Fleet Management

Economic Watch: September Auto Sales Slip

October 02, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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A more than two-year streak in U.S. auto sale gains came to an end in September, but don’t read too much into the decline, say analysts.

Early estimates show new sales fell 4% in September compared to the same time a year ago, to a little more than 1.1 million vehicles.

Ford and Chrysler both posted sales gains for the month, with Ford sales were up 5.8% from the same time a year earlier and its best September since 2006. Chrysler was up 0.7% during the same time.

GM reported sales were down 11%, while Toyota’s dropped 4.3%, with Honda and Nissan falling 9.9% and 5.5%, respectively. Subaru showed a 15% gain, Hyundai fell 8%, Kia plummeted 21% and Mazda declined 6.8%. Volkswagen lost 2.6%, the only German auto maker to report a decline.

Lower September sales were expected, said Elaine Kwei, equity analyst at the investment banking firm Jefferies.

“September sales came in significantly below August’s 16 million annual rate due to a pull-forward of Labor Day weekend sales and two fewer selling days,” she said. “On a combined basis, unit sales for the last two months were up 6.8% year-over-year. September sales may have felt some headwinds from slightly weaker consumer confidence and uncertainty around government actions.”

Kwei says fundamental demand drivers remain in place for the auto industry and that makers expect full year auto sales to come in above 15.5 million.

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