Strong May New-Car Sales Driven by Improved Inventory

One analyst reported new and certified vehicle inventories are at their highest levels in three years, offering consumers a broader selection of options.

May-2024-new-car-sales

Automakers reported year-over-year sales gains in May, but one analyst reported dealers will face significant challenges in June as new and certified vehicle inventories are at their highest levels in three years, offering consumers a broader selection of options.

Ford

Ford Motor Company announced its EV sales nearly doubled in the first five months of 2024, surging by 87.8% compared to the same period in 2023, while hybrid sales increased by 50.9%.

Overall, Ford's U.S. sales from January to May saw a 5.6% increase over the previous year, totaling 877,685 units delivered. Despite the impressive gains in EV and hybrid segments, ICE vehicles still dominate with an 87.3% share of total sales, equivalent to 766,428 units. In comparison, hybrids hold an 8.4% market share with 74,049 units sold, and EVs represent 4.3% with 37,208 units sold.

The sales data revealed a continued preference for larger vehicles among consumers. Trucks lead the sales with 460,006 units, a 2.5% increase. SUVs followed closely with a significant 9.9% increase, totaling 394,141 units sold. However, the car segment remains small, with only 23,538 units sold, representing a minimal 0.4% increase, entirely attributed to the Ford Mustang, the only remaining car model in Ford's American lineup.

Among individual models, the Ford Mustang Mach-E experienced the most impressive increase, with sales rising by 88.7% to 18,737 units, attributed to price discounts that have attracted more buyers. Ford's other electric offerings, the F-150 Lightning truck and the E-Transit van, also showed strong sales growth. The F-150 Lightning sold 13,093 units year-to-date, a 78.5% increase, driven by discounts on the remaining 2023 models. The E-Transit van achieved a sales growth of 111.2%, with 5,378 units sold.

In the ICE segment, the Ford Maverick stood out with a stellar growth of 84.9%, totaling 64,754 units sold. Conversely, the Ford Ranger saw a significant decline of 44.4% in year-to-date sales, reaching 10,948 units, primarily due to production shortages. The Ford Bronco also experienced a 16.1% decline, with 42,061 units sold. However, both the Ranger and Bronco showed positive trends in May, with the Ranger reporting a 17.5% sales increase and the Bronco a 17.9% increase compared to May 2023.

Honda

American Honda reported total sales of 127,129 units in May, marking the company's second-best sales month this year. This surge represents a 14% year-over-year increase.

Honda brand sales topped 114,000 units in May, continuing a strong trend with four consecutive months exceeding 100,000 units. Honda's electrified models contributed significantly to this growth, with 26,912 units sold, driven primarily by the CR-V hybrid, Accord hybrid and the new Prologue. The CR-V, in particular, saw sales exceeding 30,000 units for the fourth consecutive month, with hybrid versions making up more than 50% of this figure.

Additional highlights for the Honda brand included HR-V sales, which jumped by over 45% year-over-year, totaling more than 13,000 units. The Pilot saw 12,500 units sold, particularly driven by the TrailSport model. Both the Passport and Odyssey posted their best sales months of the year, while Civic sales surpassed 20,000 units for the fourth month in a row. Accord hybrid models represented 52% of the Accord’s sales mix.

The Acura brand recorded its best sales figures of 2024 with 12,741 units sold. The MDX and RDX models were key contributors, with the MDX achieving more than 6,300 units and the RDX topping 3,200 units. The Integra had its best month of the year, selling more than 2,500 units and leading the premium gateway segment with a market share exceeding 40%. Additionally, the all-electric ZDX A-Spec units began arriving at dealerships, with the Type S variant expected in early June.

American Honda’s May sales positioned the company well ahead of its projected 10% growth for the year, with 577,539 units sold through May.

Hyundai

Hyundai Motor America reported total May sales of 78,485 units, a 12% increase compared with May 2023. Hyundai set total sales records in May for IONIQ 5 (+82%), IONIQ 6 (+13%), Tucson HEV (+54%), Santa Fe HEV (+116%), Palisade (+45%) and Santa Cruz (+2%). This was the best all-time retail and total sales for IONIQ 5 and Santa Fe HEV. Hyundai’s total EV sales were up 42% in May.

Mazda

Mazda North American Operations reported total May sales of 35,562 vehicles, an increase of 6.9% compared to May 2023. Year-to-date sales totaled 166,790 vehicles sold, an increase of 8.3% compared to the same time last year. With 26 selling days in May, compared to 25 the year prior, the company posted an increase of 2.8% on a Daily Selling Rate (DSR) basis.

CPO sales totaled 6,725 vehicles in May, an increase of 28% compared to May 2023.

Highlights included the best-ever sales of CX-50, with 6,307 vehicles sold, and the best-ever May sales of CX-30, with 8,305 vehicles sold.

Subaru

Subaru of America, Inc. reported 58,356 vehicle sales for May 2024, a seven percent increase compared with May 2023 (54,531). SOA also reported year-to-date sales of 267,215, a 7.3 percent increase compared with the same period in 2023.

Outback was the top seller with 16,506 vehicles sold, followed closely by Forester with 15,345 vehicles sold, a 45 percent increase over May 2023. Crosstrek also had a strong month with 13,836 vehicles sold, a 32.3 percent increase over the same month in 2023. Solterra achieved its best month ever at 1,546 vehicles sold, beating its previous record (1,456) from last month.

Toyota

Toyota Motor North America reported May sales in the U.S. of 216,611 vehicles, up 15.7% year over year on a volume basis. Of those, 85,335 were electrified vehicles, up 68.7% year over year on a volume basis.

Sales Gains Driven by Improved Inventory

Movement for new, used and certified vehicles surged to multi-year highs in May, but dealers are bracing for a challenging month in June, according to ZeroSum's June State of the Dealer report. The comprehensive assessment reveals a robust automotive market, particularly for new and certified vehicles, yet highlights the hurdles individual dealers must overcome due to heightened competition.

The report indicated new and certified vehicle inventories are at their highest levels in three years, offering consumers a broader selection of options. New vehicle supply rose to 2.89 million in May, a 2.8% increase from April, with the industry eyeing the 3.0 million mark. Certified inventory reached its peak since April 2020, while underlying metrics such as turn rates and days-to-move show sustained levels driven by higher supply.

"The new vehicle movement count is very encouraging and points to a continuing resilience in the marketplace," said Jeff Englishmen, vice president of dealer success at ZeroSum. "Even in the face of elevated prices and stubbornly high interest rates, consumers are still taking advantage of the improved availability that comes with strong inventory levels."

Used vehicle inventories saw a slight increase for the second consecutive month, maintaining a narrow range since the fall. Used vehicle movement surpassed the 1.3 million mark for the second time in three months, with a 30-day forecast predicting a continuation of this trend at 1.29 million.

"The recent strength in used vehicle movement is a welcome development, but doing so in light of a flat inventory picture is even more impressive," said Englishmen. "The ongoing pricing differential with new cars is playing a role in used performance and is likely to continue to do so in the near future."

Despite these positive trends, the report concluded dealers will face significant challenges due to increased competition.

"The State of the Dealer report strives to address the question of whether it is going to get harder or easier for dealers to sell a vehicle in the next 30 days," Englishmen said. "At an overall industry level, the answer is 'easier,' though the reality for an individual dealer is that there is greater competition that comes along with the wider alternatives that consumers currently have to choose from."

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