December 2010 auto sales capped a successful year for automakers. 2010 was a year of recovery, as automakers worked to regain momentum while adjusting to new economic conditions. Overall sales were up 11.1 percent from December 2009. In December, international brands were up 12.7 percent from December 2009 and 9.3 percent for the year. Some of the biggest gains were seen by Korean automakers Hyundai (up 32.6 percent from December 2009) and Kia (44.6 percent). Honda saw an 18.2 percent improvement and Nissan's sales were up 26.3 percent. Toyota's sales for the year were flat, and it lost the number two spot in 2010 U.S. sales to Ford by 200,464 units.
"Last year was one of recovery for dealers and for our industry," said AIADA President Cody Lusk. "While our economy still has long way to go, last year's steady improvement in sales gives us reason to be optimistic in 2011."
Internationals Retain Majority Market Share
Numbers provided by Autodata Corp. point to a successful year for international brands, where they occupied a majority of the U.S. auto market during every month of 2010. Internationals averaged 54.8 percent of the market - down slightly from 55.8 percent in 2009 - and led domestic automakers each month by an average of 9.7 percent. In March, they made their strongest showing, occupying 56.9 percent of the market and leading domestic automakers by 13.9 percent.
During December, international brands occupied 55.1 percent of the market, down slightly from 55.3 percent in November. Asian automakers held a 46.5 percent share, up from 45.8 percent in November, while European automakers held an 8.6 percent share, down from 9.5 percent the month before. International brands sold 629,699 units in December, up from 483,545 units in November and 518,835 in October. Domestic brands occupied 45 percent of the market, a slight increase over their November market share of 44.6 percent.
Five of the top ten selling vehicles in December were international nameplates, down from six in November and October. The Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado pickups remained in the top two spots, respectively, while the Toyota Camry/Solara, despite experiencing a sales decrease of 10.1 percent over December 2009, remained the best-selling car in America. The Honda Civic finished December in the fifth slot, with sales of 28,263, up from number nine in November. The Accord also moved into the fourth slot, up from number eight last month. Nine of the top ten experienced an average of 35.6 percent year-over-year sales improvements.
Americans purchased 377,345 crossovers and SUVs in December, up dramatically from 295,224 in November and 299,235 in October. International brands sold 197,150 crossovers and SUVs, while domestic brands sold 180,195. As usual, the mid-size car segment sold the second highest volume of vehicles in December with 251,794 units. 165,987 mid-size vehicles were international brands, while 85,807 were domestic. Overall, Americans purchased 1,144,739 vehicles in December, up from 873,323 in November. Of those, 621,522 were trucks and 523,217 were cars. Asian nameplates sold 314,007 cars and 217,767 trucks for combined December sales of 531,774 units. European nameplates sold 97,925 vehicles, with 66,967 being cars and 30,958 being trucks. Domestic brands sold 515,040 vehicles, including 142,243 cars and 372,797 trucks.
Overall sales, including domestic brands and unadjusted for the number of business days, were up 11.1 percent from December 2009. Sales were also up 11.1 percent for the year. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for light vehicle sales was estimated by AutoData Corp. to be the highest of the year at 12.55 million units, up from 11.14 million units in December 2009. As of December 31, 11,588,783 units were sold in the United States, 1,158,031 more than the total number of vehicles sold in 2009.
See below for a complete breakdown of December 2010 monthly and year-to-date sales by international nameplate.