Counting Cars

SAAR Only Meaningful Measure of September Sales

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Year over Year Daily Sales Rate:

GM: 11.5%; Ford: 46.4%; Chrysler: 61.1%; Toyota: 16.8%

Company by company data: U.S. Sales Summary Table

As expected, September U.S. LV sales are coming in well-above year-ago levels. However, September 2009 deliveries were depleted by heavy pull-ahead sales from the Cash-for-Clunkers program that ran the prior two-months, making year-over-year comparisons less impressive. And because the degree of payback companies suffered last year differed dramatically, depending in large part by how much they benefitted from the Clunkers program, year-over-year change isn't a telling marker of relative performance between companies either.

Looking at the total market, however, September's sales did show improvement, lifting the SAAR, which has been averaging 11.5 million over the prior six months, to 11.7 million units, its highest level since March.

Ford Motor Co. saw sales jump 46.4% over last September on sales of 158,137 light vehicles, while

General Motors Co., which didn't benefit as much as Ford from Cash for Clunkers or suffer as big a downturn in the program's aftermath, saw its year-over-sales comparison hit 11.5%.

On a month-to-month basis, the two companies fared more competitively. Ford sales are up just 2% over August, while GM registered a 6.6% drop from prior month.

Chrysler - which was in a nosedive this time last year, saw its monthly sales soar 61% versus year-ago, while rising less than 1% from August.

Collectively, Detroit 3 auto makers saw September sales rise 32.5% versus like-2009, while falling 2% from August. All three months had 25 selling days.

Toyota's September LV sales followed a similar pattern: 16.8% over year-ago, but nearly even with August levels. Toyota's totals were above expectations, however, as the company registered its closest finish with GM since March, pulling within 25,881 of the market leader. As recently as June, the gap between the two automakers was more than twice as large. Ford has finished in the two spot between GM and Toyota each months since March, when it finished third.

September’s results brought the’10 Model Year total (for sales from October 2009 through September) to 11,204,767, 9.2% above the prior model year.

Year-to-date 2010 light vehicle deliveries rose to 8,598,500, 10.3% above the same-period last year.

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

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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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