COX AUTOMOTIVE – September U.S. auto sales, when confirmed next week, are expected to show a new-vehicle market mostly unchanged from previous months and still stuck in low gear. According to the Cox Automotive forecast, September U.S. new-vehicle sales are expected to finish near 1.10 million units, with a sales pace, or seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), of 13.3 million. Sales volume in September is expected to show an increase of nearly 8% over last year but finish down almost 4% compared to last month. The decline compared to last month is mainly attributed to one less selling day.
According to Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive: “New-vehicle sales have been remarkably consistent through the third quarter, with sales of approximately 1.1 million units each month in July, August, and September. New-vehicle inventory has been holding steady, with days’ supply near 40.”
With the September result, total new-vehicle sales in the third quarter are forecast at 3.4 million units, down less than 1% from Q3 2021 and down only modestly from the 3.5 million units sold in Q2 2022. For comparison, sales in Q3 2019 reached 4.3 million. General Motors, Ford and Tesla will be among the biggest gainers year over year in Q3, with many Japanese brands, still struggling with inventory issues, booking the most significant declines, notably Honda and Nissan.
One year ago, the new-vehicle market began suffering a significant lack of inventory, and the sales pace fell to 12.3 million in September 2021. Inventory has improved since but remains well below pre-pandemic levels. Added Chesbrough, “The supply shortage has likely created some pent-up demand—folks who were essentially waiting in line for inventory to return. But the recent changes in the economic outlook from rising interest rates is beginning to chip away at demand, and the waiting line for new vehicles is likely getting much shorter.”
With no notable inventory improvement forecast in the fourth quarter and waning new-vehicle demand, Cox Automotive has lowered its full-year forecastto 13.7 million units, down from 14.4 million. Sales in 2022 are projected to finish down more than 9% versus 2021 and at the lowest level in a decade.
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