“Yeah, man…I mean, I LIKED football and all, but cars are just movin’ today, son. It’s like this; the rain comes, dampens everything a bit, but it always clears. Sure, we got puddles to deal with, but we also got these Ford F350s to roll right through those puddles. It’s just like our industry. Tough as nails for a bit, sure, but now we’re feeling alright.”
And so it is for the auto industry, which enjoyed its most robust month since February 2008. Sales were up 13% from over a year ago, putting the pace for annual sales at a very nice 15 million vehicles. Numbers were better than what the analysts expected, and went beyond the sales increase from Uncle Sam’s “Cash For Clunkers” program in 2009 (remember that?!!?).
Experts credit the release of pent-up demand, the relative ease of finding affordable automobile loans, an increase in consumer confidence, and a limited supply of used cars (along with their corresponding high prices) for September’s sales strength.
Japanese auto makers led the charge; Toyota’s sales were up 41.5% from a year ago, and Honda’s rose 30.9%. Volkswagen Group (including both the VW and Audi brands) leaped 32%, with Hyundai jumping 23.4%. Chrysler Group’s sales bounced 12%. And I’m out of synonyms for increase.
GM and Ford were, unfortunately, laggards, with GM posting a teensy weensy 1.5% bump. Ford’s sales declined 0.1% for the month. But for folks like the salesman in the picture, the percentages don’t explain the entire truth. Both firms experienced drops in the less-profitable fleet sales segment (to rental companies). Consumer sales were on target with analyst expectations, meaning our friend was selling plenty of cars to eager dudes in white t-shirts with apathetic girlfriends or wives merely along for the ride.
Get out there and buy one, America.