S&P Chief Economist, J.D. Power Executive Offer Cautious but Positive Outlooks

Two experts from Standard & Poor’s and J.D. Power offered cautiously positive outlooks for the U.S. economy and for the U.S. auto industry to some 300 auto dealers and industry participants during the recent Western Automotive Conference, sponsored by J.D. Power and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA).

Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. chief economist for Standard & Poor’s, said that the U.S. is in its fourth year of recovery with an average growth rate of 2%. On a global level, she cited challenges to be faced including a slowdown in China, the remaining effects of the debt crisis in the Eurozone, and spikes in global oil prices.

In addressing current conditions in the U.S., Bovino said the Fed is focusing on creating jobs and is offering incentives for businesses to invest and hire, which will lead to higher growth. She said there has been robust demand and hiring in the private sector in spite of shocks. Continue reading ›

October Sales Rebound after Damper Caused by U.S. Government Shutdown

John Humphrey

John Humphrey

Although the U.S. government shutdown (October 1-16) held back retail new-vehicle sales during the first half of October, the overall pace for the month remains ahead of the average for the year, according to a monthly forecast update from J.D. Power and strategic partner LMC Automotive.

Both retail and total (including fleet) new-vehicle sales are expected to rise 8% from the same month in 2012 on a selling-day basis.*

Retail sales in October are projected to reach 1.017 million units—up 8% from October 2012, based on transaction data collected during the first 17 selling days of the month. That translates to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 12.8 million units vs. the year-to-date pace of 12.7 million.

During the first two weeks of October, retail sales edged up only 1.6% from the same October period in 2012, but they increased 7.7% in the third week of the month. Continue reading ›

J.D. Power’s King Discusses U.S. Auto Market Shifts at Joint Conference

Thomas King Speaking at S&P ConferenceJ.D. Power’s Thomas King, senior director, Power Information Network® (PIN), recently shared insights on changes in new-vehicle demand in the U.S. market at the Standard & Poor’s/J.D. Power Auto Industry Hot Topics Conference in New York.

Analysts from S&P, J.D. Power, and strategic partner LMC Automotive, presented their views and analysis of the current and future state of the U.S. and global auto industry to an audience of more than 160 Wall Street analysts and reporters. Continue reading ›

September U.S. Sales are Slightly Weaker after Strong Labor Day Finish

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John Humphrey

During the first 10 selling days in September, U.S. new car and light-truck sales were up 4% from a year ago yet were not as robust as in recent months, according to a monthly sales forecast

update from J.D. Power and strategic partner LMC Automotive.

As was expected, more than 248,000 new-vehicle sales during the Labor Day weekend were pulled from September into August tallies, according to the forecast update.

September retail sales are projected to rise just 2% from September 2012, when adjusted for two fewer selling days in September vs. the same month a year ago (23 days in September 2013 vs. 25 days in September 2012). Continue reading ›

Labor Day Sales Events Boost August U.S. Light-Vehicle Delivery Totals

Buyer and Dealership ManagerU.S. new light-vehicle sales in August were more robust than anticipated, mainly due to a heady retail sales finish over the Labor Day weekend. Retail sales even outperformed the accurate monthly forecast from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive, which already had projected one of the strongest sales months in six years.

There was an extra boost from holiday sales, especially on August 31 since Labor Day weekend was counted in August’s sales total as the month ended on a weekend. J.D. Power experts say they are not sure yet how much August sales will pull forward from September results. Total consumer spending on new vehicles in August was the highest on record—reaching $38.5 billion,—mainly due to strong transaction prices and higher sales, according to J.D. Power analysis.

Retail sales in August climbed 17.7% above retail totals in the same month of 2012. The final week of August sales totals (August 26 – Sept. 3) captured nearly 35% of the month’s retail sales volume, according to Dave Cutting, senior manager of North American Forecasting at LMC Automotive. Retail deliveries totaled 1.34 million units and the seasonally adjusted selling pace (SAAR) of 13.8 million was the highest since 2006. Continue reading ›

August May Be Best U.S. Retail Sales Month Since 2006

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John Humphrey

The robust pace of auto sales during July in the U.S. market has continued through the first half of August, according to a monthly sales forecast update from J.D. Power and strategic partner LMC Automotive.

August new-vehicle sales may reach the highest level in seven years—since before the Great Recession (December 2007-June 2009). Additionally, J.D. Power anticipates that consumer spending on new vehicles in August will be close to $36 billion, which would be the highest level on record.

