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Hurricane Recovery, Truck Demand Boost September U.S. Auto Sales

Hurricane Recovery, Truck Demand Boost September U.S. Auto Sales

By Philly Murtha, October 04, 2017
U.S. new-vehicle sales in September posted the first monthly year-over-year gain in 2017, due in part to replacement of lost or damaged vehicles following hurricanes in Texas and Florida. In addition, higher rebates and other incentives sweetened sales during the month. On an actual sales basis, September new-car deliveries improved 6.3% from a year ago to almost 1.53 million units.

Truck demand in September was especially robust, accounting for 65% of the sales mix. American Honda Motor Co. (Honda), Ford Motor Co. (Ford), General Motors (GM), Nissan North America (Nissan), Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. (Toyota) and VW Group of America (VW) reported higher deliveries this year.

SUVs and large pickups primed September auto sales for largest U.S. automaker GM (+11.9%), which reported a second monthly gain, and for Ford (+8.9%), which tallied an increase after a 3-month fall-off. Trucks and new model-year vehicles also buffed up totals for major Japanese automakers: Honda (+6.8%), Nissan (+9.5%), and Toyota (+14.9%). Contrarily, SUV and truck strength could not offset a 9.7% drop for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), nor a 5.5% dip for Hyundai Motor (Hyundai).

Among the Europeans, VW (+23.2%) continued its revival from last year’s diesel-emission cheating debacle. Mercedes-Benz (-1.7%), the month’s luxury brand volume leader, and BMW (-0.4%) brands also had slightly better news with nearly stable deliveries. Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo also posted increases, while the independents (Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru) posted gains.

Highlights: September 2017 Auto Sales
Following are September 2017 new-vehicle sales highlights (based on actual totals) for each major automaker:

American Honda Motor Co.—A September record was set with total sales for American Honda (+6.8%) improving to 142,722 units. Honda brand (+7.4%) delivered 129,766 units, with cars up 14.5%. Acura (+10%) sales increased to 12,946 units with a record tally for the MDX crossover SUV. Honda’s strongest performers with double-digit gains were the Civic (35,452 units) and the HR-V. Combined sales of Honda’s core models—Accord, Civic, and CR-V—reached nearly 100,000 units.

BMW of North America—Group sales at BMW (-0.4%) dipped slightly to 29,307 units, although BMW brand (+0.7%) deliveries inched up to 25,571 units with double- and triple-digit gains for the 4 Series and 5 Series cars and gains for the X5. In contrast, Mini (-7.2%) delivered only 3,736 units. Notably, sales of BMW’s plug-in hybrid EVs rose 14.9% last month.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—Deliveries at FCA (-9.7%) declined to 174,266 units in September despite records for the Jeep Compass and Renegade, Chrysler Pacifica, two Ram van lines, and a 45% gain for the Dodge Durango. FCA continued to draw back on less-profitable fleet sales. All FCA brands in September declined except for Alfa Romeo. Ram (-0.3%) and Jeep (-3.8%) were down the least. Chrysler brand (-16.2%), Dodge (-30.3%), and Fiat (-24.3%) posted significant declines.

Ford Motor Co.—Positive results for Ford Motor Co. (+8.7%) included a September sales rise to 222,248 units. Additionally, Ford (+9.1%) was America’s top-volume brand last month with 213,446 deliveries. The F-Series (+21.4%) dominated with sales soaring to 82,303 units, with premium trims accounting for 52% of sales, according to Ford. The automaker reported increases for the Focus, C-Max, and Fusion on the car side. SUV strength came from the Explorer and Edge plus the Transit van. Lincoln (+0.1%) remained stable with 8,802 unit sales, with the MKX, MKC, and the Navigator posting gains.

General Motors—It was another good sales month for GM (+11.9%) as total deliveries surged to 279,397 units, with muscle from flagship Chevrolet (+17.4%) and GMC (+9.4%) brands. Crossovers (+43%) starred for the domestic automaker. Chevrolet delivered 199,801 new vehicles, with stellar performances from the redone Equinox (+80.3%) and Traverse (+50.8%). The Silverado (+21.7%) also excelled with 55,296 deliveries. GMC Savana sales more than doubled, while deliveries of the Acadia and Terrain SUVs were strong. Cadillac (+1.1%) sales were helped by the XT5 (+58.5%) crossover, while Buick (-20%) sank despite a boost from the new Envision.

Hyundai Motor America—Total deliveries at Hyundai (-5.5%) were 109,475 units. Hyundai brand (-14%) and its premium Genesis brand sales slumped to 57,007 units. The Hyundai Tucson (+37%) was a top performer. In contrast, Kia (+6.6%) delivered 52,468 units for a September record with the Forte taking the lead from the best-selling Soul, plus double-digit gains for the Optima and Cadenza.

Jaguar Land Rover N.A.—Jaguar and Land Rover dealers combined to deliver 9,703 new vehicles in September. Jaguar (+24%) sales climbed to 3,296 units, while Land Rover (+14%) sold 6,407 units with momentum for the new Velar.

Mazda North America—Mazda (+3.4%) delivered 25,738 units, with strength from the MX-5 Miata (+8.2%) and CX-5 SUV (+32.6%).

Mercedes-Benz USA—Group deliveries at Mercedes-Benz USA (-2.2%) slipped  to 32,337 units. Mercedes-Benz brand (-1.7%) sales were 29,008 units. Best performers were premium SUVs: GLA-Class, GLE-Class, and GLS-Class models. Sprinter van (+4%) sales rose to 3,088, while Smart delivered 241 units.

Mitsubishi Motors N.A.—Sales at Mitsubishi (+17.2%) climbed to 8,430 units with the Outlander achieving a strong performance.

Nissan North America—September 2017 was a record month for the group and Nissan brand. Group (+9.5%) deliveries rose to 139,932 units and the Nissan brand (+9.3%) sold 127,187 units, with the Rogue (+47%) delivering 38,969 units. The Sentra, Maxima, Armada, and Titan also achieved high double-digit increases. Infiniti (+11.7%) delivered 12,745 units with its premium SUVs up by nearly one-third. The Q50 and QX60 were Infiniti’s best-sellers.

Subaru of America—In September, Subaru (+0.4%) sales rose to 55,120 units with monthly bests for the Crosstrek and Impreza.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.—Toyota (+14.9%) roared ahead to 226,632 units, topping Ford Motor. Both Toyota and Lexus brands set monthly records. Toyota brand (+16.9%) sold 200,436 new vehicles in September and Lexus (+1.5%) delivered 26,196 new vehicles. Overall SUV sales increased 43.2%, with the RAV4 (+44%) selling 42,395 units. Highlander and 4Runner sales also improved. Best-selling car Camry (+13.1%) set the pace with the new 2018 model reaching showrooms. Lexus’ best performers were the RX, GX, and NX luxury SUVs.

VW Group of America—Overall VW (+23.2%) deliveries rose to 51,508 units. The VW brand (+33.2%) sold 32,112 units with a best September for the GTI and continued momentum for the redone Tiguan and new Atlas SUV with combined sales of over 7,000 units. Audi (+9.6%) sales totaled 19,308 units, driven by demand for the new Q5 and Q7 plus the A5 Sporback. Porsche (+1.3%) sales grew to 5,059 units, with the Panamera doubling and Macan setting a record.

Volvo Cars N.A.—Sales at Volvo grew to 7,900 units with a bump from the new XC60 luxury crossover SUV.

Additional Research:

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