(FINAL) March 2015 U.S. LV Sales Thread: Spring Sales Lift SAAR Past 17 Million

March U.S. light-vehicle sales topped 1.5 million units, pushing the monthly SAAR in a positive direction for the first time since November.

John Sousanis, Director, Information Content

April 1, 2015

5 Min Read
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March 2015 Light-Vehicle Sales Volume
WardsAuto forecast LV Sales:            1.52 million units
Actual March LV Sales:                     1.54 million units

March Light-Vehicle SAAR
WardsAuto Forecast LV SAAR:          16.91 million
Actual March LV SAAR:                   17.05 million

WardsAuto tracks light-vehicle (LV) deliveries throughout sales reporting day. Monthly year-over-year change represents the change in daily sales rate (DSR).

March had 25 selling days this year and 26 in 2014, meaning DSR % change will be larger that year-over-year comparisons of total sales volumes this month.

FINAL: U.S. automakers sold 1, 537,820 light vehicles in March, as several automakers posted record sales and European luxury brands largely outperformed expectations.

The results reflected a 4.4% gain in the daily sales rate compared with same-month year-ago, and pushed the industry's light-vehicle SAAR past the 17-million mark for the first time since November. 

Hyundai, Kia and Nissan all had record months and several automakers posted their best March results ever. On the other side of the spectrum, Honda and Volkswagen saw sales fall disappointingly below year-ago levels.

GM led the industry with just under 250,000 deliveries, claiming a 16.2% market share. half a point below its year-ago take. Ford followed with 230,000 LV sales and a 15% share, ahead of No.3 Toyota, which accounted for 14.7% of the market. 

Jaguar Land Rover led the industry in year-over-year growth, improving its daily sales 41.2%, while Hyundai led Top 7 automakers in the same category, lifting its DSR 16.4% over like-2014.

Automakers sold 3.96 million LVs during the first quarter, a 5.6% gain over same-period year-ago. .

See below for automaker synopses - and related articles for more detailed reports. 

Related Content

U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Summary table

UPDATE 2:00 PM ET: Hyundai reported its best month ever - delivering 75,019 LVs in March, for a 16.4% increase in DSR versus same-month year-ago. LIke its sister-company Kia, Hyundai also recorded record first quarter sales, delivering over 172,000 vehicles for a a 7.5% improvement from Q1 2014. 

UPDATE 1:30 PM ET: European brands had a strong March. Daily sales of Daimler's Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Sprinter brands delivered a combined 32,913 units, up a collective 13.7%  over year ago - compared with 7.3% for the full quarter. Rival BMW Group sold 40,139 BMW and MIni vehicles, a 16.7% monthly gain that put the automaker 12.6% ahead of year-ago for the quarter. 

Volkswagen-brand delivered 30,025 units, a 15% decline in daily sales for the month, that left the company 9.3% behind year-ago for the first quarter.  No other volume auto sell reported a year-over-year decline for the full quarter.  

UPDATE NOON ET: Honda's shortfall (see below) seems to have been made up by rivals Kia and Nissan. With one less selling day than last year, Nissan fell short of its record year-ago sales volume, but recorded its best-ever daily sales rate (5,803) on more than 145,000 deliveries, slightly ahead of projections.The record March results put Nissan ahead of Honda for three consecutive months, for the first time since July through August of 2011. Nissan delivered nearly 368,000 units in the first quarter, outselling by 10% through the first quarter.  

Kia, meanwhile, beat expectations handily, recording its highest DSR ever and outpacing its own year-ago DSR by11.6%. The companies 58,771 deliveries brought the South Korean automaker's YTD total to 141,100, a 6% improvement over like-2014, and the brand's best first quarter on record. 

Subaru daily sales were up 14.8% in March, second only to Audi among reporting automakers at this point. The results, however, were slightly below below the company's 16.8% YTD improvement over year-ago.  

UPDATE 11:00 AM ET: Honda reported a 1.5% decline in daily sales versus year-ago March, with a 5.3% decline in total sales for the month. Of the five Top 7 automakers to report so far, Honda is the only one to finish more than a single percentage point outside of expectations - missing WardsAuto's forecast by just over 10%. The disappointing March leaves Honda with 333,943 light-vehicle sales over the first quarter - a 2.6% improvement over like-2014. 

Ford had only a slightly better month, with LV daily sales rising 0.5%, on 230,000 light-vehicle sales - directly in line with expectations. Sales of Ford's all new F-150 are growing, but the automaker continues to manage overall supply of the pickup truck during ramp up. Year-to-date, Ford has sold just under 580,000 LVs, a 2% improvement over same-period year-ago.

UPDATE 10:00 AM ET: General Motors sales were down on a volume basis versus year-ago, but with one less selling day thins year the automaker's DSR rose 1.5%, on 250,000 deliveries, compared with 256,047 last year. Year-to-date, GM is running 5.3% ahead of year-ago on just over 684,000 sales. 

Toyota delivered nearly 226,000 LVs in March, a 9.1% DSR gain vs year-ago. The Japanese automaker 575,620 first-quarter deliveries reflect a 10.5% gain versus Q1 2014. 

UPDATE 9:45 AM ET: FCA reported just under 196,000 light-vehicle deliveries, a 5.4% improvement over like-2014. On a daily basis, It was the automaker's best March since 2006, and the company's best DSR for any month since April 2007. Jeep led all FCA brands with a 23% increase in volume and a 28% jump in daily sales compared with year-ago. The results bring FCA's Q1 sales volume to 502,586, up 6% over same-period 2014.

Audi reported record March sales on its its third-best monthly DSR ever, delivering over 17,000 LVs - a 24.8% DSR improvement that leaves the company's YTD sales tally 13.8% over year-ago.

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About the Author(s)

John Sousanis

Director, Information Content, WardsAuto

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