Auto sales: Here’s what buyers coveted and shunned in 2013


Final auto sales numbers for 2013 make it easy to pick out the industry’s winner and losers.

At the top of the heap is Ford’s F-Series pickup truck — with 763,402 sales last year, more than any other vehicle in America, a title it has held for more than three decades.

To put that in perspective, Ford sold more trucks than the entire lineups of all but five other automakers in the U.S. The runner-up, the Chevrolet and Silverado and GMC truck lines from General Motors, sold a combined 644,802.

Toyota continues to do especially well with two cars. With sales topping 400,000, the Camry was the best selling passenger car in the U.S., beating its closest competitor, the Honda Accord, by more than 72,000 vehicles.


Meanwhile, the gas-sipping Prius hybrid — once written off as a quirky niche car for environmentalists — sold more than 234,000 units last year. That was just a few thousand less than the previous year, when gas prices were higher, a trend that drives sales of hybrids.

The Prius is California’s best-selling vehicle of any kind, and has established itself as serious rival to conventional gasoline vehicles such as the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze.

In the luxury segment, Mercedes-Benz took the sales crown from BMW — narrowly outselling its German rival, 312,534 vehicles to 309,280. Lexus, a former victor, trailed with sales of 273,847.

Keep an eye on Cadillac, which logged a torrid 22% gain in sales to 182,543, making it the fastest growing major luxury brand. Jaguar Land Rover also had an especially good year — with sales up 20% to almost 67,000. That’s a strong start for two British brands that have recently merged under the ownership Tata Motors, India’s largest automaker.

The big luxury loser was Lincoln. Sales fell about 1% to just under 82,000, even as Ford put serious effort and marketing into a reinvention of the once venerable premium brand.

The year also featured increasingly fierce competition in the realm of rechargeable cars — either all-electric vehicles, or plug-in hybrids, which can run for a limited range on electricity alone before switching to gas-electric hybrid motors. Chevrolet won with selling 23,094 Volts. Nissan came in second, selling 22,610 units of the all-electric Leaf. Tesla placed third, selling 19,351 of its Model S electric luxury sport sedans.

But the Tesla numbers may be the most impressive, given the high cost of the car, which starts at $71,070 and climb into six figures with the largest available battery and option packages. The Model S easily outsold Mercedes’ similarly priced S-class and BMW’s 7-series, its gasoline luxury rivals. Still, rechargable cars remain just a tiny fraction of the 15.6 million autos that were sold in the U.S. last year.

Overall, U.S. automakers gained ground, accounting for 45.2% of the American auto market last year, up from 44.5%, according to Autodata Corp. Asian brands, from Japan and South Korea, slipped to 45.1% from 45.6%. European brands fell to 9.7% from 9.9%.


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