U.S. monthly auto sales declined in September for the first time in more than three years, in part because of a calendar quirk that landed Labor Day weekend sales in the August report.
Auto information company TrueCar.com estimated that by the time all of the automakers reported their results Tuesday, sales will have topped 1.1 million, about a 4 percent decline from September last year. Ford Motor Co. said the decline may be closer to 5 percent.
General Motors Co. said it sold 187,195 vehicles in the U.S. last month, an 11 percent decrease from the same month a year earlier.
But Ford said its September sales totaled 185,146 vehicles, a 6 percent increase from a year earlier.
Chrysler Group also bucked the trend, reporting sales of 143,017 vehicles in September, a 1 percent increase compared with the same month a year earlier and the automaker’s best September since 2007.
“Chrysler continues their momentum of strong sales even as the overall industry wasn’t as strong,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “The Ram 1500 truck, along with the Dodge Durango and Dodge Dart, helped to improve September sales, while the company is patiently waiting for the all-new Jeep Cherokee to hit showroom floors.”
Toyota Motor Corp. reported September sales of 164,457 vehicles, a 4 percent decrease from its U.S. sales in the same month a year earlier.
“September was a solid month for the auto industry despite two fewer selling days,” said Bill Fay, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager. “Industry fundamentals are strong as interest rates stay low and consumers remain confident.”
Nissan Motor Co. said its sales fell almost 6 percent to 86,868 vehicles.
Sales of the Volkswagen brand fell 12.2 percent to 31,920 vehicles.
The calendar left the industry with one less weekend to sell cars, and “certainly that had an impact on the numbers,” said Mark McNabb, chief operating officer for Volkswagen of America.
If August and September industry sales results are combined, the total for the two months should be about 7 percent higher than the same two months a year earlier, according to Elaine Kwei, an analyst with Jefferies, the investment banking firm.
But the single-month decline in September snapped a 27-month streak of year-over-year gains dating back to June 2011, according to Edmunds.com.