Forecast April Sales Approach March Levels

The latest WardsAuto outlook calls for U.S. automakers to sell 1.39 million light vehicles this month, lifting the SAAR pas 16 million for the second consecutive month.

John Sousanis, Director, Information Content

April 25, 2014

3 Min Read
Forecast April Sales Approach March Levels

A new WardsAuto forecast calls for U.S. light-vehicle deliveries to nearly match March’s robust selling pace, as the spring buying season continues to profit from expanding retail demand, assisted by some delayed winter sales.

The report calls for a daily sales rate of 53,510 units (over 26 selling days), a 4.4% improvement over same-month year-ago (25 days) – equating to 1.39 million deliveries.

The projected 16.1 million-unit seasonally adjusted annual rate would be only slightly lower than the 7-year high 16.3 million-unit SAAR recorded in March.

March sales leaned heavily on delayed January and February purchases, due to extreme cold and snow across the country, but the WardsAuto forecast for April assumes a rise in demand to an annualized rate of 16 million units throughout the second quarter, with only incremental sales coming from winter postponements.

Expectations are informed, in part, by positive March consumer confidence reports from both the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers and the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index.

A positively revised February job report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the addition of just under 200,000 new jobs to the U.S. economy in March also bode well for sales.

The industry’s March-end light-vehicle inventory of nearly 3.7 million units also should exert pressure on automakers to move vehicles at an annualized rate above 16 million.

Even at the relatively high forecast sales rate, the industry’s days’ supply is expected to rise from 65 to 70 by the end of the month.

The WardsAuto report calls for Detroit Three daily sales to climb 3.4% over year ago, accounting for a combined 46.6% market share, vs. 47% year-ago.

General Motors’ projected DSR is 3.5% higher than same-month 2013, on over 255,000 deliveries. GM’s new-model large SUVs, available for sale this month, are one factor in the company’s expected year-over-year growth. At forecast levels, GM would account for 18.4% of sales, compared with just 16.7% in March.

Ford, battling a strong year-ago comparison, is expected to lose ground, with daily sales falling 3.5% on 208,000 deliveries and a 15% share.
Chrysler, meanwhile, is expected to record another double-digit gain on year-ago, with daily sales up 12.5% on 182,000 units – good for a projected 13.1% market share.

Asian automakers are expected to register a collective year-over-year improvement of just below 5%, on total sales of 615,000. The forecast calls for Toyota to grab 13.9% of monthly volume on 194,000 deliveries, a 5.9% improvement in daily sales. Honda, meanwhile, is expected to deliver nearly 132,000 LVs, putting the automaker ahead of Nissan for the first time since January.

Nissan, coming off its annual March fiscal-year-end sell-off, should fall behind Hyundai-Kia as well, though large inventories may force the company to push for a better-than-average April.

The forecast calls for Nissan to sell 97,000 units in April, a 6.6% gain in DSR vs. year-ago.

WardsAuto forecasts European automakers will lead all regions in year-over-year growth, with daily sales rising 7.3% on 128,000 deliveries. Volkswagen brand is the group’s projected volume leader, with 37,000 forecast deliveries equating to a 2.7% share. BMW and its Mini brand should finish right behind VW with 34,500 sales.

At forecast levels, year-to-date sales through April would come to 5.1 million units, up 3.2% over the first four month of 2013.

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About the Author(s)

John Sousanis

Director, Information Content, WardsAuto

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