Despite upbeat analyst predictions, production shortages caused by the March earthquake in Japan, plummeting consumer confidence, and a powerful east coast hurricane all conspired to keep sales flat in August. Japanese brands were particularly hard hit. Honda’s sales were down 24.6 percent from a year ago, Subaru was down 6.3 percent, and Toyota saw a drop of 13.6 percent. Nissan was the exception with a sales improvement of 22.4 percent. Even unstoppable Korean automaker Hyundai saw sales decelerate in August; inventory shortfalls slowed its growth to 9.1 percent.
“A number of factors, including the timing and trajectory of Hurricane Irene, contributed to August’s flat sales,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “In September, a return to normal inventory levels by Japanese brands combined with Americans’ bottled-up demand for cars should create an improvement in sales.”
International Market Share Stalls
International brands held 51.5 percent of the market in August, down slightly from 52.4 percent in July, but up from 49.9 percent in June. Several Japanese brands are still working to restore production and dealer inventory lost following March’s earthquake and tsunami. Asian brands held 42.6 percent of the market, down slightly from 42.8 percent in August and up from 39.9 percent in July and selling 456,901 vehicles. European nameplates captured 8.9 percent of the market, down from 9.6 percent last month, selling 95,090 units. International brands sold 551,991 vehicles and were down 0.6 percent from August 2010, but up 6.4 percent for the year to date. Domestic brands accounted for 48.5 percent of the market with sales of 520,292 vehicles.
Internationals held four of the top ten selling vehicles pots during August, up from three in July and two in June. The month prior to March’s natural disaster, six of the top ten spots were held by international brands, all of them Japanese. The Toyota Camry continued its position as the top selling car in America with sales of 30,185 units, although figures were down 1.9 percent since last August. Sales are expected to pick up as the newly redesigned 2012 model hits showrooms in the coming months. The Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado continued to be the top-selling models in showrooms. Six of the top ten models demonstrated year over year sales improvements by an average of 15.1 percent.
The SUV segment continued to lead the pack with sales of 342,638 units, up 16.5 percent from August 2010. The midsize segment trailed with sales of 252,886 units. Asian nameplates sold 270,545 cars and 186,356 trucks, while European brands sold 68,106 cars and 26,984 trucks. Domestic brands sold 170,457 cars and 349,835 trucks.
Overall sales, including domestic brands and unadjusted for business days, were up 7.5 percent from August 2010 and 10.5 percent year to date. Sales were up 1.2 percent from July 2011. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for light vehicle sales in July was estimated by AutoData Corp. at 12.12 million units, up from 11.54 million units in August 2010.
See below for a complete breakdown of August 2011 monthly and year to date sales by international nameplate.