U.S. light-vehicle sales, propelled by Labor Day promotions, fatter deals throughout the month, low gasoline prices and higher light-truck demand, rose 16 percent in September on double-digit gains at the Detroit 3, Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Group and Honda Motor Co.
The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate surged to 18.17 million, easily topping the 17.7 million forecast, helping the industry record its strongest performance since July 2005, when Detroit’s struggling automakers offered employee discounts to all customers in an effort to juice sales.
Light trucks set the pace, rising 24 percent last month, while car deliveries edged up 6.3 percent.
“It was good from beginning to end -- one of those really special, strong months,” said Mark LaNeve, Ford Motor Co.'s head of U.S. marketing, sales and service.
The pace of sales in September is well above the August sales rate of 17.81 million and 1.63 million units above the 16.53 million SAAR in September 2014.
U.S. light-vehicle sales were forecast to climb 13 percent last month, fueled by Labor Day weekend deals and higher discounts compared with September 2014, according to a survey of 12 analysts polled by Bloomberg. For the first time since 2012, sales generated over the Labor Day holiday are included in September’s tally.
The SAAR has now eclipsed 17 million six out of nine months this year, putting the industry on track to top the 17 million sales mark in a calendar year for only the third time. TrueCar, citing what it expects to be vigorous growth in the remaining months of the year, today raised its 2015 industry sales forecast by 200,000 to 17.4 million.
That would top the industry’s all-time high of 17.395 million, set in 2000.
“Fundamental indicators point to an outstanding market, with auto sales poised to hit a 15-year high,” said Larry Dominique, executive vice president at TrueCar.
Ford sets pace
Ford Motor Co.’s 23 percent advance marked its biggest increase in nearly five years, with deliveries rising 23 percent at the Ford brand and 20 percent at Lincoln.
Ford's truck sales jumped 23 percent.
Volume at Fiat Chrysler rose 14 percent as the automaker rode its surging Jeep brand to a 66th consecutive monthly sales gain. GM deliveries advanced 13 percent, with all four of its brands increasing for the first time in a year.
At Nissan Group, sales jumped 18 percent, bolstered by a 30 percent gain at Infiniti.