Orange County Business Journal

OC-Based Auto Brands Outpace Market in September

Kari Hamanaka Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Automakers with U.S. headquarters in Orange County saw another big month in September, outpacing the overall market.

Auto sales were generally strong nationally in September, with an increase of about 10% to finish the month on pace to hit 13.1 million vehicles for the year, according to Woodcliff Lake, NJ-based auto researcher Autodata Corp.

That’s up from August, when auto sales came in at an annual pace of 12.1 million, and the 11.8 million pace seen a year earlier.

Hyundai Motor America Inc., the largest automaker with operations here, had sales of 52,051 vehicles, up 12% from a year earlier.

Hyundai, part of South Korea’s Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, has temporary headquarters in Costa Mesa until construction of its new campus in Fountain Valley is completed.

“Finishing September with such strong momentum is no small feat, especially considering the disappointing economic climate,” said Hyundai Executive Vice President of National Sales Dave Zuchowski.

Hyundai’s Veloster sport coupe was delivered to dealerships in mid-September and saw sales of 834 in the less than two weeks it was out.

The automaker’s sister company, Irvine-based Kia Motors America Inc., had sales of 35,609 vehicles, up 18.4% from a year earlier.

It was the best September in Kia’s history in the U.S. market and gave the company sales of 367,405 vehicles so far this year, already an annual record. It’s the second record year in a row for Kia, which sold 356,268 for all of 2010.

Other automakers here also reported September sales gains:

Irvine-based Mazda North American Operations saw sales of 25,521 vehicles, up 37.4% from a year earlier for the largest annual increase among local automakers on a percentage basis.

Mazda’s crossovers, CX-7 and CX-9, led sales for the month with increases from a year earlier of 90.8% and 73.6%, respectively.

America Suzuki Motor Corp., which has headquarters in Brea, reported September sales of 2,026 vehicles, up 23% from a year earlier.

Cypress-based Mitsubishi Motors North America saw sales up 17% from a year earlier to 5,803 vehicles.

The company has not seen September sales that high since 2008.