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US LDV Sales Fall 37.1% in January; January SAAR Below 10 Million

January SAAR dropped below 10 million. Click to enlarge.

Sales of light-duty vehicles (LDV) in the US continued their descent in January, dropping 37.1% by volume year-on-year to 656,976 units, according to figures from Autodata. The January 2009 Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) dropped below 10 million units to 9.57 million—a 38% drop compared to the January 2008 SAAR of 15.37 million, and the lowest level since 1982. Actual sales in 2008 were 13.2 million units, according to Autodata.

Year-on-year sales of passenger cars dropped 36.3% to 315,863 units in January, while sales of light trucks dropped 37.8% to 341,113 units. Light-duty trucks claimed a 51.9% new vehicle share for the month.

With average gasoline prices (all grades) remaining down from their highs in mid-2008, light trucks continued to outsell cars in January 2009. Click to enlarge.

There were 26 selling days in January 2009, compared to 25 selling days in January 2007. All percentages here are by volume, not by adjusted day sales rate.

GM. Driven by an 80% reduction in fleet sales, GM dealers in the United States delivered 128,198 light-duty vehicles in January, down 48.9% percent compared with a year ago. Retail sales were off 38%, but GM held its retail market share steady compared with December.

GM January total car sales of 43,943 were off 57.9% and total light truck sales (including crossovers) of 84,255 were down 42.5% compared with a year ago. Additionally, retail sales for GM cars and crossovers combined were about 65% of the sales mix in the month.

Percentage change in car and truck sales, Jan 2009 vs. Jan 2008. Click to enlarge.

The newly-launched Chevrolet Traverse crossover posted total sales of 5,215 vehicles. Chevrolet’s crossovers—HHR, Equinox and Traverse—had 11,666 in retail sales, a 10% increase compared with last year. The strength of Traverse’s launch helped push retail sales of all GM crossovers to 20% of all retail vehicles sold by the automaker in January, up about 3 percentage points from a year ago.

The Malibu was GM’s top-selling car model, posting 9,312 units, down 36% year-on-year.

GM delivered a total of 923 hybrid vehicles in the month.

In January, GM North America produced 65,000 vehicles (6,000 cars and 59,000 trucks). This is down 232,000 vehicles or 78% compared with January 2008 when the region produced 297,000 vehicles (106,000 cars and 191,000 trucks). (Production totals include joint venture production of 3,000 vehicles in January 2009 and 13,000 vehicles in January 2008.)

The region’s 2009 first-quarter production forecast is 380,000 vehicles (118,000 cars and 262,000 trucks), which is down about 57% compared with a year ago.

Toyota. Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA reported January sales of 117,287 vehicles, a 31.8% decrease year-on-year by volume. Sales of TMS passenger cars dropped 29% to 67,263 units; sales of TMS light trucks were down 35.3% to 50,024 units.

Passenger car sales were led by Camry and Camry Hybrid, which posted combined sales of 20,782 units, down 34.2% from the year prior. Camry Hybrid accounted for 5.5% of that (1,141 units), but showed a year-on-year decrease of 69.6%. The Prius mid-size gas-electric hybrid posted January sales of 8,121 units, down 28.6% year-on-year.

Light truck sales were led by the RAV4 compact SUV with January sales of 8,034 units, down 26.3% year-on-year.

TMS posted January sales of 11,876 hybrid vehicles, down 36.3% year-on-year.

Ford. Ford, Lincoln and Mercury sales totaled 90,596 in January, down 38.9% versus a year ago. Retail sales to individual customers were down 27%. Fleet sales were down 65% including a 90% decline in sales to daily rental customers.

Sales of passenger cars dropped 35.1% to 28,707 units years on year. Sales of crossovers were down 32.1% to 20,147; sales of SUVs fell 52.7% to 7,283 units. and sales of trucks and vans dropped 41.6% to 34,459 units. Sales of all light-duty trucks (crossovers, SUVs, trucks and vans) dropped 40.5% to 61,889 units.

