Ford Sales Expected to Crater in September

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While the U.S. car industry in general is expected to do fine in September, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) is the one significant exception.

According to Kelley Blue Book (KBB), car sales for the month will be down 2.0% from September 2015 to 1,410,000. Ford’s sales, one the other hand, are expected to drop 8.7% to 202,000, and its market share to drop from 15.4 to 14.3. This means the third largest manufacturer by sales, Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:  TM) will gain on Ford as its sales rise 0.3% to 195,000 and its market share to 13.5%. This will be just ahead of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU), the sales of which are forecast be up 1.6% to 190,000. Its market share is expected to be 13.4%.

The only car company expected to have share increase is Subaru, the fourth largest manufacturer in Japan. Its sales are expected to rise 7.4% to 57,000.

The bleeding at Volkswagen has slowed. In September, KBB expects its sales to drop 1.9% to 47,000.

Ford actually has good reason for its drop. According to KBB analysis:

Ford Motor Company could report one of the biggest declines of all major automakers, with volume expected to fall 9 percent.  Ford’s car lineup, including Fusion, Focus and Fiesta, will be responsible for most of the drop and could fall 20 percent in September.  Fleet sales below normal levels also could have a major impact on Ford’s September sales.  Ford has been public about their fleet orders being frontloaded this year, with the expectation of a significant drop-off in fleet in the later months of 2016.  Ford fleet sales in September could be down 20 percent.

Fleet sales are generally less profitable that retail ones.

As for Subaru, Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said:

Following a big month in August, Subaru of America may capture the most market share in September.  Similar to most other manufacturers, Subaru’s car lineup sales are down this year.  However, Subaru’s popular crossovers like the Forester and Outback are selling quickly, averaging around 25 days in dealer inventory, and should help Subaru reach yet another record month.

For the time being, Subaru management may not mind the company being small.