U.S. auto sales for October are expected to show a still recovering market with the sales pace rising for the sixth straight month since April's historic low.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales is expected to finish near 16.4 million, up slightly from September's surprisingly strong 16.3 million rate but down from last year's 16.8 million level, according to a forecast released today by Cox Automotive.
Another month of volume improvement illustrates the resilience of the auto industry.
"Given the severity of the health and economic crisis in the country right now, the strong vehicle sales pace is a pleasant surprise, particularly when six months ago most market observers didn't expect us to be here," said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive. "Modest improvements in the U.S. economy from gains in consumer confidence and job creation, coupled with the roll-out of new MY2021 products, are keeping consumers interested in purchasing even during turbulent times."
The tight inventory situation, which was most severe earlier in the summer when factories were still reopening, is now moderating and sales have followed. Production should be less of a hurdle now with factories operating close to pre-pandemic levels.
The economic recovery is also continuing to show modest improvements, so there is little reason to expect that the vehicle market will make a substantial change in its current recovery path in the coming months. However, there remain many risks that could hold back sales, including a second COVID-19 wave, a second dip in the economy and next week's election, with potential disruptions that could occur as a result.