The Fusion was the top-selling car, with 8,152 units, down 11.2% year-on-year. The Escape was the top-seller on the crossover side, with 8,360 units, a 25.3% drop. The Ford F-Series posted 25,237 units, a 38.6% drop.

Still, Ford’s F-Series truck and Fusion mid-size sedan brought Ford a fourth consecutive month of retail market share increases. Ford estimates its share of the January retail market was 12.7%, up 0.3 point versus a year ago. This marks the first time since 1995 Ford has achieved a retail market share increase four months in a row.

Honda. American Honda Motor posted January total vehicle sales of 71,031, a decline of 27.9% by volume compared to January 2008. Car sales decreased 26.8% to 40,532 units; truck sales dropped 29.4% to 30,499 units.

Top-seller in the car segment was the Accord, which posted 16,581 units, a 30.8% drop year-on-year. The Honda Fit posted a sales gain, climbing 5.9% to 4,745 units. The CR-V remained the top seller in the truck segment, with 13,143 units representing a 17.9% drop.

Honda sold 1,076 units of the Civic Hybrid (down 38.3%), and one Accord Hybrid.

Chrysler. Chrysler LLC reported total January 2009 US. sales of 62,157 units, down 54.7% versus the same month in 2008. Dealer retail was down 35%, compared to industry retail, which was down 30%. Fleet sales dropped 81% from last January, as outlined in the Chrysler’s viability plan.

Total car sales were down 66% to 15,747 units; total truck sales were down 49% to 46,410 units.

The Ram pickup remained the top seller, with 12,843 units (down 35%). In second place was the Jeep Wrangler, which posted a 4% increase in sales to 6,362 units year-on-year. The new Dodge Journey posted 3,092 units, and the new Challenger posted 2,757 units.

Chrysler estimated in its submission to Congress last year that the industry would sell 11.1 million units during calendar year 2009. However, if the January trend for the SAAR continues, the company believes that the industry could see 10 million units or fewer sold during the year, due to the reduction of consumer credit and tightening of the lending standards.

Nissan. Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) reported sales for January of 53,884 units versus 76,605 units a year ago, a decrease of 29.7%. Car sales dropped 27.0% to 33,173; truck sales dropped 33.6% to 20,711.

The Altima was the top-selling car with 14,135 units, down 34.7% year-on year. Nissan sold 644 units of the Altima Hybrid, an increase of 36.2% from the prior year.

The Rogue crossover saw sales of 5,802 units, an increase of 6.8% from January 2008. Infiniti’s crossovers experienced a strong January, with sales of the EX up 12.5% over the prior year with 776 units, and sales of the FX up 74.9%, at 1,417 units.


Andrey Levin

“…automakers said they were encouraged that retail sales appeared to be stabilizing…

George Pipas, Ford Motor Co.'s top sales analyst, wasn't sure whether 15 months of industrywide sales declines is a record, but if it is, it won't last long.
"I can tell you that it's only going to last for one month," Pipas said, predicting year-over-year declines until perhaps later in the year. Then, he said, with only a small increase, sales should surpass the dismal levels seen at the end of 2008.”

“One of the few large automakers to post a sales increase was South Korea's Hyundai Motor Co., which posted a 14 percent gain. Hyundai credited its offer that covers a new vehicle's depreciation for customers who want to return a car because they lost their job.
"This program gets to the root cause of today's economic concerns -- fear of job loss," Hyundai regional general manager Peter DiPersia said in a statement.

Subaru posted an 8 percent sales increase from a year earlier, its second-straight month of sales gains.”



You call that a sales decline .... we had a 66.5% decline in sales (Jan - Jan) in Ireland.

January is usually the busiest month as people go for the new year registration plates, but demand this year collapsed due to the credit crunch and the bursting of the Irish property bubble.


Well, then we're not doing so bad here in The Netherlands. January was -17% compared to a year earlier.


At some point declines will cease simply because the previous year comparison was so bad. That will not necessarily make auto sales much better, but it may give manufacturers a baseline for planning.

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