Automakers reported way better results for August than initially expected, given that a traditional weekend sales bonanza – the Labor Day holiday – was moved by a calendar quirk in September.
The engine driving US auto sales was revved up and in the full torque area, thanks to increased consumer confidence stemming from the falling unemployment rate, bettering economy and cheap credit. The annual selling rate was around 17.8 million vehicles in August, which is at near-record selling levels. But there’s a catch: automotive sales are growing, “car” deliveries not so much. Pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and crossovers, practically anything that will not fall in the general passenger car category will be snapped instead of the traditional sedan, wagon and hatchback body styles. “Except for 2012, market share for (crossover models) has grown every year since the first one went on sale in 1995,” comments Haig Stoddard, senior industry analyst for automotive data firm Ward’s Auto.
Back in 2009 the passenger car was taking up close to 52 percent of all sales and crossovers were making up only 22 percent. In the mean time, the former dropped seven percentage points and the latter gained the same amount. For the internal carmakers the trend is helping them post their strongest sales and revenues in years, the Detroit Three being known for their appetite to deliver crossovers, SUVs and pickup trucks. And other companies that were caught unprepared – such as South Korea’s Hyundai – have been suffering as they seek to make up the gap and introduce more… SUVs, crossovers and even pickup trucks.