New Car Sales on Upswing (GM, F, TM, HMC)

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In 2011, new car and light truck sales in the U.S. came in at about 13 million units sold. According to, forecast sales for August put new light vehicle sales at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 14.2 million units sold, an increase of nearly 10% over 2011 sales.

According to's forecast, 1.26 million new vehicles will be sold in August, up 17.2% from a year ago and up 8.9% (unadjusted) month-over-month. Honda Motor Corp. (NYSE: HMC) is expected to post the largest month-over-month gain at 14.1%, followed by a rise of 13.1% at Chrysler, 12.8% at General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM), 10.9% at Toyota Motor Co. (NYSE: TM), and 10.4% at Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F).

Year-over-year gains are almost meaningless for both Toyota and Honda, both of which were struggling to recover from the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Ford's projected August sales are up 9.5% year-over-year and GM's are up 3.9%. Another large year-over-year gain comes in at 17.6% for Hyundai/Kia. Volkswagen sales are expected to rise by nearly a third year-over-year, but are actually down 3.4% month-over-month.

Manufacturers' incentives play a role, but a much smaller one than perhaps expected. According to a analyst:

Incentive spending in August is around the lowest level we have seen this year and has decreased for the fourth consecutive month. Automakers continue to optimize incentives and spend less dollars-wise despite the big push this month to sell down inventory on older models.

Incentive spending dropped 2% month-over-month and 6% year-over-year. Volkswagen's incentive spending jumped 39% year-over-year. Average incentive expenditures across the entire industry is forecast at $2,457/vehicle in August.

Used car sales are down 13% month-over-month and up 4.7% year-over-year. estimates that nearly 4 million used cars will be sold in August.

Paul Ausick

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Autos, Research Tagged: F, featured, GM, HMC, TM
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