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US passenger sales hit high note

Mixed fortunes: The A3 range helped Audi record a positive result in the US in May, but the VW Group’s overall sales were down.

An extra selling weekend boosts sales as GM, Ford and Toyota take the podium

General News logo9 Jun 2014

By TIM NICHOLSON

PASSENGER car sales in the United States have hit another high on the back of increased consumer confidence in the recovering economy, with the big three US car-maker all making gains in May.

Overall sales last month reached 1.6 million units, which is an 11 per cent increase over the same month in 2013 when just over 1.4 million vehicles were registered across the country.

US industry publication Automotive News said a rise in passenger car sales was responsible for the growth, but the strong result was also impacted by an extra selling day and a fifth weekend on the calendar.

Despite the jump in monthly sales figures, overall sales for the first five months of 2014 were up just five per cent to more than 6.7 million, an increase from approximately 6.4 million units sold in the same period last year.

The big three US car-makers all experienced a boost in May, with General Motors edging out its home-market competitors with a 13 per cent jump in combined sales from its GMC, Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet brands to 284,694 units.

This result will be welcome news for GM given its recent and sizable safety recall, which effected about 2.6 million cars.

Ford and Lincoln sales combined gave the Blue Oval a three per cent increase to 253,346 sales in May, while Chrysler’s overall total including hauls from Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Fiat grew 17 per cent to 194,421 units.

Toyota also experienced a 17 per cent boost in May to 243,263 sales of all Toyota, Lexus and Scion branded vehicles but it wasn’t enough to claw past GM and Ford.

Solid interest in the Corolla, Camry and Prius hybrid range gave Toyota badged models a 12 per cent push, while its Luxury brand, Lexus, received a 17 per cent shot in the arm.

A number of Japanese car-makers experienced growth last month, with Nissan’s overall sales up by 19 per cent to 135,935 thanks to strong interest in the Rogue (sold here as the X-Trail) as well as a 31 per cent hike in sales of its Lexus-rivaling Infiniti luxury brand models.

Honda and its premium Acura sub-brand grew by nine per cent for a total of 152,603 sales, with big sales going to the Accord, Civic and CR-V, while Mazda – a small player in the massive US market – lifted its fortunes by 23 per cent to 29,731 sales thanks to a spike in Mazda3 sales.

Mitsubishi has seen a turnaround of sorts with improved sales of the tiny Mirage range and the Outlander Sport crossover (sold in Australia as the ASX) boosting its May results by 54 per cent to 7269 sales.

Following the demise of the US-market Galant sedan in 2012, Mitsubishi has felt the impact of not having an offering in the D-segment (mid-size), the largest passenger segment by sales in the country.

Subaru continued its upward trajectory in the US thanks to the popularity of the Legacy (Liberty) and Outback twins, with an 11 per cent increase to 44,170 – enough to outsell Mazda and Mitsubishi’s monthly totals combined.

South Korean car-maker Hyundai set a monthly sales record with 70,907 sales – up four per cent compared with May last year – thanks largely to interest in its Santa Fe and Tucson (ix35) SUVs and its recently launched Genesis full-sized luxury sedan.

Luxury cars also boomed in May, with BMW up by 13 per cent compared with May 2013 to 35,506 sales of its BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, while Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler recorded an eight per cent increase to trail its arch-rival with 29,570 sales.

Overall sales for the Volkswagen Group, which includes VW, Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini and Bentley, were down three per cent on the back of a 15 per cent drop in registrations of its Volkswagen-branded models.

Its Audi luxury brand grew by 26 per cent to 16,601 units thanks in part to its popular A3 range, marking the four-ringed brand’s second best ever monthly result in the US.

Land Rover branded models rose by 28 per cent to 4536 units helping its parent company, Jaguar Land Rover to a 17 per cent boost to 5840 units.

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