By The Numbers

September 2013: Not As Bad As It Looks Edition

A Short Month Shows In The Numbers, Ford Still Rises

Yes, it's true that the auto industry experienced slower sales in September. However, the deceleration may appear to the casual observer like sales hit a brick wall last month, but they really didn't.

Ever wonder why we always include those last few columns that display the change in every automaker's Daily Average Sales Rate? It's for months like these. There were 25 available days to sell in September 2012 and only 23 last month, which means that not only were automakers dealing with fewer buyers, they also had fewer days to sell. And usually when there is a variance between the selling days of two months, it's only a single day, so having two fewer selling days was a considerable challenge to overcome last month.

So look away from the first three columns of sales data, which show the raw number of vehicles sold. What's more relevant to consider for September are those DSR figures. Yes, it was surprising to see a number of automakers sell fewer units per day last month than the year before (Hyundai, Honda, Kia and Chevrolet, for instance), but last month's sales don't look nearly as dire as those who are only looking at the raw numbers might suggest.

While many of the larger, mainstream brands couldn't overcome the deficit of selling days to post an increase in raw sales, Ford stands out as the only one that shrugged off the shorter month and recorded a gain of 6.25 percent. To put that percentage increase in perspective, Ford sold over 178,000 vehicles last month, and the next-largest brand with positive sales to report was Dodge with an increase of just 2.6 percent on 48,576 units sold. Subaru, meanwhile, continues to operate in its own universe of consistent success, reporting a near 15-percent sales increase in September.

As impressive as it is to see Ford so high up in the green column, to our eyes, it is equally surprising to see Chevy so far down in the red. The Bowtie reported a 14.7-percent drop in sales on 127,785 units sold. One might think that anticipation of the new Silverado, which often suppresses sales of the current model, would be to blame. Yes, Chevy's half-ton truck sales were down 10.6 percent – and there are reports of key models being in short supply – but the real wound came from Cruze sales, which were inexplicably off by 50.6 percent last month, erasing over 13,000 units from the brand's bottom line. Many other models were down in sales as well, including the new Impala, Volt and Suburban.

Check all of last month's sales figures in the chart below.

*Brands and companies are displayed in descending order according to their percentage change in volume sales. There were 23 selling days in September 2013 and 25 selling days in September 2012, so there is a difference between the change in monthly sales volume and the change in average daily sales rate (DSR) for each brand/company. Also, brands are combined and reported as companies only if their sales figures are released jointly.

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