July 2017 Auto Sales Listless Despite Rising Rebates
Automakers and dealers traditionally curb incentive spending following July 4 holiday discount sales events. However, although automakers continue to offer higher incentives to entice consumers, July deliveries remain sluggish compared with year-ago totals, according to a monthly update from J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive.
In commenting on this trend, J.D. Power’s Thomas King, vice president of PIN OEM operations, media and marketing, said, “Last year, industry incentive spending fell by 14% after the July 4 holiday. In contrast, this year, spending has remained at holiday levels throughout the month.” King added that “elevated inventory levels have compelled manufacturers to maintain aggressive discounts this month.”
In July, the average incentive spend per unit continues to climb, averaging $3,876 per vehicle—a record for the month. At the same time, the average new-vehicle retail transaction price has risen to $30,772—above last July’s $30,730.
On a positive note, trucks solidly account for 63.2% of new-vehicle retail sales through July 23 and the incentive spend on trucks and SUVs ($3,700) is less than the spend on cars ($4,174).
Based on sales data collected during the first 18 days of July, total new-vehicle deliveries are set to dip 1.2% on a selling-day adjusted basis to 1.44 million units vs. 1.52 million units a year ago (25 selling days in July 2017 vs. 26 days in July 2016). Retail new-vehicle sales may fall 1.7% below last July to 1.24 million units vs.1.31 million units in July 2016. Additionally, fleet sales may slip 1.2% from July 2016 and account for a 14.1% share of the sales mix.
On a cautionary note, the update finds that 84-month and longer term loans make up more than 6% of retail sales for the first time ever.
Looking ahead, LMC Automotive’s Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting, says U.S. light-vehicle demand appears to have leveled off at around 17 million units and will hover in this range for the balance of the year. On an encouraging note, Schuster said the auto industry is acting more proactively to manage cooler sales.