New car sales were all over the place last month in the United States, but a few themes emerged: Toyota and Honda are bouncing back strongly from last year's tsunami/earthquake-invoked doldrums, while Chrysler and Volkswagen are clawing away in their own bids to regain buyers.
A full picture of September's auto sales will emerge as the day goes on. What follows is an incomplete list that we'll update as automakers release their figures.
Acura – Up 44 percent to 14,366
Audi - Up 27 percent to 12,302
BMW - Up 0.1 percent to 17,761
Buick - Up 8 percent to 14,673
Cadillac - Down 1 percent to 12,579
Chevrolet - Up 2 percent to 149,801
Chrysler - Up 5 percent to 24,850
Dodge - Up 18 percent to 47,356
Fiat - Up 51 percent to 4,176
Ford - Flat at 168,174
GMC - Flat at 33,192
Honda – Up 30 percent to 102,845
Hyundai – Up 15 percent to 60,025
Infiniti – Up 11 percent to 9,445
Jaguar - Down 10 percent to 1,004
Jeep - Up 10 percent to 39,245
Kia - Up 35 percent to 48,105
Land Rover - Up 33 percent to 3,636
Lexus – Up 36 percent to 20,386
Lincoln - Down 3 percent to 6,802
Maserati - Up 36 percent to 269
Mazda - Down 5 percent to 24,135
Mercedes-Benz – Up 7 percent to 24,950
Mitsubishi - Down 17 percent to 4,806
MINI - Up 23 percent to 4,899
Nissan – Down 2 percent to 82,462
Porsche - Up 26 percent to 2,736
Ram - Up 4 percent to 26,414
Smart - Up 120 percent to 1,030
Subaru - Up 32 percent to 27,683
Suzuki - Down 5 percent to 1,921
Toyota (Includes Scion) – Up 42 percent to 151,524
Volkswagen - Up 34 percent to 36,339
Volvo - Down 1 percent to 4,977
BMW Group - Up 4 percent to 26,660
Chrysler - 12 percent to 142,041
Daimler - Up 9 percent to 25,984
Ford Motor Company - Down 0.1 percent to 174,976
General Motors - Up 2 percent to 210,245
American Honda - Up 31 percent to 117,211
Hyundai Group - Up 23 percent to 108,130
Jaguar Land Rover - Up 21 percent to 4,640
Nissan North America - Down 1 percent to 91,907
Toyota USA - Up 42 percent to 171,910
2012 YTD Numbers
Acura – Up 30 percent to 115,773
Audi - Up 19 percent to 100,694
BMW - Up 5 percent to 186,397
Buick - Down 2 percent to 137,262
Cadillac - Down 9 percent to 103,512
Chevrolet - Up 5 percent to 1,420,383
Chrysler - Up 53 percent to 241,466
Dodge - Up 13 percent to 391,912
Fiat - Up 136 percent to 32,742
Ford - Up 6 percent to 1,625,934
GMC - Up 4 percent to 306,558
Honda – Up 23 percent to 950,685
Hyundai – Up 10 percent to 539,814
Infiniti – Up 20 percent to 86,596
Jaguar - Up 3 percent to 9,550
Jeep - Up 20 percent to 365,190
Kia - Up 18 percent to 434,914
Land Rover - Up 24 percent to 31,674
Lexus – Up 26 percent to 170,990
Lincoln – Down 1.5 percent to 63,880
Maserati - Up 16 percent to 1,984
Mazda - Up 10 percent to 209,482
Mercedes-Benz – Up 13 percent to 207,027
Mitsubishi - Down 30 percent to 46,122
MINI - Up 17 percent to 48,531
Nissan – Up 11 percent to 779,888
Porsche - Up 10 percent to 25,015
Ram - Up 16 percent to 219,360
Smart - Up 95 percent to 7,311
Subaru - Up 26 percent to 245,463
Suzuki - Down 6 percent to 19,149
Toyota (Includes Scion) – Up 32 percent to 1,400,434
Volkswagen - Up 37 percent to 323,089
Volvo - Down 1 percent to 51,626
BMW Group - Up 7 percent to 234,928
Chrysler - Up 24 percent to 1,250,670
Daimler - Up 15 percent to 214,374
Ford Motor Company - Up 5 percent to 1,689,814
General Motors - Up 3 percent to 1,967,715
American Honda - Up 24 percent to 1,066,458
Hyundai Group - Up 13 percent to 974,728
Jaguar Land Rover - Up 18 percent to 41,224
Nissan North America - Up 12 percent to 866,484
Toyota USA - Up 32 percent to 1,571,424
Chrysler continues to roll ahead with big gains all around. The automaker's Fiat division posted its best month in the U.S. since returning last year, while the new Dodge Dart saw a 72 percent bump compared to last month as dealership inventory continues to build.
