Based on new vehicle sales during the first three weeks of this month, Ward’s Auto announced on Friday that it is predicting light vehicle sales during the full month of September to increase by 10.7% over last year and reach the highest monthly sales level for new vehicles since March 2008, four and one-half years ago. Here’s an excerpt from Friday’s Ward’s Auto press release:
A slowly improving sales climate, boosted by active incentive spending by key auto makers, should push this month’s U.S. light-vehicle deliveries to their highest seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) since March 2008. Auto makers are expected to sell 1,163,000 light vehicles in September, according to a WardsAuto forecast, lifting the light vehicle SAAR to a 54-month high of 14.6 million units (see chart above).
Market signs continue to be positive. Pent-up demand from the recession and a slowly improving sales environment continue to drive new-vehicle deliveries.
The actual seasonally-adjusted annual rate for sales through August rose to 14.2 million units on the strength of that month’s 14.47 million units, in line with a second-half sales acceleration called for by WardsAuto and other industry analysts expecting full-year light vehicles deliveries to exceed 14.3 million.
The forecasts for September and full year sales by Ward’s Auto are consistent with a separate auto sales forecast released jointly by J.D. Power and Associates and LMC Automotive, which reported last Thursday that:
Total light-vehicle sales in September are expected to increase 11 percent from September 2011, with volume at 1,152,700 units (and 14.5 million at a SAAR).
LMC Automotive is maintaining the 2012 full-year outlook for total light-vehicle sales in the United States at 14.3 million units. Looking ahead to 2013, a higher level of uncertainty is impacting overall volume growth, but the forecast remains at 15 million units for total light-vehicles and 12.3 million for retail sales.
Bottom Line: Expected new car sales this year of 14.3 million units would be 11.2% ahead of last year’s sales of just over 13 million light vehicles, and 23 percent above sales in 2010 of 11.77 million units, and would bring U.S. vehicle sales to their highest annual level since 2007. The gradually improving market for new car sales to an expected 54-month high in September is consistent with a gradually improving overall economy, and would not indicate any pending recessionary dangers for the U.S. economy this year.