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September Auto Sales Plunge in Aftermath of Cash for Clunkers; SAAR at 9.2M units, LDV Sales Down 41% from August, Hybrid Sales Down 48%

Us hybrid sales 2009.09.01
Reported hybrid sales by month. Click to enlarge.

In the aftermath of the summer sales boom fueled by the US Cash for Clunkers program, September 2009 light duty vehicles sales dropped back to pre-incentive lows. With 745,997 cars and light duty trucks sold in September, according to Autodata, sales were down 22.7% year-on-year, and off 41% from August. The Seasonally Adjusted Sales Rate (SAAR) in September dropped back down to 9.22 million units, from 14.09 million units in August.

Reported sales of hybrids in September dropped 4.1% year-on-year to 19,977 units. (Reported sales do not include sales of the Mercedes S400 hybrid, which went onsale in the US late in August.) Compared to August results (38,701 units), however, hybrid sales dropped 48.4%. New vehicle market share for reported hybrid sales in September dropped back down to 2.7% from a high of 3.6% in July.

Us hybrid sales 2009.09.02
Hybrid new vehicle market share by month. Click to enlarge.

September 2009 had 25 sales days compared to 24 days for September 2008. All comparisons in this post are based on actual volume, not adjusted day sales rate.

Toyota. Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) reported September sales of 126,015 vehicles, a decrease of 12.6% by volume from last September. TMS posted September sales of 14,585 hybrid vehicles, down 5.3% from September 2008.

The Prius posted September sales of 10,984 units, up 1% from September 2008, but down 42% from August 2009. Camry Hybrid posted 872 units in September, down 68.7% year-on-year, and Highlander Hybrid posted 269 units, down 70.8% year-on-year.

September 2009 SAAR. Data: Autodata. Click to enlarge.

The Lexus Rx hybrid posted 1,168 units, up 57% year-on-year; the GS hybrid posted 38 units, up 31% year-on-year; and the LS 600h posted 12 units, down 74.5%. The new HS250 posted 1,242 units.

Ford. In September, Ford reported a 6% drop in sales year-on-year. Ford estimates it gained over 2 points of market share versus last year in September and the third quarter.

Ford sold 2,138 hybrids in September, up 116% year-on-year. Sales of the Escape/Milan hybrid were down 11.3% year-on-year to 878 units, but the Fusion and Milan hybrids accounted for 1,260 units.

Honda. American Honda Motor Co., Inc., posted total September vehicle sales of 77,229, a decline of 20% year-on-year.

Honda hybrid sales dropped 6% year-on-year to 1,898 units. Sales of the Civic Hybrid plunged 92.5% to 152 units, but the new Honda Insight posted 1,746 units.

General Motors. General Motors dealers in the United States delivered 155,679 light duty vehicles in September, down 45% year-on-year. GM retail sales were down 46% while fleet sales declined 43%.

A total of 1,011 GM hybrid vehicles were delivered in the month, down 48.3% from September 2008.

Nissan. Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) reported September 2009 sales of 55,393 units versus 59,565 units last year, a decrease of 7%.

Sales of the Altima Hybrid dropped 26.6% year-on-year to 345 units.



USA would need another stimulus program to maintain number one world position for 2009.

If GM keeps loosing sales at the current rate it may drop to third position by 2010.

Ford is doing relatively much better than the others in the Big 3 league. Any major reasons?


GM has cut brands and both GM and Chrysler have cut dealers. This may be one factor lowering the sales numbers.


More likely, it's a combination of bankruptcy and government ownership. GM, Chrysler, and the U.S. Federal government are three of the least-competent organizations on the planet; you'd have to be crazy to buy a car from any them.


That is one opinion, but I would buy a GM product and do not consider myself "crazy". Certainly not as nuts as some people that post on the internet.

Multi-Modal Commuter Dude (formerly known as Bike Commuter Dude)

@ HarveyD

Ford got lucky before they got good. They mortgaged the company a few years back for better terms than what GM and Chrysler received. Since, they have paid down their debts and bought back most of their company. They had all the same problems as GM and Chrysler, but they had them sooner...



Was is luck or because Ford is a family run firm with managers who realy care vs firms like GM and Chrysler run by managers who care more about their year end bonus and private Jets than the future of the company. Those last two should have gone Chapter 7, where they belong. Ford and half a dozen others would have replaced those two incompetent easily.


You cant blame management for not acting when they were barred from acting by givernment and unions.

The ONLY fix that would have worked was closing old plants firing most of the workers AND management and building new highly automated plants.

But they couldnt do any of that until they failed and by then it was 20 years too late and they had already eaten the warchest MANAGEMENT managed to build up back when they actualy were the managers.

If gm still had that massive warchest and a lean workforce and management force and better plants they would still be number 1. But idiots in unions and government think somehow a large team of workers can beat a team of robots and a lean team of workers and the lean team of managers needed when your workforce is more metal then meat.


If GM management is so bad why was GM the #1 automaker in the world, until recently, when virtually all other large and small industry were long gone to Asia?

You absolutely do NOT have to be crazy to buy a car made by a government-union owned company - maybe you're just simple.


Another stimulus program to maintain number one world position for 2009?


Oh, right - and invade another country to keep oil import in line.
That'll work; yup, yup.


Don't count GM and chrysler out. Chrysler has risen from the grave before.
And stop blaming the unions. Mgt made all the bad decisions; the union just builds whatever mgt decides. Mgt decided to keep building high profit gas guzzlers. Who can blame them? They opted for immediate profits rather than longterm planning (like for a spike in oil prices that would make gas guzzlers unattractive).



How do you explain that GM China (Buick) is doing great and GM USA (Buick) is doing so bad?

Would that have something to do with different workforce?

If it is because of different managers, GM could easily interchange them. I doubt that would make a great difference.


ToppaTom - GM spent decades coasting on its successes from the postwar era. It takes a long, long time to fall from such a height, but fall it did. Any time from about 1970 on GM and its unions could have taken action to stem the decline, but they chose not to.

As for today? The same bad union, and most of the same bad managers are still in place, but now they've been joined by the GM of governments.

This will not end well.


I agree; GM had decades of postwar successes, this really should be undeniable..
And it took a long time to fall from such a height, but fall it did, that’s also obvious.

From about 1970 on GM and its unions should, and probably did, realize gas prices were beginning to favor small cars and that GM was ill equipped to compete with Japanese auto makers in small cars, even though they tried with a string of poor examples; can this be denied?

Who could possibly believe ANY US auto maker can compete in small cars.

There was little they could do to stem the decline in large vehicle sales – also obvious.

As for today? The Japanese invasion has been reinforced by cars from Korea - obvious.

If the unions are flourishing today, it must be from sucking GM dry from the inside but will money keep flowing in from the US government since it is not coming from sales.

So, we choose delusions?
• GM never thought of making small cars?
• GM never thought of making cars with higher quality and lower cost ?
• GM chose to not make small cars so there would be none for people to buy ?
• Build one of your own – but please think it through.

This is ending NOW, and not well.


Even worse. When you bought a GM car, it would fall apart on the way home. And then periodically, little annoying things would break like cruise control, leaks here, leaks there.

I'm convinced quality had an equal footing as uninteresting car models.

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