NEW YORK—Most automakers reported another strong month of U.S. sales in September on Thursday, while Volkswagen's sales were essentially flat in the wake of the German company's pollution-cheating scandal.
Gains year-over-year in sales were double-digit strong at General Motors (+12.5%), Ford (+23%), Toyota (+16.2%) and Fiat Chrysler (+14%).
At Volkswagen, a comparatively small player in the US, sales edged up 0.6%, reflecting in part a mid-month halt to sales of diesel cars affected by the US investigation into the German company's emissions controls, the company said.
"We would like to thank dealers and customers for the support of the Volkswagen brand," said Mark McNabb, chief operating officer, Volkswagen of America. "Volkswagen will continue to work diligently to regain trust and confidence in our brand."
Volkswagen has been under fire since US environmental regulators announced on September 18 that the company had violated air-quality rules by installing software on nearly 500,000 diesel cars intended to evade U.S. emissions limits for nitrogen oxide and other dangerous pollutants.
Sales at the Volkswagen-owned luxury brand Audi rose 16.2% in September, lifting total sales from the two companies to 43,481, about 3,000 vehicles more than expected by the online car site Edmunds.com.
Edmunds had been among those predicting the VW scandal would not mar the hot auto market, a bright spot in the U.S. economy.
"Volkswagen's deception is dominating headlines, but it is not keeping shoppers away from other brands' showrooms," Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell said in a note last week.
"It puts the crisis in a little bit of perspective, since these Volkswagen diesels don't constitute a very big share of sales. It's also a reminder that buyers won't disappear from the market just because they suddenly can't or don't want to buy these affected cars. They're willing to turn to other automakers that will meet their needs."
SUVs, Trucks Ride High
VW's gains lagged those of other major automakers, many of which continued to benefit from increased sales of sport utility vehicles and other large vehicles.
GM, the largest U.S. automaker, scored sales of 251,310, about 12,000 above the forecast from Edmunds.com. The increase was particularly strong for the GMC truck line, where sales soared 23.8% to 47,386.
Gains were more moderate for the Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet lines, which include numerous sedans and other small vehicles.
At Ford, the number-two U.S. automaker, September sales were 221,599, about 2,700 more than the Edmunds forecast. Gains were strongest in SUVs and trucks, but sales of cars also rose sharply, by 18.9 percent.
Toyota notched sales of 194,370, enjoying a 14.3% rise in cars and an 8.7 percent gain trucks. Sales rose sharply for such sedan staples as the Corolla and the Camry.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles's sales came in at 193,019 last month, up 13.6% from the year-ago period and about 1,300 below the Edmunds forecast.
Sales of FCA's popular Jeep line surged 40% to more than 77,000 vehicles.
The strong September sales pace followed a booming August, when vehicles rolled out of dealerships at the fastest rate since July 2005.
GM said there is still more running room to further boost sales, thanks in part to low gasoline prices that have boosted demand for SUVs and trucks.
"The U.S. is adding jobs, disposable income is rising, energy prices and interest rates remain low and business continues to invest, but the fact remains this has been a slow recovery," said Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist at GM.
"The economy still has room to grow and so do auto sales, particularly now that the millennials are entering the workforce and starting households."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015