February chills GM, Ford sales but Chrysler hot – USA TODAY
Detroit automakers posted mixed sales results in February.
FORD.Ford Motor said it sold 183,947 new cars and trucks in February, down 6.1% from a year ago.
Cars and SUVs were down, but pickup trucks were about flat. The only Ford-brand car that posted a gain was the Mustang, up 6.4%.
Among Ford SUVs, older-design Edge, Flex and Expedition all were up, while Escape and Explorer, the newer models among the SUV lineup, both were off.
Asian maker sales : Nissan jumps, Hyundai and Toyota down
Euro maker sales: Porsche zooms, VW and Volvo fall
F-series, the company’s golden goose and America’s best-selling vehicles of any kind for more than three decades, was up a modest 2.6%. Still, Ford said, it was the line’s best February in eight years.
But the Transit Connect, which had been the talk of tradesmen and small business owners because of its relatively low price, good mileage and cavernous cargo space, tumbled 38%.
Not as bad as it looks, Ford said. “Sales surged in the final week, providing us momentum after a slow start to the month,” said John Felice, Ford vice president in charge of U.S. marketing, sales and service. “Ford Fusion continued its strong retail sales performance in the West, outpacing the mid-size sedan segment. F-Series and Lincoln also continued to perform well.”
The Lincoln brand’s MKZ, an entry-luxury sedan based on the Ford Fusion and one of the new models that Ford hopes will revive Lincoln, was up a hefty 222.1%. The MKX midsize SUV was up 8.4% and overall, the Lincoln brand was up 36.4% for its fifth straight consecutive month of sales gains.
Lincoln has foundered, unable to convince buyers to take it seriously as a luxury alternative to Cadillac, Infiniti or Lexus, but in the past five months, Lincoln sold 34,476 vehicles, representing a 26% increase over the same period one year ago.
Ford Motor fleet sales were off 10% in February, as winter weather again delayed a portion of fleet orders. The volumes are anticipated to be made up in March.
GENERAL MOTORS.The big automaker said it sold 221,104 new vehicles in February, 1% fewer than it did a year ago, but GM said that was better than some outside forecasts.
Among GM brands, Buick did best. Its Encore mini-crossover SUV was up 92.7% from a year earlier, when it had just been launched.
Regal, recently updated and fitted with optional all-wheel drive, was up 49.3%.
But Cadillac, awash in new models, was down 2.9%. Sales of every model fell, except SRX, a now-aging mid-size SUV and it was up 23.9%.
Perhaps most troubling, the new-design 2014 full-size pickups did poorly. Chevrolet’s Silverado tumbled 12.1%, while the nearly identical GMC Sierra was up an eyelash, 0.7%.
Chevy’s mainstream cars did well. Cruze compact was up 21.7% and Malibu, helped by recent updates, rose 17.8% Subcompact Sonic was up 25.9%.
“Despite a slower start to 2014 than most people expected, we look forward to a very successful year, backed by plenty of new products and what should be the strongest (U.S. economic) growth since the end of the recession,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations
CHRYSLER GROUP. Chrysler Group reported U.S. sales of 154,866 in February, up 11% from a year earlier, the 47th consecutive month of monthly gains.
Cars were down 15%, trucks up 27%.
The Chrysler, Jeep, Ram and Fiat brands each posted year-over-year sales gains.
The Jeep brand’s 47% increase was the largest of any Chrysler Group brand during the month.
“The severe weather has been ideally suited” for Jeep sales, and “the brand had its best February sales ever,” said Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. Sales.
Jeep’s smaller models, Compass, Patriot and Wrangler, each turned in its best February sales.
Chrysler 200 mid-size sedan and the Dodge Journey mid-size crossover also tallied their best February ever.
Ram pickup, newly updated with diesel power and other powertrain enhancements, was up 26%.