Pickup Trucks at GM, Chrysler Claw Back U.S. Auto Market Share in September. Luxury, Family Cars Remain a Problem


The Detroit Three sold 571,000 cars and light trucks, overall a 44% share, an increase from the 43.5% chunk of the market they held in August.

Powered by thriving pickup truck sales, Chrysler and GM recaptured U.S. market share from offshore companies in September. Ford Motor, in the midst of a changeover to the 2015 F-Series, actually declined a bit, but still held the Number One spot on the sales chart with 60,000 pickups sold. Second place belonged to the Chevrolet Silverado (50,000), followed in Third by a surging Dodge Ram at 37,000, which was a whopping +30% increase year-over-year for the comeback car company.

At the end of the September, offshore brands held a 54.1% share of the U.S. auto market, down from 56.5% share in August and 55.9% in July. That is a potential profit drop of billions of dollars.

In total, the invaders sold 674,871 vehicles, down from 895,602 in August and 802,355 in July. The Detroit Three sold 571,000 cars and light trucks, overall a 44% share, an increase from the 43.5% chunk of the market they held in August. Asian brands decreased share in September to 44.6% compared to 48% in August.

In total year-to-date, Asian brands posted a 6.5% improvement in sales in a U.S. market that is up 5.5%. European brands gained ground, holding a 9.5% share of the September auto market, up from 8.5% the previous month. Overall sales decreased slightly, though, as the brands sold 118,721 units, down from the 132,547 in August.

The problems the Detroit Three face remain in the extremely profitable luxury car segment and the high volume, high image and profitable family car business. If you look at Mercedes-Benz sales of 30,000, BMW (26,000) and Lexus (22,000) and then compare these to Cadillac (14,000), and Lincoln (7,000) – if you consider it a luxury brand – you see the dimensions of the problem GM and Ford are nowhere in ultra-profitable and growing global segment where the Americans are only regional players and just barely at that.

The Top Ten seller for the month list illustrates the family car problem. The Ford Fusion in the Number Ten spot (22,000 rounded up) is the only domestic car on the market, if you consider the largely Mexican-built Fusion domestic. In Number Four spot is the Honda Accord (33,000). Toyota Camry holds Number Five at 29,000. Honda Civic is Eighth at just over 22,000.

AutoData estimates the seasonally adjusted annual rate, aka SAAR for September 2014 was 16.43 million units lower than August’s 17.53 million SAAR up from 15.42 million units in September 2013. Industry-wide, 1,246,006 light vehicles were sold in September. Sales for all brands, unadjusted for business days, were up 9.4% from September 2013 and 5.5% year over year.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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