March Sales: Internationals Beat the Market

International nameplate brands posted a 3.7% sales increase in March and year to date Internationals are up 5.8%, compared to 1.1% for the whole market

International nameplate brands posted a 3.7% sales increase in March over the same month last year, against an overall market that dropped 2.9%. Market share for internationals increased to 44.8% for the month due to the discrepancy.

For the year to date Internationals are up 5.8%, compared to 1.1% for the whole market. For the year to date Internationals have a 44.2% market share, which is a 2% gain over last year.

Though gas prices have risen to an average of $2.59 per gallon, cars only claimed 45.1% of the market, but this price range, up to $3 per gallon, is when cars began to claim closer to 50% of the market after Hurricane Katrina last year.

Toyota Sales Up 6.9% in March

Toyota’s sales were up in March, mostly due to a light truck sales, where several models had superb results. The redesigned RAV4 had a 116.5% increase; the Sienna minivan was up 22.6%, the 4Runner SUV was up 14.6%, and the Tacoma pickup was up 14.1%. Plus, the all-new FJ Cruiser sold 2,784 units. Whew.

Toyota brand car sales were flat in March, including a precipitous 22.6% drop in Prius sales while the Camry and Corolla saw small gains. The Scion brand is holding its own with a 20.5% gain for the xA subcompact hatchback, a small gain for the tC coupe and a first-ever drop for the xB wagon. Toyota’s other subcompact, the all-new Yaris, had sales of 1,339 units.

Lexus had solid gains in both cars and SUVs, 8.3% overall, with the biggest gainer coming from the revitalized IS series that sold 5,210 units, becoming the best-selling Lexus car model.

Honda Sales Flat

Honda’s sales were up 0.2% in March, due to a 14% increase in Civic sales and a 37.9% increase in Ridgeline sales – both vehicles won vehicle of the year awards from multiple outlets. Accord sales were down 10.4% and both the CR-V and Element were down, though the Pilot SUV was up 7.4%.

Acura sales were down 5.8% overall, including drops in car sales as well as sales of the MDX SUV. The TSX posted an 8% sales increase.

Nissan’s Sales Down Slightly

Nissan’s sales were down 2.6% in March, offset by a 3.% increase in light truck sales. The Frontier pickup picked up 35.6% extra sales volume, the Murano SUV was up 23.2%, and the Pathfinder SUV was up 15.6%. Sales of the Quest minivan were down 43.7% to only 2,812 units.

The Infiniti division fared poorly, with overall sales down 12.5%. All SUVs and cars were down with the exception of the M Series, which posted a 16.7% increase. For the year, Nissan’s sales are down slightly, off 0.6% from last year’s record setting pace of over one million vehicles sold.

Sonata Leads Hyundai Sales Gains

The made in Alabama Hyundai Sonata can now be called an unqualified success, with March sales up 53.8% and year to date sales up 52.3%. Overall Hyundai sales were up 4.3% in March and are up 6% for the year. The new Azera sold 1,817 units, with 4,037 sold in 2006 to date.

Sales of the Elantra were down 9.6% and the Accent subcompact was down 44.6%. Hyundai also saw both its SUVs, the Santa Fe and Tucson, record a combined sales drop of 22.9%.

Volkswagen of America Scores Big in March

Volkswagen of America, which includes both the VW and Audi brands, had an 18.8% sales increase in March and is up 19.1% for the year to date.

In March the VW brand hit the triple crown – the Golf, Jetta and Passat were all up dramatically. First, the Golf, which has been the subject of heavy advertising for the launch of the new GTI, had a whopping 115.4% sales increase. Good advertising apparently does work.

Next, the Jetta had a 39.% sales increase and the Passat was up 40.9%. Overall, the VW brand was up 28.4% for the month and is up 28.8% for the year.

Audi also fared well, with a 7.6% March sales increase, due mostly to the 20.5% increase of A4 sedan sales. For the year to date, Audi is up 6.2%.

BMW of North America is Selling Strong

BMW of North America, including both the BMW and MINI brands, had a gangbusters month, with sales up 16.8%. For the year to date, sales are up 10.8%.

The big gains came from the BMW brand, with overall sales up 21.6% and car sales up 31%. Both the 3 Series [up 60.5%] and the 5 series sedans [up 26.8%] had strong results in March.

The MINI brand was down 6.7% in March, mostly due to a 19.7% drop in convertible volume, which should change over the next few months.

Mazda Sales Off 2.4% in March

Though Mazda had an off month in March, down 2.4%, sales for the year to date are still up 5.1%. Gainers include the Mazda6, up 6.2%, and the Miata, up a large 194%. The new Mazda5 wagon sold 1,703 units.

Mitsubishi Takes a Dive in March

Mitsubishi sales were down 30.6% in March, with the only positive exception being the Eclipse, with an increase of 71.2%. For the year to date, Mitsubishi sales are down 25.6%.

Kia Posts a Small Gain

Kia’s sales were up 1.1% in March, due to smashing sales of the redesigned Sedona minivan [up 52.2%] and the Sorento SUV [up 28%]. Sales of the Rio subcompact were also up 8%. For the year to date, Kia’s sales are up 2.4%.

Subaru Up 10.1%

Strong sales of the Subaru Impreza [up 13.9%] and the Tribeca SUV [1,966 units], helped Subaru to a 10.1% sales gain in March. For the year to date, Subaru’s sales are up 2%.

Suzuki’s 46.2% Jump in Sales

The Suzuki Grand Vitara posted a 532.3% increase in March sales, leading the company to an overall 46.2% increase. For the year to date, Suzuki is up 40%. The Reno/Forenza platform was up 57.5% and the Aerio subcompact was up 38.3% in March.

Porsche up 13.8% in March

Porsche had a 13.8% sales increase in March, thanks to a 30.6% increase in 911 sales and good performance from the new Cayman, which sold 560 units. The Cayenne SUV was up 1.9%, and the Boxster was down 41.3%. For the year to date, Porsche is up 26.3%.

Saab Up 2.5% in March

Saab’s sales were up 2.5% in March, due mostly to sales of two new vehicles: the 9-5 SportCombi, with 261 units sold; and the 9-7X SUV, with 482 units sold. For the year to date Saab’s sales are up 12%.

Land Rover Sales Up 39.3% in March

The Range Rover Sport, an all-new model, is once again Land Rover’s best selling SUV, with 1,667 units sold. The company sold 39.3% more vehicles in March compared to the same month last year, and is 33.8% up for the year to date.

Volvo Sales Down in March

Volvo’s sales took a 4.1% dip in March, which is a better performance than the company has been posting for several months. For the year to date, sales are down 11.7%.

The S40’s sales were up 3.8%, the XC70 wagon was up 5.4%, and the XC90 was up 15.9%.

Mercedes Had a Nice Month

Mercedes posted a 17.9% sales increase in March; year to date sales are up an even 17%. The new R-Class SUV sold 1,915 units and the redesigned M-Class posted a 20% March increase. The E-Class sedan was up 10.7% and the CLK-Class was up 33.8%.

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