October Forecast: New-Vehicle Inventory Levels Are Improving, But Sales Remain Low


October U.S. auto sales, when confirmed, are expected to show an increased selling pace compared to September and the same month a year ago.

According to the Cox Automotive forecast released Oct. 26, October's U.S. new-vehicle sales volume is expected to rise over 4% from last year and finish with 1.11 million units sold, delivering a sales pace, or seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), for October of 14.3 million.

A sales pace of 14.3 million would be the fastest pace since April and a nice uptick from September's 13.5 million level.

"This gain may sound like a treat, but it is more likely a statistical trick," said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive. "It seems more likely that the statistical adjustments made to reflect an additional selling day are lifting the SAAR rather than a noticeable uptick in sales across the marketplace."

Sales Pace Likely Reflecting Improved New-Vehicle Inventory Levels

In terms of volume, October is expected to be very similar to every other month since August 2021---and that is to finish with a final sales volume close to 1.11 million units.

However, the new-vehicle market in October 2022 is in a better place than it was one year ago. Last October, the market suffered from a severe lack of product, with national new-vehicle inventory levels hovering close to 1 million units, and the sales pace was only 13.2 million. Inventories have improved since then, particularly over the last three months, and the recent sales pace is likely a reflection of greater product availability at some dealers.

Chesbrough noted: "The vehicle market is being supported by improving inventories and product selection for some, but not all, brands. However, rising interest rates are pushing monthly payments higher for everyone, and many potential buyers are being knocked out of the market."

October 2022 U.S. New-Vehicle Sales Forecast Highlights

  • Volume is expected to rise 4.4% from October 2021 but decline 1.3% from last month.
  • The October 2022 SAAR is forecast at 14.3 million, above last year's 13.2 million level and up from last month's 13.5 million pace.
  • October 2022 had 26 selling days, one more than September, one less than October 2021.

Source: Cox Automotive

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