CHRYSLER, GM, NISSAN BEAT EXPECTATIONS
September auto sales were up 9% to 1.25 million—another strong month that was only slightly below analyst projections. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales was 16.4 million, down from the red-hot 17.5 million rate for August and shy of the 16.5 million mark that analysts had expected.
Some auto companies, however, beat projections, while others had a slump month. Chrysler Group, in particular, beat expectations with a 19% jump to 169,890 units. The Jeep brand saw sales shoot up 47%, led by the hot-selling Cherokee (pictured). Along with SUVs, pickups were big sellers, so the Ram brand rose 35%. The Chrysler nameplate was up 14% and Fiat 6%, while Dodge was down 9%.
General Motors was also up 19%, beating expectations by a bit, at 223,437 million units sold in September. Pickups powered the advance, with GMC up 28% and Chevrolet (including both cars and light trucks) up 20%. Buick was up 12% and Cadillac was flat.
Making it a trio of 19% gains was Nissan, whose U.S. sales totaled 102,955. The Nissan brand was up 22%, but Infiniti down 13%.
The biggest gainers of all were much smaller car companies. Subaru has posted sales gains for 34 straight months and September sales were up 31% to 41,517. Mitsubishi continued its comeback in the U.S. market with a 39% year-over-year gain for September, although that only brought sales to 5,558. Whether it’s the beginning of a turnaround remains to be seen, but Volvo sales were up 11% in September to 4,667, although they remain down 9% for the year to date.
Back to the major car makers: Ford Motor Company came in below expectations with sales down 3% to 179,518. Lincoln was up 13%, but Ford down 3%. One reason is that Ford has shut down one of the two assembly lines for its F-Series pickups to retool for the aluminum-body 2015 model, so F-Series sales in September were down 1% while its pickup competitors took advantage of the short-supplies at Ford dealers. Toyota Motor Company was up, but also below expectations, with a gain of 2% to 167,279. Lexus was up 12%, but Toyota only 1%, with Scion down 19%.
American Honda was up 12% to 118,223, with Acura up 19% and Honda up 11%. Hyundai Group rose 4% to 96,638, with Kia up 7% and Hyundai 2%.
While the corporate leadership of Volkswagen AG in Germany has vowed to double U.S. sales of the Volkswagen brand in the next few years, September was another month moving in the opposite direction. Overall group sales were down 7% to 44,756, with VW down 19% and Bentley off 7%. Porsche gained 17% and Audi 14%.
The other German car makers were both up. Daimler AG sales gained 10% to 30,271, with Smart up 20% and Mercedes-Benz 10%. BMW Group rose 3% to 29,880, with BMW up 9%, Rolls-Royce up 6% and Mini down 21%.
Mazda’s September sales gained 7% to 23,980. Jaguar Land Rover was down 10% to 4,248, with Jaguar down 13% and Land Rover down 8%.
Through the first nine months of 2014 U.S. car and light truck sales are up 6% to 12.4 million. Next year is looking good as well. Ford executives told Wall Street this week that U.S. sales by all auto makers may top 17 million in 2015—something that hasn’t happened since 2001.