J.D. Power: September another strong month for new-vehicle sales

(September 20, 2012) WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — The increase in new-vehicle retail sales in September is consistent with the expected 12 percent retail sales annual increase in 2012 from 2011, according to a monthly sales forecast developed by J.D. Power and Associates' Power Information Network (PIN) and LMC Automotive.

September new-vehicle retail sales are projected to come in at 952,200 units, which represents a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 11.8 million units. The forecasted selling rate in September is more than 1 million units higher than September 2011. Retail transactions are the most accurate measurement of true underlying consumer demand for new vehicles.

"Retail sales in early September were 15 percent higher than they were a year ago, which is reflective of a healthy market," said John Humphrey, senior vice president of global automotive operations at J.D. Power and Associates. "We expect retail sales to level off through the rest of the month, but still maintain a strong share of total sales."

Most major segments—with the exception of the midsize utility and large pickup segments—are expected to show year-over-year retail sales gains in September. The sub-compact conventional, compact conventional and midsize conventional segments each are expected to show retail sales growth of at least 25 percent, compared with September 2011.

Total light-vehicle sales in September are expected to increase 11 percent from September 2011, with volume at 1,152,700 units. With vehicle inventory levels in check, fleet sales in September are projected to reach 200,400 units, only a slight
increase from September 2011, and represent 17 percent of total light-vehicle sales.

J.D. Power and LMC Automotive U.S. Sales and SAAR Comparisons


September 20121

August 2012

September 2011

New-Vehicle Retail Sales

952,200 units

(12% higher than September 2011)

1,093,675 units

853,538 units

Total Vehicle Sales

1,152,700 units

(11% higher than September 2011)

1,283,046 units

1,050,985 units

Retail SAAR

11.8 million units

12.6 million units

 10.5 million units

Total SAAR

14.5 million units

14.5 million units

13.1 million units

1Figures cited for September 2012 are forecasted based on the first 14 selling days of the month.

LMC Automotive is maintaining the 2012 full-year outlook for total light-vehicle sales in the United States at 14.3 million units. The retail sales forecast is revised upward to 11.6 million units from 11.4 million units, based on stronger retail performance during the past two months. Looking ahead to 2013, a higher level of uncertainty is impacting overall volume growth, but the forecast remains at 15 million units for total light-vehicles and 12.3 million for retail sales.

"Consumer willingness or need to overlook the economic uncertainty is the driving force behind the recent strength in light-vehicle sales," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive. "During the next few months, car buyers will be processing further economic news, additional details on the European crisis, as well as the forthcoming presidential election, likely creating an environment with higher volatility."