Hurricane Sandy Pounds October Car Sales, But They'll Be Back
Hurricane Sandy took its toll on October car sales, but like the resilient residents of the East Coast ravaged by the storm, they'll bounce back.
October car sales totaled 1,091,503 vehicles, up 7 percent from October 2011, putting the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of sales for October at 14.3 million vehicles, compared with 13.3 million last October and 14.9 million this September.
The Storm Damage: The storm struck one of the biggest car-buying regions at the worst time of the month possible.
About 20 percent of U.S. car sales come from Mid-Atlantic and New York/New Jersey region hit by Hurricane Sandy. For automakers like Honda, Toyota and Nissan, who rank No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 in the region respectively in terms of sales volume, the impact was even worse as they are the region's top brands, noted Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. Nissan and Honda are in launch mode for their new midsize sedans — the Nissan Altima and Honda Accord. Midsize sedans are the most popular vehicles in the storm-ravaged Greater New York and Northern New Jersey area, accounting for 20 percent of all vehicle sales there. Compact cars make up more than a third of sales in the area. In contrast, pickup sales make up only 3 percent of all sales in the area, compared with 11 percent nationally.
Further, the storm struck in the closing days of the month, a time that typically accounts for 30 percent of all sales in a month. As a result of this confluence of factors, Edmunds.com estimates that 30,000 sales were lost to Hurricane Sandy, reducing the SAAR by 0.4 million vehicles, said Caldwell. Edmunds.com pre-storm forecast had total sales at 1,132,878 million vehicles for a SAAR of 14.8 million vehicles.
The Silver Lining: However, the silver lining is that October's "lost" sales weren't lost for good but merely deferred. Edmunds.com expects those sales will be made up in November and beyond. Additional sales could result as storm victims replace their vehicles damaged or destroyed by the hurricane.
"We don't have a handle yet on how many vehicles were destroyed or damaged in the storm, so we don't know what the incremental volume will be in the next few months, but we know there will be increased interest on both the new and used side as people replace vehicles damaged in the storm," said Caldwell.
Edmunds.com Chief Economist Lacey Plache pointed out that Hurricane Katrina affected New Orleans and the surrounding area, which is much less populated than New York/New Jersey. "In Hurricane Katrina, there were about a half million damaged vehicles. Sandy's impact may well be higher, but even if 100,000 damaged vehicles are replaced by the end of the year it could boost auto sales three to four percent for the quarter."
Automakers recognize the plus-business opportunity and are offering incentives on vehicle purchases to storm victims. General Motors announced a $500 rebate to buyers in the region. Nissan is providing employee pricing to them. Toyota will announce details of a 90-day deferred first payment program to assist consumers in the region.
Underlying Strong Fundamentals: In spite of Hurricane Sandy, October was reasonably strong with economic fundamentals along with pent-up demand fueling car sales.
"Consumer sentiment is high while credit is cheap and widely available," said Caldwell. "Those factors combined with replacement vehicles that will be purchased due to storm damage, the fourth quarter of 2012 could end on a very strong note." Indeed, the most recent statistics show that the average new car purchased was financed at a 4.1-percent APR in September, which tied for the second-lowest monthly average since Edmunds.com began keeping records in 2002.
In addition, an increase in lease terminations and a recovering housing market — an indicator directly tied to vehicle sales, particularly truck sales — further contribute to a positive fourth-quarter outlook, noted Plache.
Some automakers agree that despite the hurricane, 2012 will end on a high note. Kurt McNeil, General Motors vice president of U.S. sales operations, said in a conference call that 2012 sales likely will be slower to the upper range of the automaker's forecast of 14 million to 14.5 million vehicles.
"All of these gains to date have come without the tailwind of residential housing. It has been the missing link that is so closely correlates to vehicles sales, especially truck sales. But we are at or near an inflection point," he said. He pointed out that housing starts are up to their highest level in four years, foreclosures are at their lowest level since 207 and housing sales are rising. All of those factors add up to the stronger consumer sentiment since September 2007. "We're confident we'll have a strong fourth quarter, and the industry will continue growing next year," he added.
Others are less optimistic. Nissan Division Vice President Al Castignetti told Edmunds.com that the economy faces two major hurdles: the election and the fiscal cliff. The election outcome could lead to a robust economy or a recession depending on the consumer's perception and subsequent actions, he noted.
