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September Auto Sales Bolstered by Labor Day Deals and Demand for SUVs

September Auto Sales Bolstered by Labor Day Deals and Demand for SUVs

By Philly Murtha, October 01, 2015

September car sales climbed in double digits from the same month’s totals in 2014, partly due to the availability of Labor Day promotions, low interest rates, and robust demand for light trucks—especially SUVs. One more selling day in September 2015 also propelled totals. Last month, J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive predicted that new-vehicle deliveries would rise over 8% to 1.4 million units on a selling-day-adjusted basis.*

Owing to gasoline prices that were below $2.50 a gallon in many markets,** large pickup sales also surged. Ford Motor Co. (+23%) reported the highest gain among the three Detroit-based automakers, helped by nearly 70,000 F-Series deliveries, while Nissan North America (+18.3%) sales increased the most among the top four automakers from Asia, all of which reported year-over-year increases.

Among all major automakers, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (+14%) and General Motors (+12%) saw sales rise, while Toyota (+16.2%) and Honda (+13.1%) Groups also posted gains bolstered by their SUVs and premium brands. Hyundai Group (+17.8%) posted the second-best gain after Nissan among the manufacturers in Asia, mainly due to Kia’s strong performance.

Automakers in Europe shared smaller gains. BMW (+4%) and Daimler (+6%) Groups’ sales edged up and the Volkswagen Group (+7.3%) posted higher totals due to strength from Audi and Porsche, in spite of the diesel engine emissions investigation. All three independents—Mazda (+6.8%), Mitsubishi (+35.9%), and Subaru (+27.8%)—posted record sales in September.

In September, the five brands with the highest gains were: Infiniti (+30.4%), Jeep (+39.8%), Mitsubishi (+35.9%), Scion (+56.7%), and Subaru (+27.8%).

Highlights: September 2015 Auto Sales

Following are September auto sales details and highlights for each major automaker:

American Honda—September sales rose 13.1% to 133,750 units with a boost from light trucks. Honda (+14%) brand reported a major gain for its top-selling CR-V (+26.1%), which set another monthly record (29,925 deliveries). Other strong performers were the Civic, Pilot, and Odyssey, and a 6.3% gain was posted by the Accord. Acura (+6.3%) got a boost from its RDX crossover in addition to the TLX and ILX.

BMW Group—BMW Group sales increased 4.1%. In September, BMW (+4%) brand deliveries rose to 26,608 units, with a strong performance from its top-selling 3 Series (+10.6%). Other strong sellers were the 5 Series and X3. Mini deliveries improved by 4.6%.

Daimler AG—Mercedes-Benz (+6.2%) brand sales rose by 1,700 (excluding Sprinter) to 29,020 units, which likely gave it the September premium sales crown. Sprinter posted a 4.9% gain and Smart deliveries were stable. The top Mercedes performer was the C-Class (+21.9%) and the new GLE Coupe provided a boost.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—Jeep (+39.8%) was FCA’s starring brand, while small gains were posted for Ram (+3.8%), Dodge (+2.6%), and Fiat (+1.1%). Only Chrysler (-5.3%) brand sales fell last month, even though the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan posted its best September sales ever. Overall, FCA sold 193,019 units last month, maintaining a trend of monthly sales gains for 66 straight months. In addition, the Jeep Cherokee (+38%) and Dodge Journey (+45%) set monthly sales records.

Ford Motor Company—Ford Motor Co. (+23%) delivered 221,299 units and
the Ford division (+23.1%) sold 212,919 units, making it the top-selling brand in September. SUV sales reached new heights (+27%), bolstered by gains for the all-new Edge (+33%), new Explorer (+38%), and Escape (+31%). Mustang sales nearly tripled, while double-digit gains were posted for the Fiesta and Fusion. Lincoln (+19.6%) sales roared ahead with help from the recently-launched MKX SUV.

General Motors—In September, GM (+12.5%) sales totaled 251,310 units. All of GM’s brands posted gains. GMC (+23.8%) posted the best gain, while
Buick (+5%), flagship Chevrolet (+10.9%), and premium Cadillac (+7.9%) also reported increases. Additionally, sales of redesigned midsize and large pickups from GMC and Chevrolet increased significantly. Crossovers were in demand and high performers included the Chevrolet Equinox (+24.7%) and Traverse (+42%), Buick Encore (+46%), and Cadillac SRX (+85%).

Hyundai Group—Hyundai (+14.3%) brand celebrated a record month for its Santa Fe (+20%) and Tucson (+121%) SUVs—both redesigned models. Kia (+22.6%) said the Soul and Optima drove gains along with the Sorento (+42%).

Jaguar Land Rover—Combined brand sales soared 61.3% with Land Rover (+88.5%) offsetting Jaguar’s (-12.9%) decline.

Mazda—Sales increased 6.8% for the brand’s best September since 1994. The redesigned MX-5 Miata more than doubled its sales and the Mazda 6 posted its best September since 2004. Also, CX-3, CX-5, and CX-9 sales improved.

Mitsubishi—Sales surged 35.9%, enabling the brand to enjoy a 19th consecutive month of year-over-year gains. Outlander Sport was the best-seller for the brand and the Outlander’s sales were the best for September since 2003.

Nissan Group—It was a record sales month for Nissan Group (+18%) with 121,782 unit sales. Nissan brand deliveries rose 17% with its best-selling Altima (+12%) posting 24,224 unit sales, while Rogue and Versa deliveries soared 46% and 50%, respectively. Infiniti (+30.4%) was a top premium performer. Infiniti Q50 sales rose 30%, while X60 sales surged 76%.

Subaru—Subaru deliveries increased 27.8% from September 2015, which set another record. Crosstrek, Forester, Impreza, Outback, and the WRX/STI posted strong gains.

Toyota Group—Deliveries were up 16.2% for Toyota, Scion, and Lexus brands collectively, to 190,370 units. Toyota brand sales rose 16.3%, to 169,076 units for its best September since 2007. The Highlander, RAV4, 4Runner, and Sienna were all strong performers. In addition, Toyota car sales were up by one-fifth, with Camry up 21% and Corolla deliveries up nearly 30%. The Prius (+12.4%) also appeared to experience a revival. Two new models—the iA and iM—added 3,400 sales to Scion (+57.6%) totals. Lexus sales rose 15.8%, to 25,294 units.

Volkswagen Group—Deliveries were up 7.3%, with Volkswagen brand sales nearly the same as a year ago. Luxury brand Audi (+16.2%) did well with the Q3, Q5, and Q7, and Porsche (+22.7%) sales surged with Cayenne remaining its top-selling model.

Volvo—Sales of Volvo cars and SUVs rose 18.4%, to 5,527 units vs. 4,667 units a year ago.

*There were 25 selling days in September 2015 vs. 24 days in September 2014.
Sales percentage changes in this article are unadjusted for the number of selling days.

**The price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States averaged $2.46 in September, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report (http://fuelgaugereport.aaa.com/todays-gas-prices/).
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