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New Car Sales Have a Tough September

Paul Ausick

New U.S. car sales for the month of September, including fleet sales, are expected to reach 1.17 million units, down 1.8% year-over-year from 1.89 million units sold in September 2012, according to Kelley Blue Book’s (KBB) latest data. The September decline is the first year-over-year drop since May 2011.

KBB estimates a seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales for September of 1.57 million units, up from 1.47 million in the same month last year, but down from 16 million in August. September sales were hurt this year by two fewer sales days because Labor Day sales were recorded in August. Retail sales also slowed down compared with August retail sales.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (HMC) is expected to post the largest year-over-year gain, up 4.1%, which Kelley attributes to the company’s top selling Civic, and CR-V models. Honda also posts a market share gain of 0.6% year-over-year to 10.5%.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) is expected to post a 0.8% sales volume decline year-over-year and drop to third place in the battle for market share with 14.8% share, some 0.4% behind Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) with 15.2% share. The U.S. market share leader continues to be General Motors Co. (GM) which claims 17.8% share.

Full-size pickup truck sales are expected to rise 4.2% above September 2012 sales. Only the compact crossover segment, expected to rise by 12.2% over last September, shows a bigger yearly increase. Pickup truck sales are expected to grow what is traditionally a better time of year for truck sales. Good news for Ford, GM, and Chrysler Group LLC’s Ram pickups.

Sales of mid-size cars are forecast to decline by 8.3% this month compared with September 2012, and the segment gives up its claims to having the largest market share. The compact car segment, led by a redesigned Toyota Corolla now leads with 15.4% share to the mid-size segment’s share of 15.3%. The compact crossover segment, which includes the CR-V, the Toyota RAV4, and the Subaru Forester gained 1.6% of market share in September and now stands ahead of the pickup truck segment, with total share of 13% to 12.9% for the trucks.