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Cox Automotive Forecast: US Auto Sales Expected to Finish First Half Higher by 2.9%, in Line With Expectations for Slow Growth

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Article Highlights

  1. June’s new-vehicle sales pace is forecast to finish near 16.0 million, up 0.1 million from May’s 15.9 million pace but down 0.1 million from last June’s 16.1 million level.
  2. First-half sales volume is forecast to increase by 2.9% year over year, thanks partly to strong results from Toyota, Honda and Ford; Stellantis and Tesla tumble.
  3. Cox Automotive holds its full-year forecast steady at 15.7 million, with the sales pace through the first half expected to be 15.6 million, up from 15.4 million in the first half of 2023.

Update, July 3, 2024 – Initial numbers indicate that new-vehicle sales volume was down year over year by more than 3%; we were forecasting a slight increase. The sales pace last month is now being pegged at 15.3 million (SAAR), well below our forecast of 16.0 million. And all these numbers will likely be revised, as the CDK outages at many dealerships may delay full and final June reporting. Still, what’s clear in the numbers is that the first half of 2024 ended on a sour note.
 
While the final two weeks of Q2 were different than expected, the rest of the first half went mostly on script – slow growth for the auto industry. Yes, many pundits will point to software outages at many dealerships as the culprit behind the large decline in June – and that did contribute – but there are many factors at play here. The fleet market is clearly slowing, and we still believe the retail market is lacking urgency, with many would-be buyers deciding “wait-and-see” is the prudent approach. With hopes of lower loan rates on the horizon, uncertainty of the coming national election, and continued downward price pressure, particularly in new vehicles, the wait-and-see attitude should hardly be a surprise.
 
Our team will have a full analysis of the June and first half numbers, including our deep dive into electric-vehicle sales in Q2, after the July Fourth celebrations. 


ATLANTA, June 25, 2024 – Cox Automotive forecasts U.S. new-vehicle sales in June to show mild improvement over last year, but high prices and interest rates continue to hinder a stronger market. In June, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), or sales pace, is expected to finish near 16.0 million. This is down slightly from last June’s 16.1 million level and a modest uptick from last month’s 15.9 million pace.

According to Cox Automotive’s Kelley Blue Book estimates, new-vehicle sales volume through the first half of 2024 is forecast to increase by nearly 225,000 units compared to the first half of 2023 – an increase of 2.9%. The sales pace through the first half is expected to be 15.6 million, up from 15.4 million in the first half of 2023.

Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive, noted: “Sales have been relatively strong over the last few months thanks in large part to lower prices. Incentives are rising, which are helping vehicle buyers, but only somewhat. The expectation of falling prices coupled with rising uncertainty around interest rate policies may lead some vehicle buyers to wait.”

Steady Full-Year Forecast Amid Growing Uncertainty

With expectations of uncertainty in the second half of 2024, Cox Automotive is holding its full-year new-vehicle sales forecast steady at 15.7 million, a gain of 1.3% from 2023, when sales finished at 15.5 million. This increase is aligned with the slow growth expected in 2024. Fleet sales are forecast to finish the year at 2.9 million, up from 2.8 million in 2023. Full-year retail sales are forecast to increase from 12.8 million in 2024 to 12.7 million in 2023.

“We remain concerned that the second half of the year cannot maintain the growth we’ve seen so far,” said Chesbrough. “Adding to the uncertainty in the market, many consumers likely believe things will be better, or at least more certain, after the November election, which adds to the hesitancy in buying. We still expect 2024 to finish a little better than 2023 – supported by more discounting and better prices, but we will be fighting an uncertain economic outlook.”

GM Remains on Top; Toyota Volume Increases

General Motors is forecast to remain the top automaker in U.S. new-vehicle sales through the first half of 2024. However, GM sales are forecast to drop 0.1% compared to the first half of 2023. Toyota, which continues to operate with very lean new-vehicle supply, will remain No. 2 after delivering a sizable 16.3% first-half year-over-year gain. Ford and Hyundai are on track to remain the No. 3 and No. 4 automakers, respectively.

Notably, Honda Motor Company – combined Honda and Acura brand sales – is forecast to move ahead of Stellantis as the fifth largest automaker by sales. With stronger inventory and popular new models, Honda is expected to post a 10.8% volume increase in the first half, compared to a 16.5% decrease for Stellantis in the same period.

June 2024 U.S. New-Vehicle Sales Forecast

Q2 2024 New-Vehicle Sales Forecast1

All percentages are based on raw volume, not daily selling rate. There are 26 selling days this June, which is the same as last year and last month.  There were 154 selling days in H1 2023 and H1 2024.

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, auto manufacturers, dealers, lenders and fleets. The company has 29,000+ employees on five continents and a portfolio of industry-leading brands that include Autotrader®, Kelley Blue Book®, Manheim®, vAuto®, Dealertrack®, NextGear Capital™, CentralDispatch® and FleetNet America®. 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 X, CoxAutoInc on Facebook or Cox-Automotive-Inc on LinkedIn.

Media Contacts:
Mark Schirmer
734 883 6346
mark.schirmer@coxautoinc.com

Dara Hailes
470 658 0656
dara.hailes@coxautoinc.com

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