February marked a surprising return to form for U.S. auto sales, as demand for big trucks, SUVs and crossovers helped the erstwhile Big Three outperform their mainstream rivals—pretty much.
Overall, Ford led the way in terms of growth rates among all mainstream companies, with a 9.3 percent increase that reflected 195,822 sales; General Motors enjoyed a 7.2 percent improvement, on 224,314 sales; and the Chrysler Group, while it did manage to grow sales for the 35th straight month, did so by only 4 percent, backed by 139,015 deliveries. Now, those numbers aren’t all that robust, but note that Toyota only managed to improve sales by 4 percent last month, while Honda and Nissan lost ground. And consider: Chevy, Ford, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai all have top contenders in both the compact and subcompact segments, yet nine of their 12 nameplates in those categories saw declining sales in February.
On the other hand, as always, there were plenty of sales highlights to go around.
(Just remember, industry sales didn't get much help from the weather last month, when the Northeast was snowed under by a ferocious winter storm.)