SAAR Slips, Sales Rise in October

Despite a slightly lower seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15.23 million units, auto sales were up in October. The declining SAAR can be attributed, in part, to the impact on consumer confidence of the government shutdown in the first half of the month. Consumers returned in the second half of October, driven by pent-up demand and the availability of relatively cheap credit. While sales were good, they looked even better when compared to those of October 2012, which were badly impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Honda’s sales rose 5.7 percent from a year ago, Hyundai’s were up 6.5 percent, and Nissan’s rose 15.4 percent. Volkswagen saw its biggest sales decline of the year with a drop of 18 percent. Toyota’s sales were up eight percent from October 2012, but the automaker lost market share for the first time in five months.

“Fortunately for the industry, the government shutdown appears to have had a limited impact on sales,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “The growth we have seen throughout 2013 is solid and sustainable, and should continue to benefit manufacturers, dealers, and consumers alike.”

International Market Share Dips

Although their share fell slightly, international nameplate brands continued to occupy a majority of the U.S. auto market in October. Together, Asian and European brands accounted from 54 percent of the market, down from 54.9 percent in September and 56.1 percent in August. Despite the government shut down, international brands experienced a relatively positive sales month overall, selling a total of 652,008 vehicles, above the 625,593 units they sold in September.

Asian brands occupied 43.6 percent of the U.S. market, down from 44.6 percent last month and 47.3 percent in August. However, they sold 526,814 vehicles, above the 508,213 units they sold in September and above the 485,384 units they sold in October 2012.

European brand market share improved slightly with the brands accounting for 10.4 percent of the U.S. market, up from 10.3 percent last month and 8.8 percent in August. Overall, they sold 125,194 units, up from 117,380 last month. The sales figures also represent an improvement over October 2012 sales figures when European brands sold 120,602 vehicles.

Domestic brands closed out October with 46 percent of the market, up from 45.1 percent in September. Overall, U.S. brands sold 556,028 units, up from 513,457 units in September and 486,176 last October.

Internationals Dominate Top 10 List

Although there was some reshuffling, the vehicles occupying October’s top ten list were consistent with those appearing on September’s list. Six out of the top ten selling vehicles were international nameplate models, with the Toyota Camry leading the charge in the fourth position. The sedan occupied the third spot last month, but was bumped to fourth place this month by the Dodge Ram 1500-3500 pickup. The Ford F-Series and Chevrolet Silverado pickups held first and second place, respectively.

Honda held three spots on the list, with its Civic performing well in fifth place. Sales of the compact were up 32.1 percent over last October. In sixth and eighth place, respectively, the Accord and CR-V also made a strong showing in October. The newly redesigned Toyota Corolla/Matrix continued to be among the most popular vehicles in the U.S., logging a seventh place finish for the month with sales up 12.8 percent over last October. Finally, the Nissan Altima maintained its spot at number ten.

U.S. Manufacturing Gains Momentum

International brand vehicles continued to increase their manufacturing presence in North America. These plants supplied 386,281 of the vehicles sold in the U.S. in October. Asian brands sourced 358,332 of their vehicles from North American manufacturing facilities, while European brands sourced 27,949 vehicles from North American plants.

Outlook

AutoData Corp. estimated the SAAR at 15.23 million units versus 14.4 million units a year ago and 15.28 million units in September. October marked the second consecutive month of a lowered SAAR, despite sales for all brands, unadjusted for business days, rising 8.4 percent from October 2012 and 10.6 percent from September 2013.

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