September Sales Hit Highest Rate Since April

By AutoObserver Staff September 29, 2011

Sept 2011 Forecast.jpg

September car and truck sales will hit their highest monthly pace since April, according to Edmunds.com’s forecast. The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of sales in September is predicted to hit 12.9 million vehicles, the highest since April’s 13.2 million, and before supply disruptions stemming from the March 11 earthquake in Japan had a full impact on sales. In raw numbers, Edmunds.com forecasts sales of 1,038,052 vehicles, up 8.3 percent from September 2010 but down 3.1 percent from August. Edmunds.com estimates that the retail SAAR will come in at 10.6 million vehicles in September, with fleet sales accounting for 18 percent of all sales this month.

September’s sales forecast is an encouraging sign for the automotive industry, but it likely won’t be enough to get it back on track for the growth that was first projected at the beginning of the year. Earlier this month, Edmunds.com lowered its 2011 auto sales forecast from 12.9 million to 12.6 million vehicles. “Some consumers who deferred purchases earlier this summer are responding to improving vehicle supply and more competitive prices, and those purchases will be reflected in September’s sales results,” said Edmunds.com Chief Economist Lacey Plache.  “But declining economic conditions are keeping other consumers away from dealer lots and will continue to do so at least through the end of the year."

092911 Sep Forecast Changet.jpgHonda Biggest Gains
Edmunds.com forecasts that Honda will see the biggest month-over-month gains among the top six automakers. Honda is projected to sell 10.6 percent more vehicles in September than August, though 6.5 percent fewer vehicles than in September 2010. The boost in sales is expected to bring Honda a 1.1 percentage point increase in market share. “Honda’s momentum this month is a direct reflection of all the hard work it has put into getting its production and supply issues back to normal,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds.com senior analyst. ‘With more cars available to sell, Honda is finally in a position to be a lot more flexible with incentives and pricing than it have been over the last several months, and consumers are responding."

092911 Sept Forecast.jpgFord Motor Co. bounced back in September after it was the only major manufacturer in August that showed a decrease in month-over-month sales. Edmunds.com forecasts that Ford will sell 178,654 vehicles this month, a 2.2 percent increase over August. The bump in sales is expected to account for a 0.9 point gain in market share. Ford’s Detroit rivals General Motors and Chrysler will likely have the most disappointing month of any of the Big 6 manufacturers. GM’s sales are expected to be down 5.5 percent compared with August, leading to a 0.5 point drop in market share. Chrysler, meanwhile, will see sales drop 5.6 percent, for a 0.3 point decline in market share.

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