By The Numbers: October Sales Scary for Some
October was a tricky month with few treats for the auto industry. Overall, total U.S. sales just about broke even, ending-up with a 1.2 percent increase over October of last year. Year-to-date (YTD) sales sank 2.5 percent. Ford and Chrysler were the biggest losers; both domestic automaker suffered big decreases from the month last year and continuing to drop in the annual numbers. Here's how our bellwether models finished the month.
After a brief peak in August, Impala sales have been edging down, with a 1.6 per cent decrease for the month. However, thanks to robust spring sales, it's still up 12.6 percent YTD over 2006. Chrysler 300 sales have almost flatlined, sinking 15.2 percent below October last year. Annual sales show the same trend, with a 15 per cent decline YTD. The Fusion remains one of the few bright stars in Ford's fading firmament. It's up 13.1 per cent for the month and 2.3 per cent on the year. Toyota's stalwart Camry faltered a bit in October, dropping 0.2 percent from last October; for the year, though, it's up 6.4 per cent.
It looks like pickups are slowing down. With only moderate sales incentives, Chevy's Silverado finished the month seven per cent lower than last year, down 2.4 per cent YTD. Even with substantial cash on the hood, the hoary Dodge Ram fell 12.5 per cent for the month, and 0.6 percent for the year. Ford's F-series also had another bad month, ending 7.5 per cent below last year; year to date they lost 12.5 per cent. The Toyota Tundra remains much more popular than its [relatively] diminutive predecessor. Sales rose 77.9 per cent for month and ascended by 59.8 per cent for the year.
Chevy's Tahoe bucked the downward trend for large SUVs with a 31.9 per cent increase over last October. It's down 5.4 per cent for the year, but that's nothing compared with Durango. Sales pf the once-popular Dodge SUV fell 66.5 per cent for the month, and 34 per cent on the year. The Ford Explorer was somewhat better off with "just" a 18.3 per cent decline for the month, and a 23.8 per cent drop YTD. Toyota's 4Runner showed a surprising 15.3 per cent jump over last October, but total sales were down 14.5 per cent from last year.
Even though CUVs are this year's big thing, the Chevy Equinox was down 19 per cent from last October, down 21 per cent for the year. Chrysler's doomed Pacifica showed similar declines: down 12.5 per cent for the month and 28.1 per cent on the year. The Escape was another bright spot in Ford's otherwise dismal world, with a 26.8 per cent increase over last October, and a jump of 5.5 per cent over last year. The Toyota RAV-4 fared even better. Sales were up 31.2 per cent for the month and 15.6 per cent on the year.
The Acadia remains the most popular of the Lambda triplets with 100 more sales in October than September. GMC's shifted 59K Acadias this year. Ford's Edge sold 3.5K more units over September, with 103.8K sold YTD. The worst of the TTAC's "Ten Worst"– the Jeep Compass— dropped 600 units from last month. Despite the hype, Jeep's managed to move 33.5K Compass this year.
October is traditionally a low sales month, as the old model year winds down and the new one gets underway. Nonetheless, GM managed to finish the month 3.4 per cent ahead of last October. However, for the year to date, they're down 5.7 per cent. Chrysler has been below their 2006 sales line since June. For October, they finished 8.9 percent below last October; that's down 8.9 total for the year. Strong showings from Focus, Escape and Edge couldn't offset Ford's dependence on truck sales. Total sales fell 9.3 per cent below last month, and 13 per cent year to date. Toyota continued their seemingly inexorable climb up the sales charts– up 4.5 per cent from last month, up 3.9 from last year.
The times they are a-changing. Will the new UAW contracts reinvigorate The Big 2.8? Will Chrysler's slice its way to a sustainable product portfolio? Will the Chevy Malibu be the hit Bob Lutz thinks it will, and/or will it cannibalize Impala sales? Is Ford's redesign of the F-Series too little too late? Will the mortgage crisis and other macro-economic issues kneecap the US or world automotive industry? As Bette Davis might say, "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride."
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