Pickups, SUVs, crossovers build sales for automakers in February

Mar 7, 2013

Auto accessory dealers might want to gear up for big business for pickups, SUVs and large crossovers, which drove sales gains for the Detroit Three and Toyota in February.

Although General Motor’s improved car lineup has helped fuel its sales growth for the past two years, trucks and crossovers propelled its 7% sales increase in February, with truck sales up 14% and crossovers up 17%. Car sales slipped 4% with Malibu sales dropping 26% and Sonic sales falling 24%, as noted by Mike Colias of Automotive News.

GM said its pickup sales to small businesses rose 40%, an indication of strengthening confidence in the economy.

After posting weak sales in 2012, sales of GM’s big SUVs rose sharply last month. The Chevrolet Suburban and Chevrolet Tahoe experienced sales increases of 13% and 26% respectively.

In the crossover market, sales of the Buick Enclave rose 26%, while sales of the Chevrolet Traverse jumped 9%. The two vehicles share GM’s big crossover platform and were revamped for the 2013 model year.  Sales of the GMC Acadia, another refreshed crossover, however, fell flat.

Toyota Motor Sales posted a 4% sales gain last month with crossover and truck sales making up for declining volumes for the Camry and Prius. The automaker reported the best-ever February sales of the RAV4 and the best February since 2008 for the Tacoma pickup as truck buyers “are really coming back to the market,” according to Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager.

Toyota’s redesigned Avalon full-sized sedan was off to a strong start with sales up 63%, the nameplate’s best month in five years.

Ford Motor Co.’s sales moved up 9% with full-size pickups representing 12% of industry sales, up 11% from a year ago. Sales of the Ford F-Series jumped 15% year over year.

The Escape compact crossover experienced a new February sales record with a 29% increase over last year, and the Explorer boosted its sales 59%.

Meanwhile, Chrysler posted a 4% year-over-year sales increase with its Dodge brand leading the pack. Sales of the Chrysler’s Ram pickup were up 3%, while sales of the Dodge Durango rose 38%.