The Earth Quakes, Japanese Sales Fall

By The NumbersOverall, auto sales were down a bit in May, though there certainly were a few bright spots in the industry. For instance, the Chrysler Group, which consists of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles, posted a 10-percent sales gain for the month when compared to the same period a year ago, led by strong sales of its Jeep brand. Grand Cherokee sales were up 192 percent, while the Compass (up 92 percent) and Patriot (up 80 percent) also made big gains.

The star of the Chrysler show, however, is undoubtedly the Dodge Durango. Sales of the reborn 'ute shot up 217,800 percent... though that's not terribly enlightening since Dodge only sold two Durangos in May of 2010.

Chrysler's strong sales, combined with an extremely poor showing (albeit not entirely its own fault) from Toyota allowed the Pentastar brand to slip into the number three sales spot behind General Motors and Ford.

The Korean conglomerate of Hyundai and Kia similarly performed very well, knocking Honda out of the fourth spot. Projections that the Korean duo would outsell Toyota, however, fell short by less than a thousand units.

Volkswagen sales are hitting their stride as well, with the new 2011 Jetta (16,671) leading the way.

Japanese brands took the brunt of the sales hit in May, due in large part to fallout from the earthquake and tsunami that hit the island nation hard in March. Of the three major Japanese automakers, Toyota was hit the hardest, down over 30 percent. Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand, fared ever worse, down nearly 45 percent from May of last year.

Fuel efficiency continues to sell cars like the Ford Focus (22,303), Chevrolet Cruze (22,711) and Hyundai Elantra (20,006). What's more, Eco editions accounted for about 15 percent of all Cruze sales, and Volkswagen reports that its TDI diesels managed to snag 22.2 percent of its share.

And finally, the Ford Explorer earned 13,318 sales, its highest tally in nearly four years, proving what a genuinely good redesign can do for a neglected nameplate.

Brand/Company Vol. % May-11 May-10 DSR %* May-11 May-10
Saab 121.26 385 174 139.70 16 7
Mitsubishi 59.76 7,568 4,737 73.08 315 182
Scion 59.63 5,710 3,577 72.93 238 138
Volvo 57.95 7,359 4,659 71.12 307 179
Jeep 55.02 35,573 22,948 67.93 1,482 883
Kia 53.39 48,212 31,431 66.17 2,009 1,209
Porsche 50.40 2,817 1,873 62.93 117 72
Mini 37.04 5,801 4,233 48.46 242 163
Jaguar 32.12 1,271 962 43.13 53 37
Volkswagen 27.85 30,100 23,543 38.51 1,254 906
Buick 23.82 15,579 12,582 34.14 649 484
Hyundai 20.73 59,214 49,045 30.80 2,467 1,886
Suzuki 20.34 2,290 1,903 30.36 95 73
BMW 15.63 20,651 17,859 25.27 860 687
Audi 13.60 10,457 9,205 23.07 436 354
Ram 13.40 21,467 18,930 22.85 894 728
Suzuki 9.33 2,132 1,950 18.44 89 75
GMC 8.05 32,589 30,160 17.06 1,358 1,160
Land Rover 6.72 2,891 2,709 15.61 120 104
Mercedes-Benz 5.89 20,306 19,176 14.72 846 738
Ford 5.32 184,703 175,370 14.10 7,696 6,745
Chevrolet -3.49 161,401 167,235 4.55 6,725 6,432
Lincoln -4.59 7,399 7,755 3.36 308 298
Dodge -4.83 40,200 42,242 3.10 1,675 1,625
Cadillac -5.72 11,623 12,328 2.14 484 474
Nissan -7.82 69,759 75,673 -0.13 2,907 2,911
Subaru -15.34 20,036 23,667 -8.29 835 910
Mazda -20.92 17,875 22,605 -14.33 745 869
Chrysler -20.94 16,364 20,699 -14.35 682 796
Infiniti -21.04 6,389 8,091 -14.46 266 311
Honda -22.42 81,773 105,407 -15.96 3,407 4,054
Acura -23.51 9,000 11,766 -17.13 375 453
Smart -29.21 492 695 -23.31 21 27
Toyota -31.66 96,082 140,597 -25.97 4,003 5,408
Lexus -44.61 12,305 22,216 -40.00 513 854
Fiat NA 1,759 0 NA 73 0
COMPANIES
BMW Group 19.74 26,452 22,092 29.71 1,102 850
Jaguar Land Rover NA 13.38 4,162 3,671 22.82 173 141
Chrysler Group 10.06 115,363 104,819 19.23 4,807 4,032
Ford Mo Co -0.08 192,102 192,253 8.25 8,004 7,394
GM -1.18 221,192 223,822 7.06 9,216 8,609
Nissan NA -9.09 76,148 83,764 -1.52 3,173 3,222
American Honda -22.53 90,773 117,173 -16.08 3,782 4,507
Toyota Mo Co -33.43 108,387 162,813 -27.88 4,516 6,262

*Brands and companies are displayed in descending order according to their percentage change in volume sales. There were 24 selling days in May 2011 versus 26 selling days in May 2010, so the change in monthly sales volume will be different than the change in average daily sales rate (DSR) for each brand/company. Also, brands are combined and reported as companies only if their sales figures are released jointly.