J.D. Power Expert Profiles U.S. Auto Market Sales Trends

 J.D. Power’s Deirdre Borrego, vice president, U.S. Client Services, spoke to industry participants at the October J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable in Las Vegas, NV. about the U.S. auto market’s recovery and the fundamentals in the market that are driving strong demand.

Highlights from her talk include analysis from the Power Information Network® (PIN) and J.D. Power’s strategic partner LMC Automotive:

• Retail sales to individual consumers in 2013 are expected to reach 12.8 million units which is back to pre-recession levels.

• The real story isn’t just about sales growth. It’s also about transaction price growth. We’ve seen exceptional performance with prices (consumer facing prices net incentives) increasing by about $3,000. 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. New-Vehicle Sales Recovery in Progress with Higher Transaction Prices

Tyson Jominy

Tyson Jominy

As 2012 wraps up, possibly the most important trend for the U.S. auto industry is that new-vehicle sales continue their recovery. Light-vehicle demand continues to increase. Retail sales in calendar 2012 will likely hit 11.74 million units, up from 10.3 million units in 2011. Growth is expected to continue into 2013—our retail sales forecast for next year is 12.25 million units. The forecast assumes that there is a deal reached in Washington, D.C. before the so-called “fiscal cliff” constellation of tax hikes and expenditure cuts are slated to happen at the start of 2013. Three other major trends that we see looking at our Power Information Network® (PIN) data include:

OEM Emphasis on Transaction-Price Growth

While industry sales volumes are increasing, they are still well below the levels recorded in 2004-2007, when annual retail sales were in the 13-14 million-unit range. The primary reason that the industry has not rebounded to these record sales levels is a change in focus among OEMs. Automakers now emphasize strong transaction prices in addition to sales volumes.

This change is evidenced by the record transaction prices that are being earned across the industry. For example, in early 2010, average retail transaction prices were slightly more than $27,000, while at the end of 2012, we have observed average transaction prices approaching $30,000. These strong transaction prices are helping to offset lower volumes, and are driving increased profitability for OEMs. Continue reading ›

November New-Vehicle Sales Strongest in Nearly 5 Years; Compacts Strong

The pace for total new-vehicle sales in November was the strongest since mid-2007, and the retail sales rate was the highest since January 2007, according to analysis from our Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive.

Deliveries picked up significantly following Hurricane Sandy and the super storm that hit the East Coast. Several brands, including BMW and Porsche, reported best-ever sales months.

The Compact Conventional segment continued to perform exceptionally well—in November sales climbed nearly 40% from last November, the largest increase of any major segment. This segment was led by stellar sales of the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, in addition to a boost from new segment models: Buick Verano and Dodge Dart. Continue reading ›

Early September Retail U.S. Sales Pace Remains Robust

John Humphrey

After a strong close over the Labor Day weekend (Sept. 1-3), retail light-vehicle sales in September maintained a relatively healthy pace through the first half of the month. However, sales are expected to level off through the rest of September—but still will rise 12% from September 2011, based on a monthly forecast update from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) with strategic partner LMC Automotive.*

Through the first 14 selling days of the month, retail car and light-truck sales increased 15% from a year ago, reflecting a healthy market, although we expect retail sales to level off through the remainder of the month. Retail deliveries are projected to reach 952,200 unit sales, which translates to a seasonally adjusted annul rate (SAAR) of 11.8 million units, which is up by more than 1 million units from September 2011, but lower than August’s 12.6 million-unit retail sales pace. Continue reading ›

Healthy Retail Sales in June Bode Well for Summer Selling Season

John Humphrey

We’re seeing healthy retail sales growth in June as we head into the summer selling season, and as automakers change over to the 2013 model-year vehicles. Through the first 14 days of June, retail car and light-truck sales in the U.S. market are approaching a 12 million-unit sales pace—the strongest pace since February, according to our monthly sales forecast update from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.*

Many major manufacturers are posting year-over-year retail sales gains this month, while maintaining strong new-vehicle prices. Although average incentive levels are up 9% from a year ago, incentives are down 5% from May. All indicators point toward an industry that continues to get healthy.

Retail light-vehicle sales in the U.S. during June are expected to reach 994,800 units, which translates to an average annual selling rate (SAAR) of 11.9 million units—up from last month’s 11.4 million-unit pace and considerably stronger than a year ago, when the sales rate averaged just 9.5 million units. Retail sales volume is anticipated to rise 15% from June 2011, when selling-day-adjusted.** Continue reading ›

Retail Auto Sales in May to Post Strongest Gain Since February 2011

John Humphrey

U.S. retail new-vehicle sales in May are projected to climb 20%* from May 2011 and reach 1.087 million units, which would be the largest year-over-year volume gain since February 2011, when sales climbed 27% from February 2010, based on data collected during the first 17 selling days of the month by the Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.**

In a monthly sales forecast update developed by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, combined light-vehicle sales (retail and fleet) in May are expected to rise even higher—to some 1.384 million unit deliveries, which would be up 21% from 1.059 million unit sales in May 2011. Fleet volume is set to remain strong and account for 22% of total sales in May. May’s total sales pace is predicted to average 14.3 million units, up from 11.7 million units in May 2011, but not quite as strong as April’s pace of 14.4 million units. Continue reading ›

Some Unexpected Brands May Gain Sales with Engine Downsizing

Tyson Jominy

As we see new-vehicle buyers and lessees continue to shift from large to midsize vehicle segments and from midsize to small or compact segments, there has been a decrease in the size of engines. In addition, we are seeing that consumers who do not downsize are finding more fuel-efficient powertrain options at the segment and model level, according to our Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data.

Detroit Automakers will Not be Left in the Lurch

An interesting change related to the shift to smaller engines this time around is who is leading the charge, and therefore who will stand to reap the gains. Two Detroit automaker brands, Ford and Chevrolet, are exclusively offering 4-cylinder engines in their freshened midsize cars—Fusion and Malibu, respectively. In addition, Ford offers 4-cylinder powertrains in their midsize crossovers and now offers a V-6 in the F-150 that is selling very briskly. In fact, the Ford EcoBoost powertrain sub-brand is turning out to be one of the early automotive successes of the decade. Continue reading ›

Strong Finish Predicted for First-Quarter US Retail Auto Sales

U.S. new-vehicle sales in the first quarter are likely to end on a particularly strong note, based on an updated monthly auto sales forecast from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and LMC Automotive.* The retail sales pace is projected to come in at 11.6 million units in the first quarter, with total sales (retail and fleet) set to hit 14.4 million units, which is ahead of the J.D. Power/LMC Automotive 2012 calendar-year forecast of 11.4 million units for retail light-vehicles and 14.1 million units for total light-vehicle deliveries.

Based on the sales performance in the first 15 selling days of the month, March retail new-vehicle sales are projected to reach 1.086 million units, which would be the highest monthly sales volume in more than two and one-half years, and would translate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 11.6 million units. Continue reading ›