November New Car Sales Poised to Set Record

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On Thursday December 1, automakers will release their U.S. sales data for the month of November, and it’s impossible to find an analyst who doesn’t think that reported sales will set an all-time record for the month, topping unit sales of 1.33 million in November 2013. Unit sales get a boost from two extra selling days this year compared with last year.

On a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales that normalizes the two-day sales bonus, forecasts range from 17.6 million to 17.9 million units sold in November.

Analysts at TrueCar expect unit sales to rise 3.6% year over year but to show a drop of 4.7% in the daily selling rate (DSR). TrueCar also forecasts retail unit sales up 4.6% but a drop of 3.8% in the retail DSR compared with November 2015.

Chief TrueCar analyst Eric Lyman said:

The early launch of Black Friday sales events is helping offset declines in fleet sales this month, as the retail sales environment remains strong for new car sales. Incentives are also down slightly as automakers begin to address supply side imbalances with planned reductions in vehicle production. … With only one month of sales to go until the end of the year, it looks like we will not break the annual record for auto sales set in 2015, but from a historical context, 2016 will go down as a blockbuster year in terms of new car sales and the overall health of the automotive industry

Edmunds’ executive director of industry analysis, Jessica Caldwell, is more upbeat, according to a report at Automotive News:

Now that the presidential election is over, shoppers have more confidence in the economy than they had just a month ago, and that gives them extra motivation to make big-ticket purchases. If this month’s forecast holds, December’s year-over-year sales only need to be flat to set a new annual record in 2016.

Edmunds has forecast an increase of 2.7% year over year in unit sale.

Last week we posted estimates from analysts at both WardsAuto and Kelley Blue Book, both of which see 2016 with a very real possibility of topping 2015 unit sales.

According to TrueCar, incentive spending rose 13% year over year to an estimated $3,475 per vehicle. However that is 1.3% less than the average incentive in October.

TrueCar expects General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) to post a unit sales gain of 11.2% in November and to boost its market share from 17.4% a year ago to 18.7%.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) is expected to post a decline of 8.1% in unit sales and to see its market share drop from 13.4% last November to 11.9%.

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) is forecast to post a modest 0.3% increase in unit sales year over year but to drop from 14.2% share to 13.7%.

TrueCar sees Volkswagen sales up 4% on a unit basis and VW’s market share flat at 3.4%. We also noted this last week with the comment that last year’s sales were so bad following the diesel emissions scandal that VW would have had to collapse not to improve this year.