Detroit automakers have strong Dec. and 2015 auto sales – Detroit Free Press
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford are reporting their best U.S. sales year in at least nine years.
FCA said today its U.S. sales of 1.7 million rose 7% in 2015, propelling the automaker to it’s best year in a decade as available credit, low interest rates and low gas prices likely led the U.S. auto industry to record sales for the year.
For Ford, full-year sales of 2.6 million were up 5% for its best results in nine years.
General Motors sold 3.1 million vehicles last year; total sales were up 5%.
Today, automakers that sell cars in the U.S. are expected to report total industry sales of more than 17.5 million for 2015, according to Edmunds.com.
If that happens, it will be the most cars and trucks ever sold in U.S. history in a single year, besting the previous record high of 17.35 million new car and truck sales in 2000.
“It’s truly remarkable that the auto industry is finishing off its best year ever just six years after the depths of the Great Recession,” Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis for Edmunds.com said in a recent report.
GM’s 290,230 vehicles in December represented a 6% increase.
“The momentum that the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra have carried all year, hits like the Chevrolet Trax and Colorado, and innovative designs like the GMC Canyon and Buick Encore, have had a tremendous positive impact on our sales results,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. vice president of Sales Operations. “In a record year for the industry, GM gained significant retail market share and we grew our Commercial business by 12%.”
GM said its average transaction prices were a record $37,000 in December, up $1,150 year over year. For the full year, average prices were a record $34,500, up $630 from 2014. Aiding the profitability: incentive spending was down slightly for the month and up less than 1% for the year.
Ford’s December sales of 239,242 were up 8% from a year ago with F-Series trucks up 15%. The 85,211 pickup sales added last month were enough to cement the truck’s 39th year as the best-selling pickup and 34 years as best-selling vehicle.
“It was the first time we exceeded 85,000 sales in a decade,” said Mark LaNeve, head of U.S. sales, marketing and service.
“December capped off six straight months of year-over-year sales gains for F-Series, with strong increases coming from both retail sales and the strength of commercial fleet orders, as we closed out 2015,” said LaNeve. “Ford-brand SUVs delivered their best sales results in more than a decade, with our newest SUVs leaving dealer lots in a matter of days.”
Ford brand sales were up 8% for the month; 5% for the year. The luxury Lincoln brand sales were up 12% last month and 7% for the year. LaNeve said the last time Lincoln hit the 100,000 sales mark for the year was 2008. The new MKX contributed with a 77% increase in December.
FCA US said its 217,527 sales in December were up 13% as deliveries of its Jeep brand soared 42% and the automaker recorded its 69th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases.
Sales also rose 6% for Dodge, 4% for Ram and 1% for Fiat but fell 21% for Chrysler in December.
“FCA US finished 2015 strong with sales up 13% and our best December sales since we started business more than 90 years ago,” said Reid Bigland, Head of U.S. Sales. “For the second straight year, the company has topped 2 million in U.S. sales.
Asian automakers also reported strong sales gains. Nissan said its sales rose 18.7% in December and 7.1% for the year; Toyota’s sales increased 10.8% in December and 5.3% for the year and Honda’s sales increased 9.9% in December and 3% for the year.
Toyota’s SUV and light truck sales gained ground as sales rose 17.8% for its Rav4 crossover, 15.8% for its Tacoma mid-sized pickup and 8.8% for its Highlander SUV even as the automaker held onto sales leadership for the Camry, which was the best selling car in America for the 14th year in a row.
“We had a great close to the year in December….posting record sales in both the Toyota and Lexus divisions,” said Bill Fay, group vice president of the Toyota division. “We expect that the industry growth will start to level off a bit at these historic record volumes.”
Volkswagen, which was recently forced to admit to selling vehicles with software that intentionally under-states diesel fuel emissions, saw its sales drop 9.1% in December and 4.8% for the year.
Kelley Blue Book estimates that U.S. auto sales increased 13% in December as automakers sold more than 1.7 million new cars and trucks.
“December has become one of the biggest sales months of the year, helped by year-end targets and prominent holiday sales events,” Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said in a recent report.
The industry is also arguably healthier than it was in 2000 — the last time automakers were selling this many vehicles. In 2015, the average new car transaction price for a new car was $33,188. That’s up 20% since 2005, when the average price of a new was $27,655.
There are, however, signs that 2016 will be a rougher year for the industry.
The first trading day of 2016 saw the Dow Jones industrial average tumbled by 470 points after stocks in China fell so dramatically that trading was halted for the first time ever, spurred by a disappointing manufacturing report.
Meanwhile, tensions in the Middle East have spiked in recent days after Saudi Arabia executed a Shiite cleric, sparking a diplomatic crisis between the kingdom and Iran. While oil and gas prices have been at their lowest levels in years, prices tend to spike when tensions rise in the Middle East, because traders worry about disruptions to supplies.
“Even at $2 gas customers are interested in fuel economy,” Ford’s LaNeve said.
Even before the year began, most analysts were predicting that the pace of industry growth would slow in 2016.
In 2015, sales of SUVs and crossovers soared while sales of midsize sedans slowed.
Sales of mid-size SUVs rose an estimated 12% for the year, or double the overall market, to about 1.7 million units. Sales of all non-premium SUV’s and crossovers grew 30% from 4.2 million units in 2013 to 5.45 million in 2015, according to IHS Automotive.
That trend is expected to continue in 2016, as Americans continue to embrace stylish, capable vehicles that appeal to families. Top sellers in those segments include the range from compact crossovers such as the Ford Escape and Toyota Rav4 to the Honda Pilot and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Contact Brent Snavely: 313-222-6512 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BrentSnavely.