May Expected to Be First Positive Car Sales Month of 2017

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After several months of falling domestic car sales, May will likely tick up slightly compared to 2016. The pace will still remain such that overall domestic car sales will be down for 2017, but still close to the annual record.

Kelley Blue Book (KBB), the car research company, forecasts that May domestic car and light vehicle sales will rise 0.2% to 1,525,000. That would put the industry on seasonally adjusted sales pace of 16.7 million. Due to stronger months to come, this will increase as the year progresses. KBB commented:

After a record year of sales in 2016 and seven consecutive year-over-year sales increases, Kelley Blue Book’s forecast for 2017 calls for sales in the range of 16.8 million to 17.3 million units, which represents a 1 to 4 percent decrease from last year.

There is expected to be a broad spread in performance across the major car companies:

General Motors is poised to gain market share in May 2017 with growth driven by its SUVs, specifically the new GMC Acadia and Buick Envision. In fact, GM could see its SUV sales volume increase by more than 15 percent, which would offset any potential declines from its car and pickup truck models.

Hyundai-Kia could see one of the largest declines in May, with volume expected to drop more than 4 percent year-over-year. The company still faces challenges regarding the shifting demand toward SUVs, and compared to the other major manufacturers, Hyundai-Kia has the highest sales mix of cars at 69 percent, while the industry average sits at 37 percent.

With a market share of 16.3%, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) remains the top car company in America, although its part of the market has slid from nearly 50% in the 1960s, before there were any major foreign manufacturers in the United States. GM’s sales for May are expected to hit 248,000 up 3.1%. GM makes the Cadillac, GMC, Buick and Chevy models.

Troubled Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) will suffer a drop of 1.2% to 232,000, which will keep it barely ahead of Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), which is expected to have a sales increase of 0.3% to 220,000. Ford’s models are Ford and Lincoln. Toyota’s are Toyota, Lexus and Scion.

Subaru’s sales will continue to surge as they have for two years. Its sales are expected to rise 11.8% to 56,000. Volkswagen will continue its very modest rebound, with May sales up 3.7% to 54,000.

  Sales Volume 1 Market Share 2
Manufacturer May-17 May-16 YOY % May-17 May-16 YOY %
General Motors (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC) 248,000 240,450 3.1% 16.3% 15.8% 0.5%
Ford Motor Company (Ford, Lincoln) 232,000 234,748 -1.2% 15.2% 15.4% -0.2%
Toyota Motor Company (Lexus, Scion, Toyota) 220,000 219,339 0.3% 14.4% 14.4% 0.0%
Fiat Chrysler (Chrysler, Dodge, FIAT, Jeep, RAM) 187,000 194,720 -4.0% 12.3% 12.8% -0.5%
American Honda (Acura, Honda) 148,000 147,108 0.6% 9.7% 9.7% 0.0%
Nissan North America (Infiniti, Nissan) 135,000 133,496 1.1% 8.9% 8.8% 0.1%
Hyundai-Kia 128,000 133,932 -4.4% 8.4% 8.8% -0.4%
Volkswagen Group (Audi, Volkswagen, Porsche) 54,000 52,085 3.7% 3.5% 3.4% 0.1%
Subaru of America 56,000 50,083 11.8% 3.7% 3.3% 0.4%
Total 3 1,525,000 1,522,143 0.2%
1 Historical data from OEM sales announcements
2 Kelley Blue Book Automotive Insights
3 Includes brands not shown