Auto Sales Cool in September

Market Watch 10/04/16

With the end of summer and the prospect of cooling temperatures in much of the country, September auto sales slowed from the pace they kept up earlier in the year. Despite the slowdown, some of the largest international nameplate brands saw small, but significant, gains. Honda sales were up 1.5 percent, Hyundai sales rose 2.2 percent, Nissan saw an improvement of 4.3 percent, and Toyota sales were up 1.4 percent. Pickups and crossovers accounted for 59.9 percent of all sales, up 4.5 percent from September 2015. Car sales were down 7.1 percent to 40.1 percent of all vehicles sold.

“International nameplate dealers are looking to finish the year on a strong note,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “The market may not be as hot as it once was, but it is healthy, and the sales pace is strong.”

Internationals Continue to Lead Market Share

International brands maintained their dominance in the U.S. market, holding a 55 percent share of all U.S. auto sales in September. The figure was down from the 55.9 percent share they held last month and 56.4 percent in July. Overall sales for international brands totaled 788,939 units in September, down from 845,229 in August and 858,541 in July.

Asian brands held a 46.1 percent share of the market, down from 46.8 percent last month, but up from the 45.1 percent share they held in September 2015. Overall sales for the month of September totaled 661,540 units, including 342,212 cars and 314,328 trucks. Overall sales reflected an uptick from the same month last year when they sold 650,008 vehicles.

European brands held steady in the U.S. market with a 8.9 percent share for the month of September—down slightly from the 9.1 percent share they held last month, but consistent with their market share in September 2015. Overall sales of 127,399 units included 77,260 cars and 55,139 trucks and represented a decline from the 128,113 total units sold in September 2015.

International Nameplates Are Top Picks for U.S. Drivers

International nameplate vehicles continued their streak of representing seven of the top-ten-selling nameplates for the month. In fourth place behind the Ford F-Series, Dodge Ram, and Chevrolet Silverado pickups, the Honda CR-V was once again the top international pick for U.S. buyers, with sales for the compact SUV hitting 31,884 units—up 6.5 percent from last September. The Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue were also popular with American shoppers looking for an SUV in September. The RAV4 finished the month in seventh place with sales up 8.6 percent, while the Rogue landed in tenth place with sales up 5.6 percent.

Some of the most popular cars on the month’s top-ten list included the Toyota Corolla (fifth place), Toyota Camry (sixth place), Honda Civic (eighth place), and Honda Accord (ninth place).

Internationals Source from North America

International automakers continued to utilize North American manufacturing units to supply vehicles for U.S. lots, including vehicle production facilities located in the U.S. In September, 261,004 cars (45 percent of all car sales) and 240,755 trucks (28 percent of all light truck sales) sold by international automakers came from facilities in North America.


AutoData Corp. reports that the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) in September was 17.76 million units versus 18.05 million units a year ago. Industrywide, 1,435,689 light vehicles were sold in September, compared to 1,512,556 in August and 1,522,297 in July. Unadjusted for business days, sales for all brands were down 0.5 percent from September 2015 but up 0.5 percent year-to-date. International brands outperformed the market as a whole last month, up 1.4 percent from September 2015 and up 0.7 percent for the year.