Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the mix of Toyota Motor Corp.'s U.S. fleet sales in January.
U.S. light-vehicle deliveries rose 4.5 percent in January and the seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales came in at 16.2 million vehicles, above the range of forecasts, with higher fleet shipments offsetting flat retail volume.
The SAAR last topped 15 million in October and last surpassed 16 million in May 2021, when the market ran extra hot for three months starting in March of that year, in a favorable comparison to the early months of the pandemic when demand tanked.
"January’s performance indicates that the market remains somewhat resilient in the face of economic uncertainty and lingering supply chain disruption," LMC Automotive said Thursday.
Another key metric from an LMC Automotive report on Thursday estimates that the industry's sales per selling day in January – typically one of the weakest months of the year – was 43,200, compared to 47,500 units per sales day in December.
"The fundamental conditions in the market have not changed significantly from December to January, and supply disruptions are distorting normal seasonality to some extent," LMC said. "With record high transaction prices, economic uncertainty and lingering inventory problems for some [automakers], it is not difficult to see what is holding back the market."
Most automakers that report monthly results easily posted higher volume compared to January 2022, when the chip shortage wreaked havoc on inventory and sales.
Honda Motor Co. snapped a 17-month losing streak and Toyota Motor Corp. volume dropped 15 percent, while Ford, Hyundai and Kia racked up another month of U.S. sales gains on improved inventory levels, higher fleet volume and electric vehicle demand.
Toyota, hampered by some of the industry's lowest inventory levels, said deliveries dropped 17 percent at the Toyota division and 0.9 percent at Lexus, the luxury brand's 12th straight decline.
Five of Toyota's top sellers – Corolla, Camry, RAV4, 4Runner and Highlander – posted declines of 15 percent or more. Toyota said fleet represented about 9.5 percent of total sales last month, in line with the company's target of an 8 to 10 percent mix.