October represented a successful month for the U.S. auto market, which analysts credit to pent up demand, stable gas prices, and slowly improving inventory levels. Hyundai’s sales were up 22.8 percent, Kia was up 20.8 percent, Nissan was up 22.1 percent, and Volkswagen saw sales rise 39.6 percent from a year ago. Honda and Toyota, still struggling with inventory shortages and now severe flooding in Thailand, saw sales drop 0.7 and 6.8 percent, respectively. They are confident, however, that production levels are returning to normal, and expect the fourth quarter to be strong.
Overall, international brand sales were up 6.8 percent from October 2010 and 6.2 percent year to date. Domestic automakers, thanks to improved SUV and truck sales, were up 8.3 percent and 14.8 percent for the year.
“Throughout 2011, dealers have seen a pattern of slow but stable growth in sales,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “More than anything, the steady pace of our recovery shows us that the auto industry is on solid footing.”
Internationals Expand Market Share
554,369 vehicles were sold by international nameplate brands during October. Together, they encompassed 54.3 percent of the U.S. auto market, up from 51.9 percent in September. It was the best showing by international brands since March of this year when they occupied 56.6 percent of the market. Asian brands sold 449,549 vehicles with 44 percent of the market, up from 42.3 percent in September. European brands – led by Volkswagen – sold 104,820 vehicles, occupying 10.3 percent of the market and building on the 9.3 percent market share they held last month. Domestic brands sold 466,944 units and captured 45.7 percent of the market, down from 48.1 percent in September.
International brands held five of the top ten selling vehicle spots – the same as last month. The Honda Accord catapulted from number nine in September into the third position in October, beating out the Toyota Camry for the title of top selling car. The Hyundai Sonata advanced from number ten last month into the ninth position, with sales up 3.9 percent over last October. The Nissan Altima maintained its fifth position; sales of the sedan are up 15.1 percent since last October. Nine of the top ten models experienced year-over-year sales improvements by an average of 11.3 percent.
As the leading vehicle segment, SUVs and crossovers clocked in with a 60.2 percent share of October sales, selling 324,549 units. The numbers were down from 329,993 in September. In second place, the mid-size segment sold 241,397 vehicles – up from 240,860 units in September and improving 11 percent over October 2010. Sales of large cars fell 50.7 percent from last year, selling only 2,789 units. Asian brands sold 266,972 cars and 182,577 trucks, while European brands sold 73,877 cars and 30,943 trucks. Domestic brands sold 141,001 cars and 325,943 trucks.
Overall sales, including domestic brands and unadjusted for business days, were up 7.5 percent from October 2010 and 10.1 percent year to date. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for light vehicle sales in September was estimated by AutoData Corp. at 13.26 million units, the highest since February.
See below for a complete breakdown of October 2011 monthly and year-to-date sales by international nameplate.