Where auto sales stumbled in August, September brought a welcome resurgence. Although fewer cars and truck were sold in September compared to August, looking at things in the context of the historic ebb and flow between months, the September sales work out to an annual rate of 12.2 million units. Compare that to August's 10.8-million rate, and it's a happy figure indeed. In fact, it's happier than the cautiously hopeful pace we were seeing back in spring and early summer, when sales were in the 11-million-unit arena. The industry's performance in September is its most robust since the government-incentive-fueled Cash-for-Clunkers bonanza last August.
For this month's run-down, we'll revert to year-ago comparisons. But note that in September '09, much of the industry was in a post-Clunkers lull, so the percent increases -- an average of 29% -- somewhat overstate the robustness of this September.
GENERAL MOTORS +22% (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC only)
A rebounding market for pickup trucks was good news for GM, which has recently introduced new heavy-duty models. The strength of pickup models is particularly reflected in the results for GMC.
LaCrosse sales doubled, Enclave was up 60%, but the Lucerne fell by half compared to last year. So far at least, the new Regal is still Buick's smallest-volume car.
Despite the addition of the coupe, CTS sales barely budged (+8%). Instead, Caddy's strength came from truck side -- make that the crossover side, with all credit going to the SRX (+41%) as the Escalades declined.
The Aveo's 244% increase is an attention-getter, but inventories where way down after Clunkers last year; still it's up by 63% over last month. The Malibu (+55%) was the only other car in positive territory. Truck, though, had lots of models in the plus column, lead by the Equinox (+70%) and the Silverado (+66%); only the big utilites, Tahoe and Suburban, declined.
Like Chevrolet, GMC saw a drop in demand for big SUVs, but otherwise it was all good news here. The Terrain more than tripled year-ago volume, and was ahead of August as well, while the Sierra and even the Canyon increased by more than half.