A combination of factors—including a massive winter storm and high consumer demand on the truck side of the industry—helped hold down sales for the Japanese Big Three in February, when only Toyota managed to finish in the black. On the other hand, with the storm affecting most mainstream automakers fairly evenly, Toyota’s 4.3 percent gain actually outperformed the industry as a whole, which managed a fairly modest 3.7 percent overall improvement last month.
The tale of the tape for the trio:
- Toyota (including Scion and Lexus)—166,377 sales, up 4.3 percent
- Honda (including Acura)—107,987 sales, down 2 percent
- Nissan (including Infiniti)—99,636 sales, a 6.6 percent retreat
Now, I want to re-emphasize that February was a tough month for all the mainstream brands, with none of them seeing double-digit growth and even Kia losing ground. But what will really bear watching in March (and going forward) is the sales mix: According to data from MotorIntelligence.com, sales of light-duty trucks increased by 7.8 percent last month, while car deliveries garnered a barely noticeable .1 percent rise in volume. And it’s not just the U.S. automakers that saw the shift last month.
Consider: At Toyota, the 2013 Toyota Camry, 2013 Toyota Prius family and 2013 Toyota Yaris all saw sales decreases, but every single one of the brand’s crossovers, SUVs and trucks improved its standing.
Other sales highlights from Toyota, Honda and Nissan in February included …