January New Car Sales Show Strong Growth

Edmunds.com is predicting that January sales figures will reveal strong growth in new car sales compared to January 2010 with a strong indication that 2011 could see 12.5 million light vehicle sales.
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New car sales show strong growth – except when compared to December, which saw much stronger sales than anticipated. The 816,000 light vehicles sold this month are a 17.3 percent increase from January 2010 but a 28.4 percent decrease from December 2010.

The Chrysler brand is showing the strongest new car sales growth with a 31.6 percent growth over January 2010, followed by Honda at 21.3 percent, Toyota at 18.8 percent, Nissan at 15.0 percent, Ford at 12.8 percent, and GM at 11.1 percent. Edmunds does not report Hyundai/Kia numbers.

"January's sales figures continue a trend of steady, sustainable growth for the auto industry," said Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell in a news release. "What's even more encouraging is that this month's figures were less dependent on fleet sales than last year. That means 2011 is already seeing a more robust retail market supported by individual consumers."

Somewhat troubling in all this growth, though, is declining market share for the domestic Big Three (Chrysler, Ford and GM). Their market share is 44.8 percent for January, which is on par with December, but down from 45.6 percent in January 2010. Brands like Nissan and Hyundai are chomping on their heels. Both had incredibly strong 2010 sales years and took sales from the Big Three, as well as a faltering Toyota.

What remains to be seen is if the strong new car sales growth can continue in the face of increasing fuel prices. Jobs recovery and a housing market rebound also need to continue to keep new car sales strong.


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