WardsAuto Forecast: May U.S. LV Market Should Stay Course

U.S. auto makers will sell 1.41 million light vehicles in May, more than in any of the previous 57 months, as the SAAR climbs to 14.6 million units.

John Sousanis, Director, Information Content

May 18, 2012

3 Min Read
WardsAuto Forecast: May U.S. LV Market Should Stay Course

U.S. auto makers will sell more cars and light trucks in May than in any month since August 2007, according to a new WardsAuto forecast.

With daily sales projected to hit a 57-month high of 54,250 units over May’s 26 selling days, the report calls for the industry to deliver 1.41 million light vehicles during the month.

The May forecast represents a 10.2% increase over April’s DSR (24 selling days), in line with recent April-to-May increases that have averaged 11%.

It also marks a 20.3% jump from May 2011’s DSR (24 days), a period that saw steep sales declines due to depleted inventories in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Those inventory droughts persisted into the fall – particularly at Toyota and Honda – and will continue to factor into large year-over-year growth rates for the next several months.

Forecast sales equate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 14.56 million units, which, combined with April’s 14.4 million SAAR, would maintain the year-to-date annualized rate of 14.5 million units.

The projected May sales also would bring year-to-date deliveries to 6.05 million, up 15% from year-ago.

While the overall economy is growing at a much slower-than-expected pace, the auto industry should continue to see double-digit expansion for the rest of the year.

Although the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index declined slightly in April from March, to 69.2 from 69.5, the Present Situation Index, a better indicator in recent months of the car-buying public’s mood, improved to 51.4 from 49.9.

Bureau of Labor statistics show unemployment fell to a 39-month low of 8.1% in April, continuing a slow-but-steady decline that should bode well for auto sales.

Almost all auto makers have aggressive incentive plans in place, which should play a significant role in pushing sales higher than they’ve been in nearly five years.

The Detroit Three account for 45.3% of May’s forecast light-vehicle deliveries. Both General Motors and Chrysler are projected to take roughly the same share of the market as in April, with GM grabbing 18.1% and Chrysler 11.8%.

Ford should boost its take from 15% in April to 15.4% in May, bumping Toyota out of the No.2 spot gained last month for the first time in 21 months.

It will be a close race, though, with Toyota projected to sell 214,000 vehicles, or 15.2% of May deliveries, as the auto maker continues to ramp up production and incentives in an attempt to regain its pre-recession market position.

Honda had a strong April, controlling 10.3% of LV sales. But while WardsAuto looks for the auto maker to achieve its highest DSR since August 2008, Honda still may not have the inventory to pull down much more than a 10% stake in May.

Hyundai Group, which was largely immune to last year’s production interruptions, will see year-over-year growth nearer to 3%, but account for more than 8% of LV sales nonetheless.

Rounding out the top seven auto makers, Nissan, which historically registers large gains in daily sales from April to May, is expected to see its DSR jump 27% from prior month, and 19.7% over year-ago, good for a 7% share.

[email protected]

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

John Sousanis

Director, Information Content, WardsAuto

Subscribe to a WardsAuto newsletter today!
Get the latest automotive news delivered daily or weekly. With 5 newsletters to choose from, each curated by our Editors, you can decide what matters to you most.

You May Also Like