America’s auto retail industry made a strong showing in May, although not as fast as industry insiders expected. Japanese automakers led the charge as they made a full recovery from last year’s natural disaster, which had been hampering supply chains for months.
With 181,510 sales, Toyota led international brands in May. The world’s largest automaker was up 88.9 percent from May 2011, when its production was decimated by Japan’s earthquake and tsunami. Lexus sales were up 74.4 percent, Honda was up 46 percent, and Nissan and Infiniti were up 16.4 and 65.8 percent respectively. Brands that gained market share in the wake of the 2011 natural disaster lost some traction. Hyundai went from 5.6 percent of the U.S. market in May 2011 to 5 percent last month and General Motors dropped from 20.8 percent to 18.4 percent.
“Despite disappointing jobs numbers, Americans are still buying new cars,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “A combination of new models, low gas prices, and pent up demand are driving sales.”
Internationals Hold Strong Share of Market
Internationals maintained their lead in the U.S. auto market, accounting for 54.5 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States last month with sales of 727,607 units.
Asian automakers held a 45.5 percent share, up slightly from 45.3 percent in April and up 40.7 percent from last May. They sold 605,570 units, up from 536,069 in April. For the year to date, they are up 46.1 percent. European brands sold 122,037 units, up from 118,017 last month, and have experienced a 9.3 percent improvement for the year to date. They held a 9.1 percent share of the market, however, a slight decrease from their 10 percent share in April. Domestic brands finished the month with a 45.5 percent share of the market and sales of 606,993 units.
Internationals Make Strong Showing in Top 10
International nameplates occupied five of the top ten selling vehicle spots in May, down from the six spots they have occupied since March. The Toyota Camry maintained its position as the top selling car in America and experienced the biggest sales improvement; it was up 110.1 percent over last May. As gas prices decreased slightly, sales of trucks improved; the Chevrolet Silverado moved into the third position, up from number three last month, while the Dodge Ram took the ninth position, up from eleventh place last month.
The Toyota Prius continued to perform well, although it fell from the fifth spot last month to the fourteenth spot in May. The Honda Civic (fourth), Toyota Corolla/Matrix (fifth), Honda Accord (sixth), and Honda CR-V (tenth) rounded out the list of international nameplates in the top ten.
Sales of SUVs and crossovers continued to lead among vehicle segments, with sales of 395,408 units that were up 24.2 percent over last May. As usual, in second place, the mid-size vehicle segment experienced a strong month. The segment sold 344,741 units, up from 323,095 last month and was up 27.4 percent over May 2011. The small car segment continues to perform well, with May sales of 254,667 units that were up 29.6 percent over last May. The luxury segment was up 17.4 percent since last May and sold 86,331 units. On the other hand, the large vehicle segment continues to decline, with sales of just 639 units in May, an 89.3 percent decrease from last year.
AutoData Corp. estimated the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) at 13.8 million units in May; under the 14 million mark for the first time in 2012. Sales for all brands unadjusted for business days rose 25.7 percent compared May 2012 and 13.4 percent year over year.