002 models. What I’m seeing with my friends and coworkers it that they buy new and drive a car for 10 years or more.

    • 0 avatar

      With abs, stability control and more airbags than anyone could ever need already commonplace ten years ago; smartphone nav better than any car oem, generally high build quality, and nvh, handling and power already plenty god enough 10 years ago, there isn’t really all that many compelling reasons to upgrade anymore.

      The ultimate driving machine, just to pick a particularly egregious example, was much more ultimate 10 years ago; when they still had those silky NA I6s, manual trannies, hydraulic racks and non run flat tires. Now they’re just clumsy status floats with powerful, charmless lorry engines.

      And Acura…

      And the Prado and LC Toyotas…

      Rapid fleet turnover was kept alive for awhile by widespread access to silly low subsidized leases. Which is, truth to be told, coming back. But from a consumers point of view, cars are now mature enough to evolve at a pace similar to roofing materials. Replace every twenty years…

      • 0 avatar

        All true enough about the older cars. I have a 2001 Maxima with not quite 96,000 miles. The car is still very nice. It lacks, however, the better crash test results and multiple airbags of the last couple of years. Also, should one care to pay for options, all the latest electronic safety features. But the visibility is better than more new cars or small SUVs. What’s to lust over with all the black, silver, and gray cars out there?

  • avatar

    August having five Fridays and five weekends may have had something to do with it

  • avatar

    The American market remains strong. There’s no reason I think not to continue so. It’s quite amazing, Mistsubishi for example, almost invisible to you guys sells 300 000 units a month! Lots and lots of Mirages.

    Also good for FCA, seems they are reaping all the rewards as they continue to grow on the Italian know how sprinkled on the underlying American soundness.

    • 0 avatar

      Marcelo…..I agree 100 percent. The Italians brought their sense of style to Chrysler. The interiors alone, are so improved. I was in a loaded 2014 Ram the other day. Wow, what a difference from 5 years ago.

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah Mikey. The interiors are amazing I think, especially in comparison, and they are starting to show up here (keep your eyes peeled, an example coming soon). But they are not the only improvement. The Journey for example, find one of the first, then drive a newer one. You’ll find the suspension much better. Who retrofitted the new suspension? Fiat. In Brazil! Some of my friends worked on that. And the list goes on. Like mechanical parts layout, so hamfisted in Chrysler’s days, improved now in many small and not so small, but always important ways (the Italians have always been good at cramming lots of things into tight spaces, and making them easy to reach). The work goes on Mikey, the cars are getting better than ever. I salute the Italo-American cross-pollination (with some Brazilian engineering thrown in for good measure), as the results are patent.

  • avatar
    El duce

    You misread the mitsubishi comment. They sold 300k cars a year back in the early 2000s. They might sell 60 or 70k total this year.

  • avatar

    Regarding increased sales for FCA: I’m not surprised to see sales up at Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Jeep, however, the sales increases did not include the Fiat brand itself. The one Fiat dealership in Milwaukee (Bergstrom Fiat of Milwaukee) has closed. Bergstrom is a large, successful dealership group in Wisconsin selling many different brands. They once had three Fiat dealerships, now just one. The Fiat building in Milwaukee now houses a Mazda dealership.

    • 0 avatar

      Not really that surprising. Milwaukee is a small market and I doubt 500 sales there are enough to warrant whole dealership. Fiat is a niche brand in the US (for now) and should stay healthy in very large cities for now. Like mini here in my country Brazil. They sell about 200 or less a month in the whole country. Half of that is in São Paulo (at least, for mini should be more). I’m not in São Paulo. Go by the store everyday, always overflowing with brandnew cars. If they sell 30 a month that’s a lot. How do they survive? Well the owner also hs Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Land Rover and BMW stores in this city, who knows what else in other cities. Maybe your group was not enough to support a stand alone store, or Fiat stopped giving them incentives to do so.

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