Ford sales up in September as industry sales overall drop

Ford sales up in September as industry sales overall drop

U.S. auto sales dropped 4.2 percent in September in the first decrease since June 2011. But the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) is still projecting a healthy 15.2 million in new vehicle sales. The average transaction price was $31,854, up 5 percent from a year ago, according to TrueCar.com.

GM sales dropped 11 percent, but its retail sales were down only 6 percent. Chevrolet fell by 15 percent, with the new Silverado down 10.8 percent because of supply problems.

By contrast, Ford did the best of any of the major automakers, with sales up 5.7 percent in its strongest September since 2006. Pickups did even better, with the F-Series up 10 percent. Fiesta and Fusion saw big gains, too, at 28.5 percent and 62.4 percent, respectively. The third Detroit automaker, Chrysler, was up also, but only modestly at 0.7 percent.

All the major Japanese brands saw sales decline: Off 4.3 percent for Toyota; 9.9 percent for Honda; and 5.5 percent for Nissan.

Three of the top five best selling vehicles were pickups. The top five were the Ford F-Series, Chevy Silverado, Toyota Camry, Ram pickup and Honda Accord. Numbers 6 through 10 were more weighted toward cars: Toyota Corolla/Matrix, Honda Civic, Ford Escape, Honda CR-V and Nissan Altima.

There were a few clouds on the horizon as September sales figures were announced. Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz opined that pent-up demand may dry up toward the end of 2014, according to the Associated Press. If the economy isnt creating more jobs by then, auto sales will see a downturn, Lentz predicted, even though the average car on the road is now more than 11 years old.

Consumer confidence, as measured by a University of Michigan survey, fell to a five-month low in September amid fears about a shaky economy.

And some automaker economists were expressing concern about the potential effects of a government shutdown. Any type of disruption in government operations would adversely affect government spending, business and consumer confidence, and financial markets, said Ford senior economist Jenny Lin, before the shutdown had begun.

GMs vice president of U.S. sales operation Kurt McNeil is similarly concerned about a more prolonged shutdown. If this thing drags out a couple of weeks, it starts to have more impact on customer sentiment, McNeil said, according to the Detroit Free Press.

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