Toyota and Ford Disagree (Again) Over Global Best-Seller Title

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The Toyota Corolla ended 2013 in ninth place on the U.S. sales ladder, eclipsed by a cadre of full-size Detroit pickup trucks and three popular family sedans — including Toyota's own Camry. But car shoppers across the world, where the streets aren't so Texas-sized, preferred the Corolla to every other car model in 2013.

$20,000 Compact Sedan Challenge

This is according to Toyota, citing registration data from analytics firm Polk. The automaker says the data, which captures 96 percent of new-car sales worldwide, indicated 1,098,524 Corolla registrations in 2013. That beat an April 9 proclamation by Ford that the Focus was 2013's global best-seller with 1,097,618 registrations. Ford, like Toyota, cited Polk data.
 
It would seem that Toyota won by a hair. But, as a certain former president might say, it depends how you define the terms.

By Kelsey Mays | April 23, 2014 | Comments (4)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: March 2014

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The final month of winter continued to be a challenging one for many automakers. Poor weather through large swaths of the country dampened sales in many regions buried under snow and ice. March capped off a weak sales quarter, which saw inventories swell and incentive spending boosted to lure customers into showrooms. The past month proved that signs of spring are finally upon us, and for some automakers the thaw came early to dealers across the U.S., especially those selling trucks and luxury cars.

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: February 2014

In fact, trucks led much of the sales gains for March, with especially strong performances from Ram, Ford and Toyota. The Ram brand had its best month for pickup sales in a decade, and the brand as a whole posted a 29 percent gain year-over-year in March versus March 2013. Ford's F-Series was up as well, jumping 5.1 percent for the month, while Toyota's Tundra posted its best sales month since August 2008. The Chevrolet Silverado saw a 6.8 percent gain, while the GMC Sierra sales were up by 22 percent.

By Aaron Bragman | April 1, 2014 | Comments (23)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: February 2014

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Winter dragged on in February and car sales for many automakers remained in hibernation, at least for the first half of the month. Shoppers shunned popular sedans like the Honda Accord (down 12.1 percent), Ford Fusion (down 14.3 percent), Toyota Camry (down 7.3 percent) and Hyundai Sonata (down 30.1 percent). They did buy more Chevrolet Malibus and Nissan Altimas, however, placing the Altima atop the car-only pile for February, a roost it last held in March 2013.

February's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

That wasn't the only changing of the guard. Shoppers gravitated toward the Chevrolet Cruze last month (up 21.7 percent versus a weak February 2013) but drifted from the Honda Civic (down 5 percent versus an also-weak February 2013); the Civic hasn't been absent from the top 10 best-sellers list since September 2012.

As we expected, snow-ready cars had their day. We reported Feb. 20 that sales for all-wheel-drive vehicles were up some 20 percent in the first part of the year. Indeed, shoppers preferred off-road brands: Land Rover gained 3 percent and Subaru climbed 24 percent. Jeep saw the highest gains, with sales up 47.4 percent. Shoppers bought more Jeep Cherokees, Grand Cherokees and Wranglers than 16 other nameplates across Fiat Chrysler's five U.S. brands. Reid Bigland, head of U.S. sales, said February's harsh weather across most of the country "has been ideally suited" for the brand, which had the best February in its 73-year existence.

By Kelsey Mays | March 3, 2014 | Comments (10)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: January 2014

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Automakers didn't quite experience a Denver Broncos-sized shellacking in January, but it was rough sledding for many. January is typically a weak sales month — and the weather, which brought a polar vortex to the Midwest and freezing temperatures to the Gulf Coast, kept even more shoppers at home.

January 2014's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

Eight of the top 10 best-sellers saw sales slide, and the results booted the Honda CR-V off the list, while the Toyota Corolla returned after a one-month hiatus.

Two of the biggest losers — the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Silverado — both pulled in a monster sales month in January 2013, but the Camry's descent has more weight. Even as Toyota turned up the spigot on purchase incentives versus year-ago levels, shoppers gave the automaker's best-seller the cold shoulder. Some may have gravitated toward competitors like the Nissan Altima (up 4.9 percent), while others may have ditched the family sedan altogether. From the Chevrolet Malibu to the Hyundai Sonata, a number of popular nameplates saw January sales slide.

By Kelsey Mays | February 3, 2014 | Comments (14)

January's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

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As automakers report their total January sales today, many point to the polar temperatures seen in much of the country as a reason for subpar results. While the totals may be down, there were still plenty of cars selling quickly — coincidentally enough, many with all-wheel drive.

Best-Selling Car News

Twelve of the 18 fastest-selling cars either come standard with all-wheel drive or have it widely available. Although Wall Street had a bad January, perhaps some 2013 bonus checks helped brands like Land Rover, which had the top two spots on the fastest-selling list. Mercedes-Benz's redesigned and nearly six-figure S550 also made the list.

