Carmakers on Tuesday reported mixed sales last month in the U.S. as demand for passenger cars rose while demand for trucks fell. But the total number of vehicles sold in September rose -- on an annualized basis -- to nearly 15 million, according to one analysis.
Toyota Motor Corporation (TYO:7203) reported the best performance last month, with a 42.3 percent rise in U.S. vehicle sales in September compared to last year, led by strong sales in the popular Camry and Camry Hybrid.
Of the Big Three U.S. automakers, Chrysler Group LLC gave the best performance, with sales up 12 percent, its 30th consecutive month in positive territory. General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) and Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) reported flat or near-flat total sales.
Edmunds.com estimated U.S. car sales to be 8.8 percent higher last month than they were in September 2011, while JPMorgan estimated that 14.6 million cars were sold, slightly higher than General Motors Company’s own estimate of 14.5 million. Most analysts estimated overall growth at around 12 percent.
Torrence, Calif.-based Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) U.S.A. Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation (TYO:7203), reported a 42.3 percent rise in U.S. vehicle sales in September compared to last year, led by strong sales in the popular Camry and Camry Hybrid.
Passenger car sales were up even higher, to 47.1 percent, or 85,6412 vehicles, while the company’s light truck division saw an increase of 36.6 percent, or 65,882 units, led by sales of the RAV4 compact utility and the Tacoma mid-sized pickup truck.
Sales of the luxury Lexus brand were also up to 8,366 units, or 36.4 percent higher than September 2011. Hybrid sales, which include the vehicles from various categories, last month were up 120.6 percent to 26,747 units.
“The auto industry had another very encouraging month in September,” Bill Fay, Toyota group vice president and general manager, said in a statement.
The Auburn Hills, Mich.-based subsidiary of Italian Fiat SpA (Milan: F) sold 142,041 cars last month, a 12 percent increase compared with the same period last year. It was the 30th consecutive month of year-over-year sales increases. Third-quarter sales are up 13 percent from last year.
General Motors (NYSE:GM) reported a 1.5 percent rise in U.S. sales last month compared with sales in September 2011, buoyed by a 7.9 percent rise in Buick sales and despite a 20 percent drop in truck sales.
Detroit-based GM said its sales of mini, small and compact cars grew 29 percent in September compared with the same period last year as American car-buyers shift -- as they often do during times of economic uncertainty and rising gas prices -- to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.
“Auto sales will continue to be a bright spot for the U.S. economy,” said Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales, in a statement.
The country’s largest automaker said it saw “strong” sales of the new Chevrolet Spark and Cadillac XTS, as well as of the Chevy Sonic, Cruze and the Buick Verano. The company also reported a 16 percent rise in sales for the Buick Acadia and an 8 percent increase in purchases of the GMC Terrain.
Truck sales, however, were markedly down “due to a 46 percent year-over-year reduction in fleet sales due to the timing of customer deliveries,” the company said in a statement. Large pickup sales were down 12 percent, and fleet sales plummeted 56 percent.
GM’s stock price was up 3.55 percent to $23.91 on Tuesday.
Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) reported Tuesday that September U.S. sales were basically flat compared with last year's sales during the same period, thanks largely to a decline in truck sales, which it attributed mainly to the discontinuation of the Ranger model.
Franklin, Tenn.-based Nissan North America, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (TYO:7201), reported a 1.1-percent decline in U.S. auto sales in September, to 91,907 vehicles.
Nissan’s eponymous brand name declined 2.2 percent to 82,462 vehicles while its luxury Infiniti models saw an 11.1 percent increase (9,445 units) over September 2011.
Nearly half of its 52,776 U.S. car sales came from the Altima brand (24,448) while sales of the Rogue made up nearly 41 percent of the 29,686 truck sales, which increased 3.3 percent last month over September of last year.
The Pathfinder truck saw a robust gain of 38.7 percent to 3,205 vehicles while the Quest saw the biggest gain of 39.7 percent to 1,109 vehicles. The big loser in the Nissan car division was the Versa, which saw last month’s sales fall 32 percent to 8,061 vehicles from the same month last year.
The Infiniti brand was helped by sales of the FX, which more than doubled last month from the previous year to 1,659 vehicles while sales of the EX plummeted nearly 60 percent to 253.
Honda Motor Co. (TYO:7267) said it sold 117,211 vehicles in the U.S. in September, a 30.9-percent increase over last year.
Sales of the Accord, Civic and CR-V models represented about 62 percent of sales, with the CR-V crossover utility vehicle posting a September record of 22,268 units sold, 13.6 percent more than a year ago.
Acura sales rose 43.5 percent to 14,366 units.
"Acura's core models of TL and MDX continue as a driving force for the brand," said Jeff Conrad, vice president of Acura sales.
Honda’s American Depositary Receipts fell a penny to $30.58.
Seoul-based Hyundai Motor Co (KRX:005380) sold a record number of units for September – 60,025 -- a 15 percent increase from last year and a 10 percent rise from the first nine months of 2012.
"September was a very encouraging month for Hyundai as we avoided the traditional back-to-school sales decline,” Dave Zuchowski, executive vice president of sales, said in a statement.
The Elantra brand saw a 27-percent gain to 18,305 vehicles while the Azera experienced a steep sales surge from 79 vehicles in September 2011 to 891 last month.
The U.S. subsidiary of Germany’s Volkswagen AG (FRA:VOW) reported its best September since 1972 with 34,663 units sold, a 34.4 percent increase from last year.
“Tracking over a 37 percent increase year-to-date is a strong proof point that our products are on more shopping lists and gaining acceptance in the market,” Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., said in a statement.
The Passat broke a year-to-date sales record and sold 9,500 units last month. The volume leader was the Jetta sedan with 12,584 units sold. The Tiguan broke a September record with 2,202 units sold.