GENERAL MOTORS: GM reported its highest October sales since 2007 of 195,764 vehicles, up 5 percent from a year ago, on par with Edmunds.com's forecast. GM said retail sales rose 7 percent; fleet sales declined 2 percent. All four divisions posted increases: Chevrolet, up 3 percent; GMC up 8 percent; and Buick and Cadillac rose 15 percent each.
GM's new products — notably new cars — are driving the automaker's sales higher. Car sales rose 15 percent from a year ago. The Chevrolet Cruze saw a 34-percent hike in sales The Chevrolet Volt had a record 2,961 sales in October. The Chevrolet Spark and Sonic, the Buick Verano and the Cadillac ATS also had a good month.
Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickup trucks, which will be replaced next year with new versions, climbed 8 percent. Overall truck sales dropped as GM discontinued sales of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size trucks, and sales of large SUVs, also to be replaced in the next year or so, fell.
Sales of crossovers, led by Cadillac SRX, GMC Acadia and GMC Terrain, edged 3 percent higher.
"If these (economic and sales) trends continue, housing may be the final piece of the puzzle that lifts sales above 15 million units on an annual basis just as GM prepares to launch even more new cars, crossovers and trucks," said McNeil. GM will replace 70 percent of its U.S. nameplates with redesigned or all-new vehicles over the course of 2012 - 2013.
FORD: Ford Motor Co. reported sales of 168,456 in October, about flat with October 2011 and below the 4-percent gain Edmunds.com had forecasted. The October numbers put total Ford sales at 1,858,270 for the first 10 months, 4.9 percent ahead of the pace for the same period last year.
The company focused on its aggregate 54-percent sales gain for small cars compared with last year, saying its total of 25,493 small-car sales marked the best October in 11 years. The small-car burst was accounted for almost entirely by the Focus compact, which gained 47.9 percent to 18,320 sales, but Ford also enjoyed an injection of fresh small-car sales from the all-new C-Max, which delivered 3,182 sales.
Many of Ford's passenger cars dropped in October, including the usually strong Fusion. But Ford is underway with a changeover to an all-new generation of its midsize sedan and the transition to the 2013 model brought a decline in the nameplate's October sales, which were off 29.9 percent to 12,690. The Taurus full-size sedan also dropped by 26.5 percent to 3,996 deliveries. And despite Ford's large month for small cars, the Fiesta subcompact continued its slide, dropping 3.2 percent to 3,991 sales, dragging the Fiesta down 22.6 percent for the year.
Ford's all-new Escape crossover led the company's utility-vehicle sales with 19,832 sales, a 4.1-percent hike compared with last October. The Explorer midsize crossover was up 12.9 percent to 13,538 sales, but the Edge was down 8.2 percent (8,406 sales), the Flex fell by 24.4 percent to just 1,444 sales and the Expedition full-size SUV fell 22 percent, finding just 2,943 buyers.
It was a big month for the F-Series pickup, with Ford saying the whopping 56,497 F-Series deliveries marked the best October for the full-size pickup line since 2004. Sales for F-Series were up 10.9 percent for the year and in October broke the half-million unit barrier at 520,230 — more than all of Ford's utility vehicles combined.
CHRYSLER: The Chrysler Group LLC reported sales of 126,185 in October, a 10-percent increase compared with October, 2011, making it Chrysler's best October since 2007. Still, Chrysler's performance did not live up to Edmunds.com's forecast of a 13-percent gain. Sales for four of the company's five brands improved compared with last October, although total sales at the Jeep brand declined by 5 percent. Octobers' figures brought Chrysler to a 10-month sales total of 1,376,855, a 23-percent increase over the first 10 months of last year.
The Dodge unit led the way for Chrysler in October with a 20-percent overall gain, fueled by the 5,455 units of incremental sales from the all-new Dart compact car. The stalwart Caravan minivan was Dodge's sales leader for the month, however, its 10,603 sales representing a 49-percent jump over last October. The Charger had a healthy 36-percent gain to 4,924 sales and the Journey crossover was up 18 percent to 5,955 sales. But the Durango large crossover was off 16 percent to 3,230 sales and the Challenger's 2,686 sales marked a 13-percent decline, while the phasing out Nitro and Caliber faded to less than 100 sales for each.
