Auto sales in the U.S. rose modestly by 3.7% year-over-year to
1.19 million vehicles in February. This translated into a
seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 15.4 million units for
the year, up about 2% from 15.1 million units registered in the
same month of 2012.
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Sadly, the growth rate in sales came at the lower end of the
4%-6% projection made by TrueCar.com and Edmunds.com few days
back. This can be attributable to rising gas prices (up 36 cents
to $3.78 per gallon in February) and turbulence in the stock
market. However, improving construction market, cheap financing
and strong pent-up demand kept the recovery in the U.S. auto
industry on track.
Unlike January, U.S. automaker
Ford Motor Co.
) topped all the automakers in terms of sales growth. Let us take
a look at the key automakers' sales.
Ford's sales rose 9.3% to 195,310 vehicles, driven by impressive
sales of its Escape SUV and Fusion sedan. Escape sales soared 29%
while Fusion sales surged 28% during the month. Together, the
vehicles contributed more than a quarter of the company's monthly
General Motors Company
) posted a 7.2% rise in sales to 224,314 vehicles in February,
driven by strong Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks
sales like January. Sales of Chevrolet Silverado leapt 29% while
that of GMC Sierra sales jumped 25% during the month.
Chrysler Group - controlled by Italy's
) - sales increased 4.1% to 139,015 vehicles. Sales of its Ram
pickup increased 3% but sales of its Jeep sport utility vehicles
ebbed 16% during the month.
Toyota Motor Corp.
) saw a disappointing 4.3% rise in sales to 166,377 vehicles
compared to its earlier performance as its popular car sales
dipped 3% and its less popular sport utility vehicles and truck
sales rose 16% during the month. Despite higher gas prices, sales
of its Prius hybrid went down 13.5%.
Honda Motor Co.
) recorded a 2.0% drop in sales to 107,987 vehicles as steep
declines of its CR-V crossover and Civic small car sales offset
its strong 35% rise in new Accord sales. The company also
attributed heavy winter storms in the Northeast to the decline in
Nissan Motor Co.
) posted a 6.6% fall in sales to 99,636 vehicles as sales in both
its namesake and Infiniti divisions went down during the month.
Sales of its new Pathfinder SUV more than doubled and that of its
Leaf electric car surged 37% after the company dropped the price,
but sales of its other cars and SUVs declined during the month.
Among the other automakers, sales of
) inched up 2.9% to 31,456 vehicles, driven by strong sales of
its Audi luxury-brand vehicles (28%). Sales of the new Beetle
nearly tripled during the month.
Hyundai Motor Co.'s sales edged up 2.3% to 52,311 vehicles. The
increase was attributable to a 64% rise of the new Santa Fe
Strong pent-up demand, easier car finance and improving
macroeconomic conditions will continue to act as a catalyst to
rejuvenate U.S. auto sales to the pre-recession level. Good news
is that improving auto sales will also help the overall economic
recovery in the U.S. being a key industry for growth. Full year
sales are expected to exceed 15 million units compared with 14.5
million units in 2012.
GM expects a 7% rise in industry sales in 2013. Meanwhile, Ford
predicted an 8% gain in the year, which reflects more than a
threefold rise compared with the overall economic growth of
2%-2.5% projected by the automaker.