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U.S. Forecast: Mild Sales, Growing Inventory

U.S. Forecast: Mild Sales, Growing Inventory

The daily sales rate will inch up 0.6%, but total volume will slip 3.1%.

A WardsAuto forecast calls for U.S. automakers to deliver 1.44 million light vehicles in April.

The forecasted daily sales rate of 55,531 over 26 days marks a 0.6% improvement from like-2016 (27 days). The 3.1% DSR decline from March (27 days) is better than the 3-year average March-to-April change, -9%.

The report puts the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales for the month at 17.1 million units, well above last month’s 16.5 million, but below year-ago’s 17.3 million.

The monthly volume will be 3.1% below last year. Beyond one fewer selling day, Easter occurred in April this year, unlike 2016, possibly delaying sales for some shoppers in the second half of the month.

The daily sales rate of light trucks is expected to grow 6.9% from last year, with volume of 907,000 units and share of 62.8%. The DSR for cars is expected to fall 8.4% on 537,000 units.

Sluggish sales in March left inventory levels high, with LV stock of 4.15 million units at month-end.  The forecasted April inventory level sits at 4.16 million units, resulting in a fourth straight month above the 4 million mark. The only time this previously happened was in 2004, when five consecutive months surpassed that level.

WardsAuto anticipates heavy incentive activity in late spring or summer, especially since North American automakers are planning Q2 production at 1.5% above the year-ago period in the face of excess inventory of domestically produced vehicles.

WardsAuto is forecasting General Motors will account for 17.5% of April LV sales. The DSR is expected to rise 0.9% from prior-year. The 252,000 forecasted deliveries would bring GM’s year-to-date total to 941,000, 0.2% below same-period 2016.

The report calls for Ford to sell 216,000 LVs for a 15.0% market share. The automaker’s DSR will be flat with year-ago. Ford is expected to finish the first four months of the year with 816,000 LVs sold, down 4.1%.

Toyota’s daily sales should slip 1.0% for 201,000 total units. Market share will fall from 14.2% in like-2016 to 13.9%. Year-to-date, 734,000 units will be 5.9% lower than same-period 2016.

FCA US is projected to grab 12.1% of the market compared with 12.6% prior-year. A total of 175,000 LV deliveries will result in a 3.5% decrease in daily sales. The April total will bring FCA’s 4-month tally to 681,000, 8.2% below year-ago.

Honda’s DSR is expected to rise 3.1% leading to 148,000 deliveries and giving the company a 10.2% share. Honda’s January-April improvement of 1.3% brings its total to 513,000 units.

The forecast calls for Nissan to post a 3.4% jump from year-ago with 123,000 sales, which brings its year-to-date total up 3.1% to 540,000 units.

Hyundai Group should see April deliveries decline 2.4% to 112,000 LVs. January-April sales will accumulate to 408,000 LVs, falling 6.9%.

Projected April LV sales would bring the U.S. industrywide year-to-date sales to 5.46 million units, a 1.9% decline from like-2016.

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