By on October 2, 2010

U.S. auto sales climbed 29 percent last month, the biggest gain of the year. (Nearly) everybody was a winner: All but two booked increases in September. Suzuki lost 12 percent (itai!), and the “others” brand lost 4 percent.  Ford shot up 40 percent. Chrysler rocketed up by 61 percent. GM looked downright lame  in comparison by growing only 11 percent. From Porsche (+ 25 percent) to Hyundai (+44 percent), from Daimler (+ 18 percent ) to Toyota (+17 percent), everybody reported huge gains. But why is nobody partying?

Why did Jesse Toprak of cautiously call it “a solid month, another step in a stable, somewhat painful recovery?” We are comparing with September 2009, when sales had crashed like a junkie on withdrawal. And a withdrawal it had been. The month before, sales had gone on a cash-for-clunkers high. A year later, here are the flash-backs.

Just like the 21 percent drop in August was an aberration, caused by a comparison with a market on drugs, the September numbers should likewise be treated like the mood swings of a detox patient.

“It’s a bit deceptive because last September was so poor after the cash-for-clunkers program ended,” said Gerald Meyers, a professor at the University of Michigan Business School and a former chief of American Motors Corp. Still, “it seems as if auto sales in the U.S. have bottomed out and are headed up from here.”

The notable number is September’s seasonally adjusted sales rate (SAAR). Automotive News [sub] calculates it as 12.2 million, the highest since the cash-for-clunkers high.

The other notable number is the one in the rightmost column of the table that follows. Forget monthly jerks on drugs and on withdrawal. Look at the 9 month changes. 10 percent up. Not bad. But again, it’s a long ways from party time.

U.S. Light Vehicles Sales, September 2010

Automaker Sept. 2010 Sept. 2009 Pct. chng. 9 month
9 month
Pct. chng.
BMW Group 23,138 19,202 21% 192,286 179,462 7%
Chrysler Group
100,077 62,197 61% 820,220 715,516 15%
Daimler AG 21,100 17,814 18% 170,233 147,963 15%
Ford Motor Co. 160,375 114,241 40% 1,469,262 1,234,104 19%
General Motors 173,031 155,679 11% 1,635,339 1,536,903 6%
Honda (American) 97,361 77,229 26% 912,436 884,136 3%
Hyundai Group 76,627 53,134 44% 678,071 580,787 17%
Isuzu -% 165 -100%
Jaguar Land Rover 3,456 3,106 11% 32,037 27,059 18%
Maserati 136 130 5% 1,355 948 43%
Mazda 18,580 14,234 31% 174,770 160,189 9%
Mitsubishi 4,961 4,712 5% 41,392 42,839 -3%
Nissan 74,205 55,393 34% 673,701 580,296 16%
Porsche 1,971 1,581 25% 17,688 14,310 24%
Saab Cars North America 1,127 -% 2,625 -%
Subaru 21,432 14,593 47% 193,614 158,421 22%
Suzuki 1,641 1,859 -12% 16,972 33,520 -49%
Toyota 147,162 126,015 17% 1,311,316 1,296,422 1%
Volkswagen 28,223 24,698 14% 267,234 220,292 21%
Volvo Cars North America 4,152 -% 8,593 -%
Other (estimate) 294 307 -4% 2,646 2,756 -4%
TOTAL 959,049 746,124 29% 8,621,790 7,816,088 10%

Data courtesy Automotive News [sub]

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24 Comments on “September Sales Rise 29 Percent – But Where’s The Party?...”

  • avatar

    Again AutoNews has a different SAAR than Wards (11.7).  Anyone know why?  Heavy vehicles included?  Old versions of the factor?

  • avatar

    Look at Jaguar Land Rover’s growth, by comparison to most of the other companies in that table they are doing really well. As I’ve said before Ford fixed JLR only to sell it to TATA to enjoy the profits. That is looking like one dumb move now.
    Also I see TATA are now sending their future new models to JLR so that they can raise the quality of the vehicles so that they can compete with the likes of Ford. Nothing like arming the competition!

    • 0 avatar

      Didn’t they pay something like 2B for JLR?  Seems like a lot of coin considering tooling bills for the XF and XJ were coming up and fuel economy/emissions requirements raising the powertrain stakes.  With their volume car relatively fresh and the XJ fresh, they should be hitting high water marks for market share now, but there does not appear to be much left for an encore.  Net net, I don’t think Ford regrets that move.

    • 0 avatar

      I think Ford got around 1.2 billion dollar for JLR. That’s small beer for a company growing faster than Mercedes and BMW.

  • avatar

    Perhaps either the majority of the models sold were new, and they have a huge old stock (2010 model) inventory problem, or maybe everyone is buying the old cars (at a loss) and no one can afford the new ones.

  • avatar

    Just like my 401k, it’s doing better but not back to where it was before the bankers screwed us.

  • avatar
    Billy Bobb 2

    Quick equation on a napkin shows the average Suzuki dealer delivers one new unit per WEEK.

