Overall industry sales numbers came back to earth in December, following a November that saw almost every manufacturer report year-over-year sales growth. As a whole, the industry remained flat in December compared to 2012. However, the industry grew 8 percent overall in 2013, selling over 1 million vehicles more than in 2012.
Nissan USA was the biggest winner in December, showing 10-percent growth again after posting similar growth in November. On the year, the Japanese automaker finished up 9 percent, despite a 3-percent drop from its Infiniti brand.
Chrysler Group was the other major manufacturer with notable growth in December, gaining 6 percent. Despite drops of 20 percent and 9 percent from the Chrysler and Dodge brands, respectively, Chrysler Group’s December gains were powered by a 33-percent growth in Jeep and a 16-percent growth in Ram sales. On the year, Chrysler Group gained 9 percent overall.
American Honda and Ford reported modest gains of 2 percent each in December. For the year, Ford was up 11 percent overall, with Lincoln lagging just a mere 1 percent. American Honda was up 7 percent overall, including growth of 6 percent from the Acura luxury division.
Rounding out the top three Japanese and domestic automakers, General Motors and Toyota saw decreases in sales figures of 7 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Toyota, which did see 14-percent growth from the Lexus luxury brand in December, finished 2013 up 7 percent overall. GM saw sales drops across all brands in December, but also finished 2013 up 7 percent overall – with double-digit gains from Cadillac and Buick.
The other notable drop came from the Volkswagen Group, which saw a 12-percent drop overall, powered solely by a 23-percent drop in the continually lagging VW brand. All other VW brands were up in December, including a 15-percent increase from Audi. On the year, VW Group was down a modest 1 percent overall, which was the result of a drop from the VW brand. The Audi brand finished the year up 14 percent.
Fellow German automaker Mercedes-Benz saw 18-percent growth in December, with a 13-percent overall increase in 2013. Meanwhile, its main rival BMW barely saw a change in December, selling only 10 vehicles less than in 2012. On the year, however, BMW finished up 10 percent.
Subaru, which had already set its U.S. sales record in October, had another month of growth in December, gaining 10 percent. On the year, the brand finished up 26 percent, shattering its previous sales record by over 88,000 units.
Korean brands Hyundai and Kia finished December and 2013 on opposite poles. Hyundai was up 6 percent in December and 3 percent in 2013, while Kia was down 14 percent in December and down 4 percent on the year.
Mitsubishi had arguably the most surprising showing in December, gaining 56 percent to finish 2013 up 8 percent overall. Jaguar Land Rover finished up 17 percent in December and 20 percent in 2013.