November New Car Sales Continue Improving but Still Lag 2019

New vehicle sales in November are projected to reach approximately 1.24 million units, some 170,000 fewer than sold in November 2019, according to TrueCar/ALG. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales was forecast to rise from an estimated 15.7 million in October to 16.4 million in November. Last year, the November SAAR was 17 million.

Fleet sales have taken a huge hit this year. With airline travel still down 60% or more, sales of new vehicles to car rental firms have all but dried up. Year over year, sales in November are expected to be down more than 30%, while sales are forecast to rise by nearly 14% compared to the October total.

Retail sales are expected to decline by nearly 9% year over year but to increase by around 3% month over month based on an equal number of selling days.

The retail market share leader for the month is General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) with a 17% share, followed by Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) with a 16.2% share, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) with 11.5% and Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) with an 11% share. GM and Ford lost share on a month-over-month basis, while Toyota and FCA both gained share.

Nick Woolard, director of OEM analytics at TrueCar, noted that sales momentum remains strong and that it should continue through the holiday: “We expect many consumers who have not been financially affected by the pandemic to make their vehicle purchases this month, especially with fewer people traveling this holiday season and with inventory rebounding.”

Average transaction prices are forecast to rise by 4.7% ($1,707) year over year and be up 2.3% ($838) month over month. Interestingly, prices for high-end brands (BMW, Mercedes-Benz) have remained mostly steady (and high, at around $58,000) while Hyundai’s prices average about 11% more this year ($29,279) than they did in November 2019.

Woolard also noted that on an industrywide basis, incentive spending is higher: “Incentives are up slightly for November year-over-year and shoppers can expect to find good Black Friday deals like any other year.” Incentives are up less than 1% year over year in November and have declined by nearly 7% month over month. The largest decline was posted by Kia, which has dropped its incentives by nearly 22% year over year and nearly 27% month over month. Volkswagen has increased incentives by about 24% year over year and Nissan has boosted incentives by nearly 23%.

Used car sales in November are expected to decline by 1% year over year to around 3 million. That represents a decline of 11% month over month.

Average car loan interest rates on new vehicles are 5.7%, and the average interest rate on used vehicles is 8.1%.

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