May U.S. Auto Sales Finish the Month on a Higher Note than Anticipated

buyer looking at carNew car and light-truck sales in May finished the month higher than projected, according to analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. The better-than-expected performance was propelled by a strong retail market especially during the last four days of the month—which included the Memorial Day weekend—and accounted for 25% of May’s retail totals.

Automakers in the U.S. market sold 8.2% more new vehicles than in the same month of 2012. Both months in both years had the same number of selling days. The seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) averaged more than 15.2 million units for total sales (retail and fleet).

Fleet sales were not as strong as retail deliveries. May retail sales were up 10% and totaled 1.177 million units, which translated to a 12.7 million-unit SAAR—more than 1 million units stronger than the retail pace a year ago. May’s retail SAAR was the strongest in five years.

PIN and LMC Automotive also reported that nearly all manufacturers posted year-over-year retail sales increases. Through the first 5 months of 2013, total sales were up 7.3% from the total in the same time period of 2012. Continue reading ›

J.D. Power’s O’Neill Sees Industry Revival with Rosier Sales in the U.S. Market

AutoForum- Fin O'Neill 1New-vehicle sales in the U.S. market have already recovered by more than 10% annually since 2010, Finbarr O’Neill, president of J.D. Power and Associates, said in remarks this week at the company’s 2013 Automotive Forum. The conference was sponsored with the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City before the New York International Auto Show* press briefings this week.

Total U.S. sales of cars and light trucks this year should surpass 15.3 million units, which is up from 14.4 million unit sales in 2012, O’Neill confirmed. He also said that new-vehicle sales are projected to surpass 16.4 million units by 2015.

O’Neill also told industry participants at the conference that retail light-vehicle sales are solid and increasing while the daily rental market and fleet sales are well under control, which is very different from the mid-2000 period, when manufacturers relied too heavily on discounts and fleets. At the same time, he said that J.D. Power’s data finds that the average transaction price of a new vehicle has increased by $3,500 since that period. Credit is looser, and leasing has risen to 23% of the sales mix, based on data collected by J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN). Continue reading ›

February U.S. Sales: Strong Retail Finish and Major Rise in Leasing

A strong retail sales finish at the end of the month pushed up February total light-vehicle (retail and fleet) sales in the U.S. market by 8.1% (selling-day adjusted) to nearly 1.2  million units.

Robust February sales translated to a 15.34 million-unit seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR), according to analysis by our Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. February was the fourth consecutive month with a SAAR of at least 15.2 million-units.

Retail new-vehicle sales rose 8.9% from a year ago to slightly more than 928,000 units, which translated to a 12.1 million SAAR that was the strongest start of a year since the beginning of 2008. In addition, although fleet sales accounted for a slightly lower portion of total sales than a year ago—22.1% vs. 22.6% in 2012—fleet deliveries were up 5.3% when adjusted for one less selling day this year. Continue reading ›

February U.S. Auto Sales: Upbeat; Higher Light-Truck Sales than Expected

Dealer Consumer handshaker03Even with one less selling day in February this year and news about the national sequester that was slated to be put into action on March 1, news about new car and light-truck sales was positive and upbeat.

Light-vehicle sales in February rose 8.1% (when selling-day adjusted) from the previous year’s same month totals. Sales reached 1.19 million units and were up 19% from January of this year, according to analysis from J.D. Power’s strategic partner, LMC Automotive. That translates to a seasonally adjusted selling pace of 15.34 million units.

In early sales reports from the manufacturers, four major automakers—General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Fiat-Chrysler and Toyota Group—reported gains from a year ago, while Honda and Hyundai Groups said sales were stable or up slightly. Nissan Group’s sales slipped in single digits from last February. Among European automakers, Volkswagen and BMW Groups also posted higher sales as did Daimler Group. The parent of Mercedes-Benz and smart brands may have led automaker gains with an increase of more than 22% (unadjusted) from a year ago. Continue reading ›

The New Year Begins with Stronger-than-Expected U.S. Auto Sales

1Salesperson and Couple at DealershipJanuary new-vehicle sales in the U.S. market were stronger than expected. Sales climbed nearly 10% due to consumers continuing to trade in their current vehicles (vehicle age in the United States averages 11 years) for new ones or replacing vehicles damaged or totaled during last October’s East Coast Sandy superstorm.

Easier credit and discounts in some segments also made new-vehicle purchases and leases more viable in January. Compacts were still popular, partly due to gas prices beginning to rise again*, and there appears to be a revival in the light-truck segment due to the start of a comeback in the housing industry.

