US auto sales: August good, maybe slightly better than expected

by SR on September 5, 2012

Share of the US auto market by manufacturer

More SAAR goodness in the US

US auto sales had another good month in August 2012, with a seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) of sales of 14.46 million units vs 14.04m in July. In absolute terms, sales for the month came to 1.28m units, up 19.4% year-on-year and 11.3% month-on-month. From January to August, light vehicle sales have reached 9.68m units, up 14.6% YoY. For our purposes, given that we have been bulls on Toyota and Denso throughout 2012, it was good to see that Toyota squeezed out a little gain in market share from 14.3% in July to 14.7% in August, as shown above. It was also noticeable that Hyundai, presumably troubled by capacity issues, lost ground versus the major OEMs. I see no reason to change our positive view on Toyota, especially given that it has been a solid performer year-to-date.

As for the US market as a whole, the SAAR in 2012 (the red line in the chart below) has been remarkably stable this year and that is something for which we should all be thankful. Consumers are buying cars, auto affordability is at the low end of the historical range (we should get the quarterly Comerica Auto Affordability Index this week or next) and even sub-prime loans are making a comeback as auto loan companies get more aggressive. Toyota is a beneficiary of this and so is Honda, which should start to benefit from the launch of the new Honda Accord, provided that the company has not made a complete mess of it as they did with the Honda Civic.

Bear in mind that if you want exposure to the retail market rather than the corporate spending-driven fleet market (about 20% of the total in the US) then Toyota’s exposure in August was just 2.7% of its sales, whereas GM and Ford were in the region of 25%. Toyota is the big retail play in the US, not the Detroit Three, and its cumulative sales are up 30.4% for January to August 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

US auto market seasonally adjusted annualised rate of sales (SAAR, million units)

Previous post:

Next post: