Car Sales Move Toward Record, but GM Lags

Paul Ausick

Sales of new light vehicles (cars and pickups) are on track to set another record in 2016, even though the month of May is not expected to show a year-over-year increase. The good news is that month-over-month sales are forecast to rise by 2.3%, but year-over-year sales are expected to drop by 5.8%.

Among U.S. carmakers, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) sales are expected to fall the most, 13.1% compared with May 2015 sales, while sales at Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) should see a drop of 2.9% year over year. Volkswagen suffers the most with a projected sales decline of 18.7%.

According to analysts at, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales in May will be 17.5 million, while retail sales are forecast at 14.3 million units. No carmaker is expected to post a year-over-year increase in sales, and only Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) is forecast to post flat sales.

GM’s sales for May are forecast at 254,643 units, down from 293,097 in May of 2015 and down from 259,557 in April 2016. Its market share is forecast at 16.6%, still the U.S. share leader, but that’s a drop of 1.4% year over year and 0.7% month over month. As GM continues to reduce its fleet sales in favor of higher margin retail sales, the company’s total market share suffers.

Ford is expected to post sales of 242,771 units in May, down from 250,086 a year ago and up 5.7% from 229,739 in April. Ford’s market share is forecast at 15.8% in May, up 0.5 percentage points both year over year and month over month. Booming sales of the company’s F-150 pickups shows little sign of slowing, and that is very good news for Ford.

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) is expected to post May sales of 220,006 units, down 9.3% year over year and up 4.2% month over month. Toyota’s market share is forecast at 14.3%, down 0.6 point compared with May 2015 and up 0.3 point compared with the prior month.

Chrysler is expected to raise its May market share to 13.2%, up 0.8 points compared with May 2015, but down 0.1 point compared with April 2016.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) should post sales of 148,918 units in May, down 3.7% year over year and up 0.1% sequentially. Honda’s market share is forecast to rise 0.2 point to 9.7% year over year. That’s 0.2 point less than the company’s April share.

Nissan and Hyundai/Kia are both expected to post market share gains for year and sequentially.

VW sales, including Audi, continue to decline and the company’s market share is forecast to fall to 2.8%, down 0.4 point year over year and 0.2 point compared with April 2016.

Automakers are scheduled to report May sales on Wednesday, June 1.