By David Thomas | February 3, 2014 | Comments (0)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: December 2013

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With the top seven automakers reporting sales, the industry is on track to end December 2013 about flat with December 2012. Don't call it a sputter just yet. Recall that December 2012 was a decent month — and that 2013 still ended well. Toward that end, each automaker charted its own course to the finish line.

The Top 10 Best-Selling Cars of 2013

Shoppers gave Toyota the indifferent shoulder as the automaker fell 1.7 percent in December. Three of Toyota's four best-sellers — the Camry, Corolla/Matrix, RAV4 and Prius family — saw lower sales versus year-ago figures. Nissan, by contrast, chalked a 10.5 percent rise on strong Sentra and Rogue sales. And Honda gained 1.9 percent in December as dealers began the month with Accords and CR-Vs aplenty, and shoppers lined up for both. Despite a similar inventory situation, however, the Civic fell 12.4 percent.

By Kelsey Mays | January 3, 2014 | Comments (7)

2013 Year-End Sales Preview

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Automakers won't report December sales until Friday, but all indications suggest the industry closed 2013 on a high note. CNW Marketing Research expects December sales to gain 10 percent versus December 2012, which means 2013 would see 15.7 million new-car sales — about 8 percent above 2012's 14.5 million, and the best year for auto sales since 2007. That's in line with what Tom Libby, lead analyst for R.L. Polk and Co.'s North American forecasting division, predicts.

Which automakers led the charge? Conventional wisdom says luxury brands. The top three sellers — BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz — outpaced the industry's 8.3 percent rise with sales up 12.1 percent through the first 11 months of 2013. Consider that premium brands often push holiday incentives and it's likely they'll end the year with a sizable chunk of the car-sales pie. In fact, luxury-car sales overall — including GM's Buick division and Hyundai's Genesis and Equus but excluding Mercedes' Sprinter van — accounted for 12.7 percent of all new-car sales through the first 11 months of 2013. That beats the same stretch of 2012 (12.4 percent), according to Automotive News sales figures.

By Kelsey Mays | January 2, 2014 | Comments (2)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: November 2013

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With the top seven automakers reporting numbers, November auto sales have gained some 10 percent versus November 2012. Honda was the lone automaker to post a loss, and just -0.1 percent at that. Auto execs can toast with eggnog heading into the holidays, especially if they're at GM or Chrysler.

Buoyed by strong sales from its Jeep and Ram brands, Chrysler posted a 16.1 percent sales gain. Higher purchase incentives fueled the Ram pickup truck's 21.8 percent gain, outpacing increases from its competitors, the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado. Still, Detroit's full-size pickups gained 15.4 percent as the pickup wave keeps rolling. Jeep's increase was all about the Cherokee. November's numbers should assuage any doubts over the SUV's controversial styling. Chrysler moved 10,169 Cherokees last month, the crossover's first full month of sales. It's the fifth best-selling model among the automaker's cadre of brands — Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, SRT and Ram — not too shabby for a model hampered by production delays with a nameplate that's been absent from the U.S. automotive landscape since 2001.

GM sales chief Kurt McNeil said in a statement that the economy "bodes well for future growth" as the General tacked on 13.7 percent last month. Ford added a modest 7.2 percent on the F-Series (up 16.3 percent) and Fusion (up 51 percent).

By Kelsey Mays | December 3, 2013 | Comments (7)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: October 2013

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As experts largely predicted, car shoppers shook off any hesitation from the federal government shutdown and bought enough new cars in the second half of October to drive the auto industry up about 11 percent by Halloween, judging by numbers from the largest seven automakers.

The Detroit Three led the pack, with sales up 13.9 percent. Nissan, Toyota and Honda gained 9.5 percent, while Hyundai-Kia were nearly flat with a 0.6 percent increase.

"Consumers showed resiliency in October with steady auto sales despite headwinds caused by the government shutdown," Toyota division GM Bill Fay said in a statement. Sales for the automaker's best-selling Camry ebbed, but a redesigned Corolla lifted Toyota's numbers. Honda saw a larger boom in the Civic, while shoppers shied away from the Accord; both cars had a strong October 2012. Nissan's popular Altima, meanwhile, fell 11.5 percent.

By Kelsey Mays | November 1, 2013 | Comments (11)

How Much Will the Shutdown Affect October Car Sales?

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As Friday's sales numbers near, the auto industry is holding its collective breath to see what effect the federal government shutdown had on auto sales. Signs of the shutdown's impact on the larger economy persist: Moody's economist Mark Zandi said early in the shutdown that a two-week stoppage would shave fourth-quarter economic growth to 2 percent, down from a shutdown-free 2.5 percent, according to USA Today. Citing economists' estimates, the newspaper later pegged the shutdown's cost to the U.S. economy as high as $24 billion.

How much does the drain threaten to siphon October's new-car sales? It depends. The federal shutdown furloughed some 800,000-plus federal workers from Oct. 1 through Oct. 16, when a Congress passed a (sort of) bipartisan bill to restart the federal government. The Washington Post notes that another 1.3 million federal employees worked without pay through that period.

By Kelsey Mays | October 31, 2013 | Comments (0)

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