Thanks to a slightly shorter sales month and a particularly strong December, U.S. auto sales volume in January 2016 declined by a modest 0.4%. Subaru, however, was one of 20 mostly lower-volume brands to report a year-over-year increase in U.S. sales.
The three top-selling auto brands in America all reported declines in January, not out of step with the industry during a month in which auto sales shrink to their lowest level of the year, a month in which there were two fewer days to sell new vehicles than in 2015. (Thank the quirky auto sales calendar for that.)
U.S. Vehicle Sales Rankings By Model - January 2016
Because of the strange calendar, Subaru's 0.7% sales increase appears modest. Yet on a daily selling rate basis, Subaru sales rose 9.1% in January 2016. Regardless, even with the restrictions of the calendar, Subaru sold more new vehicles this January than last, the 50th consecutive month of improvement for Subaru's U.S. operations.
The month prior to this streak, way back in November 2011, Subaru's market share was a lowly, scarcely noticeable 1.8%. In January 2016, Subaru's market share was precisely double that, a 3.6% share which made Subaru the ninth-best-selling auto brand in America.
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In fact, Hyundai, a global powerhouse, reported the company's best-ever January U.S. sales results in 2016's first month. But Subaru, with its own best-ever January, was fewer than 4000 sales abaft.
While Hyundai will scale back production of the Elantra and Sonata to make room for greater Santa Fe production, Subaru's surge has been powered by almost every corner of its lineup.
Combined sales of the Forester, Impreza/WRX/STI, Legacy, Outback, and XV Crosstrek increased by 72,000 units in 2015, a 14% year-over-year increase. Only the extremely low-volume BRZ sports car, down 29%, got in the way of an across-the-board improvement.
2015 was the best year ever for U.S. sales of the Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and the WRX/STI, and for the Subaru brand as a whole. Targeting the market's key growth sectors is a straightforward task for Subaru, as well. The three high-riders in the automaker's lineup – Forester, Outback, Crosstrek – account for seven out of every ten sales in Subaru showrooms and collectively expanded their volume by 13%, or 47,000 units in 2015.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.