May auto sales ride high

Jun 5, 2012

With April’s slight sales slide seeming like ancient history, U.S. automakers posted strong May sales that demonstrated their rebound. Meanwhile, Toyota made an even more remarkable recovery from the effects of Japan’s March 2011 natural disasters as the vehicle manufacturer posted a whopping 87% gain from May 2011 to May 2012.

Kia Motors America’s momentum continued with its best-ever May sales, a 7.4% increase over the same period last year. Year-to-date sales are up 18.7%. The brand’s run of consecutive monthly sales records hit 21. May also saw the sale of Kia’s four millionth vehicle in the United States since entering the market in 1994.

Kia’s partner, Hyundai, said sales over last May jumped 13%, and an all-time May record; it was the second best sales month in the Korean automaker’s history.

General Motors reported May sales in the United States, up 11% year over year, and the highest monthly total since August 2009. GM retail sales were up 14% year-over-year and the retail mix was 70%. Fleet sales increased 3%. Buick and GMC both reported sales increases of 19%, while Chevrolet was up 10%.

Nissan reported a May 2012 sales gain of 21% — its biggest gain in a year.

Volkswagen, too, saw its year-over-year gains reach 28%. And Honda noted a 48% leap in its May 2012 U.S. sales over May 2011.

Subaru of America reported record sales for May 2012, a 48% gain over May 2011. The company also reported year-to-date sales that proved to be a 22% gain over prior year.

Ford moved forward with year-over-year gains of 13%.

Ford, GM and Honda did lose market share as Toyota and Chrysler and Hyundai/Kia jumped to the top spots, along with Nissan.

As reported by Automotive News, “Incentives are expected to play a larger role in May than in the past few months when pent-up demand drove consumers back to the market,” Jeffries analyst Peter Nesvold said in a research report on May 31. GM offered “substantial” increases in rebates for pickups and SUVs, while Ford boosted discounts on models such as the Fiesta and Focus cars, Escape SUV and F-Series pickups, Nesvold said.