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Commentary & Voices

July 2019 U.S. Auto Sales Continue to Show Strength


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Welcome to a new era of sales reporting. With the Detroit-based automakers—accounting for more than 40% of U.S. auto sales—no longer officially reporting monthly sales numbers, the Cox Automotive Industry Insights team continues to deliver the insights they can.

Our July forecast called for sales volumes slightly above year-ago levels thanks to an additional July selling day, and for the most part the market delivered. Many of the reporting automakers posted numbers slightly above our forecast, notably Toyota and Honda. We also believe the Detroit Three all delivered sales volumes above year-ago levels, with GM increasing the most and more than our forecast increase of 3.0%.

Transaction prices for new cars continued to rise in July. According to Kelley Blue Book estimates, average transaction price for a new vehicle in the U.S. was $37,169, which is down from last month but up 3.5% from year-ago levels. Read those details here.

Our data also shows traffic on dealer websites was strong in July and the volume of incentives helped deliver sales. Please find below commentary and notes from the Industry Insights team at Cox Automotive.

From Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist, Cox Automotive
July sales are coming in near where we expected – a slightly slower pace than the YTD average. Clearly, the market remains on solid ground and buyers are still in the new-car market even with higher prices. Strong sales of some small cars may suggest that affordability shoppers have not entirely abandoned the new-vehicle market. Given the strength of used-vehicle prices, and supply constraints limiting selection, more interest in lower priced new vehicles is not surprising.

Our full-year forecast for the new-vehicle market in the U.S. remains at 16.8 million. July’s results will not alter the outlook. And while the Fed’s interest rate cut yesterday will help contain borrowing costs, we do not think the impact in car sales will be much and not for a while.

From Michelle Krebs, executive analyst, Autotrader
Traffic on our Dealer.com-powered website was strong in July and, of course, the team has seen continually increased shopping activity for sport-utility vehicles. However, on Autotrader.com, we’re seeing some resurgence in shopping for cars, particularly compacts like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Mazda3. That suggests some consumers are looking for affordability and finding it in small cars, a market largely abandoned by Detroit’s automakers. As a result, sales for the two best-selling compact—Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic—were up double digits in July (15% for Corolla and 11% for Civic) to about 30,000 units each.

[Note: Dealer.com supports approximately 60% of franchised dealer websites in the U.S.]

From Brad Korner, general manager, Cox Automotive Rates and Incentives

We often see a slowdown in the number of incentives available this time of year, as model year changeovers and strong spring sales have dwindled vehicle supply on dealer lots. That was not the case last month. The volume of unique incentive programs ran high in July 2019, as it has all year.

Read Brad’s blog on incentive volume: 2019 is the Summer of Incentives

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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