September auto sales saw a dramatic improvement over the same period in 2009, due in part to the lack of demand and inventory in the wake of the government's 2009 Cash for Clunkers program. International brands were up 25.4 percent from September 2009 and 7.9 percent for the year. Some of the biggest gains were seen by Hyundai and Acura (both up 47.7 percent from September 2009), Kia (39.1), and Subaru (46.1). Toyota once again sold the most of any international nameplate corporation in September, moving 147,162 vehicles, down from 148,388 in August 2010. General Motors led all U.S. sales with 173,031 units, down from 185,105 a month earlier.
"International brands are continuing to see gradual, but steady growth in the U.S.," said AIADA President Cody Lusk. "Our dealers are running their businesses one day at a time. The incremental gains they are seeing should ultimately result in a sustainable recovery and a healthy, productive industry."
Internationals Nameplates Occupy Majority Market Share
According to figures from Autodata Corp., international brands occupied 54.8 percent of the U.S. auto market, a decrease from their 55.7 percent share in August and 56.3 percent in July. Overall, international brands sold 525,483 vehicles compared to 555,425 vehicles in August. 46.1 percent of the market belonged to Asian nameplates, down slightly from 46.9 percent in August. European nameplates also dipped slightly from last month (8.8 percent), holding 8.7 percent of the market. Domestic brands sold 433,483 vehicles, holding 45.2 percent of the market, up from 44.3 percent in August.
Once again, seven of the top 10 selling vehicles in the U.S. were international nameplates. The Ford F-Series Pickup maintained its spot at the top of the leader board, while the Toyota Camry - in third place overall - demonstrated it is still the top selling car in the U.S. All vehicles experienced positive year-over-year sales, with the Hyundai Sonata demonstrating a 161.3 percent sales improvement over September 2009. Sales for Hyundai's newly redesigned sedan are up 59.4 percent overall this year. The Sonata was followed by the Chevrolet Silverado (up 65.9 percent) and the Nissan Altima (up 64.8 percent). Year-over-year sales improvements are being attributed to the steep sales decline in September 2009 following the federal Cash for Clunkers program.
In keeping with normal sales trends, Americans purchased more crossovers and SUVs than any other segment, with sales topping 286,615, down slightly from 290,371 last month. The midsize segment trailed in the second spot with sales of 243,760, a decrease from August sales of 249,662 vehicles. Americans bought a total of 958,966 vehicles in September, down from the 997,468 they bought in August. 484,300 of those vehicles were trucks, while 474,666 were cars. Asian nameplates sold 269,051 cars and 172,918 trucks, while European brands sold 60,166 cars and 23,348 trucks. Domestic automakers sold 145,449 cars and 288,034 trucks.
Overall sales, including domestic brands and unadjusted for the number of business days, were up 28.5 percent from September 2009. Sales were up 10.3 percent for the year, but down 4 percent from August 2010. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for light vehicle sales is now estimated by the AutoData Corp. at 11.76 million, up from 9.38 million in September 2009 and 11.47 million in August 2010.
See below for a complete breakdown of September 2010 monthly and year-to-date sales by international nameplate.