Counting Cars

August SAAR Steady Despite Irene

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U.S. Light Vehicle Sales Summary table

Forecast SAAR 12. 1 million

Final August SAAR: 12.1 million

Forecasters like to hit their mark, and WardsAuto's August forecast of 1,069,180 certainly came close to actual U.S. LV sales of 1,069,227. But the gratifying result (47 unit difference for those following at home) probably owes as much to the intervention of the gods as it does to the exactness of WardsAuto prognostication.

Ward's forecast came before Hurricane Irene was even a blip on the meteorologists' radar screen. The hurricane, which hit the East Coast of the U.S. on the last weekend of the month, clearly had a downward pull on total sales for the month - which in retrospect seemed headed for a seasonal rate closer to 12.5 million, than the forecast 12.1 million units - at least until Irene blew into town.

As it was, DSR was up 3.4% over year ago, matching the pre-storm forecast SAAR almost exactly.

GM posted sales of 218,479 light vehicles in August - up 13.5% on a daily basis - directly in line WardsAuto expectation.

Chrysler's 130,119 LV sales exceeded expectation by 10K units - lifting its DSR 26.4% over like-2010 and putting the company ahead of Toyota for the month by 106 units. In July Toyota outpaced Chrysler by 19K units.

Detroit 3 companies outperformed the total industry more than four-to-one in August on a year-over-year basis, with daily sales rising 14% over like 2010.

Toyota met expectations, delivering 129,482 units, down 16.1% over year-ago, a fair improvement over July's performance.

Hyundai's DSR was up just 4.9%, its worst year-over-year result (excluding comparisons with Clunker months) since June 2009. But sister-company Kia had its best August to date, with 41,188 sales, lifting its DSR 22%. Together the Korean auto makers outpaced Honda for the second straight month. Nissan also bested Honda, with daily sales rising 14.6% for the month, on 91,541 deliveries.

Despite sitting in the No. 7 position for the second month in a row, Honda beat expectations - selling 82,231 vehicles for the month, a 27.2% decline over year-ago, but 8K better than forecast.

Asia brand overall were down 6.2%.

European brands didn't fare as poorly as Asia brands, but sales growth was only moderate. Audi sales were up 6.8% for the month, while sister company Volkswagen's brand sales were up 6.2%. Daimler (-1% DSR) and BMW Group (down 4%) were below expectations too. Jaguar Land Rover sales were down 12.1%.

Combined European sales were up 1.3%.

Year-to-date U.S. Light vehicle sales through August totaled 8,436,080, up 10.4% over the first eight months of 2010.

Looking forward, while the SAAR fell a little, and only a little, from July, in light of Irene, August's finish should be interpreted as a definite sign that sales may be ready to jump significantly in September.

What's Counting Cars?

Blogs and commentary about automotive data, industry trends, and the future of the auto industry.

Contributors

John Sousanis

John Sousanis oversees WardsAuto data operations as Director of Information Content, and is Ward’sAuto sales analyst. Follow John on Twitter @CountingCars.  

Haig Stoddard

Haig Stoddard is a veteran automotive industry analyst. His current focus is North America production and longterm sales forecasting.
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