Auto Sales Drop in September But Remain on Track

Auto sales in the U.S. fell just slightly during September despite efforts by dealers to add on additional discounts, reported automakers on Monday.

However, the industry has continued to move ahead at a new profitable clip thanks to consumers buying up small cars up to larger vehicles.

Vehicle sales for September dropped by 0.5% to end the month at 1.44 million vehicles, reflecting a selling rate that was annualized of 17.75 million units, according to information released by Autodata.

With only one quarter remaining in 2016, the auto industry is expected to come close to matching its record performance for 2015 of over 17.5 million vehicles sold.

In addition, the drop off during September was not what many had projected it would be by analysts in the industry.

The average discounts per each vehicle increased by 7.8% to just over $3,387, in comparison to the same month in 2015. That reflects what has been said by auto executives of an increase in competition to gain market shares that could end up eroding the profits of automakers.

Nevertheless, job gains, growth in income and increased consumer confidence means the auto industry remains a great environment for business, said the head of U.S. sales for Toyota Bill Fay.

Fay added that 2016 looks to be another strong year for the industry as a whole.

The three big automakers in the U.S. – Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler – performed better than expectations of analysts even though they posted sales declines in the country during September.

GM said sales dropped by 0.6% ending the quarter at 249,796 vehicles, as the Chevrolet brand dropped by 0.3%, GMC by 8.7%, Cadillac increased by 3.1% and Buick was up 14.1%.

Ford sales dropped by 8.1% to 203,443 vehicles, showed data from Autodata. However, the company said it enjoyed an increase of 1.3% for its Lincoln brand.

Sales at Fiat Chrysler were off by 0.9% in September to end the month at 192,882 vehicles. Sales included a decline of 3% for Jeep, a fall of 6% for Dodge, a decrease of 27% for Chrysler and an increase of 27% for Ram.

Tesla Motors on Monday announced it remained on pace to reach its sales targets for the second half of 2016 of 50,000 vehicles that possibly will alleviate some concerns of investors about the production capacity as well as cash flow.