  • avatar
    Mike Kelley

    Now even Newsweek’s Mickey Kaus is skeptical about the GM IPO:

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    As we say in the education profession regarding standardized test #s; “At least your scores are heading in the right direction.”

  • avatar

    Chrsyler, Subaru, Hyundai and Ford are kicking butt.

    • 0 avatar

      In the case of Subaru, it helps that their competition has handed them the market for station wagons (close enough) under $25K in its entirety–with only one competitor (the VW Jetta) under $35K.

  • avatar

    I continue to be fascinated by the relative positions of GM and Chrysler.  Both were significantly damaged going into and because of the bankruptcy process.  GM has an advantage in more modern and appealing products (in most segments) and significantly higher incentive spending.  Chrysler is spending less in incentives and is still saddled with a relatively old lineup.  The new JGC was out in September, but this is about it.  And it is Chrysler that is growing smartly, while GM, while growing, is lagging the industry.

    Chrysler has a lot of new product in the pipeline and should see its figures continue to outperform the industry for the next 6-12 months based on this alone.  Also, history tells us that fresher product should lead the incentives down some more.  Month after month, GM leads the incentive race despite fairly fresh product, and is not growing at the rate that it ought to be in order to be successful.  This should concern GM’s management.

    • 0 avatar

      Depending on who you ask, either GM or Chrysler is the incentive king.  The manufacturers don’t publish the data so it’s up to third parties to try to compile/interpret it, and the results are not always consistent.

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    To all the people praising GM, Ford and Chrysler about their gains, hold your horses.
    I’m currently trying to find the fleet sale figures for September and while I can’t find them (which might indicate more that it should) I found these little tid-bids of information:
    GM’s fleet sales were 25% of its overall sales figures.
    Ford’s were 29% of its overall figure.
    Chrysler? Apparently they don’t want to break out their fleet sale figures.
    I suspect these sales figures aren’t as impressive as I first thought…

    • 0 avatar

      I’m sure fleets account for a lot of the Aveo, Sebring, and Focus gains.
      However, the biggest reasons for optimism come from trucks being up across every company, and, other than the Flex and Regal, products released since 2008 are selling well.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford’s were 29% of its overall figure.
      I thought the Taurus sales looked a bot plump this month…that explains it.  Ditto for the F-Series, Transient Connect, Escape, Focus, Edge, etc.

    • 0 avatar

      What percentage of Hyundai/Kia sales are fleet?

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      Howdy, Mikey!
      I don’t know Hyundai-Kia’s fleet sales, because I can’t find them. I’m still searching.
      I think it’s quite telling that manufacturers are keeping their fleet sale figures close to their chest.

      P.S. Found one source which states that Hyundai’s (Just Hyundai) fleet sales were 13% of the total sales for September.

    • 0 avatar

      Transit Connect is even 100% fleet. In one word bad.

    • 0 avatar

       Thanks Cammy, I was just wondering thats all. On the rare occasion that I rent I always specify GM only. Shocking eh? Anyway it never seems to be a problem, who knew?

       In Florida last spring I did notice the rental lots were jammed with Hyundais.

  • avatar

    The September ’10 performance of Government Motors is nothing short of pathetic. Not even 11 percent growth (10.5%) over a gawdawful September 2009? Year-to-date numbers of a measly six percent increase?
    What about all the excitement over all those new products, like the Daewoo Cruze? (Which garnered a collective “meh” from every single European reviewer, as well as most domestic scribes.) How about that upcoming Volt (which, ah, would appear to only manage real-world fuel economy of around 32 mpg…) or the Buick Regal (which already have weeds growing under the tires at car lots.)
    And so much for that promised IPO. C’mon now, who really expected that to happen?
    Is it too much to hope for that we’re seeing the tide turn against GM once more, and that perhaps we’ll even still see the death of GM — and with it, of course, the UAW — in the next few years? As usual, if that does indeed happen it will come much later than it should have, and at a far greater financial cost than it should have…

  • avatar

    Quelle surprise! Subaru has quietly overtaken BMW, Daimler and Mazda in the US. Going a little bit more maistream has obviously paid some big dividends. I wonder if the momentum can be sustained?

    Are Chrysler and Ford posting big gains, or big fleet gains? And of Ford’s increases, how much of that is flogging old inventory with huge incentives? Ford overtook Toyota for second place, for the time being, but if sales are at the expense of profits can they be maintained at this pace?

  • avatar

    Saab had a very good month. It almost doubled the cars sold year to date.
    ps. Volvo to but it year to date sale only includes August & September. Saab’s year to date runs from March.

  • avatar

    If Subaru keeps growing and overtakes Nissan, they’re going to need a luxury brand, snark.
    Uh, but they gotta ‘work with someone,’ per the rumors that Nissan-Renault wants to put Mercedes-Benz engines in Infinitis.
    Yes, I have a headache.

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