A WardsAuto forecast calls for U.S. automakers to deliver 1.7 million light vehicles this month, a record high for March and the largest volume for any month since July 2005’s 1,804,240 units.
The forecasted daily sales rate of 61,727 over 27 days is a best-ever March result. This DSR represents a 0.2% improvement from like-2015 (25 days), while total volume for the month would be 8.2% greater than year-ago. If deliveries meet or exceed WardsAuto’s expectations, March will be the eight consecutive month to outpace prior-year on a DSR basis.
The forecast 10.9% DSR gain from February (24 days) is less than the 7-year average increase of 12%.
The report puts the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales for the month at 17.3 million units, below the 17.4 million SAAR from the first two months of 2016 combined, but well above the 17.1 million SAAR from same-month year-ago.
Inventory is expected to total 3.8 million units the end of March, flat from the 3.8 million units in February. This will leave automakers with a 63 days’ supply, down from prior-month’s 69 days, but ahead of year-ago’s 58.
WardsAuto is projecting General Motors will sell nearly 260,000 cars and light trucks this month, up 1.5% from year-ago on a daily sales rate of 9,635. GM will account for 15.6% of deliveries compared with 16.2% last year. First-quarter volume will be 1.1% ahead of like-2015.
Ford’s DSR is forecast to rise just 0.8%, but the automaker’s sales volume will increase 8.9% to 251,000 units, resulting in a LV share of 15.1%. Year-to-date, sales will rise 8.0%.
Toyota’s DSR will be down 1.8% from last year, on 240,000 deliveries. Its 3-month 2016 tally is expected to sit 2.3% above like-2015.
The forecast calls for FCA sales to reach 220,000 LVs with a 4.2% rise in DSR, recording a year-over-year gain for 72 consecutive months. January-March sales will surpass 555,000 units, a 10-year high for the period.
Nissan’s DSR is forecast to rise 1.0%, resulting in 158,000 sales in March. The automaker’s first-quarter 2016 total is forecast 6.8% above prior-year.
Honda is expected to see the greatest year-over-year growth, up 9.8% on a daily basis. Market share will bump up to 9.0% from 8.2% in same-month 2015. The jump in March sales will leave its 3-month total 9.6% greater than like-2015.
Hyundai Group will sell about 140,000 vehicles, a 5,200-unit DSR, raising its year-to-date number 4.1%.
Success in light-truck segments is expected to continue this month. Light-truck sales are forecast at 951,000 units, a 57% share. Cars will make up the remaining 716,000 vehicles.
Projected March LV sales would bring first-quarter deliveries to 4.14 million units, a 4.9% improvement from same-period 2015.
Automakers are preparing for a strong Q2, as the WardsAuto production schedule shows a 4.8% increase in builds compared with Q1.
WardsAuto currently is forecasting 17.8 million LV deliveries in full-year 2016.