The Chrysler brand was up 5 percent on a 40-percent jump for the 300 large car, which found 5,183 buyers in October and a 31-percent gain for the Town & Country minivan at 8,281 sales. The 200 midsize sedan dropped 22 percent to 8,758 sales.
Ram pickups led the brand's October sales with 25,222 sales, a 20-percent improvement. The Ram cargo van chipped in with 385 sales, while the discontinued Dakota midsize pickup nearly dropped off the sales chart with 2 sales for the month.
The Fiat brand and its single nameplate, the 500 subcompact car, enjoyed a robust 89-percent jump in October to 3,720 sales. The 500 sold 34,462 units through October, a 130-percent improvement compared with the first 10 months of last year and tracking the 500 to break the 40,000-unit sales barrier for the year.
Chrysler's only slide for the month came, atypically, from Jeep. But the brand's 5-percent sales drop can be attributed to the ongoing de-emphasis of the Compass compact (off 52 percent) and Liberty (off 32 percent). The Compass — as well as Jeep's Patriot — is based on the phasing-out Dodge Caliber small-car platform. Jeep's remaining models all posted sales increases in October, however, led by the Patriot's 18-percent increase to 4,209 sales. The Wrangler was up 14 percent to a heady 11,310 units and the Grand Cherokee sold 11,919 (+ 8 percent) as the brand's best-selling model.
TOYOTA: Toyota reported October sales of 155,242 Toyota, Lexus and Scion brand vehicles, up 16 percent from a year ago, below Edmunds.com's forecast for a 25-percent hike. The Toyota Division posted sales of 135,392 vehicles, up 17 percent. The Lexus Division had sales of 19,850 vehicles, up 10 percent. Scion sales were up 49 percent. Yaris sales plummeted 62 percent to less than 2,600 units. Avalon sales are down as Toyota winds it down to clear the way for the new one that goes on sale in December.
Toyota-branded cars saw a 24-percent hike in sales. Sales of the Camry totaled a hefty 29,926 units. Corolla sales rose 29 percent to 20,949 vehicles. The Prius family of vehicles posted a 52-percent hike to 16,774 cars. Toyota truck and SUV sales climbed 8 percent, led by the Tacoma, RAV4, Highlander and Tundra. On the truck side, only the Sienna minivan saw a sales decline.
Scion sales hit 5,887 cars, up 49 percent helped by strong sales of the FR-S sports car, which posted sales of 1,107 units.
Lexus' sales report was mixed. New models did well; old ones not such much. Lexus cars sales rose 15 percent, led by the freshened ES 350 and the recently revamped GS, up 473 percent. Lexus utility vehicles rose 3 percent, led by the freshened RX.
Sales of all Toyota and Lexus hybrids totaled 24,065 vehicles, up 70 percent.
HONDA: American Honda reported sales of 106,973 in October, an 8.8-percent gain compared with October 2011 and below the 18-percent rise Edmunds.com had forecasted. Honda's passenger-car sales soared on the strength of the all-new Accord midsize sedan/coupe (launched in September) and the Acura upscale division turned in a rare out-performance of the Honda brand.
In the first full month of sales of the new-generation 2013 Accord, sales were up a solid 25.5 percent to 28,349, although in percentage terms, the Accord was outstripped by the Civic compact car, sales for which were up 27.9 percent to 20,687. Also joining in was the Fit subcompact, where 3,773 sales amounted to a 33.7-percent improvement compared with last October, when Honda was shaking off the last remnants of a vehicle-supply shortfall caused by an early-spring earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Honda's passenger-car business was not entirely positive in October, however: sales for the waning Insight and CR-Z hybrid sedan and coupe plunged 49 percent and 15.6 percent respectively; the Insight found just 251 buyers during the month, the CR-Z, 244.
Honda's truck sales were dominated by the CR-V compact crossover, which sold 20,205 units in October for a 4.5-percent gain. The low-volume Crosstour wagon and Ridgeline midsize pickup also improved, but the Pilot crossover slid 29.2 percent to 8,828 sales and the Odyssey minivan declined by 6.7 percent to 9,712 sales.
