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J.D. Power: August New-Vehicle Sales Reach 7-Year High

August 22, 2013

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — New-vehicle sales continued their hot streak in August with no signs of slowing, according to a monthly sales forecast developed jointly by the Power Information Network (PIN) from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

New-vehicle retail sales in August 2013 are projected to come in at 1,270,400 units, a 12 percent increase from August 2012 and the highest monthly sales volume since 2006. Additionally, the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) in August is expected to be 13.1 million units, marking the first time the selling rate has been above 13 million units for three consecutive months since the first quarter of 2007.

J.D. Power expects consumer spending on new vehicles in August will approach $36 billion, which is the highest level on record.

“The industry as a whole continues to experience a robust improvement in demand, and our forecast for August is looking to be the best month for retail sales that we’ve seen in the past seven years,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. “Moreover, this strong selling environment is occurring when consumers are spending more on new vehicles than any month on record, which is a further indication of the underlying strength of the sector.”

Total light-vehicle sales in August are also expected to increase by 12 percent from the same period last year to 1,495,400. Fleet sales are expected to account for 15 percent of total sales, with volume of 225,000 units.

J.D. Power’s PIN and LMC data show total sales reaching a 16 million-unit SAAR in August, which is the highest since November 2007, with actual unit sales the highest since May 2007. 

Based on the solid outlook for August, LMC Automotive is holding its 2013 forecast for retail light-vehicle sales at 12.8 million units and total light-vehicle sales at 15.6 million units.

“The U.S. auto recovery seems to be operating on auto pilot, a welcome stage of stability at a higher pace,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. “We do expect to see a lower selling rate in September as Labor Day is counted in August sales, but upside potential still outweighs downside risk in 2013 and well into 2014.”

North American light-vehicle production year-to-date through July is up 4 percent from the same period in 2012. The industry continues to manage a lean supply-to-demand ratio, with vehicle stock at the beginning of August falling to an average 56-day supply from 61 days in July. The overall inventory level has dropped to 2.9 million units from 3.3 million units in July.

Ford holds on to one of the strongest increases in production from 2012, up 13 percent on boosts from the redesigned Escape and higher Explorer and F-Series volume. With Fiat-Chrysler relatively flat and General Motors off 3 percent year to date, the Detroit Three collectively are slightly below the industry year-over-year performance with a 3 percent increase. However, they do retain a 54 percent share of light-vehicle production in the region, the same level as in 2012.

Hyundai/Kia’s production growth year to date is the highest of the larger manufacturers, up 14 percent. This comes as inventory for the group falls from a 46-day supply to 41 in August. The volume boost is coming almost exclusively from the Elantra and redesigned Santa Fe. With weaker volume in July, the European brands are down 2 percent year-to-date.

LMC Automotive’s forecast for 2013 North American production is at 16 million units, a 4 percent increase from 2012 and in line with the year-to-date performance.

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