This past year marked a crucial turning point for most automakers. After dealing with a terrible economy, as well as numerous companies slogging through a slew of damaging recalls, many car manufacturers managed to post clear sales gains for 2010. The big winners of the year are Hyundai, which gained 24 percent in 2010, and Subaru with a 22 percent increase over last year.
The Detroit 3 also fared well in 2010, with Chrysler Group up 17 percent, General Motors increased 21 percent (for their four core brands), and Ford Motor Company up 19 percent. Total GM sales were over 2.2 million, which keeps the automaker in the No. 1 spot for overall sales, followed by Ford, and Toyota, respectively. Here are the details:
Chrysler Group sold 1.1 million vehicles in 2010. In December, the automaker increased 16 percent over November sales. Redesigned or refreshed models helped the company achieve these strong gains. Models leading the pack in sales include the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Ram.
Ford sales totaled 1.935 million for the year. December sales were up 17 percent versus the same month in 2009. Vehicles that lead the way include the Ford Fusion and Edge. The F-Series, which continues to be the highest selling vehicle in America, also posted strong results. Axing Mercury will likely help the automaker focus on the Ford and Lincoln brands in 2011.
GM sales were up for 2010 and also saw a 16-percent increase in December, its best month of 2010. The four core brands -- Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC--continue to gain with the Buick increasing nearly 52 percent in 2010. The Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, and Chevrolet Silverado were strong sellers.
Honda enjoyed a strong December, with a 25-percent increase and ended the year with a 7-percent increase over 2009. The Accord, Civic, and CR-V were strong performers. In December, the Accord beat its rival, the Toyota Camry, as did the Civic and CR-V over the Corolla and RAV4, respectively. The CR-V was the most popular small SUV in 2010.
Hyundai continues to change the game with sales up 24 percent for the year and 33 percent in December. The popular Sonata gained 39 percent in 2010 and the Elantra and Tucson were also strong sellers.
Subaru reported a sales record for 2010 with an increase of 22 percent and a 50-percent increase over the last two years. December sales were up nearly 16 percent. The Legacy and Outback continue to be the company’s bread-and-butter vehicles.
Toyota had the roughest year of all, and, according to the Automotive News, was the only major automaker to record a sales decline last year. The company also saw a 6-percent decline in December, possibly the result of the numerous and highly-publicized recalls. The Camry continues to be the best selling car (outside of pickups) in America. Other strong selling models include the Prius and RAV4.
The past year was generally a good one for automakers as they tried to put the recession and recall issues behind them. With a bunch of new vehicles—including electrics—heading our way, we’ll see if automakers can continue their momentum into and throughout 2011.