Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: February 2013

2013-honda-accord
All the talk these days seems to be on spending cuts and frugality, but you wouldn't know it from looking at February sales. Overall, the market was up more than 4%, with only half of the top automakers posting gains over February 2012. Growth was solid, but not breakneck like we've seen in the last couple of years, indicating the auto industry may be slowing down. Declines for Nissan, Hyundai and Honda indicate some possible softening of the market.

The top movers were light trucks, as pent-up demand and swelling business coffers spurred some fleet purchases. Ford saw sales climb 9.3% year-over-year versus February 2012's tally, thanks to strong sales of light trucks, as did GM, which was up 7.2% for the month. The picture gets clearer when looking specifically at Chevrolet: the brand was up nearly 5%, but that growth came from the Silverado and EquinoxCruze, Malibu and Sonic all saw significant declines.

Same thing at Ford, with Fiesta, Focus and Mustang all showing declines (not Fusion, however, which had a great month) while F-series trucks, Explorer and Escape all saw double-digit increases. Chrysler had a mixed month, with the Dodge brand up 30% to keep things positive overall, but the company's light trucks slipped 8%, the decline mostly coming from Jeep and its discontinuation of the Liberty and a cautious launch of the 2014 Grand Cherokee. Toyota showed strength with a 4.3% year-over-year gain, but sales of key models like the Prius and Camry were down. Honda posted a decline as well, despite a significant jump in Accord sales.

Incentives were basically stable for the month, with little movement up or down. The top sellers had stable or lower incentives versus year-ago levels, with cash and financing deals on some newly redesigned cars (Fusion and Malibu) declining slightly. It would appear that the new lower price for the Malibu did little to move the needle, with the car dropping 25.9% year-over-year, but the new Fusion seems to be resonating soundly with consumers; it's up 28.0%.

For consumers looking to buy new a car now seems to be a good time to do it. Reports suggest that financing is again flowing freely, and rates for new car loans were the lowest in years. "We have the best financing available for our customers ever," Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation Inc., told a conference last month, according to Automotive News. It's a claim backed up by data from banks indicating that the typical 48-month new-car loan was at 4.82% as of November 2012, the most recent reporting period.

Helping to drive Americans to new cars may be used-car prices, which are on the upswing again after falling through most of 2012, possibly due to the effect of Hurricane Sandy taking large amounts of used vehicles off the market. Going forward, however, may be dicier with the effects of the just-announced government spending cuts lending an element of uncertainty with regard to consumer and fleet purchasing.

SalesFeb13
Related

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: January 2013
Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: December 2012
More Auto Industry News on Cars.com

Comments 

Steve

I guess it goes without saying that Chevrolet NEEDS the next Impala to carry the hope of its models. Bummer that the rest of their cars had significant declines in sales. IMHO, if GM does not change the rear end of the Malibu and only changes the front fascia (which wasn't bad in the first place), that model is doomed until it is TOTALLY redesigned in 2018. Thinner front seats only make the band-aid fix that much more desperate looking. That was supposed to be the next greatest Chevy car and it just fizzled.

GMC

Man Toyota sells Camry's like there's no tomorrow. GM is a bust and it's just a matter of time before they ask for another bail-out. Thank God they'll get DENIED!

Martin

Gosh, the midsize sedan segment is heating up. Camry better watch out.

jyd

Excluding trucks, Ford has 2 cars, Toyota has 2 and Honda has 2. Not a GM or Chrysler car to be found. Again.

carl

@jyd
just fyi, an escape is not a car, but an suv

Lance

@carl
just fyi, an Escape in not a SUV, but a CUV.....car based. Or a raised station wagon if you will.

jyd

Thanks, I missed that. Still not seeing a GM or Chrysler though :-)

hopa

Well I guess the gasoline prices are far from high then. I bet at least half of these trucks are used for everyday commute.

Tony

Anybody noticed? - Hyundai craze is over :o)) Thanks God!

sheth

@jyd:

Not sure why this has to be mentioned but top 10 sales are irrelevant. all that matters are overall sales and in case you didn't read the actual text GM and Ford were up by more than Toyota, Honda or Nissan last month. The camry is selling like gangbusters thanks to fleet sales, reputation and cheap leases, but overall GM/Ford did better than Toyota and Chrysler posted a very similar gain vs Toyota. As Honda likes to point out, the accord is really the top selling retail midsize car. I see tons of rental cars during the week and Toyota, Nissan and even VW are in the rental game big time now.

@Tony:

Hyundai wasn't going to be able to sustain the ridiculous monthly sales increases they've had over the last couple years. Once you become too big you can't maintain the year over year growth. Kia sales were actually down vs Feb. 2012. There is a limit to Hyundai/Kia marketshare and we may have finally hit that limit. At a certain point it's going to be hard to get MORE people out of their Hondas and Toyotas and into Korean cars.

Tanaka

Wow what a racist! Do you always spout anti-Japanese rants? You sound like a GM spokesperson.

Skankzilla

What do you care about rental or fleet sales? When people used it against GM you told us to be impartial and suck it up to good business. But now that you think the Japanese are in that game has it now become a relevant argument?

Please...

Al

I wouldn't say the Hyundai "craze" is over, but just more normalized now. They sold 18k+ Sonata's AND Elantra's last month, that's a huge number for them. They're sitting right outside the ranks. Also, the Kia Optima sold over 13k I believe, when last year the car was only selling about 8 to 9k a month. So they're still moving a hell of a lot of cars considering they're at capacity.

Al

Edit to previous comment, 16k+, not 18. Still the point stands.

Lance

Actually, the Sonata and Optima combined would be the second best selling car....around 29k.

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