Orange County Business Journal

OC Brands Help Lift Auto Sales Back to Pre-Recession Levels

Kari Hamanaka Friday, January 4, 2013

Several local automakers rallied in December, helping the industry to its best year for sales nationally since 2007.

Auto sales nationally totaled 14.5 million vehicles last year, an increase of 13.4% from a year earlier, according to Woodcliff Lake, NJ-based Autodata Corp.’s online industry researcher Motor Intelligence.

Orange County’s largest automaker Hyundai Motor America Inc. sold 59,435 vehicles in December, up 17% from a year earlier.

Hyundai, which is based in Costa Mesa until its new Fountain Valley office campus is completed, saw a third-straight record-breaking year for sales in 2012 with 703,007 vehicles sold, up 9% from a year earlier.

Irvine-based Kia Motors America Inc., which shares a parent with Hyundai in South Korea-based Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, sold 39,178 vehicles in December. That was down 9.7% from the year-ago period, ending 27 straight months of record sales.

Kia sold 557,599 vehicles for the year, up 14.9% from a year earlier, also a third-straight record year.

Mazda North American Operations of Irvine sold 27,251 vehicles in December, up 21.9% from a year earlier.

Mazda sold 277,046 for the year, up 10.6% from a year earlier and its best full-year sales results since 2007.

Cypress-based Mitsubishi Motors North America sold 4,113 vehicles in December, down 18% from a year earlier.

Mitsubishi sold a total of 57,790 vehicles last year, down 26.9%. The decline is the result of an August 2011 halt in production of the Eclipse coupe, Eclipse Spyder convertible and Endeavor crossover.

Brea-based American Suzuki Motor Corp., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November, sold 1,946 vehicles in December, down 24% from a year earlier. The company attributed the decline on low inventory as it winds down its U.S. vehicle sales.

American Suzuki auto dealers are set to receive one more shipment of 2,500 vehicles this month. Nearly all of the company’s dealers will continue to provide service and parts to vehicle owners.

American Suzuki’s full-year sales fell 5% from a year earlier to 25,358.