More Clarity On October Sales


As the month progresses, we are getting a better read on how new-vehicle sales are trending. And the trend looks good. Mostly good, anyway. Last week, retail sales pacing was flat with September, while a small increase in fleet sales looked to push the annual Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of sales to 13.3 million (September's SAAR was 13.1 million). This week, retail has ticked up a bit — and now the overall October SAAR looks like it will hit 13.4 million. Retail unit sales are tracking towards 824,000, or a SAAR of 10.7 million (compared with about 855,00 and a SAAR of 10.6 million last month). Assuming fleet mix of around 20 percent — fleet was about 19 percent last month and historically, October has higher fleet mix than September — then total sales will be around 1,030,00. That compares with 1,053,000 in September.

The retail-share changes are roughly in line with what I reported last week. Compared with last month, Mercedes-Benz and BMW are still up quite significantly, although I should point out the two brands had weak sales at this point in September. Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen are up as well. On the other hand, Nissan and Chrysler are down a bit. Here's October's retail-share breakdown for the major automakers:

Much of the past two months' relative sales strength is driven by improving availability of product, lower pricing and this year's late-starting model-year-end clearance activity. But pricing still has not fully returned to normal and there are still inventory shortages. This suggests there may be a small upside to near-term sales. More on that possibility next week.

Jeremy Anwyl: Vice Chairman of Edmunds.com. Follow @JeremyAnwyl on Twitter.

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