For the Acura premium-vehicle unit, overall sales were up 9.4 percent in October, to 12,163 units. The redesign of the RDX compact crossover continues to resonate with buyers: October sales soared by 62.9 percent to 2,659 units. Acura's best-seller, however, was the MDX midsize crossover, where 3,771 sales amounted to a 2.2-percent improvement compared with last year. The good results with crossovers came at the expense of Acura's cars, however: sales for every Acura passenger car declined in October. The TL midsize sedan was Acura's best-seller for the month, though moving 2,560 units resulted in a 3.8-percent drop. The entry-level TSX slid by 47 percent to just 1,577 sales and the relatively new ILX compact car added 1,529 units to Acura's total for the month.
NISSAN: Nissan North America reported sales of 79,685 units, down 3 percent from a year ago. Edmunds.com's pre-storm forecast had Nissan up 7 percent, a pace it was exceeding before Sandy, said Nissan Division Al Castignetti. Nissan division sales decreased 6 percent; Infiniti sales still climbed by 28 percent.
The hurricane-hit region accounts for 27 percent of Nissan-brand sales; Long Island is Infiniti's largest single region with 50 percent of Infiniti's U.S. business coming from the Eastern Seaboard.
As of Thursday, sales reporting day, 65 Nissan-brand dealers were out of business due to power outages. Those dealers account for 40 percent of Nissan's sales in the Northeast. Infiniti had 18 dealers, who represent 50 percent of all Northeast sales, out of power.
Still, sales of the new Altima, which went on sale in early summer, climbed 13 percent to 24,623 vehicles. Nissan Leaf had its strongest sales yet at 1,579 vehicles, up 86 percent from a year ago. The Pathfinder, being sold down to make way for the new one this month, saw a 47-percent hike in sales. Truck sales generally declined.
Infiniti's sales rise was driven by an 18-perceent increase in sales of the QX SUV, which had its best October ever. The FX line was up 19 percent. The M line had an 11-percent increase. And the new JX crossover had 2,084 sales. G sedan and coupe sales were off.
HYUNDAI: Hyundai Motor America reported sales of 50,271 in October, a 4-percent slide that broke a string of more than two years of consecutive month-over-month sales increases for the flourishing brand.
"October was a somewhat challenging month for us and the industry," said Dave Zuchowski, HMA's executive vice president of sales. "It appears industry volume may have temporarily stalled due to a blend of an extremely tight and undecided Presidential race, lingering economic uncertainty tied to 'fiscal cliff' anxiety and the devastating impact Hurricane Sandy had on our dealers and millions of residents along the Eastern seaboard."
Symbolic of the sudden halt in Hyundai's climb was the rare drop for the Sonata midsize sedan, the brand's usual best-seller and the model most identified with the Hyundai's expressive new-generation of models. Sonata sales were off just 8 percent, but any pullback for the Sonata is noteworthy after the kind of run the reengineered sedan has enjoyed. Also backsliding in October were the Accent subcompact (-30 percent to 3,373 sales), the Tucson compact crossover (off 9 percent to 3,451 units) and even the Veloster coupe, a recent star whose sales nonetheless slid 24 percent to 2,464. The Genesis sedan/coupe lineup declined by 19 percent to 2,175 sales.
Hyundai's gainers for October included the popular Elantra compact car, up 12 percent to 14,512 sales and the Santa Fe midsize crossover — a fully redesigned model recently hit showrooms — which was up 16 percent to 6,022 sales. The flagship Equus improved by 11 percent to 318 sales.
KIA: Kia Motors America reported sales of 42,452 in October, 12.6 percent better than October, 2011 and a sales volume that resulted in the best-ever October for Kia. "The Kia brand continues to grow and mature in the U.S. market and with seven all-new and refreshed vehicles scheduled to arrive in showrooms in 2013, including the all-new 2014 Forte sedan and redesigned Sorento that will be unveiled at this month's Los Angeles Auto Show, Kia will continue its efforts to advance value to new levels of sophistication," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO of KMA and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia.
It was another breakout month for Kia's best-seller, the Optima midsize sedan, which sold 12,948 units in October for a plump 50-percent gain. The new-generation Rio subcompact car was up 30 percent to 2,623 sales and the Forte compact car joined in with a 25-percent jump on 5,911 sales, as did the Soul compact hatchback, which was up 12 percent to 7,988 sales.
