NOTE: This story updated Nov. 2 to reflect release of Ford sales data.
U.S. light-vehicle sales surged ahead in October, rising to the highest seasonally adjusted annual rate so far this year.
The downside to October’s results is the SAAR declined year-over-year for the third straight month, further indication the unprecedented growth recorded since mid-2009 is over.
October’s 17.9 million-unit SAAR topped the 17.8 million attained in both January and July, although it was below year-ago’s 18.1 million. The year-to-date SAAR through October stood at 17.3 million units, same as 10-month 2015’s total.
Due to two fewer selling days this year (26 vs. year-ago’s 28), October’s actual volume of 1.364 million units was 5.7% below like-2015, even though the daily selling rate increased 1.5% to 52,473 from like-2015’s 51,697.
As they typically do, average incentives – based on initial estimates for the month by TrueCar – declined in October from September. However, they did increase a whopping 15.7% from like-2015, following an even bigger rise in September of 17.3%, the two highest increases this year.
Estimated fleet volume also helped lift the DSR year-over-year comparison above year-ago, while the retail portion declined from October 2015.
For the first time this year, year-to-date volume lags 2015. January-October deliveries totaled 14.41 million units, a smidgen below year-ago’s 14.44 million. However, November has two more selling days than in 2015, and year-to-date volume likely will rebound back above year-ago, leaving December’s results to determine whether sales rise for the seventh straight year and top the record set last year of 17.396 million.
Strong truck deliveries again led the charge. Based on DSRs, trucks increased 8.5%, while cars declined 9.3%, the 13th consecutive monthly drop.
Large SUVs, Small Pickups and Large Vans spearheaded October’s truck gains with increases of 63.3%, 42.4% and 13.5%, respectively. Luxury CUVs also increased by double digits (15.4%), while Luxury Cars and SUVs declined from October 2015.
Large Pickups recorded an 8.7% year-over-year increase, highest since January.
Sales of all CUVs increased 7.7% from same-month 2015, and market penetration rose to 33.3% from like-2015’s 31.3%.
The one bright spot in cars was the Small Car segment group, which posted a 1% year-over-year increase, its first gain since February. The uptick was punctuated by a 12.0% spike in the econobox Lower Small segment.
There were some big winners in the Upper Small segment, including Mini Cooper, Chevrolet Cruze, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Golf. Increases by those vehicles partially offset major losses by several other cars in the segment, which recorded a 2.5% overall decline.
For the most part, automakers that have been generally reporting gains over the past few months continued to do so in October.
However, General Motors, the industry leader, posted its first year-over-year gain in 2016. GM’s DSR increased 5.9%, and its market share soared to 19.0% from 17.5% the prior month and 18.2% in like-2015.
Also, Honda, which, despite an influx of fresh product somewhat inexplicably posted losses in three of the past four months, recorded a 3.2% increase.
Also notching gains were Daimler, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Tesla (which is estimated).
Downturns were posted at BMW, FCA US, Ford, Mazda, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagen/Audi/Porsche.
Volvo’s 8.0% shortfall stopped a streak of 15 straight increases. During that period its average gain was 36%, but last month it went against a very strong year-ago gain of 80%.