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Light truck sales go on a tear in September

Oct. 4, 2011
A boom in light-truck sales began picking up steam in September, despite the slowdown in U.S. growth and the generally negative outlook for the global economy as well

A boom in light-truck sales began picking up steam in September, despite the slowdown in U.S. growth and the generally negative outlook for the global economy as well.

Ford Motor Co. said its total vehicle sales in September topped 175,199 units, up 9% versus last year, with sales of Ford’s light-truck models up 15% to 73,225 units, for the month. The automaker added that its F-150 line of pickups posted its best sales month of the year, with 54,410 units sold – Ford’s best September for F-Series sales since 2007.

Year to date, Ford said its total truck sales are up 9% at 582,769 units, with 416,388 F-150 pickups sold over the last nine months. The company added that V6 engines continue to outsell V8s among its F-150 models, with the new 3.5L EcoBoost and 3.7L V6 engines representing 57% of F-150 retail sales in September.

Chrysler Group noted it sold 127,334 cars and trucks in September, a 27% increase compared with the 100,077 units in September last year, with its Ram Trucks brand leading all other models in terms of increased sales.

Both Ram’s light duty and heavy duty pickup trucks, along with its chassis cab, logged double-digit percentage sales gains in September. Overall, sales increased 43% to 25,364 units versus the 17,854 units the division posted in September 2010, while Ram pickup truck sales in particular jumped 45% versus the same month last year.

“Irrespective of the economy, strong products equal strong sales and with our retail sales up a whopping 50% that is exactly what we have,” said Reid Bigland, president & CEO of Chrysler’s Dodge Brand and head of Chrysler’s U.S. sales division. “September was also our 18th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth. There is no double dip downturn going on around here.”

General Motors Co. reported total sales of 207,145 vehicles in September, a 20% increase compared with September 2010, with truck sales – including full-size pickups and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) – increasing 34%, compared to a year-over-year passenger car sales increase of 12%, with crossover sales up just 7% this September compared to the same month last year.

In particular, GM said sales of its Chevrolet Silverado pickup increased 36% in September, with sales of its GMC Sierra pickup up 26%, though no precise sales figures for either model were released.

GM noted that it continues to expect full-year U.S. vehicle sales will be in the low end of its 13 million to 13.5 million unit forecast, given seasonally strong sales and the fact that some of the company’s domestic and Japanese competitors are resolving production issues.

That resolution came too late to help Toyota Motor Sales USA, as light-truck sales declined to 48,219 units in September, down 17% percent from the same month last year. Toyota said its Tundra full-size pickup and the Tacoma mid-size pickup posted sales of 6,695 units and 8,180 units, respectively, for the month.

Toyota said total vehicle sales in September dropped 17.5% to 121,451 units this September compared to the same month in 2010. Through the third quarter, TMS reported sales of just over 1.19 million vehicles, a decrease of 9.3% compared to the same period in 2010.

“In September, production in both North America and Japan returned to normal levels for the first time since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Our plants are now working overtime and dealer deliveries will continue to increase through the remainder of 2011,” noted said Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vp and gm for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. “[But] the worst is behind us and we expect to exceed year-ago sales levels beginning in October with continued growth throughout the fourth quarter.”

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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