In a nutshell, September was a blockbuster month for the auto industry with 1.4 million cars and trucks sold with demand strong again for trucks, crossovers and SUV’s, however you define the latter two.
Detroit’s three posted some great figures with GM up 12 percent, Ford up 23 percent and Fiat Chrysler ahead by 14 percent.
FCA posted its best September sales in 15 years, Ford had its best September performance in 11 years, and GM said its market share increased for the sixth straight month.
On the other side of the ledger was Volkswagen where sales posted only a fractional increase. However, Audi sales moved ahead 16 percent and September sales set a monthly record.
But there are some dark clouds over Detroit as well as the East Coast. The United Auto Workers Union is currently involved in contract talks with the Detroit three and it is seeking a bigger piece of the pie as monthly sales continue to set records. A proposed contract with Fiat Chrysler was voted down by 65 percent of union members, the first time in three decades they have rejected a pact approved by their leaders.
Automakers are concerned about granting too many concessions at the bargaining table looking ahead to the day when sales cool off. One official told me “one day this will end” as all economic bubbles do. Union leaders have not disclosed their next move.
On a related note, workers at a Missouri plant that produces the Ford F-150 may go out on strike this weekend over local issues. This as Ford truck sales hit their highest level in nine years in September.
To round things out, Honda sales were up 13 percent, Toyota 16 percent, Nissan rose 18 percent and Hyundai posted a 14 percent increase. Kia had a record month with a 22 percent sales gain, and for Subaru, well, as the old Rock n’ Roll DJ’s would say, “The hits just keep on comin’”
Suby enjoyed its best sales month ever with a nearly 28 percent sales increase led by the Crosstrek, Forester, Impreza and Outback.
Volkswagen’s U.S. President and CEO will testify next week to a Congressional committee about the company’s emissions issues. Michael Horn will appear before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “The American people want to know why these devices were in place, how the decision was made to install them, and how they went undetected for so long,” said Committee Chairman Rep. Tim Murphy, (R-PA.)
GM will add a fleet of 2017 Chevy Volts designed to drive autonomously within its Warren Tech Center campus in Michigan. Its “Super Cruise” autonomous driving technology will be available on the 2017 Cadillac CT6.