Auto Sales Tank

The recent data has been nothing short of astonishing. Auto sales, which were weak over the past 11 months, simply went into freefall in September:

• Ford Motor posted a 34% drop. Their truck and van sales fell 39%, SUV sales plummeted 57% and F-series truck sales dropped 42%.

• Honda reported a 24% decline in sales;

• Toyota U.S. Sept. sales drop 32.3%, light truck sales dropped 38%

Lexus salesToyota’s luxury nameplate — fell 37.7%;

• Chrysler U.S. September sales fall 33%

• Volvo sales slumped 51.8%;

• Porsche tumbled 45%;

• General Motors sales down 15.6% (better than the expectations of -26%)

• Nissan Sales down 37%

• BMW U.S. sales dropped 25.8%

• Mercedes-Benz reported sales off -16.4%

• Volkswagen sales for September fell 9.4%;

• Hyundai Motor’s U.S. sales fell 25%;

• Kia U.S. sales slide 27.8%

Audi U.S. sales are down 5.4%  (but they are a low volume marquee, selling 7, 584 units, vs small Korean mfr KIA, which sold 17,383)

This means the bog winners were VW, (-9.4%), GM, whose sales were better than expected (-15.6%), and Mercedes Benz (-16.4%).

I cannot recall ever seeing Toyota sales down 32% . . . According to the Detroit Free Press, the seasonally adjusted annual SAAR for  the past decade has ranged between 14 million and 17 million vehicles. Since December, the SAAR has been in a free-fall, and September now looks like its going to hit 13 million annualized sales. noted that the last time fewer than 1 million new vehicles were sold in a month was February 1993.

In a related Reuters story, a new study says that nearly 1 in 5 car dealerships could fail:

"As many as 3,800 U.S. car dealerships could fail this fall and into 2009 — nearly one in five — because of weak sales, increased operational costs and the credit crunch, according to a forecast released on Wednesday. "An increasing number of dealers are simply closing their doors because sales have plummeted, credit has dried up, the overall retail environment is increasingly challenging and potential investors are sitting on the sidelines," said Paul Melville, a partner with Grant Thornton LLP, which issued the forecast."

Gosh, thank goodness we are not in a recession! Imagine how bad auto sales would be then!


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