Despite the record October overall, Kia did have some misses for the month. Its second best-selling model, the Sorento midsize crossover, was off 6 percent to 9,615 sales. The Sportage compact crossover also dropped, enduring a 41-percent slide to 2,223 units. The Sedona minivan was off 20 percent to 1,144 sales.
VOLKSWAGEN: Volkswagen of America reported October sales of 34,311 vehicles, a 22-percent increase from a year ago for the German automaker's best October since 1972. Already in 10 months of this year, Volkswagen has had its best calendar year since 1973. And that is despite its heavy dependence on East Coast sales. About 25 percent of Volkswagen's dealers were hurt by Hurricane Sandy, said Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of the Volkswagen Group of America.
It was the best October ever for the midsize Passat sedan, with 8,355 sold, up 66 percent, and the Tiguan crossover, with 2,752 sold for a 60-percent hike. The Jetta remained Volkswagen's volume leader with sales of 11,253 units, up 3 percent. Beetle sales totaled 2,439 units, up 61 percent, with the convertible making its debut at the Los Angeles auto show later this month. Golf sales rose 15 percent to 2,914 units. Touareg sales amounted to 965 units, up 33 percent. Only Eos sales were down; Routan minivan sales were flat.
MERCEDES-BENZ: Mercedes-Benz record October sales of 23,978 for its Mercedes-Benz models, up 6 percent. Combined sales of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, Smart cars and Sprinter cargo vans totaled a record 26,642 vehicles, up 9 percent. "Despite the challenges of a storm of this magnitude and the incredible hardship in the Northeast, our strongest market, we managed to achieve another record month," said Steve Cannon, president and CEO, MBUSA. "We're still optimistic about ending this year with the highest sales in our history."
Mercedes-Benz sales were led by the C-Class (7,636 sales, up 8 percent), E-Class (5,265 sales, up 16 percent) and GLK-Class (2,943 sales, up 18 percent). Mercedes sold 435 SLK roadsters, a 105-percent increase, and 574 SL roadsters, up 567 percent. Posting lower sales than a year ago were the CL-, CLS-, R- and M-Class. Smart had October sales of 998 cars, up 205 percent for its 12th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increase.
BMW: The BMW Group, selling BMW and Mini branded vehicles, reported October sales of 32,339 vehicles, an increase of 19 percent.
"Momentum is increasing and the October figures show supply is finally catching up with demand as our new models arrive in greater numbers", said Ludwig Willisch, president and CEO, BMW of North America, LLC.
Sales of BMW brand vehicles increased 21 percent in October to 26,451 cars and utilities. Top performers for the month were the: 3 Series, up 26 percent to 9,729 cars; the 6 Series, up 86 percent to 770 units; X3, up 40 percent to 3,248 utilities; and X6 SAV, up 41 percent to 671 units. Other increases came from the 1 Series, up 15 percent to 778 units; the Z4, up 167 percent to 246 units; and X5, up 5 percent.
Reporting declines were the 7 Series, off 43 percent, and 5 Series, down 16 percent. Mini reported its best-ever October with sales of 5,888 vehicles, up 9 percent.
SUBARU: Subaru of America reported 26,119 sales in October, a 30-percent increase from a year ago. So far this year, Subaru has posted record-breaking annual sales of 271,582 — a 26-percent increase from the same period a year ago, which was the previous record.
"Subaru is celebrating a year of records; we couldn't be more thrilled with our results," said Thomas J. Doll, executive vice president and COO, Subaru of America, Inc. "The year isn't over yet and we expect XV Crosstrek sales will help drive even greater momentum throughout the remainder of the year."
The new Impreza posted the largest gain, 649 percent with sales of 3,638 cars. The Forester remains Subaru's volume leader with October sales of 5,409, down 1 percent. WRX sales were down 27 percent to 1,100 vehicles and Legacy sales were off 2 percent to 3,598 units. Tribeca sales fell 31 percent to a mere 184 units. The new BRZ sports car kicked in 402 sales; the Crosstrek added 1,735 sales.
MAZDA: Mazda North American Operations reported October sales of 18,622 vehicles, up 2 percent from a year ago.
