Edmunds.com's official forecast for September vehicle sales and the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of sales for the month is out. The forecast has sales ending up at a pace of 12.9-million SAAR and unit sales to total 1.038 million vehicles. Of the total, fleet sales should be around 18 percent, leaving retail sales at a 10.6-million SAAR or 851,000 units.
This is nicely up from August, but it is important to note that the lift is very much a factor of improved vehicle availability. As I have noted before, a "bank" of deferred sales was built when prices were higher and supplies tighter earlier this year following the March 11 earthquake in Japan that caused production disruptions. Some of these buyers are now returning to the market as conditions improve. To illustrate that point, Honda will see the biggest month-over-month gain among the top six automakers. Honda was hit most by production disruptions and inventory shortages, but it is now bouncing back.
I would expect improved availability of vehicles to continue and help October sales as well. But late in the year, sales will be fully exposed to the state of the economy and consumer confidence.
Jeremy Anwyl: Vice Chairman of Edmunds.com. Follow @JeremyAnwyl on Twitter.