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Sales Summary – September 2017

October 5, 2017 0 Comments

It’s time for the September sales report! Most automakers did pretty well overall, but a few still aren’t seeing sales increases.


Toyota saw a boost in sales last month, helped along by light trucks and the redesigned 2018 Camry. The Toyota Division, including the now-defunct Scion brand, had a 17 percent increase in the number of vehicles sold in September, with one additional sales day this year (as compared to September 2016).


September marks the fourth straight month the Japanese automaker has seen gains, bumping Toyota North America into the black for the year.


“The auto industry showed renewed strength in September, bringing optimism for a third consecutive year with sales topping 17 million new vehicles,” said Jack Hollis, a general manager of Toyota Division. “This month marked our first full month of sales of the all-new 2018 Camry, outselling last year’s total with a double-digit gain in volume.”


ALG estimated Toyota’s incentives to be around $3,742 per unit last month, higher than those at Honda, Subaru, and Hyundai.


General Motors had its best September sales since 2008, thanks in part to its Chevrolet pickups and crossovers. Crossover sales rose by 39 percent, and trucks (including pickups, vans, and SUVs) followed suit with a 10 percent increase. GM’s car sales did drop by 8 percent, however.


On Tuesday, GM reported light-vehicle sales of 279,397 cars and trucks, a 12-percent increase since 2016. Last month also saw GM’s largest year-over-year increase (16 percent) since October 2015.


“Our new crossovers from Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac have been very well-received, and Chevrolet had an outstanding month with the Silverado and Colorado. We are entering the fourth quarter with strong momentum, great products, and a healthy economy,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations.


Ford’s sales went up 8.9 percent, with strong F-150 pickup sales. Like GM, Ford saw its pickup, van, crossover, and SUV sales increase and their car sales decrease (-1.3 percent).


“Our September sales were strong across the board – including retail, commercial, and government,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing. “We’re pleased to say recovery in Houston and Florida is moving quickly, with all of our dealers in the area now back up.”


LaNeve also said Ford sales rose around 18,000 vehicles year-over-year, which he said was less than a third of those related to effects from Hurricane Harvey and Irma.


“Outside of the Harvey effect, the business was strong,” he said.


Honda sales rose 6.8 percent to 142,722 vehicles, with U.S. sales in the Honda Division up 7.4 percent (129,776 vehicles) – a new record for September.


The Civic did well last month, bringing in a 26-percent increase in sales. The Accord, which has a new generation model coming soon, saw sales rise 9.5 percent.


“One of the key headlines for Honda is the continued strength in Civic. In fact, it was the top-selling vehicle in the Honda lineup, a rarity in today’s SUV-driven world,” said Akshay Anand, executive analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “With the approaching launch of the all-new Accord, they could be the brand that is the exception to the norm, with a balanced selling portfolio going forward.”


Fiat-Chrysler didn’t have such a great month: its sales fell 9.7 percent in September, marking the 13th straight month of U.S. sales declines. While the automaker’s retail sales did go up 0.3 percent, FCA’s fleet sales dropped 16 percent in total.


All of the core brands – Ram, Jeep, Chrysler, Fiat – suffered. Alfa Romeo, with two new models, was the only one to see an increase in sales.


Although Jeep’s sales fell 3.8 percent, the Compass had its best-ever monthly sales (increase of 75 percent), and the Renegade, Cherokee, and Wrangler models saw double-digit sales increases.


Nissan’s strategy – back off from midsize-car competition and direct attention to compacts – paid off last month, with Sentra sales boosting the automaker to a 9.3 percent increase (and a new September record).


Judy Wheeler, Nissan Division vice president of U.S. sales, said the company pushed back its heavy focus on midsize vehicles to devote more attention and resources to the Sentra (40 percent increase in sales to 19,128 units).


“That strategy is working for us,” she said. “We did well in that space. We’re staying away from the incentive wars going on in the lower midsize-car segment and focusing instead on Sentra.”


Volkswagen and Audi sales shot up by 33 percent last month, helped along by two new three-row crossovers.


The German automaker sold 4,095 of its new Atlas crossover and 3,075 of its redesigned 2018 three-row Tiguan. The Golf SportWagen doubled its sales in September (24 percent), and Jetta sales increased by 45 percent. Passat sales, however, fell 27 percent.


Hyundai and Kia each continued on their respective downward trajectories, with overall sales falling 5.5 percent, although car sales last month did help slow the descent.


Hyundai Motor America was in the double-digit declines again, which it attributed to lower fleet sales (down by 37 percent as compared to last year).


The bright spots for Hyundai were its two Santa Fe crossovers (sales rose 0.6 percent last month) and the Tucson. The Santa Fe family made up the brand’s second-largest seller.


When it comes to luxury brands, after the hurricanes and inventory shortages in August, U.S. luxury sales climbed back up: overall luxury sales rose 4.9 percent (which still underperforms compared to the overall industry).


Lexus had a fantastic month, closing the gap between itself and BMW for the No. 2 spot. Mercedes-Benz still holds the top position, despite seeing some declines last month.


Mercedes, the only luxury brand without exclusively increasing sales in September, saw its sales fall 1.7 percent to 29,008 vehicles. Last month’s sales were disrupted by the hurricanes, said Mercedes USA CEO Dietmar Exler. Even so, he said, SUV and crossover sales are “seeing continued positive development.”


“We expect to regain momentum in the final quarter of the year with the launch of the new S-Class sedan, AMG models, and continued demand for our SUV lineup,” Exler said.
The Audi premium brand was up 9.6 percent in September for its Q5 and Q7 crossovers, marking September as the 81st month of Audi making record U.S. sales.

Subaru’s September sales increased a little: U.S. sales went up 0.4 percent, making it the Subaru’s best September ever, with 55,120 vehicles sold (previous record: 54,918) and the smallest year-over-year gain since March 2016.


ALG estimated Subaru’s average new-vehicle incentive was down 5.7 percent ($1,026) compared to last year.


“September marks 70 consecutive months of yearly month-over-month growth for our organization and our retailers,” said Jeff Walters, senior vice president of sales for Subaru. “Traffic to our retailers remains strong, and it is encouraging to see sales of the all-new Crosstrek continue to grow.”


Our friends to the north also did pretty well last month: sales in Canada were up 7.7 percent, bringing total Canadian sales up to 1.59 million this year (5.5 percent increase).


In Canada, Ford, with 30,881 vehicle sales, beat out GM’s 27,237 for the top spot. Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda saw record September sales in Canada last month, and even brands with a smaller presence in the country saw double-digit increases (e.g. VW with 50.5 percent and Subaru with 11.1 percent).


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