Ford's namesake division saw essentially flat sales last month on mixed demand for most of its products. While Focus sales were up 91 percent (afater a particularly weak 2011), Fusion sales were way down on account of a new model hitting showrooms this month. Still, the automaker's redesigned Escape seems to be building momentum – the month was its best September ever.
Lincoln continues to perform poorly – only two models found more than 1,000 buyers each (2,575 MKZs and 2,110 MKXs).
General Motors saw a small uptick in demand for its Buick and Chevrolet brands, although much of that momentum was negated by a similarly slim slide for Cadillac. Buick should be most happy with its Verano, which was narrowly outsold by the larger Enclave and LaCrosse models. Regal, on the other hand, was down 45 percent last month.
At Chevrolet, the Cruze was the brand's best selling car with sales up an impressive 43 percent. Notably, the Colorado pickup saw a 31 percent boost, likely made up of would-be Ford Ranger buyers now that the blue oval's small truck has been dropped.
Honda's core models all gained, although the 29,182 Accords sold seems low given that the new model was on sale last month. Supply is likely an issue. At the company's Acura division, TSX sales were eclipsled by ILX for the first time, while just 34 RLs and 48 ZDXs found buyers.
The essential absence of a flagship sedan is hurting Mazda, where sales were down 5 percent. But the company's 40 mpg Mazda3 boosted things as best as it could, selling a solid 14,031 units, a figure that puts it toward the top of all compact sedans for the first time.
Like Honda's mainstream midsizer, the Nissan Altima wasn't a huge sales hit last month – sales were essentially the same as the year prior. That average showing helped bring Nissan down, but its Infiniti division was up on account of the JX and FX crossovers.
Kia's sales broke a record for the 25th consecutive month, driven most by the Optima (which more than doubled its September 2011 sales). The redesigned Rio is also proving to be a hit, with sales up well over double last year's figures for the year. Similarly, sister brand Hyundai had another strong month. Among its products, only the Genesis, Sonata and Accent posted declines.
After last year's limited vehicle supply, Toyota is rocking and rolling: Its volume Camry and Corolla models were both up more than 35 percent. And even Toyota's trucks and vans all had a solid month aside from a 0.8 percent slip for the Sienna.
The automaker's Lexus division was a bit of a mixed bag, although sales were up overall. The CT and IS slid, but the company's GS continues to gain ground. In addition, sales of the refreshed ES were up 81 percent.
Audi crested the 100,000 mark for the earliest time in its history on increased sales for every model bar the limited production R8 sports car.
BMW continues to see middling sales, most notably for its redesigned 3-Series. Sales of the revamped sedan (and old coupe and convertible) slid 17 percent to 7,731, while even the 5-Series was down 22 percent. MINI, meanwhile, posted its best September ever.
Land Rover was a winner on account of its Range Rover Sport and Evoque models, but Jaguar is in desperate need of its expanded 2013 powertrain lineup that will include downsized motors for its XF and XJ models.
Unlike arch rival BMW, Mercedes-Benz broke a record for both its mainstream division and its once-fledgling Smart brand. Notably, the company's C-Class outsold the BMW 3-Series by about 140 units.
Volkswagen's fortunes continue to improve, although it's still a long way away from becoming a volume brand here. Still, last month's only declines were the Jetta (down 2 percent), Eos (down 29 percent) and Routan (down 29 percent).
Leftlane's bottom line
September was an interesting month for the industry. Not surprisingly, Honda and Toyota posted big gains after last year's devastating earthquake and tsunami crippled new car production. It will still take a few more months to really get a good grasp of where the two Japanese brands are in the grand scheme of things.
In Detroit, Chrysler is still making waves, although it's unclear just how strong the automaker's retail sales are. One visit to a rental car lot proves that, while all three Detroit brands have a big presence, Chrysler's strong-selling 200 sedan is particularly prevalent.
But the most interesting news came from some of the industry's smaller players. Jaguar will be interesting to watch over the next few months as it introduces new powertrains designed to boost sales through better fuel efficiency, while BMW and Mercedes-Benz's battle is probably over. The victor is almost certainly the three-pointed star, although there are still three selling months remaining for BMW to boost its presence.