Market Overview

Strong July Auto Sales Possibly Helped By Pull-Ahead Impact

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Strong July Auto Sales Possibly Helped By Pull-Ahead Impact

Selling rate expected to reach 17.1 million units, up from July 2017, slightly down from June

PR Newswire

ATLANTA, July 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. new-vehicle sales in July are expected to come in at 1.41 million units, mostly unchanged when compared to year-ago levels according to the forecast released today by Cox Automotive. However, with one less selling day this year, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for July would be 17.1 million, an increase from the 16.7 million sales rate posted in July 2017.

"The U.S. vehicle market remains strong and all the talk of higher interest rates and trade tariffs are not chasing away buyers," said Charles Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive. "In fact, the threat of higher prices on the horizon may be driving more shoppers to the showrooms now." 

A July sales pace of 17.1 million would be down from last month's pace of 17.4 million. The modest month-over-month decline may be an early sign of a change in the market. Sales in the first half of 2018 were stronger than initially estimated and stronger than the first half of 2017. Cox Automotive continues to forecast the market to slow modestly in the second half of the year. 

"Buying conditions will not be getting better in the second half," added Chesbrough. "Gasoline prices remain elevated, higher interest rates are having an impact on household budgets, and consumer confidence, while still very high, is lower than it was earlier this year. Further, auto manufacturers are demonstrating some pricing discipline as dealer inventories are at a manageable level." 

Cox Automotive's full-year sales forecast for 2018 is 16.8 million, down slightly from 2017's 17.1 million volume.

July 2018 Sales Forecast Highlights:

  • New light-vehicle sales, including fleet, are expected to reach 1,410,000 units, unchanged compared to July 2017, but down nearly 130,000 units, or 8.6 percent, from June 2018.
  • The SAAR in July 2018 is forecast to be 17.1 million, up from last year's 16.7 million pace, but down from the previous month's 17.4 million level.
  • A record SAAR in July is unlikely. The July record was set in 2005 when the sales pace reached 20.6 million, thanks to aggressive "employee pricing for all" incentive programs. The volume record was also reached that same year – 1.8 million units. With the market showing no signs of massive incentives and promotions, achieving this level is unexpected.
  • Talk of tariffs, as well as the forecast for even higher interest rates, may be having some pull-ahead impact in the market. Auto buyers, concerned about the increasing likelihood of higher vehicle prices over the course of the year, may be buying sooner than originally planned, driving a higher-than-expected sales pace.

Strong Results Expected from GM and FCA's Jeep Brand
Cox Automotive is forecasting continued strong results for GM as the popularity of Equinox and Traverse lifts Chevrolet. Jeep is also expected to perform well as demand for rugged crossovers fits well with their portfolio. Ford and Toyota, conversely, are likely to see some declines as aging product in some segments holds them back.

 


Sales Forecast1

Market Share


Jul-18

Jul-17

Jun-18

YOY

MOM

Jul-18

Jun-18

MOM

Jul-17

GM

238,000

226,107

255,0003

5.3%

-6.7%

16.9%

16.5%

0.3%

16.0%

Ford Motor Co

196,000

199,318

229,537

-1.7%

-14.6%

13.9%

14.9%

-1.0%

14.1%

Toyota Motor Co

200,000

222,057

209,602

-9.9%

-4.6%

14.2%

13.6%

0.6%

15.7%

FCA Group

175,000

161,477

202,264

8.4%

-13.5%

12.4%

13.1%

-0.7%

11.4%

American Honda

145,000

150,980

146,563

-4.0%

-1.1%

10.3%

9.5%

0.8%

10.7%

Nissan NA

120,000

128,295

145,096

-6.5%

-17.3%

8.5%

9.4%

-0.9%

9.1%

Hyundai Kia

108,000

110,466

120,623

-2.2%

-10.5%

7.7%

7.8%

-0.2%

7.8%

VW

53,000

49,816

53,304

6.4%

-0.6%

3.8%

3.5%

0.3%

3.5%

Subaru

56,000

55,703

59,841

0.5%

-6.4%

4.0%

3.9%

0.1%

3.9%

Total2

1,410,000

1,410,593

1,541,998

0.0%

-8.6%





1 July 2018 Cox Automotive Industry Insights Forecast; all historical data from OEM sales announcements
2 Total includes brands not shown
3 GM June volume estimated by Cox Automotive

 

Following a trend the market has witnessed all year, car segments are expected to see further declines as consumers continue to switch to crossovers. Compact crossovers are expected to continue to post strong year-over-year gains, while pickup trucks are forecast to sell well thanks in part to discounts on older models as new models from GM and FCA come to showrooms.

 


Sales Forecast1

Market Share

Segment

Jul-18

Jul-17

Jun-18

YOY

MOM

Jul-18

Jun-18

MOM

Jul-17

Mid-Size Car

130,000

150,550

147,376

-13.6%

-11.8%

9.2%

9.6%

-0.3%

10.7%

Compact Car

160,000

182,107

182,382

-12.1%

-12.3%

11.3%

11.8%

-0.5%

12.9%

Compact SUV/Crossover

270,000

236,644

285,474

14.1%

-5.4%

19.1%

18.5%

0.6%

16.8%

Full-Size Pickup Truck

205,000

201,268

216,867

1.9%

-5.5%

14.5%

14.1%

0.5%

14.3%

Mid-Size SUV/Crossover

215,000

202,023

229,948

6.4%

-6.5%

15.2%

14.9%

0.3%

14.3%

Grand Total2

1,410,000

1,410,593

1,541,998

0.0%

-8.6%





            1 Cox Automotive Industry Insights data

            2 Total includes segments not shown

 

All percentages are based on raw volume, not daily selling rate. There are 24 sales days in July 2018. In July 2017 there were 25.  

Additional Insights from the Cox Automotive team
Cox Automotive will host its monthly automotive sales day call on Wednesday, August 1, at 11 a.m. EDT. Chesbrough and Michelle Krebs, senior analyst from Autotrader, will provide an economic overview, share industry trends and answer questions.

To discuss any automotive-related topic with a Cox Automotive analyst, contact a member of the Public Relations team to schedule an interview.

About Cox Automotive
Cox Automotive Inc. makes buying, selling and owning cars easier for everyone. The global company's 34,000-plus team members and family of brands, including Autotrader®, Dealer.com®, Dealertrack®, Kelley Blue Book®, Manheim®, NextGear Capital®, VinSolutions®, vAuto® and Xtime®, are passionate about helping millions of car shoppers, 40,000 auto dealer clients across five continents and many others throughout the automotive industry thrive for generations to come. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc., a privately-owned, Atlanta-based company with revenues exceeding $20 billion. www.coxautoinc.com

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SOURCE Cox Automotive

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