The Mazda2 had its best-ever October with 1,124 cars sold, up 18 percent form a year ago. The Mazda3 also had its best October with sales up 34 percent to 8,518 vehicles. Models equipped with fuel-saving Skyactive technology represented 82 percent of all Mazda3 sales. Skyactive technology accounted for 62 percent of all Mazda sales; it comes on some Mazda3 models and the CX-5. The CX-5 recorded sales of 3,778 units in October; the automaker says it has a scant 29 days of supply available. MX-5 Miata sales rose 30 percent to 461 units.
Declines were posted by: Mazda5, off 21 percent to 761 units; Mazda 6, being wind down for its upcoming replacement, down 56 percent to 1,515 cars; and CX-9, down 41 percent to 1,465 units. The CX-7 and Tribute, available last year, are no longer available.
AUDI: Audi reported record-setting October sales of 11,708 new vehicles, up 15 percent from a year ago for Audi's 22nd consecutive month of record sales. Five models recorded year-over-year sales hikes of 20 percent or more; they were the A3 (up 60 percent), A4 (up 21 percent), A8 (up 55 percent), A6 (up 37 percent) and Q7 (up 43 percent).
Sales of Audi premium category vehicles (A8, A7, A6, Q7) accounted for 34 percent of October sales, up 36 percent from a year ago. A8 sales were up 55 percent, driven by the addition of the S8 version. A7 sales were up 17 percent. A6 sales soared 37 percent. The mix of S models was 15 percent for the S4 and 41 percent for the S5 and RS 5. TDI represented 45 percent of A3 sales and 29 percent of Q7 sales. The new Allroad kicked in 411 units of sales.
"The newly launched models in our performance lines — the Audi S6, S7, S8 and RS 5 — have been huge success stories by virtually selling out shortly after hitting showrooms," said Mark Del Rosso, Chief Operating Officer, Audi of America. "It's clear that premium car buyers are excited about the new generation of cars at the top of our lineup with the Audi A6, A7, A8 and Q7 models constituting 71 percent of our sales gain in October."
Reporting sales declines were: A5, down 6 percent; capacity-constrained Q5, down 7 percent; R8, down 32 percent (to a scant 47 units); and TT, down 34 percent.
VOLVO: Volvo Cars of North America reported October sales of 4,200 vehicles, down 14 percent from a year ago. The XC60 crossover led with 1,562 units sold, an 82-percent increase. Every other model in Volvo's line reported a decrease in the double digits.
MITSUBISHI: Mitsubishi Motors North America reported October sales of 3,981 vehicles, down 9 percent and included the impact of models that ended production in 2011. Sales of the Outlander Sport, now built in Normal, Ill., were up 18 percent to 1,675 vehicles, the second-highest monthly total ever, second only to September 2012.
"We are pleased at the consistent growth of the Outlander Sport, our top seller in the U.S," said MMNA President & CEO Yoichi Yokozawa. "This demonstrates that customers looking for a fuel-efficient CUV certainly have the Outlander Sport on their shopping list."
Every other Mitsubishi model posted a significant decline except the Evolution, up 22 percent to 202 units. The automaker sold 30 Mitsubishi i electric cars in October.
JAGUAR LAND ROVER: Jaguar Land Rover North America reported October sales of 3,828 vehicles, down 20 percent from a year ago. Land Rover sales were down 19 percent to 3,129 SUVs; Jaguar sales were down 23 percent to 699 cars.
PORSCHE: Porsche Cars North America reported sales of 3,211 vehicles, up 41 percent from a year ago. All Porsche models except the Panamera posted year-over-year gains, led by a 146-percent rise in Boxster/Cayman sales. Sales of the 911 rose 34 percent. Cayenne sales gained 64 percent.
"The market continues to be very responsive to our freshest line-up ever," said Detlev von Platen, President and CEO, Porsche Cars North America. "This makes us optimistic to keep this strong momentum for the future. The new Boxster, in particular, has quickly become a segment-leader again, collecting accolades by media outlets and consumers alike."
SUZUKI: Announcing it had filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was leaving the U.S. car market shortly after the October sales reports, American Suzuki Motor Corp. reported a 5-percent increase in sales to 2,023 units. The freshened Grand Vitara had a 64-percent sales gain; SX4 sales rose 13 percent.