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 ›

Large Pickup Demand Spurs May U.S. Light-Vehicle Deliveries

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John Humphrey provide an auto industry outlook during a J.D. Power International Automotive Roundtable conference.

Demand for large pickups helped drive sales ahead in the first 16 selling days of May, according to a monthly sales forecast update from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic forecasting partner LMC Automotive.

Through the first half of the month, large trucks account for 11.4% of the industry’s retail sales, which is nearly 10% stronger than a year ago and up from an already robust 11% share of retail sales in April 2013. A year ago, large pickups comprised only 9.7% of the industry’s retail sales mix.

Higher sales of these full-size pickups also is helping to keep the industry’s average transaction prices at record levels. The average transaction price for all new vehicles to date in May is $28,921, the highest ever for any month of May and 3% higher than May 2012, based on our PIN data. Continue reading ›

U.S. Auto Sales Remain Strong Due to Pent-Up Demand from Aging Fleet Owners


John Humphrey

Through the first half of April, retail new light-vehicle sales in the U.S. market remained strong enough to remain in “a healthy holding pattern” with continuing consumer demand to replace aging vehicles, according to a monthly sales forecast update from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic forecasting partner LMC Automotive.

Retail new-vehicle deliveries in April, which has 25 selling days vs. 24 in the same month of 2012, are anticipated to reach 1.03 million units, which is a 9% increase from 908,685 unit sales in April a year ago (on a selling-day adjusted basis). That translates to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 12.1 million units, up slightly from 12.0 million units in March 2013, and 1.5 million units stronger than the 10.6 million units in April 2012.

Total new-car and light-truck sales (including retail and fleet) are forecast to rise 7% from a year ago, to 1.3 million units vs. 1.2 million units in April 2012. That represents a 15.2 million-unit SAAR, which matches the March SAAR, but is 1.1 million units stronger than the 14.1 million-unit pace in April 2012. April’s fleet share of total deliveries is projected to be a little larger than a year ago and will account for 22% of total sales. Continue reading ›

Consumer Demographics and Preferences are Changing Radically

JohnHumphrey good shot03

John Humphrey

Significant changes in population and other demographics in the United States will affect the automotive industry in the years to come, according to John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, in remarks to participants at the recent J.D. Power 2013 International Automotive Roundtable in Orlando, FL, that was co-sponsored with NADA. Humphrey summarized a few of the major changes:

Between 2012 and 2020, the U.S. population will grow nearly 10%—from 313 million to 341 million. Most of this growth will occur in already large markets, with much movement from rural to urban areas. Currently, the most populous U.S. states are California, Texas, New York and Florida, and most of these will experience the most growth in the next decade. This growth trend will have a significant impact on what products OEMs offer in specific markets—in terms of utility, fuel economy, weather conditions—and the retailing strategies needed to attract and retain customers in these markets. Continue reading ›

World Auto Sales Set for Modest Gains in 2013

Global Auto Forecast After a 5% gain in global light-vehicle sales to 81 million units in 2012, the world outlook for 2013 from our strategic partner LMC Automotive is for slower expansion, with global sales rising by 3% to 83 million units this year. While some large markets performed solidly in 2012—notably the United States and China—the key macroeconomic risks that prevailed during 2012 look likely to persist well into 2013 with negative implications, and an unbalanced risk profile, for Europe. Regional variations will continue this year, according to Pete Kelley, managing director of LMC Automotive.

Some forecast highlights are featured from a recent issue of China Automotive Monthly—Market Trends:

More Favorable Economic Outlook to Boost China Sales in 2013

China light -vehicle sales (including imports) rose by 6.2% to 19.1 million units in 2012 from 2011, which was higher than the annual growth rate of 4.4% in 2011 vs. 2010. This advance was largely due to the phase‐out of the pay‐back effect from booming car sales in 2009-2010, and in particular the surge of the light commercial vehicle sector. Continue reading ›

Automakers Ready to Turn Attention to the Future after Strong Finish in 2012


Tim Dunne

Tim Dunne

J.D. Power Asia expert Tim Dunne provides a perspective for members of the auto industry, especially automakers in Japan, on the U.S. market and offers a glimpse at issues and concerns and changes that are likely to impact the world’s manufacturers in the future. Excerpts from an article published recently in Japan’s Automotive Daily Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun are featured in this post.

