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March 2014 Auto Sales: Better Weather and New-Vehicle Sales Go Together

By: Jeff Youngs, 4/2/2014
Although many regions of the United States remain colder than normal--and have experienced greater amounts of inclement weather than usual--new-vehicle sales accelerated in March 2014, erasing January and February losses due to Mother Nature and finishing the first quarter of the year with a 1% improvement from 2013. Total March new-vehicle sales reached 1,534,381 units, a selling-day-adjusted 9.7% improvement from March 2013.

Highlights: March 2014 Car Sales
Every major automaker posted a year-over-year gain for the month with the exception of American Honda. At the individual brand level, Honda lost sales, compared with the same month in 2013, and was joined by Cadillac, Chrysler, Hyundai, Mini, Smart, and Volkswagen. The brands with the greatest increases in March were Bentley, Jeep, Lincoln, Maserati, and Mitsubishi, each posting an increase of 30% or better, compared with the same month last year. Analysts noted that March contained five full-selling weekends this year and that automakers increased incentive spending, helping to improve the numbers.

Following are the March 2014 sales results for each major automaker, presented in alphabetical order by manufacturer group:

American Honda--Acura continues to improve sales by double digits, posting an 11% gain in March, compared with the year prior. The luxury division of American Honda will launch its all-new TLX midsize sport sedan at April's New York Auto Show. The Honda brand saw sales decline by 3% in March.

BMW Group--BMW enjoyed its best March sales tally in history, led by demand for the X3, 3 Series, and the 4 Series. According to Automotive News, the 19% year-over-year gain brought BMW to within a couple hundred units of Mercedes-Benz as the best-selling luxury marque. BMW Group's Mini brand, however, suffered a 40% decline in sales as the redesigned 2014 Cooper Hardtop trickles into showrooms.

Chrysler Group--Jeep posted its best monthly sales ever, with 57,983 units finding a new home last month. Ram pickup sales were also strong in March, jumping 26%, compared with last year, and outselling the Chevrolet Silverado in the process. Fiat sales also jumped 24% in March.

Daimler AG--In March, the hottest Mercedes-Benz models were the GLK SUV and the redesigned 2014 S-Class flagship luxury sedan, pushing the three-pointed star brand to a 12% year-over-year sales increase.

Ford Motor Company--Ford delivered more Fusion midsize sedans in March 2014 than in any prior month in the model's history. Lincoln sales rose 31% on the strength of the redesigned MKZ, and the F-Series pickup truck surpassed 70,000 sales in March alone. Sales of the C-Max hybrid dropped 39%.

General Motors--Buick led sales gains for GM, with a 13% year-over-year increase. GMC chalked up a 7% gain, while Chevrolet sales rose by 3%. Cadillac sales declined 6% in March.

Hyundai Group--Buoyed by a 14% gain in Kia sales, the Hyundai Group saw a 4% improvement in sales in March. Sales of Hyundai-branded vehicles fell 2% last month.

Jaguar Land Rover--Thanks to a 29% sales gain for Jaguar models, attributable in large part to the new F-Type sports car, Jaguar Land Rover enjoyed a 9% increase in sales last month.

Maserati--Build a (relatively) affordable Maserati, and they will come. In March, on the strength of the new Ghibli model, Maserati sales increased a whopping 342%, compared with March 2013, with the marque on track to potentially reach 10,000 sales in 2014.

Mazda--After a couple of months of sales decline, Mazda rebounded in March, posting a 9% year-over-year gain and putting the company back on track to exceed last year's sales.

Mitsubishi--Mitsubishi sales in March 2014 increased 70% from the prior year, giving the beleaguered automaker its best monthly sales total since August 2008. The aging Lancer led the charge with a 72% jump in sales, followed by the redesigned Outlander SUV. Buyers are also scrambling to grab Lancer Evolution performance models, as the automaker has said that a direct replacement model is not currently planned.

Nissan--With Nissan brand sales up 8% and Infiniti sales rising 13%, the automaker enjoyed an 8% surge over the same period in 2013. According to the company, the Juke, Rogue, and Sentra enjoyed double-digit sales gains. Also, the Altima remained in strong demand despite a 5% decline. Sales of the Pathfinder SUV were down 13%, compared with March of last year.

Subaru--Subaru enjoyed a 21% increase in sales, compared with March 2013, despite the fact that the popular Outback and Legacy models are due for replacement this summer. Subaru has increased sales for 28 consecutive months, according to the company.

Tesla--Tesla delivered 1,507 units of its Model S in March, seven more than in the same month in 2013, representing a 1% increase for the electric car maker.

Toyota Motor Sales--Thanks to a 5% sales increase, Toyota claims that it posted more retail-only sales in the United States in March than any other company. A big jump in Camry and Toyota SUV sales, combined with a 23% improvement in Lexus sales, produced the gains for the automaker. Sales of the Avalon, Corolla, Prius, Yaris, and all Scion models fell, compared with last year.

Volkswagen Group--Volkswagen division sold more Jetta and Passat models in March, thanks to the new standard 1.8-liter turbocharged engine and a program offering $1,000 fuel cards to people who purchased a turbo-diesel version of the cars, but the gains weren't enough to offset declines elsewhere in the lineup. As a consequence, VW division sales fell 3%, while Volkswagen as a whole rose 1% on the strength of Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, and Porsche sales increases.

Volvo--Solid sales performances by Volvo's core models--the S60 sedan and XC60 crossover SUV--combined with the introduction of the new 2015 Volvo V60 sports wagon, boosted the brand's sales by 10% compared with March 2013.

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