Cox Automotive Forecast: New-Vehicle Sales Pick Up in April as Inventory Levels Continue to Improve
Tuesday April 25, 2023
- Annual new-vehicle sales pace in April is expected to finish near 15.1 million, up 0.8 million from last April’s 14.3 million pace and up from March’s 14.8 million level.
- April sales volume is expected to rise 2.3% from one year ago and reach 1.285 million units. This is also a 6.5% decrease from March.
- At the start of April, available new-vehicle supply volume was 70% above last year, according to a Cox Automotive analysis of initial vAuto inventory data.
Updated, May 3, 2023 – Fed by higher inventory levels and a healthy dose of fleet deliveries, April new-vehicle sales likely finished higher than the Cox Automotive forecast. As noted below, our team was expecting the annual sales pace in April to hit 15.1 million – a sizable increase from April 2022 – and initial estimates suggest the pace was even stronger, approaching 15.9 million. Solid year-over-year gains from Honda, Hyundai, Kia and Subaru led the market higher. Ford and General Motors likely tallied year-over-year gains in April as well, while Stellantis likely posted a sales decline as the company continued to pursue a lower-volume, higher-revenue strategy in the U.S. market, as seen throughout Q1.
Fleet sales in the early months of 2023 have shown notable year-over-year gains, and initial estimates suggest that results in April will hold course. Pent-up fleet demand is being strategically delivered by some automakers looking to offset any decline in retail demand. But the initial April estimates suggest there is little evidence of waning demand in the overall market. In fact, with inventory at the highest level in nearly two years and transaction prices trending downward through the first quarter, new-vehicle sales in the U.S. continue to surprise on the upside.
ATLANTA, April 25, 2023 – New-vehicle sales in April are likely to reveal the market has caught spring fever when announced next week. According to a forecast released today by Cox Automotive, the sales pace, or seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), in April is expected to finish near 15.1 million, a large gain over last year’s supply-constrained level of 14.3 million. April’s sales pace is also forecast to show improvement over last month’s 14.8 million pace.
Sales volume in April is expected to rise 2.3% from one year ago, and that is with one less selling day than last year’s 27 days. However, sales volume in April is expected to decline 6.5% from March. April has 26 selling days, and March had 27. Still, despite a month-over-month decline, overall healthy April sales suggest that growing economic headwinds haven’t hit new-vehicle sales just yet.
According to Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive: “Relatively strong sales in the wake of rising interest rates and worsening economic headwinds suggests there remains some pent-up demand. Product availability has improved substantially over this time last year. Dealer lots are no longer empty, so there is far more selection for vehicle shoppers that may have been waiting to buy a particular model or configuration.”
Dramatically Increased Inventory Level Supports New-Vehicle Sales in April
At the start of April, available new-vehicle supply volume was 70% above last year, according to a Cox Automotive analysis of initial vAuto inventory data. Days’ supply has hovered at the mid-50-day level through the spring, which is nearly 60% higher than this time last year. As published earlier this month, new-vehicle supply closed March at its highest level in two years despite surprisingly brisk sales.
Although sales have shown resilience thus far in 2023, some slowdown in the second half of this year is expected. As reported at the end of Q1, economic headwinds are expected to slow the new-vehicle sales recovery, although more incentives and additional units sold into fleet will continue to provide support.
April 2023 New-Vehicle Sales Forecast Highlights
- The annual sales pace in April is expected to finish near 15.1 million, up 0.8 million from last April’s 14.3 million pace and up from March’s 14.8 million.
- Sales volume is expected to rise 2.3% from one year ago and reach 1.3 million units.
- There are 26 selling days in April 2023, down one day compared to April 2022 and last month.
April 2023 New-Vehicle Sales Forecast
All percentages are based on raw volume, not daily selling rate.
About Cox Automotive
Cox Automotive is the world’s largest automotive services and technology provider. Fueled by the largest breadth of first-party data fed by 2.3 billion online interactions a year, Cox Automotive tailors leading solutions for car shoppers, automakers, dealers, retailers, lenders and fleet owners. The company has 25,000+ employees on five continents and a family of trusted brands that includes Autotrader®, Dealertrack®, Kelley Blue Book®, Manheim®, NextGear Capital™ and vAuto®. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc., a privately-owned, Atlanta-based company with $22 billion in annual revenue. Visit coxautoinc.com or connect via @CoxAutomotive on Twitter, CoxAutoInc on Facebook or Cox-Automotive-Inc on LinkedIn.
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