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.

PIN Retail Transaction Data Confirms Higher New-Vehicle Negotiated Price in May

J.D. Power’s PIN data analysis also confirms that the new-vehicle negotiated price in May was up 2.9% compared with a year ago and up a fraction of a point (0.2%) from last month (not seasonally adjusted). The average cash rebate amount was up 4.7% vs. a year ago and 12.3% higher than last month.

In regard to financing, retail lease sales penetration increased 2.3 percentage points from last year. Additionally, the average retail turn rate (the average number of days that a new vehicle remains on a dealer lot before being sold) in May was 58 days vs. last month’s 57 days, and was 11 days longer than in May 2012.

Most major car and light-truck segments posted year-over-year and year-to-date gains in total light-vehicle sales. Through the first five months, segments that significantly outpaced the year-to-date 7.3% increase included: Compact Crossovers (CUVs) and Large Pickups.

Highlights for two major segments:

2013 Ford F-150 XLTLarge Pickups—May large truck deliveries climbed 24% from a year ago, to more than 173,000 unit sales. This year, May’s large pickup share accounted for 12% of industry sales, up from 10.5% in May 2012. Nearly one of every 8 vehicles purchased in May was a large pickup. Through the first 5 months of the year, large pickups have garnered 1.3 percentage points more market share—11.8% vs. 10.5%—than a year ago.

Ford’s F-Series, the best-selling model in the U.S. market, remained the large pickup volume leader with sales of nearly 288,000 units—about 38% of all large pickup sales in the first five months of 2013. GM’s Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra also were strong performers. Only the Nissan Titan posted lower sales in May and through the year. Year-to-date large pickup deliveries were up 21% from the same time period in 2012.

13-Toyota-Rav4-01Compact Crossovers (CUVs)—Compact CUVs were even more popular in the U.S. market than large pickups through the first five months of 2013. A number of the higher-volume models celebrated record deliveries in May. Sales for the overcrowded category surged ahead by 20.3% from a year ago in May. Year-to-date sales were up 17.2% from the same five months a year ago. The segment holds a 12.4% share of industry sales this year, up from 11.4% in the first five months of 2012.

Ford Escape was the segment leader in May with sales up by more than 6,000 units from a year ago to a record 19,123 unit sales. The Honda CR-V was second, followed by the Chevrolet Equinox and redesigned Toyota RAV4. Escape and CR-V also hold the leads, respectively, through the first five months of 2013.

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