(Bobit) — The seasonally adjusted annualized rate of U.S. new vehicle sales could exceed 17 million units for the fifth straight year, according to reports and estimates compiled by Automotive News. That would register as a mild surprise for the industry, for which most forecasters predicted at least a slight dropoff for 2019.
Sales were down 1.8% year-over-year in October and were down 1.6% through September, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
Each of the Detroit 3 manufacturers has ceased issuing monthly sales reports; Q4 numbers are expected in the first week of January. Analysts estimate a prolonged United Auto Workers strike dinged General Motors to the tune of a 12% year-over-year decline and that Ford (-1.9%) and Fiat Chrysler (-2.8%) also suffered minor setbacks in October.
Hyundai and Kia (11.1%), Honda (7.6%), and Subaru (0.2%) registered year-over-year gains. Those factories were joined in the winners’ circle by Volvo (20%), Audi (19%), Porsche (13%), Mazda (4.5%), and Land Rover (3.1%). Genesis topped them all with a 420% increase from October 2018.
On the decline was Nissan (-5.8%), Volkswagen (-3.2%), and Toyota (-1.2%). Mini (-18%), Jaguar (-11%), and Mitsubishi (-7.9%) also registered year-over-year losses.
“Although OEM incentives growth has diminished, deals remain plentiful.”
Analysts say much of the credit for a strong October should go to high incentives and sustained fleet sales. ALG reports incentives were up 4.7% overall, led by GM and Fiat Chrysler (both 11%), Honda (10%), and Subaru (6.6%).
“Auto consumers continue to benefit from available incentives and credit levels. Although OEM incentives growth has diminished, deals remain plentiful,” said Chris Hopson, manager of the North America light vehicle sales forecast for IHS Markit. “Additionally, interest rates are not expected to meaningfully rise through the end of the year. Therefore, consumers looking for a new vehicle are still being presented with a fruitful environment.”