It’s no secret that new car sales in the U.S. have been very strong this year. Automakers are on track to sell more than 15.6 million cars in 2013 and to finish the year with a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales of 16 million or more. That would be the highest December SAAR since 2006. For 2014, the analysts at Kelley Blue Book (KBB) are anticipating an SAAR of 16.3 million units, up 4.3% from 2013. Annual growth is starting to slow down, but if the KBB analysts are correct, 2014 would be the first year since 2007 to post vehicle sales above 16 million SAAR.
Looking at sales for December, KBB estimates sales to reach 1.42 million cars and light trucks, up 4.7% from November sales. The December SAAR is forecast at 16 million, up from 15.2 million in December 2012, but down from a SAAR of 16.3 million in November. Retail sales should account for 86% of dealer volume with the rest going to fleet sales.
General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) is forecast to sell 256,000 units in December, up 4.2% from a year ago. The carmaker is also touted to hold on to its market share lead, with 18% of the U.S. market. That’s down 0.1% from its share in December a year ago.
Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) is expected to sell 222,000 units in December, an year-over-year increase of 4.3%. Ford is also expected to hold on to is second-place rank in U.S. market share with 15.6% of sales, down 0.1% from a year ago.
Ford, GM, and Chrysler Group LLC will benefit from a 5.2% projected increase in monthly sales of full-size pickup trucks compared with December 2012 sales. An estimated 193,000 pickups will be sold by the end of this month.
Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) is forecast to sell 202,000 units in December, a year-over-year monthly sales increase of 4%. On a market share basis, Toyota will also drop 0.1% of share to tally 14.2% of the U.S. market in December.
Chrysler gets the biggest pop in December sales, up 10.9% to 169,000 units primarily on the strength of sales of its recently re-designed Jeep Cherokee. The company’s market share will increase by 0.7% to 11.9% of the U.S. market in December.
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) is looking at the second-largest monthly sales increase, with this month’s sales forecast at 145,000 units, up 9.2% year-over-year. Honda’s market share will rise by 0.4% to 9.8% of the U.S. market. KBB says it expects both the Civic and Accord models to have strong December sales.
Volkswagen AG again gets the short end of the stick, with KBB estimating that sales will drop 13.7% year-over-year in December to just 51,000 units. The VW and Audi maker takes a hit of 0.8% to its market share as well, dropping to just 3.6% of the U.S. market.