Honda is one of two Asian brands forecast to outperform all others on year-over-year sales gains.  -  IMAGE: Honda

Honda is one of two Asian brands forecast to outperform all others on year-over-year sales gains.

IMAGE: Honda

New-vehicle sales continue to defy expectations as renewed supply meets demand delayed during the pandemic, buoying sales through the third quarter.

Cox Automotive forecasts year-over-year September sales to be up more than 13% to end the strong quarter at almost 1.3 million, despite the strong pressures of still-high prices, high interest rates, and strikes against the big three Detroit brands. It expects full-quarter sales to be up more than 15% to over 3.9 million.

“Consumers, and even more so large fleets, have become buyers as inventory improves,” said Cox Senior Economist Charlie Chesbrough. “Year-over-year sales gains have been surprising indeed.”

Cox predicts the updated seasonally adjusted sales pace as September closes will be about 15.5 million, up slightly from August’s SAAR.

Inventories across the U.S. industry are up by more than 63% to over two million units, while days’ supply is up 33%, Cox said.

The biggest secret to the sales success against the odds has been fleet deliveries, not retail, said Chesbrough, who reported that rental fleet sales are up 62% so far this year and commercial fleet sales 40%, as both segments had been “starved” during inventory shortages during the pandemic.

General Motors remained the sales volume leader year-to-date, up a predicted 19%, while year-over-year increase leaders are forecast to be Honda, up 49%, and Nissan, up 36%, Cox said. Tesla, which has slashed prices throughout the year, has had a predicted 31% sales bump.

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