February Sales Freeze: Most Brands Out in the Cold Last Month

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
february sales freeze most brands out in the cold last month

Most people don’t care to venture out into the frigid weather unless it is absolutely necessary, instead reserving time for indoor activities such as enjoying the heated delights of the nearest wood-burning stove. Given the sales results shown here for February, it would indeed seem that car buying doesn’t rank too high on the Top 40 of most Americans when the weather is foul.

Overall, sales were off nearly three percent compared to this time last year, fuelling speculation by talking heads that 2019 will be the first calendar year in ages that the industry fails to collectively move more than 17 million units.

February is historically a slow month no matter if one is hawking bowties or blue ovals. Most brands saw higher volume than during the depths of January but were down when compared to last February’s activity. In particular, the Detroit Three was a sea of red, with Fiat Chrysler and Ford Motor Company down 2.3 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. It’s anybody’s guess how General Motors did, since they no longer deem us worthy of monthly sales numbers, but the general consensus is that they were off by about five points.

Japan-based brands fared no better, with the likes of Toyota and Honda shedding volume to the tune of 5.2 percent and 0.4 percent, in that order. Strangely, the latter would have been off much more if not for a spike in sales at Acura, which moved an additional 1,244 rigs last month. Mazda and Nissan also found themselves in the doldrums, plunging by about 7 percent and 12 percent each. Such a percentage counts for a much larger volume drop at Nissan, of course.

So where are the bright spots? Well, we can turn to Subaru, a brand which is enjoying demand by being in the right place at the right time with a portfolio stuffed full of well-executed crossover machines. The new Ascent is doing well, fuelling the Fuji Fire to the tune of 6,160 fresh sales, as is the redesigned Forester, which is up 12.8 percent as a nameplate. The brand as a whole boasts a streak of 87 consecutive months of year-over-year growth. That’s a lot of Exploding Galaxies on the road. They sold 242 BRZs, if you’re wondering. You probably aren’t.

Kia and Hyundai also did good business last month. The Big H saw plenty of volume out of its funky new Kona, a model which sold 5,686 examples in February. This puts it only a few units behind the long-running Sonata and more than makes up for the drops in Accent and Elantra. Santa Fe and Tucson volume were up, as well.

There were 24 selling days last month, equal to the number in February 2018, although dealer principals across the nation probably wish they could have conjured up a few more. Note well: Edmunds reports that the average annual finance rate on new vehicles last month was a gob-smacking 6.26 percent, up from 5.19 one year ago and 4.56 five years prior. Take from that what you will.

[Image: © 2018 Matthew Guy]

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  • 87 Morgan 87 Morgan on Mar 04, 2019

    Infiniti outsold the Chrysler line by less than 300 units. That is really scary when one considers the fact that Infiniti is actually trying to sell cars and SUV's while Chrysler offers one option, which is on the same platform it debuted on in 2005.

    • See 2 previous
    • 87 Morgan 87 Morgan on Mar 05, 2019

      @Hummer crap, you are correct! I forgot the Pacifica. Not sure this changes my point much. Chrysler has 2 offerings and Infiniti has how many? (I honestly don't know) I am fairly certain it is more than two.

  • Vehic1 Vehic1 on Mar 04, 2019

    Oh lordy - yet another serenade for Subaru, with that "sexy" SUV photo accompanying it. Even though Kia gained by 2734 units in Feb., to Subaru's 1832 - Subaru rates the first and longest paragraph about its wonders - trotting out the incredible streak of sales gains (no matter how small they were, in some of those months). Love - it's what makes a Subaru article, apparently.

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    • Bd2 Bd2 on Mar 05, 2019

      @bullnuke Once the Palisade hits the lots in numbers, Hyundai should be able to overtake Subaru. W/ the Telluride, Kia should be on par or at least close to Subie, but VW is too far behind.

  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI coupe....it's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark V.....it was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged
  • Albert Also owned a 1959 Continental Mark IV coupe for 20 years and loved every minute!