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Auto sales strong in September

Posted: October 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.

New-vehicle sales for September continue to improve, J.D. Power and Associates reported.

Gathering transaction data from more than 8,900 retail franchisees through the United States, the marketing firm projected the seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 10.3 million units sold, marking the first time the retail selling rate would be above 10 million units since April.

Locally, automotive dealers reported healthy sales, especially during Labor Day weekend, which kicked off September.

Retail sales, as opposed to fleet purchases, are believed to be the most accurate predictor of consumer demand for new vehicles. Fleet sales in September were down 1 percent compared with a year ago.

Total light-vehicle sales are expected to come in 9 percent higher than in September 2010. Given the relative strength of September, J.D. Power is maintaining its forecast for 2011 to come in at 12.6 million units. Mazda and Hyundai both reported nationwide sales on Tuesday to be up 37.4 and 12 percent respectively over 2010.

“Finishing September with such strong momentum is no small feat, especially considering the disappointing economic climate,” said Dave Zuchowski, Hyundai Motor America’s executive vice president of national sales.

Nationally, Toyota, Lexus, Honda and Acura all reported on Tuesday a decrease in sales for the month, related to the disruption in production as a result of Japan being struck in March by one of the largest earthquakes in recorded in history.

“In September, production in both North America and Japan returned to normal levels for the first time since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami,” said Bob Carter, Toyota division group vice president and general manager for Toyota Motor Sales, USA Inc. 

Toyota in North America had 40-percent less inventory than it did the prior year, but still managed to sell 121,000 vehicles in September.

“As vehicle inventory improves from the shortages during the past four months, buyers are showing resilience despite the troubling economic environment,” said Jeff Schuster, executive director of global forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates.

“While conditions remain challenging, a robust selling rate in September will help to ease fears of weaker vehicle sales in the fourth quarter.”


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