Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Fiat Chrysler reports record September sales, Ford and GM down

2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Photo: FCA Media website.
September sales reports from the automotive industry are out. Although it turned out to be a bearish month for two of the Big Three, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles boasted their biggest September in nearly two decades, with sales of 199,819 vehicles led by Ram and Jeep.

“Our Ram and Jeep brands propelled both our retail and total sales to their highest levels in 18 years,” said Reid Bigland, FCA’s head of U.S. sales.

Also noteworthy was an increase of 29 percent over last September’s sales for the Alfa Romeo nameplate, led by the Stelvio. However, to put things in perspective, that increase is on a relatively small base. FCA sold only 1,639 Alfa Romeo vehicles in September, compared to 56,447 units for Ram and 83,764 for Jeep.

For Ford and GM, the picture wasn’t so rosy.

Ford reported a decline of 11.2 percent, citing major weather events as factors that impacted sales in September of both 2017 and 2018—but in different directions.

“It was kind of the tale of two hurricanes, so if you look at September of this year, presented a tough scenario for comparison, due to strong performance from a year ago resulting from pent up and replacement demand, following Hurricane Harvey in Houston,” said Ford Sales Analyst Erich Merkle. “So September of 2018 was always going to be a very difficult comparison to a year ago, and we also as everyone knows, there were some storms that the industry and folks in the Atlantic region suffered from Hurricane Florence, particularly in the Carolinas.”

Although GM positioned their third quarter results in the context of “record average transaction prices,” the automaker reported yesterday that “sales declined 11 percent year over year,” echoing Ford in citing a hurricane-related boost in sales in September 2017 and a depressive sales impact of Hurricane Florence last month.

However, GM’s Chief Global Economist Elaine Buckberg chimed in with a bullish note, waxing hopeful as she looked ahead to the fourth quarter in the wake of recent developments in international trade and U.S. tax policy.

“The U.S. economy and auto industry remain strong,” Buckberg said. “A new United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement will reduce uncertainty for the auto industry and all three countries. Consumer confidence is high and rising, thanks to the robust job market, faster wage growth and the boost to take-home pay from tax reform. We believe 2018 will be the fourth year in a row with total industry sales above 17 million units.”

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