The auto industry sales results for 2011 have been released.

A year ago, it was written here about a prediction for 2011 sales: “Although many of the so-called experts are extremely bullish for 2011, my forecast is light vehicle sales will not exceed 13.25 million for the year.” The results: 12,778,885 vehicles were sold in the U.S. last year.

You CAN win them all!

Not to bother you with too many statistics, but progress by Detroit automakers —and others — demands a report. General Motors Co. sales improved 13 percent over 2010 with 2,503,797 sales. Ford Motor Co. reported a 9 percent gain with 2,143,101 vehicle sales.

Most surprisingly, the Chrysler group’s sales leaped 26 percent with 1,369,114 reported sales. What is the reason, or reasons, for Chrysler’s astounding recovery?


Yes, the Jeep division sold 128,211 more vehicles than the previous year, riding on the Grand Cherokee success. In a rare feat, Jeep outsold GMC last year. The totals: Jeep, 419,349; GMC, 397,973.

Both brands were hot last year, with GMC sales up 19 percent and Jeep up 30 percent.

Here are the top 10 vehicles for 2011:

1.Ford F Series - 584,917

2.Chevrolet Silverado - 415,130

3.Toyota Camry - 308,510

4.Nissan Altima - 268,981

5.Ford Escape - 254,293

6.Ford Fusion - 248,067

7.Ram - 244,763

8.Toyota Corolla/Matrix - 240,259

9.Honda Accord - 235,625

10.Chevrolet Cruze - 231,732

Beamer and Benz

This month two of the leading global carmakers, BMW AG and Daimler AG, revealed plans to increase production in the U.S.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The two German automakers boost their presence in a rebounding North American market and look to reduce exposure to swings in the value of the Euro.

“BMW, the world’s best-selling luxury car maker, said it will invest nearly $900 million over the next three years to expand its plant in Spartanburg, creating 300 new jobs this year. It will also launch a new sport-utility vehicle named X4 to broaden its product lineup.

“‘This is in response to rising global demand for our new BMW X models,’ said production chief Frank-Peter Arndt.

“At about the same time, Daimler said it will create 1,100 jobs at its Freightliner truck plant in Cleveland, N.C.

“‘Freight volume is back up to pre-crisis levels, and vehicle fleets are now being gradually replaced having not been modernized for several years,' Daimler said in a statement.”

Please do not dismiss this Freightliner news lightly … over the years, it has been this columnist’s contention that the heavy duty truck industry is the first segment in the economy to signal recovery from a recession.

The WSJ also reported BMW Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer remains “very optimistic” about growth prospects in North America. “‘The U.S. is BMW’s biggest market after Germany and the demographic trend is much more favorable than in Europe,’” he said.

The core BMW brand sold 1.38 million cars worldwide last year, up 13 percent from 2010 — and a record. BMW, which exclusively produces the X6, X5 and X3 sport utility vehicles in South Carolina, plans to ramp up the annual production capacity to 350,000 vehicles in the midterm.

BMW produced 276,065 vehicles in South Carolina last year, 73 percent more than the previous year. And, a high percentage of them went through the Charleston port. The European car and truck manufacturers continue to realize the benefit (read: profits) of producing vehicles in America.

Rupert Stadler, the CEO of Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand, recently announced that Audi will begin building luxury cars in the United States within the next three years.

Go after Audi, Governor Haley!

Dr. George G. Spaulding is a retired General Motors executive and distinguished executive-in-residence emeritus at the School of Business at the College of Charleston. He can be reached at 2 Wharfside St. 2A Charleston SC 29401.