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Cox Automotive Commentary: November U.S. Auto Sales Boosted By Good Deals and Solid Inventory

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While fewer automakers are reporting monthly sales numbers, the team at Cox Automotive has been tracking results as they can. Our take: November was another solid month of auto sales in the U.S.

There were plenty of incentives in play and solid inventory at dealerships. According to our Kelley Blue Book team, average transaction prices (ATP) increased to $38,393, up slightly from year-ago levels. Read the details here.

Below you will find initial commentary on today’s sales results from the Industry Insights team at Cox Automotive. Later this week, as the team reviews available data, we will have additional data points to share.

Charlie Chesbrough, Senior Economist, Cox Automotive
“While many automakers have not reported November results yet, early indications are sales last month finished slightly better than our forecast. We had expected the market to be down slightly from last year – less than 1% – but results are coming in slightly higher. Particular strong results from Toyota, Honda and Hyundai were offset by lower numbers reported by Nissan. We believe the Detroit companies finished near or slightly below our forecast, as lower car sales continue to impact their bottom line numbers.

Still, the U.S. consumer, motivated in part by low unemployment rates, continues to drive the economy forward. Vehicle shoppers in November were met with good discounts on older inventory and responded accordingly. November’s results will likely keep the industry on pace to sell 17 million units in 2019, slightly above our full-year forecast of 16.8 million. The bottom line here: Strong labor and equity markets continue to provide the foundation for robust vehicle demand. Until either of those changes substantially, strong vehicle markets are likely to continue.”

Brian Moody, Executive Editor, Autotrader
“While the Detroit automakers may believe cars are bad business, the Japanese and Korean automakers view the market differently. They are investing in good sedans; consumers, turned away by the Detroit Three, are finding what they want from the Asian brands. Nissan and Toyota actually delivered INCREASES in year-over-year car sales. Honda and Hyundai saw only small declines in car sales last month. Don’t believe the mainstream media talking point – cars are not dead in America.”

Brad Korner, General Manager, Cox Automotive Rates and Incentives
“With older inventory plentiful and aggressive incentives in place, there were many good deals in the auto market last month. By our count, incentive program volume in November was at its highest point since July. In all, 2019 is on course to set a record for program volume. In other words, there has never been more incentives in play.

Interestingly, counter to trend, Nissan and Infiniti have been dialing back this year and showing a downturn in sales. The number of unique programs offered last month was well below November 2018, resulting in less money for discounts to manipulate pricing and payments. Clearly, Nissan is working to rein in the number of deals they have in the market.”

If you would like to speak with one of the expert analysts from Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book or any member of the Cox Automotive Industry Insights team, please contact us.

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