US Auto Sales Hit Records in May 2015

US auto sales last month increased 1.6% over an already strong May 2014 to 1.63 MM units a new record for sales in the month of May.  This is despite that sales were actually expected to decline 1.1% to 1.59MM units according to a Bloomberg survey.

In turn, this increased the seasonally adjusted sales rate (SAAR) for US new car sales to 17.8 Million from 16.7Million in April 2015 and 16.7M in April of last year.  The SAAR also reached a peak since July 2005, when the Detroit three automakers used employee pricing programs to drive sales to a SAAR of 20.7Million.

The key driver to sales increases, once again, was the light truck segment, including crossovers, pickups, midsized SUVs and also premium SUVs.  Sales for the segment rose 6.9% last month and 10% year-to-date, fuelled by gas prices of almost a Dollar lower than last year and despite automakers providing few incentives.  In contrast, sales of traditional cars continued to lag, declining 3.7% last month and 1.3 for 2015 thus far.

It should also be noted that consumers continued their march towards more expensive vehicles, enabled by longer finance and loan terms and lower auto loan interest rates.

Key manufacturer results are shown below.

General Motors (GM)

GM saw a monthly increase of 7% for May 2015.  Its shining star was the GMC brand, which saw a 13% increase in sales over last year for the month of May.  GMC’s mid-sized pickup truck, the Canyon and the Acadia models were key contributors.  Otherwise, Buick and Chevrolet recorded slight increases of 0.5% and 1.9% respectively, while Cadillac declined 1.9%.


Ford’s sales for the month declined 2% over May 2014 on the back of lower production volume for its monumental F-Series pickup trucks.  Its Ford division sales fell 1.5%, while Lincoln actually increased 3.7%.

Fiat Chrysler (FCA)

Chrysler sales were up a very strong 27% last month.  Sales for its Chrysler branded vehicles increased 32%, while Jeep saw 14% and the RAM pickup trucks 12%.  The Dodge brand fell 22%, because of temporary production suspension of its popular Caravan minivan for assembly plant retooling and because of the end of its midsized sedan, the Dodge Avenger.


Nissan’s total sales for May 2015 declined 0.9% over last year, with sales for the Nissan division falling 1% and sales for Infiniti rising a modest 0.9%.


Sales overall declined 3.8% over the prior May.  The Hyundai brand fell 10%, while its cousin, KIA actually posted its best month on record with a sales volume of 62.4k units.  The Sedona and Sportage models posted healthy gains with the Sorento mid-sized sedan performing especially well.


Subaru’s sales volume was up a healthy 12% over May 2014.  Subaru is on quite the winning streak, with sales increasing for 42 months in a row and unit volume being greater than 40,000 for the 15th consecutive month.


Mazda’s May 2015 sales volume was essentially flat over last year with a minor decline of 0.4%.  Despite the Mazda 6 model performing well with a 2.2% sales gain.  The CX-5 and CX-9 also posted gains, while the Mazda 2 saw sharp declines.


The Mirage and Outlander Sport models posted record sales volume for May 2015, propelling Mitsubishi to also have its best May since 2008.


Audi posted a strong May, with sales volume up 11% over last year and driven by strong performances by its A3 and Q3 models.


VW, similar to its Audi cousin posted high single-digit gains of 8% over May 2014.  Sales of its VW Golf line was a key factor.


Porsche sales fell 7.4% over last year.


Mercedes-Benz had its strongest May on record, posting an 11.1% gain over last year.  The C-Class line (C300 and C400 models) in particular were up 40% over last year, mostly because an introduction of a brand new platform.  Sales of the CLA-Class (CLA250 model) also doubled.  Smart Car sales were up 21.5% over last May.


BMW edged out Mercedes-Benz for May sales volume, selling 31,003 vehicles, an increase of 4.7% over last year.  The 2-series, 3-Series and 4-Series all posted gains in the double digits while BMW’s popular X5 also saw double-digit gains.  Sales for the Mini brand were up 1.8%.


Toyota group sales were largely flat in May.  Sales of its every popular sedan, the Camry were down 11.6% from last year and Corolla sales were down too.  The bright points for Toyota were its RAV4 SUV and its pickup trucks, the Tacoma and Tundra, which all posted strong sales volumes.  Sales for Lexus, Toyota’s luxury division were up 10.2% over last year.  The RX proved to be a key model for the brand with over 8,000 deliveries.

Jaguar/ Land-Rover

Jaguar Land Rover’s May sales increased 13% making for its best May retail month since 2006.  Land Rover sales were up 19%, driven by the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models, while Jaguar sales decreased 8% from last year.  On a bright note, sales of Jaguar’s XF sedan were up 17% for the month.


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    By Farra Majid, June 10, 2015



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Posted by: Farra Majid on Wednesday, June 10th, 2015 at 4:00 pm in INDUSTRY