Nissan and Chrysler posted double-digit gains in February compared with the same month one year ago, but the industry overall remained relatively even. Expert projections were already modest due to the severe winter weather that has hit various parts of the country. For the month, U.S. automotive sales fell less than one-tenth of percent, while the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) was at 15.4 million – up from 15.2 million in January.
Nissan was up nearly 16 percent, powered by sales of the Sentra sedan and Rogue crossover models. Chrysler Group’s overall gain of 11 percent was thanks to the Jeep brand’s best February of all time and a 26 percent growth in Ram truck sales – with demand no doubt strengthened by the winter weather. The weather also was not bad for Subaru and its line of four-wheel-drive vehicles, which also had a record February with to a 24 percent increase in sales.
The severe weather, however, did affect the shipment of many vehicles nationwide, which in turn affected sales for the rest of the major manufacturers. General Motors was hit the lightest, keeping relatively flat with a drop of less than one percent. American Honda, Ford Motor Co. and Toyota all saw drops overall, despite having sales growth from their luxury brands. Honda was down 7 percent overall, with the Acura brand up a slick tick at 1.59 percent. Ford was down 6 percent, with Lincoln up 36 percent. Toyota was down 4 percent, with Lexus up over 8 percent.
On the German side, Volkswagen took a strong dip of over 13 percent with the VW brand, while Audi remained flat and Porsche gained 15 percent. BMW Group was also down – over 4 percent overall. Mercedes-Benz USA was the only one in the trio of companies to see gains – a modest 4 percent – but it was mainly fueled by Smart as the Mercedes-Benz brand was down over 2 percent.
Another surprise in February was the 10 percent increase in sales for the Jaguar Land Rover group. The slight bump in sales of over 2 percent for the Range Rover brand could be explained by increased demand due to the weather. However, the big news was the 35 percent gain in sales for the Jaguar brand.
Mazda finished February down over 2 percent, with Mitsubishi not far behind but closer to even to last year thanks to a drop of just over 1 percent.
Korean automaker Hyundai was down 8 percent, while its counterpart Kia was about even with its February showing in 2013, dropping below 1 percent.