Driven by a combination of factors, including pent-up demand and cheap credit, September auto sales were the highest since 2008. Unadjusted for business days, sales for all brands were up 14.5 percent from September 2011 and 12.8 percent year-over-year.
Toyota and Honda led the charge in September, growing their market share 2.6 percent and 1.2 percent respectively from September 2011. Their gain may have been Nissan’s loss; the Japanese automaker saw a drop in share of 1.1 percent from a year ago. Hyundai sales rose 15.3 percent from September 2012, Kia saw an improvement of 35.1 percent, and Volkswagen’s sales were up 34.4 percent. Incentives were down 3.1 percent from August and down 9.3 percent from a year ago.
“Home prices, consumer confidence, and credit availability are all on the rise,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “Americans are buying cars again, and that’s good news for dealers, their employees, and the communities they support.”
Internationals Gain Market Share
International brands sold 666,301 vehicles in September, capturing 56.1 percent of the U.S. auto market. Market share was up from the 54.7 percent share they held last month, although the number of vehicles fell from the 703,611 vehicles sold in August.
Asian automakers scored the biggest portion of the U.S. auto market in September with 46.1 percent, an increase from the 45.6 percent share they occupied in August. They sold 547,703 vehicles, which is a 22.8 percent improvement over the same month last year when residual impacts of March 2011’s earthquake and tsunami were still hampering vehicle production. Asian nameplates have sold over 4.9 million vehicles so far this year and are up 20.1 percent for the year-to-date.
European automakers held a 10 percent share of the auto market in September with sales of 118,598 units – an improvement over the 9.1 percent share they held in August. For the year-to-date, European brands, led by Volkswagen, have sold over 1 million vehicles and recorded a 19.9 percent sales improvement.
Domestic nameplates sold 522,564 units to occupy 44 percent of the auto market – a decrease from 45.3 percent last month. So far this year, they have sold over 4.8 million vehicles and experienced an 8.3 percent improvement for the year-to-date.
International Vehicles Maintain Popularity
International brand vehicles maintained a strong presence in September’s list of the top ten selling vehicles, with five vehicles taking top honors. The Toyota Camry was once again the top selling car in America, taking the third spot behind the Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado pickups. The Honda Accord followed in fourth place with sales up 56.6 percent. The Nissan Altima, Toyota Corolla/Matrix, and Honda CR-V Rounded out the list in seventh, ninth, and tenth positions, respectively.
As it did last month, the small car segment saw the biggest improvement, with sales up 49.9 percent over September 2011. The segment sold 240,288 units, which contrasts with the 160,334 units it sold in the same month last year.
The midsize car segment sold 278,935 units and was up 15.8 percent over last September, while the SUV/crossover segment maintained its lead with sales of 355,063 vehicles – a 7.6 percent improvement over the same month last year. The pickup segment saw a 3.4 percent sales decline compared to last year, while the luxury car segment fell 1.2 percent.
AutoData Corp. estimated the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) at 14.94 million units, the highest recorded level since March 2008.