May 2014 Car Sales, Prices Continue To Rise As Loan Terms Lengthen

June 3, 2014

So far, 2014 has been a good year for car sales, with monthly tallies showing growth at almost all major carmakers, and predictions sunny for summer. May’s car sales figures reflect a continuation of that trend, with many brands reporting their best sales month in years.

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General Motors and Toyota report their best sales since 2008, while Ford Motor Company claimed its best month since 2005. Audi and Porsche had their best sales month ever in the U.S., while BMW reported its best May results ever.

On top of the strong sales results, new car transaction prices rose 2 percent in May, according to Kelley Blue Book. Premium models are expected to drive further sales growth throughout 2014, according to JD Power and LMC Automotive. LMC Automotive’s senior vice president of forecasting, Jeff Schuster, said, “Nearly one-half of the new-model activity in 2014 will be premium vehicles, which is expected to create new competition for mainstream segments as premium price points cross into those of many non-premium  models.”

Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer notes the role of premium vehicles in the market, saying, “Small and mid-size car share has declined slightly, as car shoppers opt for small and mid-size crossovers, helping boost this month’s average transaction price.”

Supporting this increased appetite for more expensive, more premium vehicles is a trend toward longer loan terms in the automotive financing market. Experian Automotive reports the average loan term has reached a record high of 66 months, while loans with terms of 73-84 months grew 27.6 percent in the first quarter of 2014, accounting for 24.9 percent of all new vehicles loans issued. Likewise, the average amount financed is also at an all-time high of $27,162 through the first quarter, a rise of $964 from 2013.

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For a look at how the plug-in electric car market fared in May, read the analysis at Green Car Reports.

Here are the sales figures reported by automakers for the month of May 2014:

General Motors: GM [NYSE:GM] sold a total of 284,694 vehicles in May, a rise of 13 percent from May 2013. Chevrolet sold 205,010 of that total, up 14.2 percent. GMC accounted for 45,039 sales in May, a gain of 8.3 percent. Buick sold 19,957 cars, gaining 11.0 percent, and Cadillac sold 14,688 cars, rising 6.4 percent.

Ford: Ford Motor Co. [NYSE:F] says its combined Ford and Lincoln brands sold 254,084 vehicles in May, up 3.0 percent from the year-ago period. The Ford brand accounted for 245,239 of those sales, a year-on-year gain of 2.5 percent. Lincoln rose 21.1 percent against May 2013 with 8,845 vehicles sold.

Toyota / Lexus / Scion: Toyota recorded 243,236 vehicles sold across its three U.S. brands in May, a rise of 12.6 percent from last May. The Toyota division sold 216,315 vehicles, a 12.2 percent gain. Lexus division sold 26,921 cars, a 16.6 percent rise.

Chrysler: Across its four brands, Chrysler sold 194,421 vehicles in May, a 17 percent gain from last May. Chrysler’s Jeep brand led the company’s sales rise in May, up 58 percent to 70,203 vehicles. The Chrysler brand fell 22 percent to 22,592 vehicles sold. Dodge brand vehicles sold 57,923 examples, a 3.0 percent gain. Fiat sold 4,771 cars, up 18 percent. The Ram Truck brand sold 38,932 trucks, gaining 19 percent.

Honda / Acura: American Honda sales rose 9.0 percent in May, to a total of 152,603 vehicles. The Honda division accounted for 137,928 of those sales, rising 9.8 percent from last May. Acura rose 2.2 percent on 14,675 vehicles delivered.

Nissan / Infiniti: Total Nissan Group sales in May rose 18.8 percent to 135,934 vehicles. Nissan Division sold 125,558 vehicles, rising 17.8 percent from May 2013, while Infiniti sold 10,376 vehicles, a 31.4 percent gain.

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