Forecast: US auto sales to increase around 1% in August

Three forecasts from major analyst firms predict U.S. light-vehicle sales to increase in August, one year after two hurricanes collapsed the auto markets of Florida and Southeast Texas.

Cox Automotive, Edmunds and J.D. Power/LMC Automotive all project a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 16.8 million vehicles in August, which would mark the second consecutive month below the 17 million mark.

A forecast developed jointly by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive expects sales to reach 1,496,600 units, a 1.2% increase compared with August 2017.

“With no large disruptions from storms this year, new vehicle sales in August are expected to see the largest gain of the year,” said Thomas King, Senior Vice President of the Data and Analytics Division at J.D. Power.

Meanwhile, Cox Automotive predicted a nearly 1% gain to 1,490,000 units. “The market remains strong and all the talk of higher interest rates and trade tariffs is not chasing away buyers,” noted Cox senior economist Charlie Chesbrough. “However, we are still forecasting a slowing sales pace over the remaining months of the year as buying conditions slowly deteriorate due mostly to higher interest rates and continued high gasoline prices.”

Edmunds forecasts that 1,496,834 new vehicles, up 1.2% from same month last year. The firm also note that through July, inventories reached their lowest levels since 2016. “While this is a positive sign that the industry has right-sized supply for decreasing demand, fewer vehicles on dealer lots means fewer vehicles are being sold compared to recent years,” says the report.

Automakers are scheduled to report August sales until Tuesday, September 4, due to Labor Day holiday. The month has 27 selling days, the same as last year. U.S. auto sales are up 1.1% from January through July. 

According to the most recent figures of the Mexican Auto Industry Association (AMIA), which date from the first quarter of the year, 71.6% of Mexico’s auto exports, 598,028 units, were destined for the United States. Such figure represents 14.6% of total U.S. sales during that period. 

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