June Auto Sales Forecast to Decline

2019 has been an up and down year for automakers. That is, mostly down, but not quite as far down as feared. The sales forecast for June is expected to continue that trend.

According to True Car subsidiary ALG, new vehicle sales in June will total 1.49 million units, down 0.6% year over year, including an adjustment to equalize the number of selling days. Retail sales are forecast at 1.2 million units, a drop of 6.3% year over year. For the second quarter, total vehicle sales are forecast at 4.41 million. For the full year, ALG expects a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) of 17 million, a forecast the firm made in January and is sticking with for now.

Cox Automotive expects June sales to total 1.51 million units, down 2.7% year over year, and the June SAAR to dip to 17.2 million. The firm’s analysts expect fleet sales to remain the biggest variable for total vehicle sales throughout the rest of the year. The tax law change in 2017 raised depreciation allowances significantly for business-use vehicles, driving more fleet purchases. Cox expects fleet sales to continue strong this year and in the future. Sales for the first six months of the year are forecast to drop by 2.2%.

ALG chief economist Oliver Strauss commented, “Increased incentive spending by several automakers in June in tandem with sustained strength in the underlying macro-economic indicators is helping drive resilient sales for both the month and quarter.”

Spending on customer incentives dipped by $37 per vehicle year over year but was up $16 compared to May incentives. The industry average June incentive was $3,747, with luxury carmakers Daimler ($5,990) and BMW ($5,688) offering the biggest incentives. GM incentives rang in at $5,040 per vehicle, while Fiat Chrysler’s average was $4,562 and Ford’s was $4,435. Subaru offered the smallest incentive, $1,537 per vehicle, largely due to solid sales of the company’s new Ascent model.

The average transaction price in the month was $34,036, down slightly from $34,111 in May but up by more than 3% year over year. BMW led all automakers with a year-over-year price increase of 7.6%. Kia’s price rose 6.7% year over year, and Volkswagen saw a gain of 5%. Only Honda suffered a year-over-year decline, and that was a tiny 0.1%.

In terms of second-quarter sales volume, ALG sees Subaru sales rising by 3.8% to nearly 180,000 vehicles, the largest percentage increase of any carmaker except Tesla, which is expected to see a jump of nearly 80% to 34,150 on the strength of Model 3 sales. Only Kia (up 2.3%) and Hyundai (up 1.5%) are also expected to see second-quarter sales rise year over year. Ford’s sales are forecast to drop by 6.7% in the quarter, and Daimler sales are expected to fall 6% compared to the second quarter of last year.

Automakers will be reporting monthly and quarterly sales next week. Ford has announced that it will release second-quarter sales data on Wednesday, but no other carmaker has yet issued a firm date.

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