Like a bolt from the blue, the U.S. auto selling pace in September turned hotter than any month in the last 12 years.
Confounding forecasters’ modest expectations, sales totaled 1.53 million, jumping 6.3 percent from a year earlier. That ended eight straight months of declines from 2016’s record pace.
The seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate was 18.6 million, the best since July 2005 and the sixth-highest SAAR on record. The Bloomberg consensus forecast of analysts had been 17.4 million.
So what happened in September? Automakers and analysts cite a combination of post-Hurricane Harvey replacement demand, makeup deals from storm-delayed August purchases, higher fleet volume, a five-weekend sales month, attractive new products and more effective incentives aimed at clearing out aging 2017 models.
And the more important question: Will it continue?