Kelley Blue Book forecasts new-car sales rebound in August

(August 25, 2017) IRVINE, Calif. — New-vehicle sales are expected to rise 1.5 percent year-over-year to a total of 1.53 million units in August, resulting in an estimated 16.6 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), according to Kelley Blue Book 

"August should be the first year-over-year increase of 2017, due in part to an extra selling day this month," said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "This sales improvement would break a seven-month negative streak, the longest since the recession in 2009.

"Kelley Blue Book expects SAAR to remain relatively consistent from last month at 16.6 million. Fleet sales are expected to be down 4 percent, while retail sales are still holding strong and are projected to grow 2 percent in August 2017. However, incentives average more than 10 percent of transaction prices and are helping support retail growth. For the year, fleet sales are down more than 10 percent, so an increase in fleet orders could be on the horizon and provide a sales lift later this year."

After a record year of sales in 2016 and seven consecutive annual increases, Kelley Blue Book's forecast for 2017 calls for sales in the range of 16.8 and 17.3 million units, which represents a 1 to 4 percent decrease from last year.

Key Highlights for Estimated August 2017 Sales Forecast:

    • In August, new light-vehicle sales, including fleet, are expected to hit 1,530,000 units, up 1.5 percent compared to August 2016 and up 8.5 percent from July 2017.

    • The seasonally adjusted annual rate for August 2017 is estimated to be 16.6 million, down from 16.7 million in August 2016 and down from 17.1 million in July 2017.

    • Retail sales are expected to account for 86.1 percent of volume in August, up from 85.3 percent in August 2016.

Kelley Blue Book anticipates mixed results from automakers for this month. General Motors could gain the most market share of the major manufacturers on the strength of its SUVs and trucks. GM has introduced a host of new utility vehicles in the past year, hitting the market at the right time, and as a result, the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse should report significant sales increases.

GM trucks also should have a strong month and help outweigh considerable declines from their car lineup. GM's light trucks could represent 80 percent of their sales volume in August, up from 70 percent just one year ago.

Another successful brand for August 2017 is Subaru, which could grow more than 7 percent. In fact, Kelley Blue Book projects Subaru's highest ever monthly market share at 4.2 percent. With current growth led by the Impreza and Outback, Subaru is poised for continued success with the redesigned Crosstrek to launch soon.

Mid-size cars continue to struggle in the marketplace with the segment's market share falling close to 10 percent. This segment is down 18 percent for the year, although both Toyota and Honda will try to revive consumer interest with a new Camry and Accord later this year. It's a tall task as shoppers are increasingly switching into small SUVs instead, where there are now more models to choose from.

Compact SUVs remain firmly above all other segments and could reach nearly 19 percent market share in August 2017. Worth watching for the remainder of the year is the close race for the top-selling SUV between Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.