Tuesday, 29 September 2020 17:29

Cox Automotive Forecast: U.S. Auto Sales Continue V-Shaped Recovery in Third Quarter


Auto sales in the U.S. are forecast to continue their COVID-19 recovery in September as the new-vehicle sales pace should increase over last month.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) is likely to reach 15.5 million, a modest improvement over August's 15.2 million, and the fifth consecutive month of sales pace improvement after April's historic low, according to a forecast released today by Cox Automotive.


Sales volume is expected to be down just 0.3% compared to year-ago levels; however, September 2020 had two additional selling days and a Labor Day weekend compared to September 2019, so a relatively strong year-over-year volume comparison was expected.  


New-vehicle sales are performing well considering the historically low inventory levels. 


According to Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive, "Available Inventory is far below last year's levels, yet sales continue to show surprising strength. Going into the fourth quarter, the key question is: Can this continue? Clearly new vehicle buyers haven't been hit as hard as other consumers during this recession, so demand is likely to remain stable over the near-term."


Closing out the third quarter, year-to-date U.S. auto sales volume is forecast to be down 19.6%. Retail sales are holding up relatively well compared to lease; fleet activity---rental, commercial and government---remains depressed.


One potential issue for the fourth quarter is lack of new product due to the model year roll-over delay. There are only a handful of model year 2021 vehicles in the marketplace right now, and vehicle buyers may be surprised when they go shopping this fall for the latest and greatest products.

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