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Toyota zooms 42%, Hyundai up, Nissan falls

9:10 AM, Oct 4, 2012   |    comments
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HYUNDAI reported its best-ever September for the U.S., a total of 60,025 vehicles sold, up 15% from a year ago.

The total of 60,025 sales was a September record for Hyundai and marked a seventh consecutive month of more than 60,000.

Sales are up 10% the first nine months vs. the period a year ago.

"We avoided the traditional back-to-school sales decline (in September) and began to reap the benefits of a materially improved inventory situation on our core vehicle lines," said sales chief Dave Zuchowski in a statement. "Our fourth quarter production plan is up nearly 20% on a year-over-year basis."

Top gainers beyond the Elantra line, up 27%, were the redesigned Azera big sedan, up 1,028%, the Tucson small crossover, up 23%, and the quirky Veloster three-door coupe, up 262%. Elantra compact was a driver of that, up 27%. It's newly redesigned, and additional models have been added to the lineup. The South Korea-headquartered company's new Santa Fe also did well, up 19%.U.S.

CEO John Krafcik said a third shift at the automaker's U.S. plant helped provide enough vehicles for a significant boost in sales.

Overall, though, Hyundai sales growth will begin to taper off because the company's global capacity is nearly tapped out, Krafcik has said.

TOYOTA said U.S. sales rocketed 41.5% ahead of last year.

Total sales for the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands during September were 171,910, Toyota said, noting that all Toyota and Lexus hybrids together jumped 120.6% to 26,747. That makes gas-electric power 15.6% of Toyota's sales, or about one of every six vehicles.

The Toyota brand had strong sales of both cars and trucks. Camry remains the top seller, accounting for 40% of Toyota-brand car sales. Among trucks, RAV4 compact SUV and Tacoma pickup, which Toyota calls a mid-size truck, were the top performers.

Overall, car sales rose 47.1% and trucks were up 36.6%.

Scion, Toyota's youth-oriented brand, hit 6,743 sales, a hefty 75.7% jump. The tC sports coupe and recently launched FR-S were the top sellers.

Lexus luxury division posted 12,020 sales, up 35.7%, lead by the new-design ES 350 entry sedan, including a hybrid version that's never been offered before.

The first nine months, Lexus reports sales of 170,990, putting it well out of contention for top-selling luxury brand in the U.S., a title it once seemed destined to own forever. Now, though, the battle's between Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

The Toyota sales numbers make clear that the fallout has settled from a flood a year ago in parts-making hub Thailand, as well as any lingering effects of shortages caused by the tsunami in Japan in March 2011.

NISSAN sales, however, fell 1.1% to 91,907 vehicles, pulled down by a 2.4% from a year ago drop for the Nissan brand. The Infiniti luxury unit's sales were up 11.4% to 9,445, its best month since 2007.

Nissan brand's drop came in cars. Its trucks were up 3.3%, led by the Rogue crossover, up 12.7%, and Pathfinder SUV, up 38.7%.

Infiniti results also were driven by its crossovers and SUVs, with sales up 107% in the month. That was helped by the addition of the new JX 7 three-row crossover with sales of 2,251 in the month. And the FX performance crossover was up 107% to 1,659.

HONDA said combined sales of mainstream Honda and premium Acura brands zipped 30.9% in September. A big push to sell down "old" 2012 Accords combined with a warm welcome for the redesigned 2013 Accord that went on sale Sept. 19 kept the mid-size sedan atop the automaker's charts.

Accord sales hit 29,182, a 56.6% increase from the year before. Not a lonely hero, though, Accord was joined by CR-V SUV sales that hit 22,268, a 13.6% gain and a record for September for that model, and a 57% jump in Civic sales, to 21,546.

Acura's best-seller remains the MDX SUV, up 60.4% to 4,692. Gratifying for Acura, the redesigned and repositioned RDX compact SUV jumped 119.9% to 2,938 sales.

TL sedan rose 29.1% to 3,236.

KIA, Hyundai's corporate sibling, zoomed 35.1% to sales of 48,105 for the month.

Driving the total were the Optima mid-size sedan at 14,304, the Sorento crossover at 10,066 and the boxy little Soul, which just brought back its hamster ads, at 9,467.

MAZDA sales fell 5.4% to 24,135, though it reported year-to-date sales still up 9.5%.

The September leader was the Mazda3 sedan, up 57.1% to 14,031. The new CX-5 crossover continued a strong launch, hitting 4,468, which Mazda said was held down by lack of inventory.

MITSUBISHI reported that sales tumbled 17.2%, to 4,8-06, at least partly influenced by the discontinuing of some models last year, the automaker said.

Bright spot was the Outlander Sport, a small SUV Its sales jumped 49% to 2,253, making it the best month in the vehicle's two years on the U.S. market.

SUBARU September sales rose 32% to 27,683. Year-to-date sales of 245,463 are up 25% overr 2011. The refreshed Outback and Legacy were up 39% and 31% respectively and the redone Impreza, with inventory up, was up 211%.

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