As 2012 draws to a close, light-vehicle sales in the United States are expected to finish the year strongly. Vehicle manufacturers estimate total sales will top 14.4 million units for the year, which translates to a healthy 14% increase vs. 2011’s total of 12.7 million units. The 14.4 million-unit total would be the highest annual sales in the United States since the industry reached 16.1 million units in 2007, and represents nearly a 40% increase over 2008, when industry sales tumbled to an anemic 10.4 million units at the lowest point of the recent “Great Recession” (December 2007–June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research).

For many Japanese brands operating in the United States, 2012’s final results will be even better than the industry average. Sales of Toyota Group vehicles (Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands) are currently up a combined 29%, and are on track to reach 2.05 million vehicles for the year; Honda Group sales (Honda and Acura brands) are currently up 24%, and are expected to top 1.4 million units for the year; Subaru sales are up 29%, and are expected to top 330,000 units for the year. Continue reading ›

December U.S. Auto Sales Expected to Continue Double-Digit Climb

John Humphrey

John Humphrey

Despite economic uncertainty related to down-to-the-wire “fiscal cliff” negotiations about tax hikes and expenditure cuts that are slated to happen at the start of 2013, consumers continued to head to dealer showrooms in December to buy and lease more new vehicles than they did a year ago. U.S. new-vehicle sales remain resilient and are likely to increase by 14% from last year, according to the monthly forecast update from our Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive.

Based on sales transactions during the first 13 selling days of December, retail sales this month are anticipated to reach 1.153 million units, which is 15% higher than last December’s 1.04 million units on a selling-day adjusted basis.* This estimate translates to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 12.2 million units, which is stronger than last December’s 11.3 million-unit pace, but not as strong as the 13.2 million-unit SAAR in November, 2012—which turned out to be the highest monthly retail selling rate since January 2008. Continue reading ›

November U.S. Auto Sales Strengthen Each Week this Month

John Humphrey

November is expected to turn in the highest monthly retail selling rate since January 2008, according to a monthly sales forecast update from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. New-vehicle retail sales are projected to reach 931,900 units, which is up 14% from a year ago and translates to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 12.9 million units, based on analysis of retail transaction data from the first half of the month.* That’s up from last November’s 11.7 million-unit retail pace.

Total sales (retail and fleet) will likely rise 12% from November a year ago to 1.1 million units, which is equal to a sales pace of 15.0 million units—much stronger than last November’s 13.6 million-unit pace and also ahead of the weaker 14.2-million-unit sales pace in October 2012, which was hampered by the Hurricane Sandy storm system on the East Coast. Our update expects fleet sales to hold steady below a 17% share of total sales, which is the same level as October this year, but lower than an 18% share of total sales last November.

Sales continue to grow stronger each week this month, which is good news and likely to indicate that there will be a strong finish to the month and to the 2012 calendar year. We foresee healthy sales in December, as consumers continue to recover from the effects of the hurricane and as the industry revives and leads into its year-end sales events. Continue reading ›

J.D. Power Focuses on the West at LA Auto Conference

Stephanie Haina

Learn about the latest trends in the auto industry—especially in the Western region of the United States—and also gain industry insights from major automaker executives as well as members of the social media community at this year’s NADA/J.D. Power Western Automotive Conference on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at the Biltmore Hotel in . . . Continue Reading J.D. Power Focuses on the West at LA Auto Conference

What do U.S. Dealers Need to do to Understand Their Customers?

Editor’s Note: Deirdre Borrego, vice president and general manager of J.D. Power’s global automotive operations and Power Information Network® (PIN), presented her thoughts on how dealerships can navigate the future in an article, “U.S. Dealers: Preparing for the Future,” that was published in the October issue of AutoRetailNet, an online magazine.

Excerpts on approaching Gen Y consumers are featured in the first of two posts.

Keep Your Eye on Generation Y

Deirdre Borrego

Generation Y isn’t simply a buzzword. Gen Y consumers (born between 1977 and 1994, and who are generally the children of Baby Boomers born 1946-1964) are currently estimated to number 80 million. That is a huge retail automotive growth opportunity, surpassing both their parents’ generation and Generation X (whose members were born between 1965-1976 and number only 55 million).

Generation Y, also known as Millennials, are already starting to create a massive change in the way retail business is conducted. These consumers are the first generation to be exposed to electronic communications technology from a young age—including wireless phones at home; 500-channel cable and satellite television; cell phones; the Internet; email; social media; websites; and, most recently, smartphones—and they are completely comfortable with the hardware and technologies. Continue reading ›