September Auto Sales Totals Slip Slightly
In September, demand for new vehicles in the United States, especially for cars, continued to slow, as projected in a mid-month update from J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive. The Detroit-based automakers and one of the Japanese majors reported slimmer tallies than the same month a year ago. Total September sales are set to reach at least 1.4 million units, after averaging monthly totals of 1.5 million units this year. September in both 2016 and 2015 had 25 selling days. The anticipated sales dip would be less than 1% from last September.
Among volume multifranchise sellers, Ford Motor Co. (-7.7%) deliveries sagged the most, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) (-0.9%) and General Motors (-0.6%) dips were less than 1 percentage point each. Ford and GM said cutbacks in less profitable fleet deliveries took a toll. Nissan (+4.5%) and Toyota (+1.5%) Groups sold more new vehicles this September while American Honda sales were flat (-0.1%), even though SUV demand strengthened. South Korea’s Hyundai posted a September record, although Kia sales dipped.
Several of the European automakers suffered losses. BMW Group (-5.2%) said car sales fell the most, especially for the BMW brand. Daimler Group (+3.1%) celebrated gains for Mercedes-Benz, which was the month’s luxury brand volume leader in the United States. The VW Group (-4.0%) posted less severe losses with a boost from Audi and Porsche and Volvo was up a slight 1.5%, while Jaguar Land Rover September sales most likely climbed (actual results were not available at the time of publication). Among independents, Subaru (+3.5%) posted another year-over-year advance, but Mazda (-2.8%) and Mitsubishi Motors (-4.8%) sales fell.
Highlights: September 2016 Auto Sales
Following are September 2016 new-vehicle sales highlights for each major automaker:
American Honda—SUV deliveries bolstered Honda (+1.5%) and Acura (-12.9%) brand sales in September, although total deliveries for American Honda (-0.1%) dipped to 133,655 units. However, Honda brand sales were 120,842 units, with best gains for SUVs and trucks (+8.5%). Sales of the subcompact Fit nearly tripled, while CR-V and HR-V SUVs posted stronger performances. Acura delivered 12,813 units, with strength from the MDX and RDX.
BMW Group—BMW Group (-5.2%) delivered 29,413 units last month. BMW brand (-4.6%) sales totaled 25,389 units with a gain from the 7 Series, and SUV sales climbed 34.8% with stellar X1 and X3 deliveries. Mini (-8.8%) sold 4,024 units.
Daimler AG—Sales at Daimler AG (+3.1%) inched up to 33,075 units. The Mercedes-Benz brand (+1.7%) sold 29,500 units with gains for the E-Class and SL-Class, as well as for the GLC-, GLS-, and G-Class sport utilities. Van sales (+28.2%), including Sprinter, rose to 2,970 units, while Smart (-19.3%) sold 605 units.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles—FCA (-0.9%) deliveries dipped to 192,883 units. Ram truck sales soared 27%. Jeep (-3.0%), usually the star brand, saw sales ebb despite double-digit gains from the Patriot and Grand Cherokee. Dodge (-5.7%) was down even with Charger, Challenger, and Journey increases. Chrysler (-27.0%) and Fiat (-30.1%) faltered despite 9,172 new Pacifica sales—up 23% from August, and 490 new Fiat 124 Spider deliveries.
Ford Motor Co.—America’s top-volume Ford brand (-8.1%) sold 195,650 new vehicles last month. Ford Motor (-7.7%) delivered 204,447 new vehicles. Car sales plummeted (-20.7%), while SUVs (-3.4%) and trucks (-1.8%) also declined. Even sales of the best-selling F-Series pickup (67,809 units) declined 2.6%. The Expedition was the top Ford performer, while the Flex, Edge, and Transit also posted increases. Lincoln (+1.3%) also was a bright spot with 8,797 unit sales that included 775 new Continentals. The MKX and MKC posted gains.
General Motors—September deliveries at GM (-0.6%) totaled 249,795 units. Buick (+14.1%) and Cadillac (+3.1%) improved, while Chevrolet (-0.3%) slipped to 170,237 units and GMC (-8.7%) posted a decline. Still, flagship Chevrolet posted double-digit gains for the Camaro, Colorado, Corvette, Malibu, Suburban, Tahoe, and Trax, while plug-in hybrid Volt deliveries more than doubled. Buick sales accelerated with lifts from the Encore and Verano. Cadillac was bolstered by the CTS, Escalade, and XTS plus the new XT5 and CT6. GMC’s positive Canyon, Savana, and Yukon sales could not offset lower Terrain totals.
Hyundai Group—Hyundai Group (+1.7%) sales were 115,830 units in September. Hyundai brand (+4%) reported its best September of 66,610 unit sales, with strength from the Santa Fe as well as the Accent. The Genesis premium brand’s G80 and G90 reached showrooms and sold 1,211 units. Kia (-1.2%) deliveries fell to 49,220 units, despite increases for the Rio, Forte, and Sportage.
Jaguar Land Rover—Sales for the two British brands owned by India’s Tata Group rose 21.2%.
Mazda—September Mazda (-2.8%) sales totaled 24,889 units, despite gains from the CX-9, CX-5, and CX-3.
Mitsubishi—Sales at Mitsubishi (-4.8%) in September declined to 7,191 units.
Nissan Group—Nissan Group (+4.9%) gained momentum from its Infiniti (+11.7%) premium brand, delivering 127,797 units. Nissan brand (+4.3%) sold 116,384 units with strength from trucks (+20.1%). The Versa, Altima, and Maxima were strong on the car side, while the Frontier and Titan surged as did Pathfinder, Armada, and Murano. Infiniti delivered 11,413 units, with increases from the Q50 and Q60 cars, and QX50 and QX80 crossovers.
Subaru—Subaru (+3.5%) posted another monthly record of 53,070 unit sales with best September tallies for the Outback and Crosstrek.
Toyota Group—Toyota Group (+1.5%) sales grew in September to 197,260 units. The Toyota brand (+1.4%), including Scion, delivered 171,459 units. Car sales slimmed, but SUVs and pickup trucks primed totals with gains for the RAV4, Highlander, 4Runner, and Land Cruiser. The Tacoma and Tundra reaped double-digit gains on the truck side. The Corolla was the only strong performer among Toyota’s car entries. Prius (-22.6%) sales continued to falter, but premium Lexus (+2.0%) sold 25,801 new vehicles, with real strength from the NX, RX, GX, and LX SUVs (+24.1%).
Volkswagen Group—Sales seem to be stabilizing after VW Group (-4%) reached settlements in the diesel emissions cheating software scandal. Total sales were 41,815 units in September. The VW brand (-7.8%) sold 24,112 units, with gains for the Jetta and Beetle and a best September for the Tiguan SUV. Audi (+1.6%) moved ahead to deliver 17,617 units with gains for the A4 as well as Q3 and Q7 utilities. Porsche (+1.2%) posted a September sales record with momentum from the Macan.
Volvo—September sales at Volvo (+1.6%) inched up to 5,615 units, strengthened by XC60 and XC90 gains.