Automakers may report huge September sales gains
Automakers are likely to report eye-popping double-digit sales increases
That will make the industry look like it's doing a lot better than it
actually is, however, because of an easy comparison with September a
year ago, when sales tumbled after the federal government's
cash-for-clunkers program concluded.
Bob Page, owner of Bob Page Toyota in Southfield, said he expects to
sell more than 100 cars and trucks for the month -- or about twice as
many as last September.
"But last year, we had very little inventory," Page said.
The clunkers program left dealer lots depleted while the nation's
economy remained affected by one of the worst recessions in decades.
"I am sure that ... all the automakers are going to show a substantial
increase in September," Page said.
For the domestic automakers, vehicle-pricing Web site TrueCar.com
estimates that September sales will increase 48.4% at Chrysler, 41.7% at
Ford and 10.4% at General Motors.
For Asian automakers, TrueCar estimates sales will increase 59.5% for
Hyundai and Kia, 34.7% for Honda, 29.2% for Nissan and 17.8% for Toyota.
Jeff Schuster, executive director of forecasting for J.D. Power and
Associates, said September started off as one of the best months this year.
But it weakened as the month continued.
Just last week, J.D. Power estimated that the seasonally adjusted annual
rate, or SAAR, would top 11.8 million in September and it noted that
retail demand was at its highest point in two years.
But Schuster now estimates the SAAR for September will be 11.5 million.
"As long as unemployment is where it is at, we are not going to see a
real big boost in consumer confidence, or auto sales," Schuster said.
Consumer confidence, which had improved in August, dropped 4.7 points to
48.5 in September, according to the Conference Board.
Dealers in different areas of the country are reporting mixed sales trends.
Brian Jarrett, president of Jarrett Auto Group in Florida, said sales at
his Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealerships increased.
"We are in a sweet spot with new products coming out, and the economy
starting to improve a little bit," Jarrett said.
But P.J. Haydocy, general manager of Haydocy Buick GMC in Columbus,
Ohio, said sales at his dealership barely increased from last September.
He blamed limited availability of the GMC Terrain and low consumer
"I think people still don't have a grasp of what's going on with the
economy," Haydocy said.
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