Confused by cock-eyed counting in August and September U.S. auto sales? I mean, when the folks who tally up auto sales decide to move the whole Labor Day weekend out of September and into August, it messes up comparisons.
We all loved it when August came in fat and sassy. Remember those huge numbers? Up 17 percent, best monthly selling rate since 2007, most units sold in August since 2003?
But this skinny little September without its normal blowout sales event? No year-over-year gain? No 28th straight month of improvement? Merely the second-best September in six years? Ugh.
Well, I say we don't have to tolerate a frowny-face September.
Forget the slump, make a lump.
Add 'em up. Every August and September, taken as a duo, have exactly one Labor Day weekend. So let's compare this year's AugSept auto sales with previous years.
With 2,638,500 light-vehicles sold, this AugSept ain't all that bad.
It beats year-ago sales of 2,474,308 units handily, 7 percent higher. Also 2011. And, of course, it stomps 2010's 1.96 million, the only AugSept below the 2 million-unit mark on records dating back to the 1980s.
This AugSept outsold 2009's cash-for-clunkers-fueled duo, as well as 2008's, which included the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. We have to go back to 2007 to find a bigger AugSept.
So much for the industry's AugSept. What about automakers?
Looking at just AugSept totals, four of the eight largest volume groups beat the industry's 7 percent gain, thereby improving their market share. Toyota gained 10 percent, and Ford, Honda and Nissan each rose 9 percent.
Hyundai-Kia, down 4 percent, and Volkswagen Group, off 1 percent, were the only major players to post unit losses in AugSept. Chrysler gained 6 percent and General Motors, 3 percent.
I have to say, AugSept sure turned woo-hoo August and boo-hoo September into (mostly) single-digit porridge -- nourishing but a bit bland.
My takeaway: August was calendar jackpot. September was payback.
The U.S. auto market is still headed toward a year somewhere north of 15.5 million units. That is, assuming our political system isn't even more dysfunctional than we think it is.
You may e-mail Jesse Snyder at [email protected]