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Bah Humbug in September
Auto sales for the month of September are rolling in and it is small cars that are leading the way. After a strong August, truck sales for the month of September are coming up soft. Typically, strong truck sales are a good leading indicator for the economy; however, that mantra has faded over the past year as truck sales have been extremely volatile. Chrysler has been pulling a Cinderella story over the past year, and continues to surprise to the upside. The two ugly step sisters (think General Motors and Ford) ran into some pressure this month, but Chrysler showed them up all, seeing sales increase 11.5% year over year and up 23.9% year to date. Toyota (TM) has seen the strongest increase this year, but is still recovering from the earthquake and tsunami that crippled production.
After the really strong August and many expectations calling for 14.5 million in SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales) for September, the actual releases are a bit of a letdown. All the hype was for... this... Chrysler's report was strong, but not as strong as it has been; and Ford's was a disappointment, same with GM. Toyota's month is more difficult to get a handle on as it is still recovering from the earthquake; it is still trying to find its "new normal." That being said, GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Toyota saw sales decline 12.5%, 7.5%, 4.3%, and 8.8% month to month, respectively.
Lower fuel prices could lead to a slight bounce in truck sales for October, but I am not holding my breath. Fuel efficiency is the name of the game now, and as a result, smaller cars are leading the way.
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