Honda Sales Rise 13% in February, as Korean Brands Also Report Gains


Not beset with the problems facing another famous Japanese automobile brand, American Honda Motor reported sales rose 12.7% in February on higher sales of Accord and luxury Acura models. For the month, Honda said it sold a 80,671 vehicles, compared to 71,575 during the same month a year ago.

The North American unit of Tokyo-based Honda Motor (HMC) said its Honda division sales totaled 71,732, a rise of of 12.2%, while those within the Acura unit rose 16.7% to 8,939. Honda said Accord models accounted for the most sales of any Honda nameplate, recording sales of 22,456, a 40.6% increase.

Those sales likely came at the expense of Toyota Motor's (TM) comparable mid-sized Camry, which saw sales plummet 20% last month. The Camry is among several Toyota models that has been recalled for unintended acceleration problems. Additionally, some 7,300 current model year 4-cylinder Camrys have been recalled for possible brake problems.

'Crossover' Car Helped Honda Sales

Honda said Accord sales also benefited from the addition of a new model, the Crosstour, the company's entry into the growing market for "crossover" vehicles, which resemble station wagons. Other Honda gainers included Honda's Civic compact car, which saw sales rise 5%, and its Odyssey minivan, which recorded an 11.4% sales jump.

"A year ago the economy and our industry were at a low point marked with great uncertainty," John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda, said in a written statement. "While we remain cautious, we're happy to see customers actively seeking Honda products like the all-new Accord Crosstour."

Among other makes, Hyundai said its sales rose 11% on strength in sales of two redesigned models. The South Korean auto maker said sales of the Tucson small SUV surged of 102%, while those of its overhauled 2011 Sonata sedan, which competes against the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, rose 58%. The new Sonata, which is manufactured in a plant in Alabama, was introduced last month.

Kia Sales Rise 9% In February

Meanwhile, Hyundai's sister brand, Kia, reported sales rose 9% in February, raising total U.S. sales to 24,052, up from 22,073 during the same period a year ago. Among top sellers, Kia said it sold 8,207 2011 Sorento crossovers, compared to 3,598 of the previous model in February 2009. Kia also noted that sales of the Soul, a boxy passenger vehicle that competes with Toyota's Scion xB, saw sales of 3,600 in February, compared to just 34 last year. Toyota reported earlier Tuesday that sales of the xB fell 6.2% to 1,539 units in the U.S.

Japanese auto maker Nissan said its U.S. sales surged 29% in February, as sales of its Versa subcompact more than doubled, while sales of Maxima and Sentra models also rose. For the month, Nissan said it sold 70,189 vehicles, compared to 54,249 units a year earlier. Nissan division sales rose 32% for the month and sales of Infiniti vehicles were nearly 11% higher, the Associated Press reported.

Chrysler, the smallest of the U.S. Big Three, said sales rose incrementally in February, as stronger demand for some models was offset by steep declines for others. Compared to January, the company said, sales rose 48%. Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger mid-sized sedans led the increase, Chrysler said, as did the Jeep Compass compact SUV, which saw sales nearly double last month, compared to a year ago.

Earlier in the day, Ford Motor (F) reported its vehicle sales rose 43% last month, and that the company's share of the U.S. market rose 3 percentage points to 17%, compared to the same period a year ago. The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker, the recipient of two industry awards for its 2010 Fusion midsized sedan, said sales rose 22% when compared to the previous month.

GM Appears On The Rebound

GM got the ball rolling Tuesday in announcing that its sales rose 11.5% compared to a year ago. Excluding its orphaned Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn and Saab brands, the Detroit-based automaker reported total sales rose 32% compared to February 2009. GM said it sold 138,849 cars last month on "continued strong" sales growth of large crossover vehicles and passenger cars.

At the retail level, sales at GM's remaining four "core" brands -- Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac -- rose 7% last month, thanks to strong consumer demand for Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Cadillac SRX crossover vehicles.

Meanwhile, sales of large crossovers also helped Japan's Subaru, which said February sales jumped 38% to 18,098 led by Outback and Legacy models. Both vehicles were redesigned for 2010. Sales of Subaru's smaller Impreza sedan and Forester SUV were flat.