March Sales Winners and Losers: One Fewer Day, Plenty More Sales...For Most

By Jacob Brown | April 03, 2013
March is when sales begin their ascent through about September. Automakers are ramping up deliveries of all-new models as auto show season winds down and future cars become today's. It's generally a pretty good bellwether for the rest of the year, which should resonate well with most automakers. Reporting their sales yesterday, the market found itself up from this time last year overall, despite there being one less sales day--27--versus this time last year. Well, it was positive for most brands at least. Not so much for some stalwarts that have been on their way up, however. And that could be worrisome heading into the warm months.

Winners

Paragraphimage Cadillac (+49.5%)

With the current-generation Cadillac CTS finally starting to wind down (and the all-new 2014 model well on its way), the 2013 Cadillac ATS is moving into its entry-level role within the Cadillac hierarchy with some momentum. Together, it and the CTS are exceeding sales of the CTS last year, and the new CTS should further add to that in addition to adding greater value (profit) to the Cadillac lineup. On top of that, the SRX crossover is still leading Cadillac's sales, and the XTS is a not-shabby third place with 3,061 sales last month. Lincoln, take note, this is how you properly revive an American luxury brand. Paragraphimage Porsche (+41.8)

Porsche just recorded the best first quarter it's ever had in the U.S. since opening shop here in 1948. The reason? The Porsche Cayenne continuing to lead its sales figures, nearly outselling the Porsche Boxster, Cayman, and 911 combined. But those three models were no slouches, either, posting dramatic improvements on all three fronts. That can be attributed to all of them having just undergone full redesigns, reigniting sales for the brand in sports cars as well as its sport utility vehicle. You can bet Porsche is eager to get its more affordable Macan to market soon. Paragraphimage Buick (+37.4)

Don't think Cadillac had all the fun to itself at GM. Buick pulled an impressive 37-percent gain from March 2012 by way of one all-new product, the 2013 Buick Encore (3,003 sales); one significantly revised product, the 2013 Buick Enclave (5,676), and strong efforts from the LaCrosse and Verano. The Regal is still flailing to find its purpose, having suffered a significant loss in sales since losing its entry-level model, the inception of the Verano, and a price increase. It will be interesting to see how it fares once its refreshed iteration hits dealer lots. Paragraphimage Acura (+26.3)

Acura is a fractured brand, but luckily it's fractured in the right places. Its TL, ILX, MDX, and RDX models are all selling decently well. On the other hand, Acura sold just 43 ZDX crossover coupes last month, eight RL full-size sedans that are getting replaced with the 2014 RLX, and a disappointing 1,492 Acura TSX compact sports sedans and wagons, which is about half the number the brand sold last year during the same time. Acura was rumored to be discontinuing the TSX, but we've heard there will be a third-generation model. It can't come soon enough. Paragraphimage Ram (+24.5)

Undergoing an extensive refresh that added an eight-speed automatic transmission, an air suspension, and refreshed interiors, the 2013 Ram 1500 has enjoyed a huge uptick in sales. Part of that might be attributable to its high-profile Motor Trend Truck of the Year win late last year. With the Ram 1500 getting a light-duty diesel option and the addition of the Ram Promaster commercial van in the near future, expect the brand to keep up its success.

Losers

Paragraphimage Mitsubishi (-26.2)

Poor Mitsubishi. With no Galant, an aging lineup, an electric car that's simply not competitive, and a limited advertising budget, it looked like Mitsubishi has been left for dead. We say "looks like" because there's a new Outlander hitting showrooms soon; the Mirage subcompact, while looking like a dud in our eyes, should be able to bring in shoppers looking for cheap, reliable transportation; and there's a new Lancer debuting soon in China for world consumption. Mitsubishi says there will be a marketing push, too, so the end may not be nigh. Paragraphimage Lincoln (-22.5)

You know the brand is holding its head in shame when it won't even post the release with its sales data on its own site. None of the models Lincoln sells enjoyed gains. The MKZ should have, but limited supplies crippled its chances. The larger Lincoln MKS was crippled by anonymity, and the MKT crossover was off more than 27 percent, moving just 571 units. If there is a bright spot, it's that the MKZ will ramp up sales, the MKC crossover and larger, redesigned MKX will be out in a matter of a few months at this point, and the Navigator still sells decently well despite its desperate need of a redesign. Paragraphimage Volvo (-19.8)

This one has us a bit worried. Volvo is already a small player in the U.S., and losing a fifth of its sales is never good. The S60 and XC60, were both the brand's newest vehicles and its best-selling. As announced earlier this year, the C30 is getting discontinued, the rest of the lineup is getting refreshed, and the V60 wagon will be entering the U.S. by the beginning of next year. Now if Volvo would bring over its compact V40 from Europe, we'd be OK with that. It'd open up a cheaper point of entry for the brand and likely prop up sales until new products start rolling in. Paragraphimage Kia (-14.6)

Let's start with the bad news: Ouch. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Not one Kia enjoyed sales gains after a long streak of record numbers. Other than the Optima, none are up on the year, either. So where's the good news? The 2014 Kia Forte hits showrooms this month, there's a new Cadenza full-size sedan, and Kia has unveiled four other vehicles over the last month in addition to the 2014 Sorento that are on their way to dealerships. On top of that, Kia has been running down its supply of Sedona minivans in anticipation for changes to a 2014 model and an all-new version shortly thereafter. Paragraphimage Jeep (-12.4)

Without the compact Jeep Liberty, the brand suffered an unusual setback this month with sales. All other models saw sales increases. The 2014 Jeep Cherokee, while controversial in its looks, should be able to help the brand continue its momentum as it launches later this year. Now, however, was just a case of leaving the compact SUV slot empty until it can be filled. We wouldn't bet against the refreshed 2014 Grand CherokeeWrangler, and Patriot picking up the Liberty's slack in the meantime, though.

 
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