While multiple projections have new-vehicle sales off to a somewhat sluggish start, the forecasts for used-vehicle sales in the opening month of 2017 offer much more upbeat expectations.
Edmunds estimated 3.1 million used vehicles will be sold in January, which could computed into a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 38.4 million. Both of those metrics are higher compared to 2.6 million sales or a SAAR of 38.2 million that Edmunds reported for December.
Meanwhile, the used-sales forecast from ALG is even more hopeful. Analysts there said total used auto sales — including deliveries at franchised and independent dealerships as well as private-party transactions — may reach 3,139,957 this month. Should the industry hit that mark, it would represent a 7.9-percent lift versus January of last year.
Conversely, here is the rundown of new-model sales expectations for the month.
Edmunds forecasted that 1,153,459 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in January, for an estimated SAAR of 17.7 million. This expectation reflects a 31.5-percent drop in sales from December and a 0.7-percent dip from January of last year.
“January had the potential of being a very slow month at dealerships, given the fact that auto sales shattered records in December,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director of industry analysis.
“But January is shaping up to be a surprisingly healthy month. The economy continues to show signs of strength and consumers are feeling confident, boosting auto sales above initial expectations,” Caldwell added.
Over at ALG, its new-vehicle sales prediction carried similar themes.
ALG projected total new-vehicle sales, including fleet deliveries, will reach 1,130,500 units in January, down 1.5 percent from a year ago. The forecast would leave this month’s SAAR at an estimated 17.5 million units for the month, down from an 18.4 million-unit SAAR a year ago.
Excluding fleet sales, U.S. retail deliveries of new cars and light trucks should remain flat with 923,369 units, according to Eric Lyman, ALG’s chief industry analyst
“Exceptionally strong sales to close out 2016 led to a slow start in January, but additional incentives towards the end of the month helped pick up the slack,” Lyman said.
Lyman mentioned incentive spending by automakers averaged an estimated $3,635 per vehicle in January, up 21.6 percent from a year ago, and down 3.3 percent from December.
“On a year-over-year basis, Honda is gaining about 0.5 percent market share on the continued popularity of its new products in the compact utility and pick up segments,” Lyman said.
While the team at Kelley Blue Book doesn’t make used-vehicle sales predications, its analysts said new-vehicle sales are expected to decrease 3 percent year-over-year to a total of 1.13 million units in January, resulting in an estimated 17.4 million SAAR.
Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Alec Gutierrez acknowledged incentive spending is a concern as it continues to rise across the industry. Gutierrez explained another record in 2017 would likely require undisciplined sales tactics driven by incentives, leasing and longer loan terms.
KBB’s new-model sales forecast 2017 calls for turns in the range of 16.8 to 17.3 million units, which would represent a 1 to 4 percent decrease from 2016.
“After a record December capped a new record year of vehicles sales in 2016, January figures appear to be enduring a hangover effect, potentially falling more than half a million units from the previous month,” Gutierrez said.
“However, January is typically the weakest month of the year for sales, as winter weather sets in and consumers recover from big spending over the holiday season,” he continued. “In addition, many potential sales were likely pulled ahead into December as consumers opted to take advantage of the ample inventory and incentives available industry-wide.”