Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Auto Sales: A September Not to Remember


We knew September sales would be terrible following the pop in July and August.

So when you see both GM and Chrysler down more than 40% it's not a shock.

Ford, after posting its first monthly sales gain in August, fell 8.8%.

Toyota down 6.1%.

You get the picture: few people were buying new cars or trucks last month.

And there are not many compelling factors pushing people to buy right now.

The economic recovery has yet to lead to substantial job creation, there were few worthwhile incentives in showrooms, and Cash for Clunkers depleted inventories of the hottest models people want.

So what did September show us? Here are a few of the numbers from the research firm Autodata.

1) Luxury sales/demand are picking up.

  • BMW was up 3.6%
  • Porsche was up 8.4%
  • Mercedes, Lexus, and Cadillac all posted much smaller declines than the overall market.

I wouldn't say it's time to proclaim the high end market is back again, but there is no doubt demand for luxury models is up.

2) Ford, Hyundai keep building off their momentum.

  • While Ford sales were down last month, the company has now picked up a full percentage point in market share. That's up two-tenths from where the company stood at the end of last month.
  • Meanwhile, Hyundai sales shot up 27.2% last month. A spectacular move any month, but extremely impressive when total industry sales are down 29%.
Breaking News: GM

3) GM's "former four brands" are paying the price.

Want proof of how much the sale or closing of a brand can hurt sales? Check out the September number for the four brands GM is getting rid of.

  • Pontiac: Down 52.5%
  • Saturn: Down 83.8%
  • Saab: Down 72.5%
  • HUMMER: Down 81.5%

Listen, I understand these guys have little marketing right now, and many dealers have given up pushing them. It's always interesting though, to see how prospective buyers turn away from brands that are in flux or being eliminated.

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Questions?  Comments?