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Commentary & Voices

June 2019 U.S. Auto Sales Come In Down Slightly From Year-Ago Levels


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We closed the books on the first half of 2019 today, with June auto sales being reported by everyone except Ford Motor Company. Considering posted results, our team is now estimating that the Blue Oval finished June very close to the Cox Automotive forecast of 218,000, down roughly 5% from June 2018.

The first half of 2019 will be remembered as a volatile one, with large sales swings and unexpected results. June, however, finished very much as expected, with sales down slightly from year-ago levels and the annual sales pace above 17 million.

Average transaction prices held strong in June as well, as reported by our valuation team at Kelley Blue Book. Read the details.

Last week, our team of analysts shared their thoughts and insights on what they saw in the first half numbers. See the presentation replay.

As for June 2019 sales, our team offers the following commentary.

Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist, Cox Automotive
June sales appear to be coming in close to what most analysts were expecting – an annual sales pace in the low 17 million range and sales down slightly from year-ago levels. Strong fleet continues to support the market while weak car segments drag it down. Clearly, we are not seeing a large decline in June sales and, combined with May’s strong numbers, it may be shaping up to be a “hot” summer for the vehicle market. The surge in Ram sales is likely the biggest story in June, and it could be signaling a very long, dry summer for Silverado.

Michelle Krebs, executive analyst, Autotrader
The biggest auto story this year has to be the success of the Ram pickup, which has moved solidly into the No. 2 sales spot ahead of the Chevrolet Silverado and just behind perennial leader Ford F-Series. And in June, Ram’s sales numbers were up in F-Series territory.

Ram has pulled out a lot of stops with incentives to grab market share—and it’s working—while Silverado is disadvantaged in launch mode. Still, the new Ram 1500 has garnered critical acclaim, and the brand has been on an upward trajectory in terms of reputation. In the first quarter this year, Kelley Blue Book’s Brandwatch, a quarterly analysis of shopping on the site and surveyed consumer perceptions, showed the Ram pickup ranks No. 1 in interior layout for the first time and No. 2 in several other factors important to truck buyers, including technology, exterior styling and ruggedness.

Brad Korner, general manager, Cox Automotive Rates and Incentives
According to our analysis, the Detroit truck makers were not shy with incentives in June. All had significant guaranteed cash in place to help move the metal. Ram led the way with an average guaranteed cash incentive of $4,198. Ford’s average guaranteed cash was the lowest of the three at $2,412, and Chevy claimed the middle at $3,377. What’s most interesting, however, is that according to our analysis both Ford and Ram offered slightly LESS guaranteed cash than in June 2018. Chevy, on the other hand, nearly doubled the amount of guaranteed cash offered, likely an effort to fend off the surging Ram brand. And Ram certainly did not let up: The brand has been pushing aggressive deals of 15-to-20% of MSRP on their pickups. Until now, only GM brands were focused on “percentage off MSRP” advertising. Looking at Ram sales in June, the tactic may work.

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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