Detroit Three Achieve Double-Digit Sales Gains

It was a good month for Michigan. All three Detroit-based manufacturers—Fiat-Chrysler Group, Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Co.—reported that new-vehicle sales were up in double digits from January 2012. Continue reading ›

May U.S. Sales: Bolstered by Toyota and Honda Delivery Gains

The strength of new car and light-truck sales during May helped offset some concern about a slowing U.S. economy. There is still pent-up demand in the U.S. market as vehicle owners replace their aging cars and trucks, while an easing in credit makes it easier to finance long-term loans, which helps drive sales growth, according to analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.*

In May, total light-vehicle sales reached nearly 1.335 million units, up 16% from the same month a year ago (on a selling-day adjusted basis).** May’s seasonally adjusted annual sales pace (SAAR) averaged only 13.8 million units, which was below April’s 14.4 million-unit pace, but better than last May’s 11.7 million-unit pace.

The sales gains in May were led by Japanese automakers’ year-over-year double-digit increases, which were signs of a full recovery from last year, when these automakers were hampered by production setbacks in Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in that country. Continue reading ›

The World’s Largest Auto Market Shifts Gear

Charles Mills

Currently, new-vehicle shoppers in China have the world’s widest range of choices, with 94 brands and 476 models from which to choose, according to our research and analysis with LMC Automotive.* That compares with fewer than 40 brands and nearly 100 fewer models available in the U.S. market, the second-largest automotive market in the world in 2011.

Entry-Level Segment Sales Hardest Hit in China’s Auto Market

In our overall analysis of global sales this year, we see that China new-vehicle sales in the first quarter of 2012 increased by just 2% from the same period last year. This sluggish sales growth has affected sales in entry-level vehicle segments more than other segments, despite a continued increase in retail gas prices in China. Fuel prices in China are now more than 20% higher than the average price in the United States. Continue reading ›

April Retail Sales Pace is Consistent with First Quarter

Although April is considered a challenging month for sales comparisons because the Easter holiday falls in April some years and in March during other years, signs of sustained growth in the U.S. auto market are evident. In fact, the daily selling rate in April is projected to be 37,000 units, which is higher than the 34,000-unit average rate in the first quarter. (Note: There are 24 selling days in April 2012 vs. 27 in April a year ago.)

Retail sales volume this month is projected to increase 8%* from April 2011, which matches the first-quarter year-over-year increase of 8%. Sales in April are predicted to reach 894,100 units, which translates to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 10.2 million units, based on the monthly sales forecast update from our Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.**

Total (retail and fleet) light-vehicle deliveries for the month are forecast to reach 1.13 million units, which is up 11% when adjusted for the number of selling days, from 1.15 million units in April 2011. This pace is equal to a SAAR of 13.8 million units vs. 13.2 million a year ago. Higher fleet sales continue in April, with fleet volume expected to account for 21% of total sales this month. Continue reading ›

First-Quarter US Sales Increase Sets Positive Tone for Auto Industry

The first-quarter of 2012 ended on a strong note for automakers in the U.S. market despite higher gas prices, which began to drop slightly in the past week and in spite of the negative influence of still high unemployment rates. On a seasonally adjusted annual selling basis, the first-quarter selling rate, or SAAR, averaged 11.7 million units for retail and 14.5 million units for total light vehicles—a tempo that was ahead of our earlier retail and total sales forecast.

In fact, the selling pace in the first three months of 2012 outperformed the J.D. Power annual sales forecast for the first time since 2008, when the auto market began slipping into recession, according to Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive.*

Fiat-Chrysler and VW Groups Make First-Quarter Sales Headlines

Two multi-franchise automakers, Fiat-Chrysler and Volkswagen Groups, achieved stellar double-digit sales and share gains in the first quarter of 2012 vs. their results in the same 3-month period a year ago. In addition, two of the four smaller independents, Fuji Heavy Industries’ Subaru brand and Mazda, also posted robust, double-digit year-over-year gains vs. the same period in 2011. Continue reading ›

Small, Fuel-Efficient Vehicles on the Minds of Many Buyers in March

The Nissan Versa was the best-selling Sub-Compact in March.

Higher fuel prices helped prime sales of smaller and more fuel-efficient passenger cars, especially Sub-Compact and some Compact Conventional segment models, which boosted U.S. new-vehicle deliveries in March for nearly all automakers. The seasonally adjusted annual sales pace (SAAR) was more than 1 million units stronger than a year ago, and many automakers said March sales were their strongest since March 2008.

More than 1.4 million new vehicles were sold in the U.S. market during March, which was up 8.7% (on a selling-day-adjusted basis) from March 2011, when fewer than 1 million units were delivered, according to analysis from our Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.** The sales pace in March 2012 averaged 14.4 million units vs. 13 million units in March 2011.

At the segment level, Sub-Compact sales soared 36.3% and outperformed the industry, gaining nearly 1 point of share to garner 4.6% of industry sales, while Compact Conventional sales edged up only 3.1%, but still accounted for a 15.8% share of the market. Led by Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion, Midsize Conventional segment sales increased by 23.3% and the category captured 2 more points of share to end March with 18.4% of industry sales. Also noteworthy: Large Pickups, up 9.3% as a category and with the help of incentives, outperformed the industry’s 8.7% improvement as the segment garnered a 10.4% share in March 2012. Continue reading ›