What seemed likely to be, at best, a mediocre month has turned out to be an unexpectedly solid sign pointing to a recovery of the struggling U.S. auto market, industry experts and analysts say.
Detroit makers, in particular, reported significant gains for September – Ford sales up 46%, year-over-year, Chrysler up 61% — but, with rare exception, the entire industry seemed to have gained momentum during the final portion of the month, according to those who track dealer activity.
In fact, Audi’s record September volume helped it report an all-time record for the entire third quarter. Japanese maker Subaru also announced it had set an all-time September sales record, gaining 47% compared to the same period a year ago.
In an exclusive interview at the Paris Motor Show, Ford Global Marketing Director Jim Farley told TheDetroitBureau.com that he is “encouraged with our performance” in September. All the more significant, he stressed, was what Ford saw on the light truck side of the business. Its Transit Connect van, for example, nearly doubled sales, mostly to small businesses. Echoed by similar numbers at other makers, the executive suggests “that is a sign small business is coming back.”