U.S. Light-Vehicle Sales in September Best Since 2008

Retail light-vehicle sales during the last week of September were much stronger than expected, pushing up the month’s retail seasonally adjusted sales pace, or SAAR, to 12.4 million units—the second highest average retail pace this year, according to analysis by J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. Total sales were strong as well—highest since March 2008—and finished with a 14.9 million SAAR.

In September, retail car and light-truck deliveries climbed 16.8%* from last year to just under (2,700 units less) 1 million units At the same time, September retail totals slipped 1.5% from a strong retail performance in August, when adjusted on a selling-day basis. Yet, September’s retail SAAR was 1.9 million units stronger than in the same month of 2011.

Fleet sales declined 4.1% and accounted for only 16% of total sales in September, which was down from a 19% share of total sales a year ago. Nearly 190,000 fleet units were delivered. The fleet SAAR averaged 2.5 million units—up 600,000 units from last month, but down 100,000 units from September 2011. Continue reading ›

Small-Vehicle Demand Bolsters September U.S. Sales

Consumers continued to replace their aging cars and trucks with more fuel-efficient new models in September—especially since higher gasoline prices* helped prime demand for sub-compact or compact new vehicles with smaller engines and even alternative powertrains, in particular hybrids. In addition, discounts on outgoing 2012 models plus excitement about new and redesigned models helped boost sales by nearly 13% from the same month last year.**

Total U.S. new-vehicle sales in September reached 1.187 million units, which translated to a relatively strong 14.9 million-unit seasonally adjusted selling rate (SAAR), according to J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. September’s sales pace was significantly stronger than last year’s 13.1 million-unit SAAR. Continue reading ›

Compact Car and Large Pickup Deliveries Boost August U.S. Auto Sales

Compacts were popular choices for new-vehicle buyers in the U.S. market in August, due in part to the rise in gas prices—topping $4 per gallon on the West Coast. Car and light-truck sales in August rose 15.5% from a year ago, to 1.283 million units on a selling-day-adjusted basis,* according to analysis by J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.**

New car buyers continued to replace their older vehicles with new fuel-efficient compact models that included more purchases and leases of cars with alternative powertrains. At the same time, more large pickups were purchased than a year ago, which a Ford economist said may align with the fact that housing values moved in a positive direction recently compared to 2010 (based on the latest S&P Case Schiller index).

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Chrysler and VW Groups, Mazda Post Jackpot US Sales Increases in January

Although January often is the weakest sales month of the year in the US auto market, many automakers posted double-digit sales gains over the same month in 2010, indicating a good beginning for 2012. It appears that total light-vehicle sales might rise by more than 11% over January 2011 and that would translate to a 14.1 million-unit seasaonally adjusted selling rate (SAAR), according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive analysis.*

All multi-franchise automakers, except for General Motors, posted increases, as did two of four independents—Mazda and Subaru. Fiat-Chrysler and Volkswagen Groups led the January gains with year-over-year increases of 48% and 44%, respectively. Not only did Chrysler Group LLC report stronger sales for its Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram brands than a year ago, but the company also said it earned a net profit of $183 million in 2011 vs. a loss of $652 million in the prior year.** VW Group sales in January were bolstered by strong demand for the Passat, now built in Tennessee. Among the independents, Mazda was a star with deliveries soaring 68%. Continue reading ›

Large Pickups and Crossovers Prime Sales Pace in September

Recent news reports on US auto sales suggest that consumers entered showrooms in September partly to replace aging models. Light trucks were the best performers in the month, and crossovers (+20%) continued to set the pace, along with demand for large pickup (+24.7%) and large SUVs (+45.4%). Customer cash rebate amounts were down an average of 10% from August, according to Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data.

Chrysler’s Ram truck brand posted stellar gains (+42%), and GM’s Chevrolet (+21.6%) and GMC (+27.9%) brands also reported increases in large pickup and CUV deliveries—especially for the Chevrolet Silverado and Equinox, and the GMC Sierra and Terrain. Continue reading ›

Some Automakers Post Stronger-than-Expected US Sales in August

In spite of Hurricane Irene’s lingering effects on the East Coast, including power outages and flooding, and a continued slowing of the US economy, which has hurt consumer sentiment, August US light-vehicle sales totals from a number of automakers were slightly stronger than anticipated.

All three Detroit-based automakers posted sales increases from August of last year, which had one less selling day. Both General Motors (+13.5%) and Fiat-Chrysler Group (+25.6%) deliveries were up in double digits, and Ford Motor Co.’s sales improved in the high single digits (+6.9%).

