Despite a tumultuous 2009, U.S. auto sales finished the year on a positive note. December marked the fourth month in the past two years that demonstrated neutral or improved sales. Overall sales, including domestic brands and unadjusted for business days, were up just over 15 percent over December 2008, but down 21.2 percent for the year overall.
"Americans are looking for value and reliability when they purchase a vehicle, and they're finding it at international nameplate dealerships," said AIADA president Cody Lusk. "2009 has been a difficult year across the board, but our dealers are ending it on a high note. By building great cars, international brands continue to grow market share year after year."
International Brands Build Market Share
According to numbers from Autodata Corp., international brands sold 558,680 units in December, up from 414,848 in November and 463,984 units in October. Asian brands accounted for 45.7 percent of the market, down from 46.3 percent in November 2009. European nameplates held an 8.5 percent share, down from 9.3 percent in November. Domestic brands finished the month with 45.8 percent of the market, up from 44.5 percent in November.
International brands gained market share in the year overall. During all of 2009, international brands accounted for 55.8 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States, up from 52.4 percent in 2008. During each month of 2009, international brands led domestic brands in market share by an average of 11.2 percent, with the highest lead of 18.4 percent in August during the federal Cash for Clunkers program.
Top Selling Vehicles
Five of the top 10 selling vehicles in December were international makes, down from six in November. Once again the Ford F Series pickup was number one for the month. The Nissan Altima lost its spot in December's top 10 list in favor of the Chevrolet Malibu. Each of the top 10 selling vehicles, except for the Chevrolet Silverado Pickup, demonstrated year-over-year improvements by an average of 39.9 percent.
Americans purchased 317,999 SUVs and crossover vehicles in the month of December, more than any other class. Coming in second was the mid-size car segment with 258,412 vehicles sold. Overall, international nameplates sold 351,084 cars and 207,596 trucks during the month of December, compared with 166,656 domestic cars and 304,600 domestic trucks.
Overall sales, including domestic brands and unadjusted for business days, were up just over 15 percent from December 2008, but down 21.2 percent for the year. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for light vehicles finished the year at 11.25 million units compared with 10.34 million units in December 2008.
Of all nameplates sold in the U.S., only three -- Kia, Hyundai, and Subaru -- demonstrated year-over-year improvements. Subaru led the pack with a 15.4 percent gain, followed by Kia at 9.8 percent gain. Hyundai rounded out the leaders with a 8.3 percent improvement.
See below for a complete breakdown of November 2009 monthly and year-to-date sales by international nameplate.