In a month marked by falling gasoline prices, pickups and SUVs led U.S. auto sales to a 6 percent rise in October.
Automakers sold 1,281,132 light vehicles for a seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate of 16.5 million, slightly better than expected. The SAAR has stayed above 16 million every month starting in March.
It was the best October for industry sales since 2004.
“Rising consumer confidence and employment coupled with gas prices at four-year lows continue to boost light-truck sales,” said Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager. “We’re anticipating a strong holiday selling season based on continued economic improvement along with stable interest rates and gas prices.”
Fiat Chrysler sales jumped 22 percent and Nissan North America rose 13 percent to lead the rally. All the major players except Ford Motor finished on the positive side in October, although General Motors was only up 417 units on volume of nearly 227,000.
With one of two F-series plants closed for retooling, Ford sales fell 2 percent to 187,897 light vehicles. For the first 10 months, Ford sales are down 1 percent, the only large automaker in negative territory year to date.
In other news:
A VW reversal
Smaller Volkswagen Group of America is also down so far this year, off 4 percent, but in October the group jumped 10 percent overall. Even namesake Volkswagen brand rose 8 percent for the month, although it remains down 12 percent year to date.
Subaru still sizzles
Subaru of America sales jumped 25 percent in October as Legacy volume doubled, the brand’s best October showing ever. It’s up 20 percent through 10 months.
Jaguar Land Rover stumbles
With an uncharacteristic fall of 15 percent at Land Rover combined with a 34 percent fall at Jaguar, the duo finished off 20 percent in October. Despite that, Jaguar Land Rover remains up 2 percent for the year.
Big pickups roll
U.S. retail gasoline prices fell sharply in October, fueling a 10 percent surge in full-size pickup sales last month. Gasoline hit a four-year low of $2.99 a gallon today,according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
For the year to date, the segment is up 7 percent, a gain of 107,690 units. How have the five manufacturers in the segment fared over 10 months?
Fiat Chrysler’s Ram pickup has taken the lion’s share, up 67,069 or 23 percent. General Motors is the other big winner, plus 39,364 or 7 percent. Toyota is 6,660 units higher. But the Ford F series is down 2,862 sales and the Nissan Titan is 2,541 units lower.
Mazda streak ends
Mazda Motor Corp.’s streak of seven consecutive monthly U.S. sales gains ended with a 5 percent decline in October deliveries. It’s still up 8 percent for the year.
BMW, M-B race tightens
In the race for the U.S. luxury sales crown, BMW now leads rival Mercedes-Benz by just 5,389 sales through the first 10 months of the year (Mercedes-Benz results exclude the Sprinter, a nonluxury van). “With such a small gap in sales through 10 months, the two makes will most likely use marketing tools extensively through the end of the year, including numerous types of incentives, to gain an edge,” says Tom Libby, IHS Automotive’s loyalty solutions consultant. “This should put downward pressure on retail prices, making this fall and year end an ideal time for consumers to consider a BMW or Mercedes-Benz product.”