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GM, Ford beat expectations for September sales


Auto sales uptick of up to 1 percent forecast for September
September was a mixed bag for auto companies, with General Motors and Ford Motor Co. beating expectations for car sales for the month, while Fiat Chrysler LLC fell short.
General Motors said Tuesday that it sold 279,397 cars in September, which was a 12 percent increase over its 2016 totals for September. Kelley Blue Book had estimated GM would sell about 269,000 cars last month.
The company said the uptick for September was driven by a 17 percent increase at Chevrolet and a 9 percent increase at GMC.
“Our new crossovers from Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac have been very well-received, and Chevrolet had an outstanding month with the Silverado and Colorado,” Kurt McNeil, U. S. vice president of Sales Operations, said in a statement. “We are entering the fourth quarter with strong momentum, great products and a healthy economy.”
GM said 2017 was its best September for Chevrolet models since 2004. The company said sales of Chevrolet’s newest crossovers, the Equinox and Traverse, were up 69 percent and 104 percent respectively over last year. GM also reported the GMC Terrain was up 66 percent for its best September ever, while the Cadillac XT5 was up 36 percent.
Ford said Tuesday that it sold 222,248 cars in September, with 169,544 of them being sold at the retail level and another 52,704 going to fleets, which was an 8.7 percent increase over a total of 204,447 that Ford reported in the same month last year. Kelley Blue Book had estimated Ford would sell about 209,000 cars last month.
The Dearborn company said 103,625 of September car sales last month were for trucks, while 68,705 were for SUVs and 49,918 were for cars.
Ford said sales of its F-Series pickups rose by 21.4 percent, with a total of 82,302 trucks sold. The company said demand remains robust for its Super Duty, with High Series Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trucks making up 52 percent of retail sales. Ford added that sales of its Explorer SUV totaled 18,898 vehicles last month, which was a 13.4 percent increase over last year and also its best September retail sales performance in 13 years.
“Our September sales were strong across the board – including retail, commercial and government,” Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president, U. S. Marketing, Sales and Service, said in a statement. We’re pleased to say recovery in Houston and Florida is moving quickly, with all of our dealers in the area now back up. We couldn’t be happier with the tireless effort from our dealers, employees and the countless first responders who are moving so quickly.”
FCA said it sold 174,266 vehicles in 2016 for retail and fleets, which was down 10 percent from the 192,883 cars the company reported moving in September of last year. Kelley Blue Book had estimated FCA would sell about 176,000 cars last month.
FCA said the reduction in its fleet sales, which represented 27,362 cars of its total number of vehicles sold for September, was part of a strategy to “reduce sales to the daily rental segment.” The company said its fleet sales, which represented 16 percent of its September 2017 total, were down 41 percent from last year.
FCA said five of its US vehicles — the Jeep Renegade, Chrysler Pacifica, Ram ProMaster and Ram ProMaster City — posted record sales figures in September. The company said sales of its Jeep Compass were up 75 percent in September, which was enough to account for the compact SUV’s best sales month ever. FCA also reported that sales of the Dodge Durango increased by 45 percent; which was best September sales for the SUV since 2005.
Kelley Blue Book projected that new overall vehicle sales would have risen by 1 percent in September 2017 in a year-over-year comparison with September 2016, going from 1.43 million last year to 1.44 million last month.
Similarly, Edmunds.com forecasted a year-over-year increase in sales of 0.4 percent with a projection that 1.435 million new cars and trucks were sold last month.
Analysts said September likely provided an opportunity for automakers to bounce back after a pair of damaging hurricanes that hit major markets in Texas and Florida put a damper on car sales in August.
“While major hurricanes devastated parts of Texas and Florida in the past month, this is driving replacement demand for those drivers with vehicles destroyed,” Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said in a statement. “This demand has already started in some areas, but will continue into October and potentially November, as vehicle insurance payouts are received.”
Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis, added: “Labor Day weekend got September auto sales off to strong start. Automakers are finally starting to dial up the incentives to clear excess inventory, which we anticipate will continue through the rest of the year.”
Caldwell also predicted that automakers will have seen residual sales from buyers who were impacted by the August hurricanes.
“We anticipate that the recovery from the recent hurricanes will give vehicle sales an incremental boost in September, and will likely continue to slightly lift the market in the months to come,” Caldwell said. “When you have hundreds of thousands of people affected by an event of this magnitude, not everyone will hit the market at once.”
August was also a mixed month for U. S. auto sales, with General Motors Co. sales up for the month, and Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles down. Flooding in Texas dampened hopes for an overall upturn.
Sales in August for General Motors Co. rose 7.5 percent in August over the same month in 2016, while Ford Motor Co. sales fell 2.1 percent and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sales dropped 11 percent compared to the same month a year ago..

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