November Auto Sales Forecast on Track for Record Year

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Analysts at WardsAuto expect November sales of cars and light trucks to reach 1.367 million units, up from 1.323 million units in November of 2015 thanks to 2 extra selling days this year. The firm also forecasts the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales to come in at 17.7 million units, below the October SAAR of 17.9 million and the year-ago November SAAR of 18.1 million.

Among the automakers, WardsAuto expects a 21% decline in November sales for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NYSE: FCAU) and a 7.7% decline in sales for Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F). General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) is expected to eke out a gain of 0.7% and Hyundai/Kia is forecast for an even slimmer gain of 0.2%. Both Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) and Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) are forecast to see declines of 1.2% and 4.9%, respectively. Nissan sales are also expected to drop 5.5%.

If November sales meet WardsAuto’s projection, year-to-date total sales will stand at 15.8 million units, just above the 11-month total last year of 15.7 million units.

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news for automakers and dealers is that the November forecast for the daily selling rate (DSR) of 54,696 units is 4.9% lower than the November 2015 DSR. If the projection is accurate, November will be the fourth consecutive month to see a year-over-year sales decline.

Manufacturers incentives are also forecast to rise as they have in each of the past two months. WardsAuto sums it up:

[C]ombined with recent good economic news related to jobs, income and inventory, and indications [light vehicle] sales started out the month strong, heftier incentives and holiday bargains are likelier to push results higher rather than lower, if the forecast is off the mark.

WardsAuto expects full-year sales to rise to 17.4 million units, just a shade above 2015’s total of 17.396 million units.