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October sales: Industry up 14% vs. 2014

by Byron Hurd

October turns out to be the best on record for the U.S. auto industry.

October looks to have been a monster month for the U.S. auto industry, up 14% vs. last year and boasting a SAAR of 18.23 million units--the highest so far this year.

Volvo is a story in itself. With new models on lots, it posted a whopping 87% gain vs. 2014. Flat months for the Swedish safety chiefs are a thing of the past.

Domestic determinationFCA was first out of the gate with results, posting increase in every brand. Even Fiat, which has struggled mightily this year, posted another year-over-year gain. It was a meager 1%, but it wasn't negative. Also noteworthy in the FCA corner is Dodge. With the discontinued Avenger starting to clear off the books, the brand seems to have emerged from its spreadsheet slide. Only Durango, Dart and Viper slumped, and none in numbers that really hit Dodge's volumes in a meaningful way.

GM had a similarly excellent October, with all of its subsidiary brands either up or flat ( Buick). GMC, like Jeep, continues to sizzle on strong demand for trucks and SUVs.

Ford's results were a bit more mixed. While the Blue Oval itself posted a stellar 14.3% increase, Lincoln, bucking recent progress, was off 4.5%.

Diesel Negated Volkswagen managed to hold flat despite the Dieselgate fall-out by absolutely blowing out some of its ageing inventory. The Tiguan, Touareg, CC, Passat, Eos and GTI all had stellar months, while Golf, Golf SportWagen (vs. Jetta SportWagen a year ago) and Jetta all took hits. The real bright spot for Volkswagen was the e-Golf, new to the books, which put nearly 600 units in the positive column and for the second month in a row, saving Volkswagen from a negative result. Whether this is a sustainable course for the German manufacturer remains to be seen.

Audi, on the other hand, remained inconspicuously and unapologetically strong, posting its 58th consecutive monthly sales increase.

From Japan with love Honda/ Acura both posted solid October results, with no real surprises on either front save for perhaps a very small dip in CR-V sales. With HR-V still strong out of the gate, it's not surprising that a few units may have been cannibalized, but I doubt corporate is bothered by that trend. Nissan's sales chart shows a couple of unexpected entries in the positive column, including particularly strong Z and Quest sales. At Infiniti, the new QX50 was healthy in October (as were the rest of the company's crossovers).

Mazda finally found its spark in October, with a 35% bump over the same period in 2014--its best in 21 years. Not a single model still in production posted a negative month for the small Japanese independent. Last October wasn't particularly strong for the brand, so the on-paper numbers may be a bit deceiving, but it was nonetheless a huge jump.

Somehow, that's not the most interesting number from a Japanese automaker. Scion, which has been languishing for months, posted a nearly 50% increase in October. That may not seem significant on a volume of less than 7,000 units, but it's still an unexpected spark for the Toyota subsidiary which has struggled for so long. Continued strong sales in November and December could actually allow them to make up their nearly 10% deficit compared to 2014 and come close to breaking even.

And, surprising precisely nobody, Subaru is up, again, besting their October 2014 numbers by 20%.

A peek at premiumWith Toyota and BMW reporting results, we have our first luxury segment numbers. Lexus posted a 13% gain on sales of 26,436. Mercedes-Benz slotted in with 28,952 for the month. BMW, who had a very strong October last year, fell slightly in 2015 but still out-sold its rivals with a total volume of 29,439. This leaves BMW in the lead for the year, with Mercedes-Benz between the two, following the monthly finishing order. The spread from first to last? Just 6,000 units. With BMW's penchant for strong finishes, it's hard to believe the Bavarians won't finish the year in first place.

We've deleted Tesla from the lineup until we get numbers. Otherwise, the totals are in.

October year-over-year:

- Acura up 4.2%, 16,079 - Alfa new, 65 - Audi up 16.8%, 17,700 - Bentley down 57.1%, 121 - BMW down 3.8%, 29,439 - Buick flat (-0.2%), 18,660 - Cadillac up 13%, 15,391 - Chevrolet up 17.6%, 183,464 - Chrysler up 1%, 27.801 - Dodge up 12%, 46,612 - Fiat up 1%, 3,757 - Ford up 14.3%, 205,453 - GMC up 18%, 45,478 - Honda up 9.3%, 115,572 - Hyundai up 19.8%, 60,005 - Infiniti up 23.2%, 11,143 - Jaguar down 1.9%, 588 - Jeep up 33%, 73,561 - Kia up 12%, 50,044 - * Lamborghini up 1.6%, 63 - Land Rover up 97.1%, 7,199 - Lexus up 13.2%, 26,436 - Lincoln down 4.5%, 8,485 - Maserati down 3.1%, 1,166 - Mazda up 35.4%, 25,451 - **Mercedes-Benz up 1.3%, 28,952 - MINI down 22.9%, 4,087 - Mitsubishi up 19.8%, 7,426 - Nissan up 11.5%, 104,904 - Porsche up 11%, 4,070 - Ram up 3%, 43,749 - Scion up 49.9%, 6,270 - smart up 23.2%, 721 - Subaru up 20%, 51,629- Toyota up 12%, 171,339 - Volkswagen flat, (0.24%), 30,387 - Volvo up 86.9%, 7,422

2015 year-to-date

- Acura up 9.6%, 148,098 - Alfa new, 562 - Audi up 13%, 165,103 - Bentley down 15.5%, 1,917 - BMW up 4.6%, 279,395 - Buick down 1.6%, 186,387 - Cadillac flat (-0.3%), 141,090 - Chevrolet up 4.8%, 1,779,646 - Chrysler up 10%, 276,601 - Dodge down 12%, 428,959 - Fiat down 9%, 35,576 - Ford up 5.4%, 2,103,677 - GMC up 12.5%, 455,717 - Honda up 2.2%, 1,172,119 - Hyundai up 5%, 638,195 - Infiniti up 13.6%, 106,711 - Jaguar down 4.9%, 12,204 - Jeep up 24%, 706,471 - Kia up 7.4%, 526,024 - *Lamborghini up 2.9%, 630 - Land Rover up 32.3%, 55,602 - Lexus up 12.2%, 273,881 - Lincoln up 7.5%, 82,449 - Maserati down 7.6%, 9,543 - Mazda up 2.9%, 267,158 - **Mercedes-Benz up 6.5%, 278,842 - MINI up 10.3%, 49,061 - Mitsubishi up 25%, 80,683 - Nissan up 5.5%, 1,131,824 - Porsche up 11.1%, 43,370 - Ram up 6%, 402,237 - Subaru up 14.8%, 480,331 - Scion down 9.6%, 45,471 - smart down 29%, 6,153- Toyota up 4.2%, 1,752,094 - Volkswagen down 2.19%, 294,602 - Volvo up 12.5%, 53,803

*Based on estimates from Automotive News. ** NOT including Sprinter

Note that last month's highlights and lowlights listed below are merely a selection of some of the month's bigger movers.

Highlights (sales up > 40%)Chevy Colorado, up 373.4% to 7,059GMC Canyon, up 262.1% to 2,415Volkswagen Tiguan, up 167.1% to 4,815Porsche Cayenne, up 104.2% to 1,454Mazda CX-5, up 54.6% to 9,264Ford Mustang, up 121.2% to 10,096Scion iA (new), 1,977

Lowlights (sales down > 30%) Volkswagen Golf, down 53.5% to 1,099Cadillac CTS, down 49.4% to 1,567Audi allroad, down 35.6% to 260Scion FR-S, down 30.7% to 770

Photo by Drew Johnson.

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