Auto Sales Headed for Record-Setting August

August 25, 2014 by Paul Ausick

Automakers will be reporting new car sales figures for August next week after the Labor Day weekend. But industry analysts are starting to make their own projections on what the month will hold for the carmakers.

J.D. Power and its partner LMC Automotive expect total sales to reach 1.5 million units in August, the highest level of the year so far. Of that total, 1.3 million will be sold through retail dealers. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for retail sales is forecast to reach 13.6 million units, up from 13.2 million in June and 13.5 million in July, but still short of the May total of 14.1 million units sold.

WardsAuto forecasts a total SAAR of 16.6 million and total August sales of just under 1.51 million units. The firm expects sales for Chrysler Group to rise 16.1% year-over-year in August. General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) is expected to post a year-over-year gain of 5.7% and Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) is touted for 4.8% annual growth. Nissan is expected to gain 7.1% year-over-year while Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) is down for a gain of just 0.8%.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) is forecast for a sales decline of 8.5%. WardsAuto does not have a forecast for Volkswagen sales, but the company has been struggling and there’s no reason to expect a turnaround in August.

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For retail sales purposes, August is a 27-day month and gets a boost this year from the inclusion of Labor Day holiday weekend. The Monday holiday is traditionally the single biggest sales day of the year as end-of-model-year promotions and introduction of new models combine to attract a lot of traffic. Total sales for this year are expected to be 3% higher than last August, when adjusted for a 28-day month in 2013.

An executive at J.D. Power said:

We expect consumer spending on new vehicles in August to approach $39 billion, the highest level on record for the month of August and second-highest month ever behind July 2005 ($39.7 billion). The record consumer spending is fueled by both high sales volumes and high transaction prices.

J.D. Power notes that the average new-vehicle sales price in August is $29,300, a record for the month and $402 per transaction higher than August of last year.

LMC forecasts total sales for the year at 16.3 million units and retail sales of 13.5 million.

Monthly sales forecasts by automaker are due out later this week from Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds.com and TrueCar.

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