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Mother Nature Suppresses February Auto Sales, March Poised to Put Industry Back on Track

By: Jeff Youngs, 3/4/2014
Since the start of 2014, a series of brutal winter storms has ravaged a significant portion of the United States. Compared with the year prior, February 2014 light-vehicle sales failed to notch an expected increase, but neither did the final tally reflect a notable decrease, meaning that the market held steady in the face of meteorological fury.

Viewed from the glass-half-full perspective, this bodes well for the auto industry as temperatures moderate and deterred car buyers return to showrooms.

Highlights: February 2014 Car Sales
Among the mainstream automakers, Subaru enjoyed the greatest year-over-year gain in terms of February sales, at 24%. Subaru's success exceeded that of Nissan North America (up 16%) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (up 11%). Last month was the 47th consecutive month of year-over-year sales improvement for Chrysler, attributable primarily to the Jeep and Ram brands. Dodge sales skidded 11% compared with February of 2013. At Nissan, the redesigned 2014 Rogue is proving quite popular with small crossover SUV buyers, and both the aging Frontier pickup truck and the midsize Altima sedan performed well in February.

Volvo experienced the most significant decline in year-over-year sales, making 18% fewer deliveries this February compared with the same month in 2013. Other brands seeing sales declines compared with 2013 include Volkswagen Group (down 9%) and American Honda (down 7%).

With yet another snow and ice storm stretched across the country in early March, here is a summary of how each automaker performed in terms of February 2014 sales:
  • American Honda Motor Company: Down 7%
  • BMW Group: Down 4%
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: Up 11%
  • Daimler AG: Up 4%
  • Ford Motor Company: Down 6%
  • General Motors: Down 1%
  • Hyundai Group: Down 4%
  • Jaguar Land Rover North America: Up 10%
  • Maserati: Up 426%
  • Mazda: Down 2%
  • Mitsubishi: Down 1%
  • Nissan North America: Up 16%
  • Subaru: Up 24%
  • Toyota Motor Sales: Down 4%
  • Volkswagen Group: Down 9%
  • Volvo Cars North America: Down 18%

Pickup Truck Segment Gets Competitive
Both industry analysts and car companies believe that sales are poised for a substantial lift in March and into the spring as long as Mother Nature cooperates. A pickup truck sales war could also be in the offing. Automotive News is reporting that both Ford and Chevrolet are offering big discounts on full-size pickup trucks, up to $9,000. However, sales of the redesigned Silverado slipped 12% in February just one month after Ford announced that it would switch the redesigned 2015 F-150 to aluminum-bodied construction in order to improve fuel economy.

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