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Commentary & Voices

Cox Automotive Industry Commentary: Sales Day June 2018

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Article Highlights

  1. Automakers reported June 2018 sales earlier today, with most coming in slightly above the Cox Automotive forecast and Nissan posting results well above forecast.
  2. General Motors also confirmed Q2 sales today, with combined sales up 4.6 percent vs Q2 2017.  This result was very close to Cox Automotive’s forecast of a 4.5 percent gain over last year.  
  3. The first half of 2018 has been stronger than we expected with the new light-vehicle SAAR staying above 17 million and YTD sales posting a gain over last year. But that gain has been mostly delivered by fleet sales. Retail sales have been flat, and even those sales have been supported by incentives being up 6 percent.

Each month automotive industry experts from Cox Automotive and its brands host a sales day commentary call to provide insights into the previous month and to answer media questions related to market movement. The audio for the most recent call which covers the June selling month is available.

Listen ›

Automakers reported June 2018 sales earlier today, with most coming in slightly above the Cox Automotive forecast and Nissan posting results well above forecast. General Motors also confirmed Q2 sales today, with combined sales up 4.6 percent vs Q2 2017.  This result was very close to Cox Automotive’s forecast of a 4.5 percent gain over last year.

Please find below commentary from the team at Cox Automotive. 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 let us know. We would be happy to help.

From Michelle Krebs, Executive Analyst for Autotrader:

June was a good truck month and that bodes well for Detroit automakers. Ford F-150 hit nearly 80,000 units in June, and General Motors’ trucks were up 18 percent for the quarter as it fills commercial orders and sells down the current Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra to make way for the new ones this fall. 

From Rebecca Lindland, Executive Analyst for Kelley Blue Book:

Consumers are benefitting from a solid labor market, eschewing concerns about rising gas prices and tariff threats, driving the market for cars and trucks, with crossovers continuing to dominate the market. OEMs are keeping showrooms fresh, with a trifecta of beautiful products offering the very latest technology with appealing financing keeping consumers coming into dealerships and driving away with new vehicles.

Ford is enjoying sales from high-profit vehicles like the F-150, while building sales for the compact EcoSport. The Lincoln Navigator is paving the way for the Nautilus in just a matter of months.

Jeep continues to crush it, with the Cherokee, Compass, and all-new Wrangler dominating sales. Luxury Italian brand Alfa Romeo sales are rising every month while its sister brand Fiat struggles for purchase in a market overwhelmed by larger vehicles.

Chevrolet and GMC are benefiting from demand for CUV, trucks, and pickups. Every Cadillac except the CT6 is in positive territory for the year, hopefully setting up the new management under Steve Carlisle for success in the second quarter.

Buick’s Chinese import Envision sales are down 48% for the month and 25% for the year, but it’s less about tariff concerns and more about GM deliberately limiting 2018 availability to prepare for a model year 2019 strategic styling and performance upgrade for the attractive mid-size five-seat CUV. The German-imported Buick Regal continues to surprise and delight as consumers flock to the unicorn body styles of performance wagon Tour X and sportback, but could be subjected to significant tariffs as well, so if you’re thinking of buying one, do it now

From Brian Moody, Executive Editor for Autotrader:

Despite talk of tariffs and an increasingly global economy, Americans don’t seem concerned about point of origin or ownership when they choose a new car. Italian-owned Jeep and Ram are selling well. If you get the Jeep you want, does it really matter where CEO sits?

From Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist for Cox Automotive

The first half of 2018 has been stronger than we expected with the new light-vehicle SAAR staying above 17 million and YTD sales posting a gain over last year. But that gain has been mostly delivered by fleet sales. Retail sales have been flat, and even those sales have been supported by incentives being up 6 percent. Sales should be trending toward 16 million, not 17 million, but given the strong start, we did revise our full-year forecast upward to 16.8 million sales.

We’re very focused on monthly payments, as they have been increasing dramatically for buyers over the last year thanks to the combination of higher prices and higher interest rates. Year-over-year, the average new loan payment in June was up 2 percent, the average lease payment was up 5 percent, and the average used car finance payment was up 1 percent. 

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

As inventory levels seem to be in check, incentives in June were focused more on specific high-transaction-price models and local market-share battles. With an influx of off-lease vehicles coming due, automakers are using lease pull-ahead incentives and loyalty offers to keep owners within their brands. This is being supported by additional automaker-to-dealer cash for retailers to use as closing tools for trade allowance, down payments and lease subvention. Vehicle segments with high profits—pickups, SUVs and luxury vehicles—are being guarded with incentives for retaining or gaining share.

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