Auto Sales Slump in September

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Dealers are finding it tough to sell cars they dont have. Image from Flikr.

Dealers are finding it tough to sell cars they don't have. Image from Flikr.

Cash for Clunkers is no more, and many auto industry analysts are saying that’s the reason vehicle sales suffered last month. About 5 million fewer cars sold in September than in August, down to 9 million from 14 million.

“I’ve never seen a rollercoaster ride like this,” said Ken Czubay, vice president of U.S. sales and marketing at Ford Motor Co., according to the Wall Street Journal at

Double trouble

Car dealers can attribute the lack of showroom traffic to the Cash for Clunkers catastrophe, but of course everything comes back to the economy. The auto industry has been struggling for several months as consumers curb their spending.

To make things worse, many auto makers were forced to make dramatic production cuts earlier this year, says the Wall Street Journal. That means in some cases, the buyers are there but the cars aren’t.

“I don’t think customers, when they drive by a dealership and see there’s nothing there, feel very motivated to come in,” said Steve Cook, a GM brand dealer in Vassar, Mich. “It’s frustrating because I know we have the product to compete.”

Paring down the market

In the case of some dealers who did have a good month, sales-wise, last month, they attributed it to the fact that a nearby dealer had shut down. Dealerships have been shutting down left and right since it was announced that Cash for Clunkers was canceled.

GM Sales Chief Mark LaNeve told the Wall Street Journal that inventory shortfalls cost the industry approximately 300,000 sales for the month. Some dealers have ordered more than three times what the company planned to build, he said.


It appears the U.S. might want to take a cue from France, where auto sales rose a whopping 14 percent last month. That’s the fifth month in a row auto sales have gone up in France. Sales are up 3.5 percent in Japan compared to last year.

The picture gets even more dismal when this year’s auto sales in the U.S. are compared to last year. GM sales are down 45 percent, and Chrysler’s are down 42 percent. Despite the dismal drop in Sepember, “Auto makers, encouraged by positive economic indicators, maintained their confidence that the U.S. industry will provide relief in the last three months of the year,” says the Wall Street Journal.

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