In September, Americans acquired 1,223,914 cars and light trucks, for an annualised sales rate of 16.31 million. That’s a sharp drop from the 18.6 million-unit rate set last month but in line with analyst expectations, writes Bill Cawthon.


DaimlerChrysler was September’s big winner with Chrysler enjoying an impressive 18.1% increase in sales. Thanks to the new E-Class, Mercedes-Benz USA had a record September, rising to the top of the luxury market. Chrysler is now ahead of its 2001 sales pace and MBUSA is having its best year in history.


Chrysler’s Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee each outsold every one of GM’s seventeen SUV models last month. Only Ford’s Explorer had better sales in the segment.


One dark cloud on Chrysler’s horizon may be the Odyssey. The Honda minivan was only a few hundred sales behind the market-leading Dodge Caravan in September.


Based on daily sales rates reported by Ward’s Auto, Ford had a 3% increase in sales. Ford itself equalised selling days for 2001 and 2002 and announced a 5% decline. Good performances by its premium brands couldn’t overcome weak sales of the company’s Ford and Mercury lines. Among the few bits of good news for the blue oval is the fact it is still outselling Chevrolet.





  • Source is country of manufacture.  Domestics are from U.S., Canada, Mexico.  Imports are from overseas. 
  • Light vehicles are cars and light trucks (GVW Classes 1-3, under 14,001 lbs.).  DSR is daily sales rate.
  • Source: WardsAuto.com
  • © Copyright 2002, Ward’s Communications, a division of PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc.  Redistribution prohibited.

As expected, GM took a heavy hit. The company withdrew its aggressive financial incentives earlier in the month and paid the price with a 12.8% sales decline. Trucks were down 8% while car sales took an 18% dive.


Toyota reported a monthly sales increase while actually selling fewer vehicles than last year. Like most other manufacturers, Toyota claimed 23 selling days in September 2002 compared with 25 in the nonth month of 2001. The company did however finish with the best third quarter in its US history.


English marques are doing well. Both Jaguar and Land Rover passed their 2001 sales totals last month and will achieve new sales records this year. BMW’s Mini, now in its seventh month in the US, has already posted over 15,000 sales (memo: the first full-year target was 20,000).





  • Light vehicles are cars and light trucks (GVW Classes 1-3, under 14,001 lbs.).  DSR is daily sales rate.
  • **Chrysler Group is former Chrysler Corp. operations only.
  • Source: WardsAuto.com
  • © Copyright 2002, Ward’s Communications, a division of PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc.  Redistribution prohibited.

Ford’s F-Series remained America’s favourite vehicle but Chevrolet’s Silverado was bumped from its perennial place as No. 2 as the Ford Explorer edged it out by 124 units. The Dodge Ram and Honda Accord rounded out the top five. The Accord has now outsold Toyota’s Camry for three months in a row.


The Ford Focus was the best-selling American brand car in September and both that model and its rival Toyota Corolla beat the Ford Taurus. In year-to-date sales, the Camry, Accord and Taurus are still 1-2-3, but the ageing Ford is less than 3,400 sales ahead of the Honda Civic. Continued poor fleet sales could give the Japanese manufacturers a chance to claim all three top spots for the first time.


Japanese, European and Korean automobile brands continue to outsell their American counterparts. Better than 56 of every 100 cars sold in the US last month wore a foreign nameplate. Fortunately for Detroit, the Big Three still dominate the light truck market that accounted for better than half of all vehicle sales in September.




  • Note: Table combines imports and domestics.

  • Source: WardsAuto.com
  • © Copyright 2002, Ward’s Communications, a division of PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc.  Redistribution prohibited.