US auto sales stay strong in Sept.; VW flat
Most automakers reported another strong month of U.S. sales in September on Thursday, while Volkswagen’s sales were essentially flat in the wake of the German company’s pollution-cheating scandal.
Gains year-over-year in sales were double-digit strong at General Motors (+12.5 percent), Ford (+23 percent), Toyota (+16.2 percent) and Fiat Chrysler (+14 percent).
Lightweight vehicle sales totaled at 1.44 million, up 15.8 percent from a year ago. The annual rate of sales, a closely watched benchmark, rose to 18.2 million, the fast- est pace since July 2005, according to Autodata.
At Volkswagen, a comparatively small player in the U.S., sales edged up 0.6 percent, reflecting in part a mid-month halt to sales of diesel cars affected by the U.S. investigation into the German company’s emissions controls, the company said.
“We would like to thank dealers and customers for the support of the Volkswagen brand,” said Mark McNabb, chief operating officer, Volkswagen of America. “Volkswagen will continue to work diligently to regain trust and confidence in our brand.”
Volkswagen has been under fire since U.S. environmental regulators announced on Sept. 18 that the company had violated air-quality rules by installing software on nearly 500,000 diesel cars intended to evade U.S. emissions limits for nitrogen oxide and other dangerous pollutants.
Sales at the Volkswagen-owned luxury brand Audi rose 16.2 percent in September, lifting total sales from the two companies to 43,481, about 3,000 vehicles more than expected by the online car site Edmunds.com.
Edmunds had been among those predicting the VW scandal would not mar the hot auto market, a bright spot in the U.S. economy.
“Volkswagen’s deception is dominating headlines, but it is not keeping shoppers away from other brands’ showrooms,” Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell said in a note last week.
“It puts the crisis in a little bit of perspective, since these Volkswagen diesels don’t constitute a very big share of sales. It’s also a reminder that buyers won’t disappear from the market just because they suddenly can’t or don’t want to buy these affected cars. They’re willing to turn to other automakers that will meet their needs.”