July new-car sales will bounce back to 17.5 million SAAR, Kelley predicts

(July 29, 2016) IRVINE, Calif. — New-vehicle sales are expected to decrease 1 percent year-over-year to a total of 1.5 million units in July, resulting in an estimated 17.5 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), according to Kelley Blue Book.  Following a weaker-than-anticipated sales month in June, Kelley Blue Book expects new-car sales to bounce back to the mid-17 million SAAR range in July, helped by a strong Fourth of July weekend, increased incentives and continued growth in leasing.

Sales in the first half of the year totaled 8.6 million units, which was the highest first-half volume since 2001.

"The new-car market currently appears to be reaching its peak in terms of sales, and now there is a better chance that 2016 won't be another record year, as year-over-year comparisons for the remainder of 2016 will be tough," said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

"After a record new-car sales total in the United States in 2015, Kelley Blue Book's full-year forecast for 2016 now calls for sales in the range of 17.4 million to 17.8 million, which would range anywhere from a slight year-over-year decline to a 2 percent increase."

Key Highlights for estimated July sales forecast:

• In July, new light-vehicle sales, including fleet, are expected to hit 1,500,000 units, down 1 percent from July 2015 and down 1 percent from June.

• The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for July 2016 is estimated to be 17.5 million, which is even with July 2015 and up from 16.6 million in June 2016.

• Retail sales are expected to account for 84 percent of volume in July 2016, down from 84.4 percent in July 2015.

General Motors could have one of the biggest volume declines of the major manufacturers in July, at an expected 4 percent decline. Much of the monthly decline can be attributed to a drop in rental sales, as GM continues to focuses on increasing retail share. However, to drive new sales, GM also has increased incentive spending, with the average climbing to nearly $4,000 per unit.

Nissan North America could gain the most market share in July, with a projected 4 percent increase in volume, due to strong months from the Frontier and Rogue. The Frontier is benefiting from being in the hot mid-size pickup segment, while the Rogue could surpass the Altima as Nissan's top seller in July.

Compact SUVs will remain the top-selling segment in July, extending its share to nearly 18 percent of new sales. On the whole, SUV sales have nearly surpassed sales of cars this year, with SUVs comprising 39 percent of sales compared to 40 percent for cars.

July also looks like a good month for full-size trucks, with projected segment growth of 3 percent. After volume fell last month, GM has focused efforts on the Silverado and Sierra, and Kelley Blue Book expects sales to return in July.