US car sales in October 2015 were up by 14% compared to October 2014, continuing their incredible rise in the second half of the year. Clearly, the current market conditions of low gas prices, low interest rates and a favorable economic outlook encourage car buying. It also shows that consumers seem not to have lost their fate in the industry as many have predicted they would in the aftermath of Dieselgate.
And speaking of the devil, metaphorically: VW’s sales were again up this month, albeit by a modest 0.2%. While this growth may lag that of the market in aggregate, as well as some of its key competitors, the scandal-tainted brand actually outperformed many other carmakers in October, including BMW (sales down 4%), Lincoln (down 5%) or Mini (down 23%).
Arguably, it is the awful performance of Mini that stands out in this month’s sales data – a 23% drop is the largest by far of the non-luxury brands (Bentley’s sales were down 57%), and it means that in October Mini barely outsold Porsche and, more pertinently, Fiat. Given that Mini just recently updated and added a seemingly market-friendly 5-door version of its key model, the Cooper, such a performance must be really disappointing to the brand. Next month’s data will tell us if this was just a blip, or a sign that America has fallen out of love with the Cooper as successive generations have gotten fatter and uglier.
Otherwise, October sales continued many trends we’ve already observed in September. First, most brands that registered the highest growth rates were SUV-centric brands: Land Rover grew by a staggering 98% building on the success of the Discovery Sport, Jeep was up 33% on strong sales of the Cherokee and Renegade, Subaru was up 20% and GMC was up 18%. One other brand also benefited handsomely from rising sales of its signature SUV: Volvo’s sales were up 87%, driven by the new XC90. Scion sales also continued rising on the back of its two new models, the iA and iM, while luxury brands Lexus, Audi and Infiniti continued making inroads on Mercedes-Benz and BMW with double-digit growth.
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