We have no industrywide U.S. auto sales report for January. But we do know what 38 percent of the market looked like.
Just seven automakers released their U.S. sales results for the month, as a move to quarterly reporting that General Motors started in 2018 has now caught on with most of the industry.
And judging by what those seven reported, their rivals might have had some good news to share as well.
Six of the seven posted sales increases. Some of those gains were pretty big, too. Mitsubishi tallied a 22 percent advance — its biggest in nearly a year. And Mazda chalked up its second 18 percent gain in the span of three months, putting a 13-month losing streak that ran through last summer farther into the rearview mirror.
Beyond them, with the exception of American Honda (down 4.3 percent), there was nothing but gains: Hyundai-Kia, up 6.4 percent; Toyota Motor North America, up 6.3 percent; and Volvo, up 5.2 percent.
Subaru, which has recorded just two monthly declines in the past eight years, also started the new year on a winning track, but just barely — up 0.5 percent.
Among the companies that did report, there were familiar trends. At every automaker, cars skidded while light-truck sales rose.
And incentive spending was even more generous than it was a year earlier — $3,838 per vehicle, according to Motor Intelligence. That's up $334, or 9.5 percent.
We'll never know exactly how the rest of the industry fared in January. On April 1, when most automakers will release first-quarter results, they won't be broken out by month.
But we may have a sense of where 2020 is headed amid projections that the total for the year will be closer to 16.5 million than the 17 million-plus rate of the past five years.
Annual sales have fallen just twice in the last decade. And in each of those years — 2017 and 2019 — the industry was down after one quarter. Sales were up through March in the other eight.