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September 2018 US Auto Sales Journalist Comment

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Atlanta October 2, 2018; U.S. auto sales for September 2018 were reported earlier today, with many auto makers – Nissan being the exception – coming in slightly below our initial forecast. Truck and SUV sales continued to be the strong side of the market, with cars sales down significantly once again.

General Motors reported sales of 694,638 vehicles in the third quarter of 2018. For September, Cox Automotive had forecast sales of 235,000 for the GM brands and, considering overall market performance last month, we believe our forecast was accurate.

Journalist Comments Abour September 2018 US Auto Sales

From Michelle Krebs, Executive Analyst for Autotrader:
September will be a month to remember for Ford, as FiatChrysler beat them in both total sales as well as retail sales. It was mostly expected to happen this year, as Ford moves away from sedans, and it might just be a fluke month, but that’s a significant shift in the automotive world and a wake-up call for Dearborn. The only bright spot, beyond the stalwart F-Series, is the success of the pricey new Lincoln Navigator, which is small in volume but mighty in profits.

From Rebecca Lindland, Executive Analyst for Kelley Blue Book:
September sales was up against a year-over-year comparison complicated by the impact of demand created by Hurricane Harvey last year and the ill effects of Hurricane Florence this year. Sales were down year-over-year as forecast, with trucks continuing to dominate the market. At Ford and GM, trucks and SUVs accounted for over 80% of sales, a testament to the consumer’s ongoing desire for utility.

From Akshay Anand, Executive Analyst for Kelley Blue Book:
Toyota had a tough month, with Camry and RAV4 sales dropping significantly. Sedans continue to struggle in this environment, and it remains to be seen if RAV4's dip is a blip or pause for greater concern. At Honda, there were some wins with its SUVs, but not enough to offset declines in Civic and Accord. It seems Accord was unable to do what Civic did, which was to buck the trend of stalling sedan sales. But even Civic is well off its highs now, and appears to be falling in line with the rest of its sedan brethren.

From Zo Rahim, Research Manager for Cox Automotive:
Cardi B might jump in the coupe, but the rest of the industry is not. Market share for cars is expected to set a new record low in September at 28 percent, down from the previous record of 29.4% set in August. The sharp drop in car share is being driven by the Detroit Three, whose market share for cars came in less than 20 percent in September. Asian brands like Honda, Toyota, and Nissan are struggling to hold car share, as the overall market has all but abandoned the segment. The accelerating shift away from cars into light trucks is proving to be one of the most defining moments for the industry over the past two years.

From Charlie Chesbrough, Senior Economist for Cox Automotive:
September doesn’t appear to have many surprises this year, unlike last year’s Hurricane Harvey bump. Sales reports are showing declines for most manufacturers, as expected. And, with large declines in car sales, it appears we haven’t hit bottom yet for the segment. Vehicle sales for the first half of the year were up over 1 percent YOY, but due to deteriorating buying conditions the second half was expected to moderate. Results from August and now September suggest our expectations of a slowing market are correct. With more interest rates hikes expected this year, and continued increases in transaction prices, monthly payments are rising and some car buyers are getting squeezed out of the market.

From Brad Korner, General Manager for Cox Automotive Rates and Incentives:
Auto makers held their incentive programs in check during September. With Inventory levels relatively low, incentive use was focused on mostly on 2018-model sell downs and sedans, however, the overall number of programs was lower relative to the 12-month average. The full-size pickup segment continues to be driven by targeted incentives on specific option packages, ranging from $4,000 - $8,000 nationally, before regional and dealer cash, loyalty and conquest money is applied. There are some great deals out there—with OEM’s and captive lenders leveraging lease-pull-ahead and loyalty programs with big consumer-cash offers on sedans and hybrids.