How Much Will Auto Sales Tumble in November?

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Automakers will be announcing U.S. new car sales on Monday, December 3, and two industry research firms are looking for November sales come in lower year over year. The decline has its roots in rising new-vehicle prices and higher interest rates on car loans. Add to that robust sales for the year to date, and the slowdown that analysts have been priming us for may finally have arrived.

Cox Automotive expects a November seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 17.1 million new vehicles sold, down from 17.5 million in October. New vehicle sales for the month are forecast to reach 1.36 million units. Analysts at Edmunds are forecasting total November sales of about 1.38 million, for a SAAR of 17.3 million.

Cox estimates monthly sales will drop 0.1% year over year in November and 2.6% month over month. Edmunds estimates a year-over-year drop of 1.7% and a month-over-month increase of 1.3%.

Below is the Cox forecast for November sales for the top five carmakers. We’ve included year-over-year and month-over-month percentage changes, along with October 2018 and October 2017 market share.

  • General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM): 235,000 units; down 4.2% y/y and down 2.9% m/m; 17.3% share vs. 17.6% in November 2017
  • Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F): 185,000 units; down 12% y/y and down 3.5% m/m; 13.6% share vs. 15.1% last year
  • Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM): 185,000 units; down 3.5% y/y and down 3.2% m/m; 13.6% share vs. 13.7% last year
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU): 180,000 units; up 16.2% y/y and up 1.5% m/m; 13.2% share vs. 11.1% last year
  • Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC): 122,000 units; down 8.4% y/y and down 0.1% m/m; 9% share vs. 9.5% last year.

Here are the Edmunds estimates with matching data points.

  • GM: 239,197 units; down 2.5% y/y and down 1.2% m/m; 17.4% share vs. 17.6% last year
  • Toyota: 193,516 units; up 1% y/y and up 1.3% m/m; 14.1% share vs. 13.7% last year
  • Ford: 190,557 units; down 9.3% y/y and down 0.6% m/m; 13.8% share vs. 15.1% last year
  • FCA: 176,695 units; up 14.1% y/y and down 0.4% m/m; 12.8% share vs. 11.1% a year ago
  • Honda: 123,689 units; down 7.1% y/y and up 1.2% m/m; 9% share vs. 9.6% last year

Edmunds analyst Jeremy Acevedo commented:

Retailers have been pushing Black Friday car deals through the entire month of November, so unless they decide to pull out all the stops in the 11th hour, this is likely going to be the first time we see November sales take a dip in nearly a decade. Although sales remain at a healthy level, factors such as increasing market saturation, rising transaction prices and elevated interest rates continue to create headwinds for the industry overall. November’s sales slowdown signifies a new normal that we can expect through at least the end of 2018, and likely into 2019.

Cox senior economist Charlie Chesbrough added:

The market continues to outperform our earlier forecast with expected headwinds being offset by other market factors. Looking ahead, affordability concerns – attributable to increasing interest rates, weakness in home construction and volatility in the stock market are growing headwinds to watch. However, sales in 2018 will be above 17 million, which is a very strong market indeed. How long this pace continues is the key question.

Used car sales are also strong, according to Edmunds. The firm sees an estimated sales volume of 3.0 million used vehicles in November, down from 3.3 million in October used car sales. November’s SAAR for used vehicles is also forecast to be flat month over month at 39.6 million used vehicles.