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USA September 2019: BMW (+6%), Mercedes (+4.5%) survive, Toyota (-15.5%), Nissan (-14.6%) struggle in market down -11.8%

The new X7 helps BMW sales up 6% in September.

After August showed the largest gain in 4 years (+10.3%), U.S. September volumes go the opposite way at -11.8% to 1.278.746 units due to two fewer selling days than September 2018 and sales around the critical Labor Day weekend this year were counted as part of August. The year-to-date tally is now dow -1.3% to 12.778.894. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualised Selling Rate (SAAR) is above 17 million for the 5th time this year at 17.16m but is down -1.5% on September 2018 (17.42m). With some consumers priced out of the new vehicle market, carmakers have used fleet sales to contain their losses. As such, according to J.D. Power September fleet deliveries are expected to total 236.900, up 4% year-on-year, to account for 19% of total light vehicle sales, up from 17% a year ago. So far in 2019 a 9.1% surge in fleet sales has almost offset a 4.7% drop in retail purchases and a 2% loss in leases according to Cox Automotive. Ford, Ram, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Jeep have increased their fleet sales this year whereas Chrysler, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan and Chevrolet have dropped them.

Note GM, Ford and FCA do not report monthly sales anymore, only quarterly, but we will continue to share with you our exclusive brands and models estimates. As such, all GM, Ford and FCA as well as Tesla brands and models September data in this article are estimates, but the YTD volumes are all actuals. General Motors (-10.4%) leads the groups ranking but can’t avoid a double-digit loss despite incentives up 17% year-on-year, with Chevrolet (-13.1%) faring the worst but Buick (+0.4%), Cadillac (-2.8%) and GMC (-5.9%) holding better. FCA (-9.7%) is helped by incentives up 9.8% and Ram (+2.7%), the only Top 12 brand in positive at #7 while Jeep (-12.6%), Dodge (-14.4%), Chrysler (-27.8%), Alfa Romeo (-34.6%) and Fiat (-53.7%) all fall faster than the market. Ford Motor (-11.8%) sees Ford’s result (-12.8%) somewhat better by a very solid performance at Lincoln (+10.7%), all this despite incentives up 2.9%.

The new A-Class helps Mercedes up 4.5%.

Asian carmakers are hit ever harder this month. Toyota Motor (-16.5%) increases its incentives by 3.7% but endures its steepest fall since September 2011 at a time when it was still impacted by the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Toyota brand sales (-15.5%) are worsened by Lexus (-23.3%) in freefall. American Honda (-14.1%) posts its largest decline since December 2011 despite incentives soaring 15% year-on-year as Honda brand sales (-13.7%) are hampered further by Acura (-17.9%) and car sales (-15%) aren’t compensated by light truck deliveries (-14%). Nissan Motor is down -16.5% (but incentives up 2.7%) with the Nissan brand (-14.6%) down for the 9th month in a row and Infiniti (-43.9%) in great difficulty as Mitsubishi (+0.2%) edges up. Hyundai-Kia (-9.9%) manages to stay in the single-digits by the skin of its teeth all while reducing incentives, Hyundai (-8.8%) ends a 13-month winning streak (incentives down -7.5%) and Kia (-13.4%) ends a 11-month winning streak (incentives down -4.6%), enduring its largest decline since December 2017 (-21%) as Genesis (+272.1%) takes off but remains tiny for now at 1.559 sales.

The Chevrolet Blazer is expected to break its volume record at 5.555.

Finally and most strikingly, Subaru (-9.4%) snaps an incredible streak of 93 consecutive months of year-on-year gains by posting its first loss since… November 2011 even though it tried its hardest to avoid it by boosting incentives up 49% to $1,860 per car, still by far the lowest in market. Most other luxury brands ignore the morose context: McLaren is up 26.8%, Rolls Royce up 22.2%, Land Rover up 7.5%, Volvo up 7%, BMW up 6% with incentives down -6.5%, Mercedes up 4.5% with incentives down -9.6%, Lamborghini up 3.6%, Porsche up 2.2% and Mini up 1.3% but Jaguar is down -1.9% and Tesla down -27%.

Model-wise, the Ford F-Series (-12.7%) sees the gap with #2 Ram Pickup (-2%) grow to 14.720, up from just 7.794 in August and the largest since last May (22.105). The Chevrolet Silverado (+1.1%) and Toyota RAV4 (-6.8%) follow, holding onto the YTD order while the Nissan Rogue (-15.5%) bypasses the Honda CR-V (-15.3%) and the Toyota Camry (-15.6%) reclaims the #1 passenger car title above the Honda Civic (-10%) and Toyota Corolla (-2.1%). The Nissan Altima (+47.9%), Jeep Wrangler (+9.8%) and GMC Sierra (+11.5%) posts the largest gain in the Top 20 just as the Tesla Model 3 (-14.2%) climbs back up 14 spots on August to #13. The Ford Ranger (#51) is estimated to top new launches ahead of the Chevrolet Blazer (#70), Kia Telluride (#76), Jeep Gladiator (#77) and Hyundai Palisade (#99), with the Ranger, Blazer and Gladiator breaking their volume record.

Previous month: USA August 2019: Fleet, incentives lift market to largest gain in 4 years (+10.3%), Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V break all-time records

One year ago: USA September 2018: FCA above Ford, Ram and Jeep defy market down -4.9%

Full September 2019 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 285 All-models below.

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