Four Year High

The US automotive recovery hit a four year high — 13 percent year-over-year sales increase in September. Even factoring in new car season — a quaint sales promo anachronism that barely survives year-round globalized production schedules… the performance of the auto sector is still astounding.

With economy jitters — consumers are deferring their largest investment in home-ownership in favor of the more accessible second largest purchase of a new car, SUV or Pick-up truck.

The September annualized sales rate of 14.9 million vehicles — which will settle for 2012 in the 13 million plus range, is still shy of the nearly 17 million units sold in the pre-crisis 2007 model year.

For 2012 the players making big moves have changed. While General Motors and Ford had record sales in 2011 — their biggest market competitors, Toyota and Honda were hobbled by earthquake and tsunami related plant shutdowns and supply shortages.

In September Toyota and Honda — showing rock solid customer loyalty surviving both natural disaster and other reversals — posted 41.5 and 30.9 percent sales gains respectively. Late- blooming Chrysler lead the domestic car-makers with an 11.5 percent increase — while GM showed a weak 1.5 percent bump while Ford actually saw a fractional sales loss.