GMC, Jeep, Lincoln Outpace Industry

GMC (+35.1%) was the sales leader in terms of percentage gains among General Motors’ core brands, and sales of the Chevrolet Cruze compact passed the 20,000-unit sales mark for a fifth consecutive month, which likely made it one of the 10 best sellers in the US market. Chrysler’s Jeep brand sales increased by nearly 52% from last year as the automaker’s brands were helped by a 90-day-postponed-payment incentive on some models. Ford Motor Company said both Ford Explorer and Fiesta deliveries were strong, while Lincoln brand deliveries were up in double digits (+19.8%) from a year ago. Ford F-Series totals slipped slightly on a selling-day-adjusted basis*, although more than 48,000 large Ford pickup trucks were delivered and 41% were equipped with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, according to Ford. Continue reading ›

July US Retail Sales Slow as Month Progresses; Fleets Advance

Dave Cutting

Retail light-vehicle sales in July were up only 5.5% from a year ago. Although the month’s sales began on a strong note following the July 4th holiday weekend, the sales pace slowed as the month progressed. The retail seasonally adjusted annual selling pace (SAAR) in July averaged 9.5 million units vs. 9.2 million units a year ago. Fleet sales were up 1.0% in July this year vs. last July and finished with a 2.6 million-unit selling rate, up from 2.3 million units in July 2010. However, fleets accounted for just 15.6% of total sales in July vs. 16.2% a year ago. Also, seasonality factors were recently revised by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, resulting in some monthly SAAR changes for each month this year.

In July, total new-car and light-truck (retail and fleet) sales rose 4.8% from last year on a selling-day-adjusted basis.* (Unadjusted totals were up by less than 1% from July 2010.) Automakers delivered 1,057,172 cars and light trucks in July 2011—only 9,457 more unit sales than in July 2010. However, since July 2011 had one less selling day than in July a year ago, the total light-vehicle SAAR represented a 12.2 million-unit pace vs. 11.5 million units in July of 2010.

New Vehicles Remain Slightly Longer on Lots before Being Sold

On an encouraging note, the credit environment in the US auto industry appears to be steadily improving. Based on analysis of our Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data, retail finance sales were up 1.7 percentage points from last July and lease penetration was up 0.7 points. Yet, at the industry level, cars and light trucks remained on retailer lots four days longer before selling than in June, and the retail turn rate averaged two days longer than a year ago. Continue reading ›

Compacts Outpace Most Other Segments in First Half

In the first half of 2011, US consumer demand for compact-segment vehicles climbed, especially for Compact Conventional car models and Compact Crossovers (CUVs). Compact Conventional models, led by strong performances for the new Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Elantra and VW Jetta, outperformed the market and gained share. More than 1.0 million compact cars were sold in the first six months this year. The category’s sales surged nearly 18% from last year and share rose to 15.85% of industry sales from 15.05% in 2010, which was larger than the largest-volume Midsize Conventional share of 15.50% in the first six months.

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Diesels to Help GM, Others Meet Stricter Fuel Economy Rules

Mike Omotoso

Recent news reports have indicated that General Motors has decided to sell a diesel version of the Chevrolet Cruze compact car in the US market. Reportedly, the diesel powertrain will help boost Cruze fuel efficiency to 50 mpg on the highway, based on several wire service reports. In June, Chevrolet sold nearly 25,000 new Cruze compacts with conventional gasoline powertrains, and it was one of the best-selling models in the US market.

GM to Offer Clean Diesel Powertrain

We know that General Motors’ diesel engine will use a common-rail direct-injection system, and it will be a clean diesel. In fact, all diesel passenger cars sold in the United States must be clean diesel, and ultra-low sulfur diesel has been sold across the country since late 2006. As news reports suggest, it will be two or three years before a diesel version of the Cruze can be sold here because it has to be re-engineered to meet US emissions standards. Continue reading ›

US Sales in June Bolstered by Demand for Pickups and Compacts

David Cutting

In June, more than 1.05 million new cars and light trucks were sold in the US market, which was up slightly less than 3% from 981,429 unit sales in the same month a year ago (on a selling-day-adjusted basis*). The average annual selling pace (SAAR) in June was 11.4 million units, which was weaker than last month’s 11.7 million-unit SAAR, but stronger than the year-ago pace of 11.1 million units.

Large pickups and the combined compact segments outperformed the industry in June as we projected, and the three Detroit-based automakers captured slightly more than one-half of industry sales (50.16%), mainly due to depleted inventories for two of the major Japanese automakers: Toyota and Honda Groups. On a year-to-date basis, the US market is up 12.1%. Hyundai Group’s impressive 32.5% sales gain through June this year comes at the expense of Toyota (down 4.6%) and Honda (up 1.6%). Continue reading ›