International nameplates began 2011 on a positive note. In January, manufacturers and dealers enjoyed their highest sales volume since 2008. International brands were up 15.7 percent from January 2010, helped along by the introduction of attractive new models, increasing availability of credit, and consumer confidence that reached its highest level in eight months. Some of the biggest gains were seen by Korean automakers Hyundai (up 22 percent from January 2010) and Kia (up 25.6 percent). Toyota's sales were up 23.7 percent on the strength of its Prius (up 25.4 percent) and light truck sales (up 29.5 percent). Lexus sales were down 17.1 percent.
"January's strong numbers show that Americans are returning to the auto market," said AIADA President Cody Lusk. "In 2011, as consumer demand continues to grow, international nameplate dealers will work to provide buyers with the safe, reliable, and high-performing vehicles they have come to expect."
Internationals Capture U.S. Market Share
During January, international brands occupied a 54.2 percent of the U.S. auto market, down slightly from 55.1 percent in December 2010. Asian automakers held 45.2 percent of the market, a slight decrease from 46.5 percent in December, while European automakers captured 9 percent of the market, up from 8.6 percent in December. International brands sold 443,900 vehicles in January, down from 629,699 units in December, but up from 383,685 in January 2010. Of those, Asian nameplates sold 370,376 units, representing a 16.1 percent increase over January 2010, while European nameplates sold 73,524 units, experiencing a 13.6 percent increase over last January. Domestic nameplates sold 375,995 units and were up 19.3 percent.
Just as they did in December, international nameplates occupied five of the top ten selling vehicle spots during the month of January. Americans continued to buy more Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado pickups than any other vehicle. The Toyota Corolla moved into the third slot for the month, overtaking the Camry - which slipped to number four - to be the best-selling car in America. The Accord, at number four in December, fell to number 13 for the month, while the Nissan Altima moved up three slots from number eight in December to number five in January. Seven out of the top ten vehicles were up an average of 30.6 percent over January 2010, with the Honda CR-V - with sales up 68.9 percent - demonstrating the biggest improvement.
Despite rising fuel costs, Americans continued to buy crossovers and SUVs, purchasing 269,822 units and giving the segment a 26.4 percent improvement over January 2010. International brands sold 139,128 crossovers and SUVs, while domestics sold 130,694. Trailing in second place was the midsize segment, with sales of 183,714 units. 113,187 of those vehicles were international nameplates, while 70,527 were domestic brands. Overall, Asian nameplates sold 218,655 cars and 151,721 trucks, while European nameplates sold 51,400 cars and 22,124 trucks. Domestic nameplates finished January with sales of 119,973 cars and 256,022 trucks.
Overall sales, including domestic brands and unadjusted for the number of business days, were up 17.3 percent from January 2010. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for light vehicle sales was estimated by AutoData Corp. at 12.62 million units, up from 10.75 million units in January 2010 and 12.4 million from last quarter.
See below for a complete breakdown of January 2011 monthly and year-to-date sales by international nameplate.