By Marty Padgett
Polar vortex? Snowmageddon? Whatever you wanted to call it, January's horrible weather took its own hits as some big automakers blamed it for poor sales last month.
Chrysler sales were among the few on the rise, along with Subaru and Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY). But others went into a skid: GM (NYSE:GM) and Ford (NYSE:F) both saw sales fall by double digits, as did Volkswagen (OTCPK:VLKAY), while Toyota (NYSE:TM) sales slipped less.
Even sales of big pickup trucks suffered during a month of extraordinary cold across much of the U.S. Both the Ford F-150 and GM's Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra twins posted sales drops for the month - though Chrysler's Ram 1500 was up strongly.
Still on track for 16 million?
Low interest rates and stable vehicle pricing - and a slew of important new cars and trucks coming for the 2015 model year - are expected to keep sales healthy through the rest of the year.
Predictions for the year ahead are still fairly rosy, with GM anticipating an industry-wide number of between 16 million and 16.5 million units for 2014.
According to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, January sales will come in at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 15.9 million vehicles, up from December's 15.3 million units. LMC predicts sales will hit 16.2 million units for the year, up from 2013's 15.6 million units.
"All systems are a go for a strong and stable U.S. auto market in 2014,"said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive.
Here are the figures, automaker by automaker:
General Motors: GM sales fell 12 percent as the company delivered 171,486 vehicles. Buick dropped 1.4 percent to 13,278 units though its mid-size Regal sedan was up 42.7 percent. Cadillac was off 13.2 percent to 11,386 units. Sales of its compact ATS sedan slipped 31.4 percent. Chevrolet sold 119,089 vehicles, off 13.3 percent, though the Cruze sedan and the new Corvette had up months, but the Silverado was off 18.4 percent, and the electric Volt saw its sales slide by 19.5 percent. GMC fell to 27,733 sales, down 10 percent, with Acadia the only bright spot, up 5.3 percent.
Ford: Ford posted January sales of 154,644 vehicles, off a "weather-impacted" 7 percent - but Lincoln climbed 43 percent, to 5,973 units sold. The Ford Focus was off 25.7 percent, the C-Max was down 48%, and the Explorer dropped by 19.6 percent, while Ford's money-minting F-Series trucks were down 0.7 percent.
Toyota / Lexus / Scion: Toyota attributes slow sales to the weather: 146,365 units were sold, off 7.2 percent from a year ago. The Toyota brand was down across the board, with 128,728 units marking a 9 percent decrease. At 4,011 units, Scion was down 18 percent, at 17,637 units, Lexus sales rose 8.8 percent.
Chrysler: Chrysler reported U.S. sales of 127,183 units, up 8 percent from the year-ago period. Jeep was up 38 percent, while Fiat was up 29 percent. Ram was up 22 percent, Chrysler 2 percent, but the Dodge brand was down 19 percent. Chrysler 200 sales rose 23 percent as the company winds down production of the current car and prepares for the new 2015 Chrysler 200. Dodge's Grand Caravan and Durango were its only model lines to grow sales in the month. Ram trucks posted a big gain of 22 percent - but the Dodge Dart fell by 29 percent.
Honda / Acura: American Honda Motor Co. (NYSE:HMC) sold 91,631 vehicles in January, off 2.1 percent from January 2013. Acura sales of 10,823 units represented a 14.1 percent gain.
Nissan / Infiniti: Nissan says its sales rose 11.8 percent to 90,470 units in January; Nissan accounted for 81,472 units, up 10.4 percent, while Infiniti at 8,998 was up 26.3 percent. Sales of the electric Leaf were up 92.6 percent to 1,252 units, its best January so far but still its worst month since February 2013.
Hyundai (OTC:HYMPY): The Korean car company sold 44,005 vehicles in January, up less than 1 percent.
Kia (OTC:KIMTF): Kia sales rose 2 percent to 37,011 units for its best January ever.
Subaru: Subaru sold 33,000 vehicles in January, for a 19-percent gain and another record month.
BMW / MINI: BMW/MINI combined for January sales of 20,796 vehicles, up 3 percent from the year-ago period. BMW-brand cars accounted for 18,253 sales, up 10.5 percent. MINI fell 30.9 percent to 2,543 units.
Mercedes-Benz (Daimler (OTCPK:DDAIY): Mercedes-Benz reported total sales of 24,059 vehicles from its eponymous brand, combined with Smart and Sprinter. The 1.5-percent gain came with a new January sales record. The Mercedes-Benz brand accounted for 22,604 vehicles.
Volkswagen: VW sold 23,494 vehicles in January, off 19 percent. All its major model lines saw sales losses, with the Passat off nearly 30 percent.
Mazda (OTCPK:MZDAY): Mazda sold 18,813 vehicles in January, down 11.8 percent - but the new Mazda 6 sedan posted a 47.7-percent gain.
Audi (OTCPK:AUDVF): Audi sold 10,101 vehicles in January, up 0.4 percent.
Jaguar/Land Rover: Jaguar Land Rover sales reach 6,021 units for the two brands, up 15 percent. Jaguar sales of 1,347 units represented a 31 percent gain, while Land Rover's best January ever netted 4,674 units sold, up 11 percent.
Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi reported January sales of 4,867 units, up 4.5 percent.
Volvo (OTCPK:VOLVY): Volvo sold 3,792 vehicles in January, off 22.2 percent from January of 2013.
Porsche (OTCPK:POAHY): Porsche sold 3,096 vehicles in January, down 8 percent from the year-ago period.