September Auto Sales Surprise, Exceed Expectations

Car sales rose in September, bucking economic trends.

Car sales rose in September, bucking economic trends. (pic by productreviewland.com)

Despite repeated calls from analysts that auto sales would continue to remain in the tank for the rest of 2011, September was anything but the bloodbath that had been promised. In fact, the month saw vehicle sales perform at a clip not seen since April.

American consumers bought 1.05 million cars and trucks in September, just one tenth of a percent shy of a 10 percent increase over last year’s sales, despite continued signs of economic weakness.

Sales were so good that many pundits and industry watchers are now revising their expectations for the year again. Auto sales are currently on pace to hit 13.1 million vehicles sold this year.

General Motors, Chrysler and Ford all posted gains, with only Ford failing to post a double digit rise. As they’ve done all year, Nissan has bucked the trend of Japanese automakers, posting a rise in sales greater than 25 percent. Hyundai sales are also continuing to rise.

While Detroit automakers, Nissan and Hyundai saw healthy increases in sales, Japanese stalwarts Toyota and Honda continued their fall. Honda sales declined 8 percent year over year. Interestingly, Honda sold more light trucks than cars, and even experienced a gain on trucks. Without the increase from trucks, sales of Honda cars were down 17.3 percent. Toyota and Honda have each posted five consecutive months of falling sales.

The biggest gainer was Volkswagen, and all German brands posted digit gains for the month. Volkswagen, currently the second largest automaker behind only General Motors, has set as its corporate goal to become the largest in the world, and is on pace for their first profitable year in the United States since 2003.

Bob Lutz, who recently returned to GM in a consulting role, says that “a while ago, many experts thought, the race for the top position in the auto business would be a dead heat between GM, Toyota, and Honda. This has changed. The Big Three are now GM, Volkswagen, and Hyundai. Toyota is in decline.”

Biggest Winners and Losers for September

  • Volkswagen: 35.6% Gain
  • Chrysler: 27.2% Gain
  • Nissan: 25.3% Gain
  • General Motors: 19.7% Gain
  • Hyundai: 11.8% Gain
  • Ford: 9.0% Gain
  • Toyota: 17.5% Loss
  • Honda: 8.0% Loss

About Cecil Helton

Cecil Helton Cecil Helton is a U.S.-based writer and editor with passions for cars, motorcycles, boats, technology and social media. Much of his professional life since 1996 has been web-centric, and he’s written and developed content on a variety of subjects. His work in the houseboat industry received wide acclaim, such as winning the 1999 Cisco Systems Growing with Technology award and being named one of five finalists in the manufacturing sector of the 2000 Computerworld-Smithsonian Awards. As an Air Force brat, he spent much of his childhood in a two-year cycle of moving to a new place, making new friends, establishing a life, and then moving again. Destinations included: Kentucky, Illinois, Texas, the Greek isle of Crete, California and Ohio. Today you’ll find Cecil coping with his 15 year old son’s decision to pursue a motorcycle license at the same time he gets his driver’s license, being active across the web on multiple social media sites, and of course, writing articles and creating content on automotive and car insurance related topics right here at CarInsurance.org.


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