Counting Cars

September SAAR Soars to 13 million

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September Forecast SAAR - 12.34 million

September current estimated SAAR - 13.04 million

August actual SAAR: 12.1 million

U.S. Sales Summary Table

Growing supply, strong fleet sales and perhaps a post-Hurricane Irene bounce drove September sales to 1,049,866 units, and lifted the seasonally adjusted annual rate above 13-milliion units for the first time since April.

Honda, which is just beginning to see its North America production rates return to normal after the March tsunami and earthquake disrupted the company's global supply chain, reported an 8% decline in sales versus year-ago - a decided improvement over four consecutive months of 20%-plus declines. The strong results put Honda ahead of Hyundai/Kia for the first time since April, giving the Japanese auto maker the No. 6 spot overall.

Toyota finished the month down 17.5% and in the No. 4 spot behind Chrysler. But its August-to-September comparison (down just 2.5%) indicated an improving situation for the Japanese auto maker, which has averaged a 10% drop in daily sales from August to September over the past 8 years (ignoring the 42% Cash-for-Clunkers falloff in 2009).

Nissan (which finished No. 5 this month) had a better than expected month, with a 25.3% increase in sales versus year ago, and an increase in daily sales between August and September (up 5.6%) for the first time since 2007.

Subaru - which has also experienced earthquake related sales losses - posted a 2.3% decline versus year-ago - its best year-over-year comparison since April.

Mazda sales were up 37.4% over year ago - the company's best yr/yr gain in 4.5 years. Kia reported sales up 18.1%, which brought it's ytd for 2011 to 367,405 units - better than any previous FULL year for the company. Hyundai was up 11.8% for the month.

Detroit 3 companies were up 17.5% over year-ago. Chrysler reported 126,721 light vehicles deliveries, up 27% over year-ago. Chrysler tends to outperfrom rest of industry in September in terms of month-to-month sales growth, but GM and Ford also had relatively good months.

GM's 19.7% increase over year ago was in line with expectations of a 12.3 million unit SAAR. But Ford's 9.1% gain in LV sales the smallest of the Detroit auto makers, represented the largest growth compared to expectations for the month. The company's car sales were down 8.7% versus year-ago, but total truck sales were up 14.8%, likely with help from a sizeable bump in fleet sales.

Sales by European companies were up 17.9%, led by volume leader Volkswagen's 35.6%. gain. Audi was up 19.3%, Daimler brands were up a collective 13.1%, and BMW/Mini sales grew 11.4%.

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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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