U.S. New-Vehicle Sales Remain Healthy in April
Total (retail and fleet) U.S. new-vehicle deliveries in April are on pace to edge up 1%*, to 1.523 million units vs. 1.452 million units in April 2015, when an April record was set, according to a mid-month sales update from J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive.
Based on data in the first two weeks of April, retail new-car and light-truck deliveries will reach 1.195 million units, which matches last April’s 1.151 million units on a selling-day adjusted basis. Fleet deliveries are predicted to climb 4.7% in April to 328,000 units, which will help eke out a 1% total sales gain.
Through the first four months of 2016, the forecast anticipates that U.S. new-vehicle retail sales (minus fleet deliveries) will reach 4.3 million units, up 0.5% from the same period a year ago. Slower growth has caused a downward revision in the calendar-year retail sales forecast to 14.3 million units from 14.5 million. That’s still 1% ahead of last year’s actual 14.245 million retail deliveries, and would be the best retail number since 2001. Total sales are still expected to reach 17.8 million units in 2016, buoyed by higher fleet deliveries.
Demand remains strong, transaction prices are high, and consumers will spend more on new vehicles this April than in any previous April on record, according to John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. He said the average new-vehicle transaction price in April averaged $30,902, the highest for any April.
Looking ahead, Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, said 2016 will set another sales record for the U.S. auto industry. However, he also sees the growth rate softening, partly in comparison to robust sales last spring, and he suggests that slower growth means there may be some possible “downside risk vs. upside potential this year and next.”
*All sales comparisons are adjusted for one more selling day in April 2016 vs. April 2015. There were 27 selling days in April 2016 vs. 26 selling days in April 2015.