Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

September Auto Sales Boost Kick-Starts End of Year Surge

Car dealership

After months of hearing auto executives and consultants tell us that sales would pick up in the last third of the year, it appears the late summer surge has finally kicked in.

Relax, we're still a long ways from the glory days of auto sales, but September is encouraging.

In fact, September is expected to be the first month since April with an industry sales pace above 13 million vehicles.

Here's how the automakers did last month:

  • GM: Up 19.8%
  • Ford: Up 8.9%
  • Chrysler: Up 27%
  • Toyota: Down 17%
  • Nissan: Up 25.3 %
  • Volkswagen: Up 35.6%

Some encouraging aspect of September sales: Full-size SUV sales were up as gas prices moderated and consumer confidence nudged slightly higher. Also, Toyota and Honda having a their production lines back up is bringing more buyers into their showroom. This is not only good for them, but also churning the market and creating more traffic in all showrooms.

Are the automakers out of the woods? Far from it. says transaction prices fell for the fourth straight month, and incentives moved higher. And nearly everyone admits that it's the pent up demand from three years of weak sales that is pushing auto sales right now. With the unemployment rate around 9% and the prospect for job growth being lackluster, the automakers are still waiting for the economy to give sales a big bump.

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