End-of-year sales figures are in, and it seems the people who didn’t buy a new car this year could all fit on a short-wheelbase bus.
2014 turned out to be a boffo year for the automotive industry, and for American manufacturers, too – automakers who just a half-decade ago were questioning whether they’d survive to see the 2010’s.
In Canada, overall sales were up 6% over last year’s totals, and rose an astonishing 16% in December. In the United States, sales also rose 6% in 2014, and 11% in the month of December.
In Canada, the top three companies turned out to be the Big Three, with Ford Motor Company on top with 15.8% of the market, while Fiat-Chrysler took 15.7% and General Motors snagging 13.5%.
In the U.S. of A, GM was on top of the corporate sales ladder with 17.8% of the year’s market share, followed by Ford (14.9%) and Toyota Motor Corporation (14.4%).
In terms of brands, Canadians were most partial to Ford, which saw sales rise by 39.5% for December (compared to Dec. ’13) and 2.7% for the year. Honda and Toyota took 2nd and 3rd place, with Chevrolet and RAM rounding out the top five.
South of the border, Americans also found themselves drawn to Ford the most (thought the annual tally dipped by 1.1% over last year), followed by Chevrolet, Toyota, Honda and Nissan.
Other automakers also had strong showings this December compared to last. Buick saw Canadian sales rose 64.9%, finishing the year 31% higher than 2013. Chrysler sales shot up 86.9% in the Christmas month, though overall sales were down slightly (2.9%) for the year.
Even the Lincoln brand, which seemed (until recently) to be as endangered as GM and Chrysler were in 2008, saw positive sales gains. In Canada, the luxury brand saw a 61.4% boost in December, finishing the year 17.3% higher than last. In the U.S., Lincoln saw December sales rise 21.4% over 2013, with an annual total 15.6% higher.
Interest is being rekindled in that storied brand, it would seem.
In a game with winners and losers, there always has to be a downside – even with buyers running to dealerships en masse, cash in hand. This past month – and this past year – the loser was Scion, the Toyota offshoot that appears to be headed the same direction as the Lusitania.
With December sales down 30.7% in Canada and 11.7% in the U.S., drastic action will be needed to reverse this trend and keep the brand afloat. The annual sales loss for Scion works out to a drop of 20.4% in Canada and 15.1% in the U.S.
A sporty, 5-door hatch scheduled to be released in 2015 might change things, but I’d say more models are needed to bring the brand back to visibility.
Crystal ball types are predicting that it will be difficult for the industry to maintain this level of sales next year, which isn’t all that surprising. At some point, the amount of new cars already bought, and the amount of people who can’t afford them, will conspire to reach a sales plateau.
My not-too-brilliant prediction: with oil prices plunging, expect growth in the truck and SUV categories this coming year.