The U.S. sales numbers for August on a raw basis are stark: Toyota is off -34% ; Honda Dropped -27%; Nissan down -27%; and even Hyundai and Ford – current media darlings- saw sales declines of more than 11%, compared with a year ago, according to Autodata Corp.
General Motors – in the midst of a stock offering where investor confidence will be key to success – saw wholesales of 185,000 vehicles, or a -25% drop from the year ago month. And the industry on average is off, sit down, -21%.
Offshore brands sold 555,425 vehicles during the month, down from 591,297 in July, but up from 525,845 in June. They occupied 55.7% of the market, a decrease from last month’s 56.3%. Asian nameplates, which greatly benefitted from Clunkers, took a 46.9% share, down from 48.2% in July, but up from 44.8% in June. European nameplates gained slightly over last month with an 8.8% August share. Detroit Three brands finished the month with 44.3%, up from 43.7 % in July but down from 46.5% in June.
Executives universally claimed that the taxpayer subsidized CARS program – aka Cash for Clunkers – was responsible. It’s true Clunkers artificially boosted sales rates to 14 million on an annual basis using, borrowed, taxpayer funds. But more is going on here as consumer confidence remains badly shaken and sales tailed off during the month. (See Ken Zino on Flat Incentives, Economic Blahs Kill August Sales)
So, no surprise to the growing number of non-working stiffs, as this week’s growing unemployment numbers will reveal on Friday, the U.S. economy is tough, getting tougher and showing little signs of reviving in spite of record deficit spending by politicians, which was claimed to be the medicine needed to get it back on track. What we need is growing payrolls, not posturing pundits from either fat cat party or screaming “news” outlet.