Hurricane Recovery Boosts Auto Sales

Volkswagen cars for sale are on display on the lot of a dealership in Bo

New vehicle sales boomed in September with General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen all reporting double-digit gains as the regions of the USA battered by storms at the end of the summer began to recover and sales of compact crossover vehicles soared. Sales had been weak after a strong run since 2010 that reached in record sales of 17.55 million units in previous year.

General Motors (GM) and Ford, the first two us vehicle manufacturers, have taken advantage of this effect, which was interrupted by several months of sales hard. But the robust results - underscored by a seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate of 18.58 million for the month - blew well past the most optimistic forecasts.

"The overall strength of the USA economy is the main force driving the market", GM Chief Economist Mustafa Mohatarem said in a statement. "With the US economy strengthening, retail sales should remain strong for the foreseeable future".

GM's sales leapt nearly 12 percent against September 2016 as a 43 percent boost in sales of crossovers and a 10 percent rise for pickup trucks balance out an 11 percent drop for passenger cars.

USA light-vehicles sales slipped 1.8 percent last month and the seasonally adjusted, annualized pace of sales fell to the lowest level - 16.13 million - since February 2014 behind a late-month. The company is cutting back on fleet sales.

The RAV4, with more than 42,000 units sold this month, has surpassed the 40,000-unit mark for three consecutive months.

GM reported on Tuesday that sales rose 11.9 percent from a year ago, while Ford sales rose 8.7 percent. We're pleased to say recovery in Houston and Florida is moving quickly, with all of our dealers in the area now back up. But it lost about 1,000 in Florida due to closed dealerships, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing Mark LaNeve said on a conference call. For instance, Toyota's midsize Camry, which is all-new for 2018, posted a 13 per cent sales gain.

Nissan Group reported sales increased 9.5% as the Nissan Division sales set a September record while Infiniti sales went up 12%.

The seasonally changed yearly rate of US vehicles and light truck sales in September increased to 18.57 million units from 17.72 million units a year previously, notes Autodata Corp, which is dedicated to tracking market sales.

"With 6 of the 12 major automakers expected to pay in excess of $4,000 per vehicle in sales incentives, one must question whether we will establish a new normal in terms of spending or whether automakers will collectively pull back and more closely align production with natural consumer demand", said Eric Lyman, ALG's chief analyst. In September, FCA's retail sales of 146,904 units were up 0.3% compared with the same month in 2016, representing 84% of total sales. GM is moving closer to its goal of around 70 days supply by the end of the year. The largest planned volume reduction in September fleet sales came from the Jeep brand, which reduced its fleet sales number by 67% year over year. To date, CAF sales have fallen 16% with a total of 487,039 vehicles delivered. There were 26 selling days last month compared to 25 in September 2016.

The Volkswagen brand continued to recover from its diesel-emissions crisis by recording a 33 percent surge. Volkswagen's sales jump is also tied to a shift to offer more family-friendly SUVs, such as the new Atlas and updated Tiguan, in its line-up. Audi, meanwhile, shot up 9.6 percent.

Approximately 1.43 million new cars expected to have been passed in the United States in September, a small increase of 0.4%, estimated by analysts.

Average new auto prices were up just 0.4 per cent, according to consultancy Kelley Blue Book, reflecting "the industry's trend of slowing demand for new vehicles", said analyst Tim Fleming.

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