New-vehicle sales poised to set record according to J.D. Power

(December 22, 2016) DETROIT — With a strong close to the year, total new light-vehicle sales in 2016 are expected to reach a record 17.5 million vehicles, surpassing the previous high set in 2015 by 5,000 units, according to a forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

Retail sales in 2016 are forecast to close at 14.1 million units, a 1.2% decline from 14.2 million units in 2015, but still will be the sixth-highest retail sales year in history.

New-vehicle retail sales in December are projected to reach 1,332,800 units, a 0.8% increase on a selling-day adjusted basis compared with December 2015, while total light-vehicle sales are expected to reach 1,604,500 units, a 1.4% increase.

Deirdre Borrego, senior vice president and general manager of automotive data and analytics at J.D. Power, said: "This year will be remembered for strong retail sales and record transaction prices. However, elevated inventories, a slow model-year transition and record incentive levels point to the challenges the industry will face in 2017. Going forward, automakers must maintain production and pricing discipline to achieve profitability, which is easier said than done."

Incentive spending in November eclipsed $4,000 per unit for the first time on record. December, which typically delivers the highest incentive spending level of the year, is expected to exceed the November record as manufacturers clear out old model-year vehicles and reduce inventory.