A new WardsAuto forecast calls for U.S. light-vehicle sales to outpace same-month year-ago for the seventh consecutive month in September, while the industry seasonally adjusted annual rate returns to the 6-month trend after an August spike.
The report calls for 1.26 million LV deliveries this month, equating to a daily sales rate of 52,666 units (over 24 days) – a 6.9% improvement over same-month year-ago (23 days).
The projected DSR represents a 9.9% decline from August (27 days), compared with an 8% August-September drop-off in 2013.
The forecast 16.7 million-unit SAAR would fall just below the 16.9 million SAAR for the current 3-month period (June-August), which was boosted by August’s 17.5 million SAAR, and just above the 16.6 million SAAR for the past six months (March-August).
August sales were impacted positively by strong incentive activity across the industry and within competitive segments. It also appeared that underwhelming July sales may have reflected delayed demand that manifested a month later.
While there’s some indication automakers have pulled back incentives in September, activity in spending and sales has picked up in the past week, adding support to a strong forecast.
Consumer sentiment continues to climb, as the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index rose for the fourth consecutive month in August with a corresponding month-to-month increase in the group’s present situation indices. In September, the Thomas Reuters University of Michigan Survey of Consumers consumer confidence rating reached its second highest level of the past seven years.
Inventory also should bolster sales activity. While August sales reduced stocks by 4%, automakers had some 3.2 million vehicles available at the beginning of September, and the industry is expected to finish the month with a 63 days’ supply.
The WardsAuto report calls for a 6.3% rise in Detroit Three automaker daily sales compared with year-ago – accounting for 44.9% of industry LV volume – on par with the group’s year-ago share.
General Motors is expected to gain 1.5 points of market share compared with like-2013, accounting for 18% of sales as the automaker takes advantage of Ford’s production slowdown and inventory management of F-Series pickups to increase share within the segment. The forecast calls for GM to sell 227,000 cars and light trucks, a 16.4% gain in DSR.
Fiat-Chrysler daily sales are forecast to rise 11.6% from year-ago – equating to over 165,000 deliveries and a 13.1% share, not far below Ford’s projected take this month.
Indeed, Ford is the only large-volume automaker other than Volkswagen expected to see its year-over-year comparison of daily sales fall this month. WardsAuto is looking for Ford to sell 173,000 LVs this month, down 8.3% on a daily basis from year-ago, giving the company a 13.7% share of forecast deliveries.
Asian automakers, meanwhile are expected to be more aggressive with incentive spending than Detroit 3 automakers, as competition in key car segments heats up. The group’s collective DSR is forecast to rise 9.2% for a combined 45.8% share of sales.
Toyota is expected to finish the month in the No.2 sales position for the second consecutive month, with 178,000 deliveries and a 14.1% share.
Honda daily sales are projected to rise 14.2% over year-ago, lifting the automaker’s share to 9.9% compared with 9.3% a year-ago.
The WardsAuto forecast also calls for Nissan and Hyundai-Kia to finish neck-and-neck with just over 100,000 deliveries apiece and identical 8.1% shares.
Daily sales by European automakers are expected to fall 1%, due to an expected 22% drop in daily deliveries of Volkswagen-brand vehicles. All other European brands are expected to best year-ago volumes, with BMW leading the group with a projected 31,800 deliveries.
At forecast levels, year-to-date LV sales through September would come to 12.4 million units, up 5.6% over same-period 2013.