Company by company
FCA US sales rose 15 percent last month to 199,819 -- enough to outsell Ford Motor Co. for the first time since 2015 -- behind higher fleet volume and stronger results at the Jeep and Ram brands. FCA said deliveries jumped 14 percent at Jeep, 9 percent at Ram and 41 percent at Dodge. Volume dropped 7 percent at the Chrysler brand and slumped 46 percent at Fiat.
FCA's retail sales totaled 149,713 units, with fleet accounting for 25 percent -- or just over 50,000 units-- of all volume last month.
General Motors' sales dropped an estimated 16 percent last month, with deliveries down 18 percent at Chevrolet, 8.6 percent at GMC, 11 percent at Buick and 17 percent at Cadillac.
GM no longer releases monthly sales results but the company said Tuesday its third-quarter U.S. deliveries fell 11 percent to 694,638 cars and light trucks, with every brand off during the period. For the year, GM said its U.S. sales have dropped 1.2 percent behind declines at every brand.
Ford Motor's U.S. sales fell 11 percent behind the ongoing industrywide slump in car demand and lower light-truck volumes. Deliveries fell 11 percent at the Ford division and 7.2 percent at Lincoln, the company said.
Ford's pickup/van demand slipped 9.9 percent and SUV/crossover sales dropped 2.7 percent, while September car deliveries skidded 26 percent. Ford Motor's U.S. car sales have now dropped 17 percent this year as the company prepares to discontinue most sedans under the Ford brand in North America.
Retail volume declined 13 percent and fleet shipments dropped 6.7 percent last month, Ford said.
At Toyota Motor Corp., volume dropped 10 percent last month, with car sales plunging 25 percent and light-truck demand dipping 0.3 percent. Toyota division sales slipped 11 percent and Lexus was off 6.1 percent.
Nissan Motor Co.'s September sales fell 12 percent, with car deliveries plunging 36 percent and light-truck volume rising 6.6 percent. Sales fell 13 percent at the Nissan brand and 1.5 percent at Infiniti.
Honda Motor Co. reported sales of 132,668, a decline of 7 percent, reflecting a 20 percent drop in car deliveries. Volume slipped 8.2 percent at Honda but rose 4.4 percent at Acura.
Subaru extended its streak of year-over-year monthly gains to 82 with a 3.5 percent increase in September sales.
September deliveries declined 1.8 percent at Kia, 17 percent at Mazda, 8.6 percent at Mitsubishi, 7.4 percent at Mini and 59 percent at Smart but increased 3 percent at Hyundai.
The Volkswagen brand snapped an eight-month streak of gains, with volume off 4.8 percent in September. Even with strong crossover sales, the company said September results were negatively impacted by delays to certify emissions on some 2019 models, limiting inventories.
Among other luxury brands, volume rose 0.2 percent at Audi, 1.3 percent at BMW, 10 percent at Volvo, 0.9 percent at Porsche and 8.7 percent at Land Rover. Sales skidded 76 percent at Genesis and 38 percent at Jaguar.
While the U.S. economy and employment continue to grow, and consumer confidence remains high, rising interest rates and elevated gasoline prices are expected to dampen consumer demand. Increasing stockpiles of late-model used vehicles and climbing new-vehicle prices are also putting downward pressure on new car and light-truck sales.
“There’s no question the Fed’s actions this year are impacting car buyers,” Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Cox Automotive, said last week after the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates for the third time in 2018. “It will not get better for consumers or the industry from here.”
Smoke said the Fed’s seven rate increases over the last 22 months have already shifted the market from one that peaked with new-vehicle demand two years ago -- 17.55 million in 2016 -- to one that is now generating peak used-vehicle sales.
“Clearly, the Fed isn’t finished, as they have indicated an additional increase will come in December, with more expected in 2019,” Smoke said.
The Trump administration’s proposals to increase tariffs on light-vehicle imports could also derail sales if enacted.
Ahead of today's reports, every major automaker except Fiat Chrysler and VW-Audi was forecast to post lower September sales, based on Bloomberg’s survey of analysts.
Volume was projected to drop 14 percent at General Motors, 9.1 percent at Ford Motor Co., 6.7 percent at Toyota Motor Corp., 4.1 percent at Honda Motor Co., 20 percent at Nissan Motor Co. and 6.5 percent at Hyundai-Kia. Sales were expected to rise 8 percent at FCA US and 0.4 percent at VW-Audi, Bloomberg’s survey showed.