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Cox Automotive Forecast: Healthy December Auto Sales Will Lift Industry to 17 Million Units for Record 5th Straight Year

- December sales volume is expected to fall to 1.58 million, down 3.2% or about 50,000 units from December 2018.

- Annual vehicle sales pace in December is expected finish near 17.2 million, up from November's 17.1 million level, but down from last December's 17.4 million.

- Total vehicle sales for 2019 forecast to finish above 17.0 million - fifth year in a row.

ATLANTA, Dec. 27, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- No coal is expected in this year's stockings as annual vehicle sales head toward another 17 million finish. Sales volume this month is likely to be just enough to lift the market above 17 million units for the fifth consecutive year. Cox Automotive expects auto sales in the U.S. to reach 1.58 million in December, slightly above the 1.55 million needed to reach the milestone.

The seasonally adjusted sales pace is expected to finish near 17.2 million, up from last month's 17.1 million level, and just above the current 2019 year-to-date pace near 17.0 million. Sales volume, based on 25 selling days, one less than last month or last year, is expected to finish down 3.2% versus December 2018, however up nearly 11% from last month. Total sales in 2019 are forecast to be down more than 1% from last year, and this negative trend is expected to continue this month, and into 2020.

Strong December sales are critical for the industry, particularly for clearing previous model year inventory from dealerships. Consumer interest peaks during the holiday shopping season and buyers take advantage of significant OEM discounts and incentives. In recent years, December sales have been hot with the four best-ever Decembers occurring in the last four years, and the SAAR has averaged over 17.4 million.

This year may be slightly different, according to Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive: "One key factor for this December's results is the sales calendar. With 25 selling days, one less than last December, a sales volume decline is expected. In addition, Thanksgiving and Black Friday deals were late last month, shortening the holiday shopping period and possibly pulling some December vehicle buyers forward. In fact, last month's sales volume was the highest November in history, and 30,000-50,000 above recent years."

The record for December occurred in 2016 when 1.68 million vehicles sold. The average over the last four December results is closer to 1.63 million, about 70,000 above the minimum needed to reach 17.0 million.

A new sales record is possible this month given the upside potential of fleet activity and deep retail discounts, but with fewer selling days, it is highly unlikely. Daily sales in 2019 are averaging close to 55,000, so one less selling day is a major headwind to annual gains. (For more perspective on sales incentives, see this article in the Cox Automotive Newsroom: A December – And Year – To Remember!)

December 2019 Sales Forecast Highlights

  • New light-vehicle sales, including fleet, are forecast to reach 1.58 million units, down about 50,000 units, or 3.2%, compared to December 2018. Compared to last month, sales are expected to rise nearly 160,000 units, or 11%.
  • The SAAR in December 2019 is forecast to be 17.2 million, up from last month's 17.1 million level and down from last year's 17.4 million. December 2019 has 25 selling days, one less than last December and last month. The decrease in selling days is lifting the SAAR estimates near last year even though overall sales volume is expected to decline.

 

December 2019 Forecast


Sales Forecast1

Market Share



Dec-19

Dec-18

Nov-19

YOY%

MOM%

Dec-19

Nov-19

MOM



GM

275,000

293,000

249,000

-6.2%

10.4%

17.4%

17.5%

-0.2%



Ford Motor Co

210,000

219,000

188,000

-4.4%

11.3%

13.3%

13.3%

0.0%



Toyota Motor Co

220,000

220,910

207,857

-0.4%

5.8%

13.9%

14.6%

-0.7%



FCA Group

195,000

196,000

177,000

-0.8%

9.6%

12.3%

12.5%

-0.2%



American Honda

155,000

155,115

133,952

-0.1%

15.7%

9.8%

9.4%

0.4%



Nissan NA

125,000

148,720

92,947

-15.9%

34.5%

7.9%

6.5%

1.4%



Hyundai Kia

122,000

113,149

113,272

7.8%

7.7%

7.7%

8.0%

-0.3%



VW

60,000

58,898

56,162

1.9%

6.8%

3.8%

4.0%

-0.2%



Subaru

66,000

64,541

56,893

2.3%

16.0%

4.2%

4.0%

0.2%



Grand Total2

1,582,000

1,634,487

1,419,419

-3.2%

11.5%










1 December 2019 Cox Automotive Industry Insights Forecast; all historical data from OEM sales announcements



2 Total includes brands not shown

Note: GM, FCA and Ford monthly sales are estimated






Sales Forecast1

Market Share


Segment

Dec-19

Dec-18

Nov-19

YOY%

MOM%

Dec-19

Nov-19

MOM



Compact SUV/Crossover

275,000

289,404

242,779

-5.0%

13.3%

17.4%

17.1%

0.3%



Full-Size Pickup Truck

250,000

254,613

216,056

-1.8%

15.7%

15.8%

15.2%

0.6%



Mid-Size SUV/Crossover

250,000

239,580

225,374

4.3%

10.9%

15.8%

15.9%

-0.1%



Compact Car

120,000

138,111

114,014

-13.1%

5.3%

7.6%

8.0%

-0.4%



Mid-Size Car

115,000

130,219

103,730

-11.7%

10.9%

7.3%

7.3%

0.0%



Grand Total2

1,582,000

1,634,487

1,419,419

-3.2%

11.5%


















1 Cox Automotive Industry Insights data

2 Total includes segments not shown

 

Q4 2019 and Full Year Forecast


Q4 2018

Q4 20191

Change

CY 2018

CY 2019

Change

GM

784,289

732,576

-6.6%

2,951,757

2,877,548

-2.5%

Ford

606,569

592,289

-2.4%

2,485,222

2,399,749

-3.4%

Toyota

602,435

614,644

2.0%

2,426,667

2,392,543

-1.4%

FCA

555,221

546,219

-1.6%

2,235,204

2,207,363

-1.2%

Honda

397,831

420,395

5.7%

1,604,828

1,626,604

1.4%

Nissan

369,195

321,510

-12.9%

1,493,877

1,365,900

-8.6%

Hyundai Kia

313,877

344,308

9.7%

1,267,621

1,328,788

4.8%

Subaru

176,717

178,424

1.0%

680,135

703,754

3.5%

VW

158,315

168,853

6.7%

634,589

650,541

2.5%

Grand Total2

4,388,991

4,336,554

-1.2%

17,320,982

17,090,000

-1.3%


1 Includes December 2019 Cox Automotive Industry Insights Forecast; all historical data from OEM sales announcements

2 Total includes brands not shown

Note: GM, FCA and Ford monthly sales are estimated

Fleet Drives the Market in 2019
Fleet activity has been an important story for 2019 sales and the industry outlook going into 2020. Fleet sales are up significantly in 2019, as they were in 2018, and these gains have been supporting an otherwise declining retail market.

With hundreds of thousands of additional fleet deliveries over the last two years, growth in 2020 from this high base will be challenging. However, without it, the vehicle market could fall significantly. Retail sales – both leasing and purchasing – are down this year, and like last year, without fleet's support, industry sales would be closer to mid-16 million levels. Increasing retail sales at this late stage of the current sales cycle seems challenging, particularly with transaction prices and incentive discounts already elevated.

All percentages are based on raw volume, not daily selling rate.

Download more information on the full-year forecast from Cox Automotive.

About Cox Automotive
Cox Automotive Inc. makes buying, selling, owning and using cars easier for everyone. The global company's 34,000-plus team members and family of brands, including Autotrader®, Clutch Technologies, 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 countries 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