They say records are made to be broken, and the auto industry broke more than a few last month. Sales for the month of March added up to a number of all-time best months for automakers, like Nissan (+0.39 percent to 126,623) and Subaru (+13.32 percent to 36,701). General Motors reports it had its best March in five years (+6.45 percent to 245,950), Audi (+14.4 percent 13,253) achieved its second-best sales month ever, and some individual models like the Ford Fusion (+6.0 percent to 30,284 units) and Explorer (+32.5 percent to 17,509 units) also set new sales records.
Indeed, even with one fewer selling day in March 2013 versus March 2012 (27 vs. 28), most automakers made out on the positive side of things, and many that didn't had excuses. Lincoln, for instance, down 22.47 percent to 6,825 sales, was still hampered last month by quality concerns with its new MKZ sedan that suppressed availability. That car's production, however, is now where it should be, so Lincoln's numbers should look much better for April. Likewise, Kia saw sales fell 14.57 percent to 49,125, largely due to production constraints on the new Forte. Mitsubishi, meanwhile, which fell 26.17 percent to 5,286 units, is down a few discontinued models compared to last year, but word on the street is that more help is coming, including a new-for-2014 Mirage subcompact.
Most automakers made out on the positive side of things, and many that didn't had excuses.
Also worth noting is how intense the sales battle has become in the midsize sedan segment. Long dominated by the Camry, Toyota's family sedan was knocked off its pedestal last month by the Nissan Altima, which posted 37,763 units sold to the Camry's 37,663. The Honda Accord was right there with 36,504 sales, and the Ford Fusion crept into the mix with its 30,284 units sold. We'll be watching this segment as the year progresses to see if Toyota will keep its crown or lose it to the Altima, Accord, or maybe even the dark-horse Fusion.
*Brands and companies are displayed in descending order according to their percentage change in volume sales. There were 27 selling days in March 2013 and 28 selling days in March 2012, so there is a difference between the change in monthly sales volume and 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.