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AIADA: Harvey Takes a Bite Out of August Auto Sales

September 6, 2017

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — August sales at America’s 9,600 international nameplate franchises fell 2.6% from a year ago and are down 1.4% on a year-to-date basis, with brands like Hyundai (down 25.5% from last August) and Nissan (down 14.8%) taking the biggest hits, according to the American International Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA).

International nameplate franchises accounted for 55.5% of all new-vehicle sales in August, down from 58.5%. According to the trade group, the declines were the result of Hurricane Harvey, which left a large swath of Texas underwater during the last week of August.

"Hurricane Harvey took a toll on August auto sales, but we expect this trend to be short lived," said AIADA President Cody Lusk. "As cleanup continues and consumers find themselves in the market for new vehicles, dealers are optimistic that the industry will close out the remaining months of 2017 on a high sales note."

Early estimates put the number of damaged cars between 500,000 and one million, with Cox Automotive Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke noting last week that the storm could have delayed between 20,000 and 40,000 new-vehicle sales in Texas alone. September, he added, is likely to register a boost in sales as a result.

“The process will last months, pushing higher sales in the region in Q4,” Smoke said last week in a statement issued to F&I and Showroom. “We are looking at impact to full-year SARR; initial estimates indicate a potential net improvement on full-year sales once replacement sales pick up in earnest.”

According to AutoData Corp., the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for August was 16.14 million units, compared to 17.22 million units in August 2016. Unadjusted for business days, sales of all brands were down 1.9% from last August and 2.7% on a year-to-date basis. Industrywide, approximately 1.5 million vehicles were sold in August, up from about 1.4 million in July but down by 29,275 units from a year ago.

Despite the month's challenges, AIADA officials said several international brands finished the month on a high note, including Subaru (up 4.6% from last August), Toyota (up 8%), Volkswagen (up 9%), and Volvo (up 4.1%).

International auto sales in the United States totaled 822,952 vehicles in August, down from 828,772 in July but up from 816,332 vehicles in June. Asian brands occupied 46.3% of the August auto market, down from 49.6% in July and down from 46.8% in August 2016. Overall, Asian nameplate dealers sold 686,824 vehicles in August, a 2.9% drop from August 2016.

European brands sold 136,128 vehicles in August, up from 126,157 in July but down from 137,773 sold in August 2016. European brands held 9.2% of the U.S. auto market in August, up from 8.9% last month and 9.1% in August 2016. Overall, August auto sales for these brands were down 1.2% from last August.

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