FORD JUMPS 23%, INDUSTRY UP OVER 15%
With all of the Labor Day weekend inside the month this year, September was destined to be a strong month for U.S. auto sales. Was it ever! Total sales of cars and light trucks shot up 15.7% from last September to 1.44 million. That put the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales at 18.2 million—the strongest sale rate since July 2005. Importantly, the factors driving SAAR were very different from 10 years ago, when the Detroit 3 were struggling and offered employee discounts to all comers to move vehicles. Now consumer demand is strong—especially for big-ticket pickups and SUVs, with Kelley Blue Book reporting that the average transactions was $33,730—up 2% from a year ago and 0.5% from August.
Double-digit gains were widespread for September, with four automakers reporting unit sales up well over 20%. One of those was a big, full-line maker: Ford Motor Company sales rose 23.3% to 221,269, driven by sales of pickups (the F-150 is pictured) and SUVs. Sales for the Ford nameplate rose 23.4% and Lincoln 19.6%. The biggest percentage gain of all was for Jaguar Land Rover, up 61.3% to 6,850, with Land Rover up 88.5%, but Jaguar down 12.9%. Mitsubishi surged 35.9% to 7,556 and Subaru was up 27.8% to 53,070.
Truck sales also boosted General Motors, with total sales up 12.5% to 251,310. Truck brand GMC led the way, up 23.8%, with Chevrolet up 10.9%, Cadillac 7.8% and Buick 5.0%. Jeep was the star performer, up 39.8% as total FCA U.S. sales rose 13.2% to 194.068. Ram was up 3.8%, Dodge 2.6% and Fiat 1.1%, while Chrysler was down 5.3%.
Nissan North America was up 18.3% to 121,782, with Infiniti up 30.4% and Nissan 17.3%. Hyundai-Kia gained 17.8% to 113,835, with Kia up 22.6% and Hyundai 14.3%. Toyota Motor Co. sales rose 16.2%, with Scion surging 56.7%, Lexus up 15.8% and Toyota 15.1%. American Honda was up 13.1% to 133,750, with Honda up 14.0% and Acura 6.3%.
The Volkswagen brand was up 0.6% despite its diesel scandal, with total U.S. sales for parent Volkswagen AG up 7.3% to 48,016. Porsche shot up 22.7% and Audi gained 16.2%, while Bentley sales dropped 53.0%. Daimler AG sales rose 6.0% to 32,087, with Mercedes-Benz up 6.0% and Smart 0.3%. BMW Group gained 4.1% to 31,117, with Mini up 4.6%, BMW 4.0% and Rolls-Royce 2.2%.
Volvo had another strong month, up 18.4% to 5,527. Mazda sales rose 6.8% to 25,616.
TrueCar was the first to jump in and raise its 2015 sales forecast by 0.2 million to 17.4 million. That would be an all-time record for U.S. light vehicle sales.