Auto sales strong in September

Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG's VW brand continued to post robust U.S. sales increases while deliveries at General Motors and Ford Motor Co. were flat in September, a month that is expected to generate more steady gains for the industry.

Toyota said combined sales at Toyota, Lexus and Scion jumped 42 percent. It was the second consecutive month deliveries rose 40 percent or more as the automaker continues to rebound strongly from last year's earthquake in Japan.

Volkswagen reported sales at the VW brand climbed 38 percent and boasted it expects to continue to outperform the industry during the fourth quarter. At Kia, sales rose 35 percent to 48,105 last month and the automaker remains on track to set an annual U.S. sales record in 2012.

Detroit's two biggest automakers cited lower truck volume — a traditional stronghold — for sales that were down less than a percent at Ford and up just 1.5 percent at GM. The results will likely mean more market share losses for the companies.

Chrysler Group posted a 12 percent rise in U.S. sales last month, helped by a 27 percent increase in car deliveries and big gains at the Fiat and Dodge brands. Hyundai brand sales rose 15 percent to 60,025 last month, marking its biggest gain since February, according to a Twitter post by CEO John Krafcik.

At Nissan Motor Co., sales slipped 1.1 percent, with the Nissan division down 2.4 percent and Infiniti advancing 11.4 percent. Audi said volume rose 27 percent to 12,302 last month and said it remains on track to set an annual sales record in the United States for 2012.

The BMW Group reported a 3.5-percent increase in September sales, with volume flat at the BMW brand and Mini posting a 23 percent increase in deliveries.

Other automakers are scheduled to release September sales figures later today. The early results signal the industry continues to rebound despite mixed economic reports, high gasoline prices, sluggish job growth and the prospect of deep cuts in federal spending.

"The industry is on plan, Ford is on plan, and we're looking forward to a really good fourth quarter," said Ken Czubay, head of U.S. marketing, sales and service for Ford.

Volume at the Ford division was unchanged and Lincoln demand dropped 3 percent. Ford said retail sales climbed 4 percent last month.

Ford's car sales inched up 1.6 percent and utility vehicle volume rose 9 percent, but truck deliveries slipped 8 percent, partly as a result of the discontinuation of the Ranger pickup.

GM said car volume rose 29 percent and crossover demand inched up 3 percent. GM's truck sales slipped 20 percent, reflecting a 46 percent drop in fleet sales

Chevrolet posted a 1.5 percent increase and Buick volume rose 8 percent, while Cadillac deliveries slipped 1.3 percent and GMC was flat. GM said retail sales at all four brands increased.

At Chrysler, Fiat sales surged 51 percent in September, while Dodge deliveries rose 18 percent, Chrysler said today.

Sales rose 5 percent at the Chrysler brand, 10 percent at Jeep and 4 percent at Ram.

Truck deliveries rose 6 percent last month, Chrysler said.

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