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Cox Automotive Monthly Sales Forecast

October Auto Sales Expected to Slow from Strong September Pace


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Article Highlights

  1. New-vehicle sales expected to reach 1.33 million units, down 6.6 percent from September 2018.
  2. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) in October is forecast at 17.1 million units, down from September’s 17.4 million rate and last year’s robust pace of 17.9.
  3. Double-digit declines in car segments continue to weigh down market.

ATLANTA, Oct. 26, 2018 – According to a forecast released today by Cox Automotive, the new-car sales pace in October is expected to fall to 17.1 million units, a decrease from September’s robust 17.4 million level. Sales in October are forecast to remain consistent with the market’s 2018 overall average. Although there is one more selling day in October versus last year, total sales volume is expected to decline nearly 25,000 units (1.9 percent) from 2017 and nearly 90,000 units (6.6 percent) compared to September 2018.

“The October sales pace should decline from September, and decline from last October’s strong 17.9 million level,” said Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive. “Double-digit declines in car segments will continue to weigh down the market, while modest gains with many trucks and crossovers will not be enough to lift the pace to higher levels.”

For the automotive market, October is an important sales month. OEMs traditionally roll out new products at this time of year and heavily discount older models to make space on dealership lots. Over the previous three years, the October seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) has finished in the 17.6-17.9 million range. This strong pace has been driven both by consumers seeking end-of-model-year deals and those interested in new models. However, this year’s pace is expected to moderate some, in part from less aggressive incentives from OEMs.

The record for the month of October occurred in 2001. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, GM’s “Keep America Rolling” programs helped push sales to 1.72 million vehicles, the second highest all-time monthly volume and a record SAAR of 21.7 million. There is no possibility of that record being broken this year.

Key Highlights for October 2018 Sales Forecast:

  • New light-vehicle sales, including fleet, are expected to reach 1.33 million units, down nearly 90,000 units, or 6.6 percent, compared to September 2018, and down nearly 25,000 units, or 1.9 percent, from October 2017.
  • There is one more selling day this October (26) versus October 2017 (25). When combined with lower volumes, the sales pace also declines. The SAAR in October 2018 is forecast at 17.1 million, down from last month’s 17.4 million level and from last year’s 17.9 million pace. The pace this month is in line with the 2018 year-to-date average of 17.1 million.
  • Although the market, and buying conditions in general, are strong, risks are also rising. Interest rate hikes—with more on the way—are already driving increases in monthly payments. Additionally, off-lease vehicles are creating a major headwind: Millions of gently-used, high-content vehicles have been returning to dealer lots this year. Off-lease vehicle volume is expected to peak in 2019. Many potential new-vehicle buyers will be drawn to this value alternative.

Lower Sales Forecast Across the Industry

Most manufacturers should see declines compared to 2017. One exception, Jeep, is expected to continue performing well as demand for rugged crossovers aligns with their portfolio. Ford and GM are likely to see some larger declines as aging product in some segments, poor car sales, and tighter incentives continue to hold them back.


Sales Forecast1 Market Share
  Oct-18 Oct-17 Sep-18 YOY% MOM% Oct-18 Sep-18 MOM Oct-17
GM 229,000 252,813 236,000* -9.4% -3.0% 17.4% 16.6% 0.7% 18.7%
Ford Motor Co 180,000 199,698 196,496 -9.9% -8.4% 13.6% 13.9% -0.3% 14.8%
Toyota Motor Co 174,000 188,434 203,098 -7.7% -14.3% 13.1% 14.3% -1.2% 14.0%
FCA Group 176,000 153,373 199,819 14.8% -11.9% 13.3% 14.1% -0.8% 11.4%
American Honda 125,000 127,353 132,668 -1.8% -5.8% 9.4% 9.4% 0.1% 9.4%
Nissan NA 115,000 123,012 122,819 -6.5% -6.4% 8.7% 8.7% 0.0% 9.1%
Hyundai Kia 99,000 97,407 108,862 1.6% -9.1% 7.5% 7.7% -0.1% 7.2%
VW 52,000 51,872 55,007 0.2% -5.5% 3.9% 3.9% 0.0% 3.8%
Subaru 55,000 54,045 57,044 1.8% -3.6% 4.0% 4.0% 0.0% 4.0%
Grand Total2 1,325,000 1,349,993 1,418,580 -1.9% -6.6%        


1 October 2018 Cox Automotive Industry Insights Forecast; all historical data from OEM sales announcements
2 Total includes brands not shown

* GM monthly sales from September are estimated

Most vehicle segments should also see declining sales versus last year. The decline in car volume the market has witnessed throughout the year may slow in October, as higher prices in the used market, coupled with newer high-volume products from Honda and Toyota, could support new car sales.

Sales Forecast1 Market Share
Segment Oct-18 Oct-17 Sep-18 YOY MOM Oct-18 Sep-18 MOM Oct-17
Mid-Size Car 110,000 129,344 119,663 -15.0% -8.1% 8.3% 8.4% -0.1% 9.6%
Compact Car 125,000 153,190 143,524 -18.4% -12.9% 9.4% 10.1% -0.7% 11.3%
Compact SUV/Crossover 250,000 228,535 260,582 9.4% -4.1% 18.9% 18.4% 0.5% 16.9%
Full-Size Pickup Truck 210,000 206,363 206,466 1.8% 1.7% 15.8% 14.6% 1.3% 15.3%
Mid-Size SUV/Crossover 200,000 187,976 210,646 6.4% -5.1% 15.1% 14.9% 0.2% 13.9%
Grand Total2 1,325,000 1,349,993 1,418,580 -1.9% -6.6%        


1 Cox Automotive Industry Insights data
2 Total includes segments not shown

All percentages are based on raw volume, not daily selling rate.

Cox Automotive Monthly Sales One-on-One Interviews

Cox Automotive industry experts will be available for one-on-one interviews with media on sales reporting day, Thursday, November 1, from 9-11 a.m. EDT. If you would like to discuss sales results next week or today’s forecast, contact a member of the Public Relations team (information below) to schedule an interview.

About Cox Automotive

Cox Automotive Inc. makes buying, selling and owning cars easier for everyone. The global company’s 34,000-plus team members and family of brands, including Autotrader®, Clutch Technologies, Dealer.com®, Dealertrack®, Kelley Blue Book®, Manheim®, NextGear Capital®, VinSolutions®, vAuto® and Xtime®, are passionate about helping millions of car shoppers, 40,000 auto dealer clients across five continents and many others throughout the automotive industry thrive for generations to come. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises Inc., a privately-owned, Atlanta-based company with revenues exceeding $20 billion. www.coxautoinc.com

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