US May auto sales hit 9-year high

US May auto sales hit a nine-year high, driven by strong demand for pickups and SUV’s. Toyota, Nissan and Chrysler reported double digit increases compared to May 2013, while General Motors registered an increase of 13%, its best month since August 2008, despite the negative recall publicity.

The country’s major car manufacturers beat analysts’ forecasts by a wide margin. Chrysler and General Motors said sales were the best in seven years, while Nissan and Hyundai recorded their strongest month ever. Toyota and Ford topped market expectations.

April-to-May increases

Below is a breakdown of US May 2014 sales of 6 carmakers and the percentage increase compared to the previous month:

  • Ford: 254,084 units. 3% increase. In a press release today, Ford wrote “We were up 3 percent, but more importantly we really shined on retail. Retail was up 6 percent and we had our best May retail sales month going all the way back to 2004, 10 years ago.”
  • Chrysler: 194,421 units. 16.7% increase. Chrysler says the Jeep registered a 58% increase, its best sales month ever. May was the 50th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases.
  • Toyota: 243,236 units. 17% increase. Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, said “Industry sales in May soared as consumer confidence improved and demand for new vehicles continued to strengthen. Toyota had its best month in six years led by strong Camry, Corolla and Hybrid sales.”
  • Honda: 152,603 units. 9% increase. Honda informed that its light truck sales registered an all-time record, while the Accord, the best-selling retail car in Q1 2014 in the US, saw a 19.3% increase in sales in May.
  • Nissan: 135,934. 18.8% increase. The Nissan LEAF recorded its best-ever month with sales increasing by 45.8% compared to May 2013. The Altima also set a May record, “year-to-date, Altima has the largest sales increase of any car in midsize category,” Nissan wrote.
  • Hyundai-Kia: 130,994. 18.8% increase. The two sedans – Genesis and Equus – say gains of 26% and 24% respectively for the month. Last Saturday the company sold its first 2015 Sonata, Hyundai Motor America informed.
  • General Motors: 284,694 units. 13% increase. Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations, said “The momentum we generated in April carried into May, with all four brands performing well in a growing economy and 17 vehicle lines posting double-digit retail sales increases or better.”

May usually a strong month

Car shoppers tend to spend more in May after receiving their tax returns and making plans for summer driving trips. May’s figures were also boosted because the month had five weekends this year. According to car manufacturers, sales were particularly strong during the last weekend.

US May auto sales reached 1,606,264 units, an 11% rise compared to May 2013, a monthly record since July 2005.

Sales during the 12-month period ending in May 2014 reached 16.77 million units, the highest one-year total since February 2007.

This is the third consecutive month of strong auto sales. During the first two months of 2014 there was concern about the automotive market as sales declined. Analysts said the weak winter totals were due to abnormally harsh winter weather.

April-to-May prices fell

According to Kelley Blue Book, the estimated (average) transaction price for light vehicles in May in the US was $32,307. The price of an average new car rose by $653 (2.1%) compared to May 2013, but fell $79 (0.2%) from April.

Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said:

“Small and mid-size car share has declined slightly, as car shoppers opt for small and mid-size crossovers, helping boost this month’s average transaction price. Benefitting from strength among the crossover segment, the Acura MDX now comprises more than a third of Acura’s sales, boosting the brand’s transaction prices 5.5 percent year-over-year and helping keep Honda’s overall ATP flat.”

The following price changes were recorded in May 2014:

  • Honda: April-May -0.9%. May 2014 vs. May 2013 +0.2%.
  • Chrysler: April-May +0.5%. May 2014 vs. May 2013 +4.8%.
  • Ford: April-May +0.2%. May 2014 vs. May 2013 +1.8%.
  • General Motors: April-May -0.4%. May 2014 vs. May 2013 +1.6%.
  • Hyundai-Kia: April-May +0.2%. May 2014 vs. May 2013 +1.6%.
  • Nissan: April-May +0.6%. May 2014 vs. May 2013 +-3.6%.
  • Toyota: April-May -0.6%. May 2014 vs. May 2013 +2.7%.
  • Volkswagen: April-May -1.5%. May 2014 vs. May 2013 +5.5%.
  • Whole industry: April-May -0.2%. May 2014 vs. May 2013 +2.1%.

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