NADA Forecasts 2018 Auto Sales at 16.7 Million, Down About 2%

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With a month still left to go in 2017, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) released its forecast for 2018 sales of new cars and light trucks (pickups, sport utility vehicles and crossovers). NADA predicts 2018 sales of 16.7 million units, a decline of about 2.3% from NADA’s forecast for 17.1 million 2017 sales.

The sales forecasts are based on a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales. The past two years have been banner years for new vehicles, with 2015 sales of 17.4 million units and 2016 sales of 18.1 million units.

The NADA forecast for 2017 is in line with others we’ve seen. LMC Automotive, for example, is forecasting 2017 sales of new light vehicles at around 17.2 million and 2018 sales at 17.0 million. Automotive News cited a Bloomberg analysts’ poll for a SAAR of 17.3 million for November. General Motors estimated a November SAAR of 17.4 million.

Of its 2018 prediction, NADA Chairman Mark Scarpelli said:

We expect 2018 to be a robust year. Every dealer in America, myself included, would be thrilled with a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of above 16 million. Because it means that, one, the market is stable, and two, that demand is still healthy. And both factors are true in this case. We are looking at a stable market where demand – particularly for light trucks, SUVs and crossovers – continues to be very healthy.

Automakers are continuing to meet that demand with a fantastic mix of vehicles that really do suit the needs, desires and budgets of our customers, so the inventories that we’re carrying in our showrooms are aligning very well with what our customers are looking for.

NADA expects the vehicle segment mix to continue favoring light trucks. The 2017 estimate calls for light trucks to account for 64% of all new light vehicle sales. That total will rise above 65% next year, according to NADA.

The association also forecast used car sales for new car dealerships will rise from 15.1 million in 2017 to 15.3 million next year. The total retail market for used cars is forecast to exceed 40 million in 2018.