While sales of Detroit automakers thrived last month from red hot SUV and full-size truck sales, import brands such as Toyota Motors (NYSE:TM) did well through their own SUVs as well as luxury vehicles and passenger cars. Investors' eyes were locked on Volkswagen Group (NASDAQOTH:VLKAY) and how sales would be affected during the first full month of sales after its diesel emissions cheating scandal erupted. Here are highlights from Toyota's solid sales results and how Volkswagen managed to dodge a full-blown disaster in October.
Toyota exceeds estimates
Toyota posted a strong sales month during October with its total volume increasing 13% to 204,045 units sold. Due to this year's October having one more selling day during the month than last year, that adjusts down to a 9% gain on a daily selling-rate basis (DSR). That's still a strong gain, partially driven by having a fifth Saturday landing during the calendar month, which enables more foot traffic and business transactions.
Breaking it down, Toyota's namesake brand posted October sales of 177,609 units while Lexus reported sales of 26,436 units. Highlights from the namesake Toyota brand showed three of its most popular vehicles continue to sell well: The Corolla, Camry, and RAV4 posted respective gains of 12%, 5% and 31.3%. Toyota's management also remains very positive about its luxury Lexus lineup.
"We continue to see strong sales for our luxury utility vehicles as evident by a solid month posted by NX and GX. The LS flagship luxury sedan and RC F coupe also posted gains that helped propel us to a best-ever October," said Jeff Bracken, group vice president and general manager, Lexus Division, in a press release. "We are most excited about the arrival of the all-new RX as it hits showrooms today. We expect this new model to continue energizing the brand as we close the year."
Volkswagen avoids disaster
Many eyes were on Volkswagen Group's sales during October, because it was the first full month of sales to be negatively affected by the consumer backlash from its diesel emissions cheating scandal. Volkswagen decided to use hefty discounts to record a small 0.2% gain in the U.S. market last month with its namesake Volkswagen brand, selling just over 30,000 vehicles.
It should be noted those figures don't include Volkswagen Group's Audi figures, which continue to perform well. Audi's sales jumped nearly 17% to 17,700. Looking at the Volkswagen and Audi figures combined -- along with Bentley, Lamborghini, and Porsche -- Volkswagen Group posted a 5.4% gain in October, compared to last year.
Looking specifically at the hefty discounts Volkswagen used to prevent a disastrous sales drop with its namesake brand, the German automaker offered discounts of $2,000 for repeat Volkswagen buyers and low or zero-interest financing. It also offered dealer-cash bonuses as high as $2,750 for gasoline Passat midsize sedans, $2,250 for gasoline Jetta compacts and as much as $2,750 for the Tiguan crossover.
"We would like to again thank our customers for their patience and loyalty," Volkswagen of America COO Mark McNabb said in a statement, according to Automotive News. "Volkswagen is committed to making things right and actively working to restore trust."
Overall, new vehicle sales in the U.S. surged to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 18.23 million in October. That was the highest mark since July 2005. Major automakers certainly have strong momentum heading into a strong holiday selling season, but there are concerns that it will become a very competitive and incentive fueled selling-season -- that will be one factor for investors to watch as the final two selling months are reported.
Daniel Miller has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.