* See the Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 280 models by clicking on the title *
All planets aligned for the U.S. new car market in September. A calendar twist that put Labor Day back from August in 2014 to September this year, gasoline prices remained low, car demand continued to be boosted by strong macroeconomic factors cont(low unemployment, growing economy and cheap credit), lastly and rather surprisingly in this overly optimistic environment, increased competition resulted in larger average industry incentives up 4% compared to September 2014 to $3.090 per vehicle according to TrueCar. All these factors combined mean a U.S. market up a splendid 16% year-on-year to 1.442.113 units, lifting the year-to-date total to 13.053.284 deliveries, up 5% or 621.000 units over the same period in 2014.
Although we have been in positive all year, the September surge means FY 2015 forecasts need to be adjusted up… The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) is at its highest in a decade for the second consecutive month, climbing to 18.17 million after 17.81 million in August, its strongest since a July 2005 boosted by employee discounts offered to the public, and to be compared to just 16.53 million in September 2014. It is now certain that the industry will surpass 17 million annual sales for only the third time in history, but some analysts now predict 2015 will be an all-time record year: Today TrueCar raised its 2015 forecast by 200,000 to 17.4 million, which would top the previous all-time record of 17.395 million set in 2000… In terms of segments, light-trucks such as SUVs and pickups absorbed most of the growth with sales up 24% year-on-year vs. 6% for passenger cars. Automotive News USA quoted Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, saying “On a year to date basis, [the market] is almost 56% light truck and realistically it would probably be closer to 60 percent if the availability was there.”
The entire Top 8 largest manufacturing groups all lodge double-digit year-on-year gains including all of the Detroit 3. GM is up 12% lifted by GMC (+24%), Ford Motor Co is up 23% with the Ford brand up 23% also and Lincoln up a neat 20%, and finally FCA is ip 14%, solely due to Jeep (+40%) compensating for Ram (+5%), Fiat (+4%), Dodge (+3%) and Chrysler (-5%). Note Jeep posts the third highest-ever monthly U.S. volume in the brand’s history at 77.201 units, to be compared to a mere 37.464 deliveries only two years ago in September 2013… Toyota Motor Co is up 16% with the Toyota division up 15%, Lexus up 16% and Scion for once up 57% thanks to the arrival in the sales charts of the new iA (#142) and iM (#162), already the brand’s two best-seller in the country. Honda Motor is up 13% (Honda +14%, Acura +6%), Nissan Group up 18% (Nissan up 17%, Infiniti up 30%) as is Hyundai-Kia, lifted by Kia (+23%).
Subaru soars another 28% to break its all-time monthly U.S. sales record for the third consecutive month and the fifth time this year at 53.070 units. Having secured a good chunk of their monthly sales during the Labour Day weekend at the start of the month – escaping the full effects of the diesel scandal, all Volkswagen Group brands gain volume with the group up 7% as a whole pulled up by Audi posting its 71st consecutive monthly gain at +16% and Volkswagen up a shy 1%, while Porsche is up 23%. Notice also Mitsubishi up 36% and Land Rover up 89% thanks to most of its range in frank improvement (Range Rover Sport +94%, Range Rover +83% and Range Rover Evoque +71%) and the addition of the Land Rover Discovery Sport accounting for roughly 20% of the brand’s sales this month.
Model-wise, for the first time since July 2014 and the arrival of the new gen F-150, the Ford F-Series widens the gap over its archenemy the Chevrolet Silverado at +16% to 69,651 vs. +7% and 53.726. The GM full-size pickups however still outsell the F-Series with the GMC Sierra (+18%) lifting the GM total to 73.479. The Ram Pickup, stable, keeps the Toyota Camry (+21%) at bay both in September and year-to-date, with the Honda Accord at a strong #5 above the Honda CR-V (+26%), Ford Escape (+31% year-on-year and 4 spots on August to #7) and Honda Civic (+27%) all clearly outperforming the market. If the Toyota Corolla is up an equally impressive 30%, it is down five spots on August to #10.
Within the September Top 50, the majority of the largest year-on-year gains are delivered by SUVs: in ranking order, the Nissan Rogue (+45%), Ford Explorer (+31%), Jeep Cherokee (+38%), Jeep Wrangler (+26%), Subaru Outback (+34% to an all-time high 15.126 units), GMC Terrain (+32%), Dodge Journey (+45%), Ford Edge (+33%) and Honda Pilot (+31%) all post spectacular increases, as do the Nissan Versa (+50%), Subaru Impreza (+65%) and Ford Mustang, improving its sales 3-fold thanks to the new model. Among recent launches, the Hyundai Tucson is up 121% to #54 thanks to the new gen, the Jeep Renegade is up a further 5 spots on last month to #55, the Honda HR-V is up two to #88, the Mercedes GLE up 45 to #107, the Mazda CX-3 up 35 to #167 and the Volvo XC90 up 18 to #176.
Previous month: USA August 2015: Volume down but SAAR highest in a decade
One year ago (models): USA September 2014 Chevy Silverado and Nissan Sentra on fire
One year ago (brands): USA September 2014: GM fleet, Jeep lift market up, Big 3 back to Top 3
Full September 2015 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 280 models below.