Mixed Results in September Auto Market; Ford Struggles

esa-car-keys-september-2018The September US auto market (light vehicles) came in at a 5.5% year-over-year decline, compared to September 2017’s post-Hurricane Harvey rebound, which finished at a 18.2M SAAR pace. The 17.54M SAAR pace for September 2018 marked the seventh of nine months this year above the 17M plateau, but the market’s overall direction in the 2nd half is in the minus direction. Some key points from the month:

  • Fiat Chrysler (FCA) was the only major brand to post a year-over-year increase.
  • Ford was outsold by FCA for the first time since 2015, falling to a 4th place finish behind GM, Toyota, and FCA.
  • The SAAR finished at 17.54M. Seven of the nine months of 2018 have finished above 17M SAAR.
  • The 5.5% decline was above analysts expectations of a 7% drop.
  • Passenger car sales were down a staggering 20%, light trucks were up 2.2%.
  • Projections of a 2nd half automotive slowdown are materializing through three quarters.
  • Through three quarters, 2018 is still up 0.5% versus 2017, but expectations linger that the year will finish below 2017’s full-year in total volume.

With massive pre-owned inventories, increasing interest rates, and tariff battles looming, the final quarter of 2018 is replete with challenges for auto dealers.


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SAAR: Seasonally adjusted annualized (sales) rate.
Source: September 2018 Auto Sales | Automotive News, October 2018.

Author: Dave Eckstein

Dave Eckstein is a partner in the firm ESA & Company. You can follow Dave on Twitter @DaveEckstein.

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