New Car Sales: September Surprise?

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

September Light Vehicle sales, which will be out on Monday, could rise to levels not seen since April, analysts surveyed by Bloomberg reckon. The consensus average stands at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 12.8 million units. The people who have the real time sales data even think it’s a bit higher: Jessica Caldwell of Edmunds figures 12.9 million SAAR, Jesse Toprak of Truecar even expects 13.1 million. And guess who saved the American bacon? The Japanese.

The American factories of Toyota and Honda are running at full tilt. Toyota already pre-announced that it has turned the corner and expects to reverse monthly U.S. sales declines next month. Honda is running two Ohio plants on overtime shifts.

“The big story this month was better inventory and favorable pricing” for consumers, said Jessica Caldwell of Edmunds. This means that incentives are back up. It will be a hot fall and winter: From my talks with Japanese manufacturers I expect aggressive sales campaigns well into the next year to make up for lost volume. It will be a tough battle for American manufacturers that already had piles of cash on the hoods of their cars when supply was tight. It will be an even tougher battle for GM, which already was leading in incentive spending.

For September, analysts still expect minus signs in front of the growth rates of Toyota and Honda, which is strongly expected to change in October.

Analyst GMFord Chrysler SAARPatrick Archambault (Goldman Sachs)15.0%-1.3%13.0%12.4George Magliano (IHS Automotive)NA NA NA12.4Chris Ceraso (Credit Suisse)14.0%4.0%16.0%12.6Peter Nesvold (Jefferies)24.0%1.6% NA12.7Himanshu Patel (JPMorgan) NA NA NA12.8Brian Johnson (Barclays)17.0%7.0%25.0%12.8Seth Weber (RBC)21.0%8.0%24.0%12.8Alan Baum (Baum & Associates) NA NA NA12.8Adam Jonas (Morgan Stanley)NA NA NA12.8Jessica Caldwell ( Michaeli (Citigroup) NA NA NA12.9Rod Lache (Deutsche Bank)21.0%8.5%22.0%13.0Jeff Schuster (J.D. Power) NA NA NA13.0Jesse Toprak (

Once all the sales numbers are in, we will also announce the results of our monthly Grade The Analysts competition. The rules will remain the same as last month: We will grade on a combo of correct SAAR and correct calls on the Detroit 3, with severe punishment for those analysts who only give a SAAR number. With SAARs varying from 12.4 to 13.1 million, and with more analysts giving numbers for the Detroit 3, the race should become interesting.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Lilpoindexter Lilpoindexter on Oct 01, 2011

    My buds that still work at chrysler say they are going balls out to keep up with demand...yet everywhere around me the economy still sucks...what's going on?

  • AJ AJ on Oct 01, 2011

    When I moved to Indiana 12 years ago from briefly living in Cali, I recall thinking how the majority of cars on the road here were from the Big 3 (a lot of Pontiac's) which was just different. Now just last Wednesday, I had to run over to my Honda dealer for quick service with my daily driver Civic (and it's actually my third Civic I've owned). While there it was interesting to see that the new Civics now say built here in Indiana. Then while sitting at a stop light on my way back to the office I counted that there were seven other cars at the intersection. Two were Toyotas, two Hondas, one Kia and two Chryslers. I just found that interesting vs. 12 years ago.

    • Bonaire Bonaire on Oct 02, 2011

      I've been seeing "more" US-brand cars out there recently while car-counting. Maybe it's the new Fusions, Cruze and other models hitting the road due to the sales up-tick of US-made brands. I'm in the market for something new, but it's not urgent. Keeping my eye on the EREV market - either Volt or Ford C-Max Energi next year. (no real feelings for Fisker just yet) The Volt should make news this month for its big uptick in sales. Darn the cost, though - to get the technology, the initial cost is pretty high versus any econobox.

  • Analoggrotto I did a dozen or so laps around Atlanta Motorsports Park for a charity once. Camber and toe on my car were horribly wrong and made the entire experience awful.
  • Tassos Jong-iL The Peninsula of One Korea.
  • Eric No, I just share my opinions. I have no use nor time for rhetoric from any side.
  • Redapple2 Jeez. This is simple. I 75 and 696 area. 1 nobody -NOBODY wants to work in downtown Detritus. 2 close to the tech ctr. Design and Engineering HQ. 20 miles closer to Milford.3 lower taxes for the employees. Lower taxes for Evil GM Vampire.4 2 major expressways give users more options to suburbs. Faster transport.Jeez.
  • Clark The Ring (Nürburgring) is the only race track I've driven on. That was 1985 or 1986 with my '73 Fiat Spider (and my not-so-happy girlfriend). So I made the Karussell (today: Caracciola Karussell, which I believe the author meant; there is another one: Kleines Karussell).