Slumping car demand and ongoing rising truck, SUV and crossover sales gains in February saw vehicles moving off the lot at 1.26 million units as trucks rose 12% and passenger cars dropped 1.4%. The seasonally adjusted annual selling rate or SAAR came in at 16.23 million compared to February 2014 at 15.41 million.
The results were mixed among major automakers. Toyota’s sales were up 13.3% at 180,467, which was enough to just edge Ford Motor (-2% at 179,673), for the country’s number two spot in sales behind General Motors (231,376 or -4.2%), according to AutoData. Toyota brand light truck and SUV sales had their best February in history.
Record levels of snow and ice in many parts of the U.S. were said by some observers to have hurt auto sales. However, other analysts counter such weather spurs the purchase of all-wheel and 4-wheel drive vehicles, a particularly strong point of Detroit Three offerings in a time a cheap fuel where their sales gains have been evident.
Nine FCA US – formerly Chrysler Group – vehicles set records in the month of February, including four of the five Jeep brand vehicles. The Jeep Patriot turned in its best sales month ever, while the Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler, and Jeep Compass each recorded their best ever sales in the month of February. The Dodge Challenger, Fiat 500L, Chrysler 200, Ram ProMaster, and Ram Cargo Van each recorded their best ever sales in the month of February.
Here it is noted that awd champion Subaru posted an 18.5% sales gain at 41,348; Audi also known for power available at four wheels was up 5.3% at 11,455.
Detroit Three brands finished the month with 45.5% of the U.S. market, up from 45.4% last month, and sales of 572,501 vehicles, up from 522,882 in January. Detroit continues to have trouble in car segments. Offshore brands continued their market share lead in 2015; capturing 54.5% of all February vehicle sales, down slightly from the 54.6% share they held in January. In total, they sold 685,118 vehicles, up from 628,241 last month and the 635,418 units they sold in February 2014.
According to AIADA, Asian brands accounted for 45.8% of the February U.S. auto market, selling 575,445 vehicles. Together, these brands were up from the 45.7% share and 525,868 units they sold in January. European market share dipped to 8.7% from 8.9%. However, sales of European vehicles were up with 109,673 sold, an improvement over the 102,376 units they sold last month. Detroit Three brands finished the month with 45.5% of the U.S. market, up from 45.4% last month, and sales of 572,501 vehicles, up from 522,882 in January.