U.S. Auto Sales Expected to Rise 11% in 2023

December sales are also forecasted to show a 10.4% jump from November's figures, and a 6.2% increase from the same month a year ago.

December-2023-new-vehicle-sales-forecast
Cox Automotive is forecasting the auto industry will end the year with nearly 15.5 million units sold.

The U.S. auto industry is set to witness a significant uplift in sales for 2023, according to the latest forecast from Cox Automotive. The projected sales volume of nearly 15.5 million units marks an 11.6% increase compared to the 13.9 million units sold in 2022.

This positive trajectory comes in the wake of a market that has been resilient amidst various challenges. This year has seen consistent growth in new-vehicle sales, fueled by improved supply levels, growing deliveries and higher incentives. The full-year sales figures are surpassing Cox Automotive's initial predictions from a year ago.

Hyundai Motor Group, which includes Genesis, Hyundai and Kia, has experienced more than a 12% increase in sales, catapulting it past Stellantis, the maker of Jeep, Ram and Dodge, into the fourth position in overall U.S. sales, following Ford.

Despite the overall industry growth, Stellantis emerges as the only major automaker expected to record a drop in year-over-year sales. This is attributed to its strategy focusing on lower volume but higher revenue per sale. In contrast, brands like Honda, Nissan, General Motors and Tesla have all made significant year-over-year gains.

In December, new-vehicle sales are expected to rise 6.2% from the same month a year ago, reaching an estimated 1.36 million units, a considerable 10.4% jump from November's figures. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for December is anticipated to be around 15.1 million, a notable improvement over last year's pace, though it matches May's lowest SAAR of the year.

"December is generally a strong month for new-vehicle sales as holiday shoppers look for year-end deals, and this year will be no exception," said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive. "With supply much higher now and incentives higher as well, this December is expected to finish significantly better than last year." However, he noted the industry still faces challenges from high vehicle prices and interest rates, trends expected to continue into the next year.

As the automotive market gears up for 2024, Cox Automotive's Economic and Industry Insights team anticipates a shift in market dynamics, predicting an end to the seller's market, higher new-vehicle inventories and weak economic growth, setting the stage for what could be the most favorable year for car buyers since the pandemic.

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