October 2012 Auto Sales: "Extremely Strong"

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Another Halloween has passed and with it the 10th month of the year. As automakers turn another page on the calendar they’re finally reporting sales for October. Were they on the business end of a nasty trick or did they receive a tasty treat? Keep reading for all the juicy details.

Overall, manufacturers sold almost 1,090,000 vehicles for the month. That’s a decrease of nearly 11 percent versus the preceding September. Things are a bit rosier when comparing year-over-year figures. Sales were actually up 6.8 percent versus October 2011. This is a trend that’s echoed by most manufacturers. Among major automakers only BMW, Suzuki and Porsche’s sales were up month-over-month (compared to September).

The overall performance was “extremely strong” said Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific. He also said “there’s a lot of momentum in auto sales” because of the age of the vehicle fleet – people need to replace their old cars – and the fact that credit is easing and interest rates are the lowest we’ve ever seen.

All of this puts the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, also known as the SAAR, at an estimated 14.22 million light vehicles. September’s came in at an estimated 14.88 million units.

Year-to-date sales are up a sizable amount compared to 2011. So far manufacturers have moved almost 12 million units, a 13.8 percent increase compared to the same time period last year.

There’s no doubt automakers were impacted by Hurricane Sandy that pummeled America’s eastern seaboard. Sullivan said a lot of automakers were quick to say they lost sales at the end of the month due to the storm, but he doesn’t think it hurt everybody to the extent they say it did.

What is the effect of Sandy? According to Sullivan, “short-term sales will be down . . . in the long term people will have to replace those things so it will all even out.” He also said November sales could be down compared to last year but December could be a really strong month as insurance companies start sending out checks to customers affected by the storm.

As for the sales crown, GM moved the most metal in the month, delivering nearly 200,000 units. Ford came in second place selling about 165,000. Taking home bronze is Toyota, as the Japanese firm sold a few more than 155,000 cars and trucks in October.

Looking at best-selling vehicles, Ford’s F-Series pickup is still on top. Dearborn delivered almost 53,000 examples in October. The Chevrolet Silverado came in second place, followed by the ever-popular Toyota Camry, which racked up nearly 30,000 sales. Interestingly the Honda Accord is nipping at the Camry’s back bumper. It trailed its long-time rival by just 1,577 units last month. The redesigned Nissan Altima follows the Accord.

As expected, there were a few outliers on the sales charts and Mitsubishi was one of them. The company sold just 3,981 vehicles last month. That’s a 20.4 percent decrease compared to September and a 9.1 percent drop versus October of last year. For a little perspective, Jeep sold more Liberties in the month than Mitsubishi sold of its entire lineup.

Suzuki is in a similar boat. Even though its sales were up they only moved 2,039 vehicles. It’s a wonder these two automakers are still in business.

Despite the shortfalls of some manufacturers, things are looking up for the automotive industry. “Good fuel economy is standard” Sullivan said, adding “[people can] get the same size car they had before and get better fuel economy,” something that bodes well for future sales. “There’s still a lot of optimism” he said.

[Source: Ward’s Auto]

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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