Retail new-vehicle deliveries are set to reach 1.27 million units for the month, which is up 12% from August 2012, based on analysis of retail transaction data during the first 15 selling days of the month.* This translates to a seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) of 13.1 million units, which means that this would be the third straight month that the retail SAAR has averaged above 13.0 million units. In comparison, the retail SAAR in August 2012 was 12.6 million units. Continue reading ›

U.S. Retail Sales in July 2013 Offset Lower Fleet Deliveries

Cars on Lot drawingJuly total (retail and fleet) new-vehicle sales rose 9.4% from the same month a year ago to 1.313 million units, which translated to a 15.8 million-unit seasonally adjusted annual selling pace (SAAR), according to analysis by J.D. Power and strategic partner LMC Automotive. At the segment level, Large Pickup sales were up by nearly one-fourth from a year ago and Compact Conventional car deliveries were nearly twice as strong as the overall industry pace.

Through the first 7 months of 2013, U.S. new-vehicle sales were up 8.5% from the same period in 2012.

The strength of retail deliveries in July 2013—which rose 12.7% from July 2012, helped bolster total sales, despite a decline in fleet sales. The fleet share of sales in July was the lowest for any month since 2009 (when “Cash for Clunkers,” or the CARS scrappage program, was in effect from July-August 2009). Fleet sales accounted for only 13.0% of the sales mix. Usually, fleet deliveries average between 19% and 22% of monthly sales totals. Continue reading ›

Strong Lender Support Fuels Dealer Financing Satisfaction Rises in 2013

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Michael Buckingham

Dealer satisfaction with automotive lenders in the U.S. increases for a second straight year in all four categories measured, according to our 2013 U.S. Dealer Financing Satisfaction Study. The rise in adoption rates of new processes—such as e-contracting—combined with improvements in dealer support, such as the frequency of contact, and more product offerings contribute to this year’s gains vs. 2012.

As auto sales and the lending environment continue to return to pre-recessionary levels (before 2007), there is healthier competition among more lenders. Nearly one-third (30%) of lenders offer dealers new processes and a wider range of products, and 39% of dealers who are offered these options in turn send regular business to their providers, based on our study results. Continue reading ›

Multiple Platforms, Screen Sizes Drive Major Changes in Automakers’ Websites

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Arianne Walker

The explosion of tablet ownership among new-vehicle shoppers in 2013 and the different approaches that shoppers now use to access information during the new-vehicle shopping process is challenging automakers to improve website functionality across platforms, according to our 2013 Manufacturer Website Evaluations Study (MWES)–Wave 2.

Results in Wave 2 of the semiannual 2013 MWES find that tablet ownership has climbed by 145% from just 20% of new-vehicle shoppers in Wave 1 of the 2012 MWES, to nearly one-half (49%) of nearly 10,200 new-vehicle shoppers in Wave 2 of the 2013 MWES.

Among the tablet users, overall satisfaction with the usefulness of auto manufacturer websites during the shopping process remains nearly flat at 815 (on a 1,000-point scale) vs. 818 points in Wave 1 of the 2013 study. Average satisfaction with automakers’ websites by desktop PC users is slightly higher—823—since most manufacturer websites are designed specifically for a desktop. Wave 2 finds that satisfaction among tablet users is lower in two of the four key measures: navigation and speed.* Continue reading ›

U.S. Auto Market Reaps Double-Digit Gain in June; Best Monthly Pace Since 2007

Car buyer gets keys from DealerAutomakers in the U.S. market finished the month of June with new-vehicle total sales increasing 13.5% (on a selling-day adjusted basis*) to 1.40 million units from 1.28 million units in the same month in 2012, according to analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and our strategic partner LMC Automotive. The selling pace in June was the strongest in six years and outperformed most forecasts.

Through the first six months of 2013, total new-vehicle deliveries also increased, but not by as much as the June figure; YTD sales were up 8.4%, to 7.82 million unit sales from 7.26 million in the same six-month period a year ago. Trucks outperformed cars in the first half and gained 1.80 percentage points of share from a year ago. The Detroit-based automakers also captured a larger share of the U.S. auto market in the first half—46.1% vs. 45.2% in 2012.

In June, the seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) for retail and fleet sales averaged 15.9 million units—the strongest rate since 2007. The year-ago total light-vehicle SAAR was a much weaker 14.4 million units. Continue reading ›