Three quarters of 2012 are in the books as the recent major trends in the US automotive market continue the momentum.
Overall, September’s performance brought the SAAR (seasonally adjusted rate) near 14.9M, driven once again by strong showing from Toyota and Honda. While this September delivered a 13% gain over September 2012, and year-to-date pacing remained strong (+15%), Detroit’s Big 3 continue to forfeit market share.
1. Four-Point Shift
Toyota (+41.5%) and Honda (+31%) posted their fifth straight month of big double-digit gains which have far outpaced the market’s brisk growth. Coupled with GM (+1.5%) and Ford’s (-1%) performance, it’s no surprise that four full points of market share have eroded from the Big 3 in a year’s time. So while the two pie charts below look somewhat similar, this seismic shift translates to 47,000 vehicles last month alone.
2. Like a Stock Index?
Just like stock market indices can be misleading due to the disproportionate gains of a few holdings, September’s 13% gain in US vehicle sales was again highly concentrated in the performance of three automakers, similar to August. Of the 135,000 additional vehicles sold, over 70% (98,608 cars) were from the Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai/Kia names. VW and Subaru, +34% and +32% respectively, continued to grab share, while most other major brands trailed the market. That the gains are concentrated is not the key point; the fact that it is the same 3-4 automakers comprising a majority of the gain for half the year is significant.
3. Toyota #2?
Detroit’s Big 3 sold 16,000 more vehicles this September versus last, but this 3.2% composite came almost entirely from Chrysler’s 11% boost. Last month we projected Toyota’s volume would pass Ford’s within the quarter. This will become a reality much sooner than later, as the brands were near a dead-heat in sales during September. Contrast that with a year ago, when Ford had a massive 51,000-vehicle lead on Toyota.
Repeating a familiar theme, expect domestic dealers (especially GM and Ford) to be looking for more help than their import counterparts, at least for the foreseeable future.
Use this information to see where local auto dealers are pacing versus the overall market. A Toyota dealer who is up 25% over September 2011 might think things are good, when in fact their growth could be severely trailing the market. Follow ESA on Twitter or Facebook to get your daily helping of market intel!
Dave Eckstein is a Partner in the firm ESA & Company. He specializes in highly profitable market share growth for local businesses and gets a kick out of demonstrating a declining cost of customer acquisition. He plays baseball, but isn't that Dave Eckstein.