February Sales Seen Up Around 20 Percent
Three usually reliable research organizations agree: When automakers release February sales this coming week, they will be strong. Analysts see a sales increase of about 20 percent, and a SAAR in the 12 million territory.
- First out of the gate was J.D. Power, which gathers real-time transaction data from more than 8,900 retail franchisees throughout the United States. On February 17, they predicted total light-vehicle sales for February are in the neighborhood of 913,000 units, which would represent a 17 percent gain over February 2010. They expect a total SAAR of 12.6 million units.
- A week later, Truecar prognosticated similar numbers. They see light vehicle sales in the U.S. to come in at 924,516 units, up 19 percent from February 2010. Their SAAR predictor says 12.5 million units.
- A day later, Edmunds predicted even better numbers: 937,000 units, up 20.1 percent from February 2010, and a SAAR of 12.64 million.
All say that February started slow, but gained momentum after President’s day and after large parts of the U.S. dug out from a thick blanket of snow.
On the incentive front, now is the time to get deals. Here is Truecar’s incentive spending forecast:
Incentive Spending Forecast
Feb. 2011 Incentives
Change vs. Jan. 2011
Change vs. Feb. 2010
One of the challenges in analyzing sales is that incentives don't always tell the whole story. GM has a massive lease pull ahead program that has cleaned out the lots for many dealers--some of the top dealers are up 40%+ YoY, and would be up even more if the inventory was there.
12-14 million units per year in the US market is likely the new normal. As we have said here before, the US market is at best a replacement market, not a growth market. New vehicles sold trended above the number of units being scrapped for many years and now there is still an excess of four wheel stock on the market. It is hard to imagine what would bring the US market back to its 17 million or so units per annum old peak.
Honda has really piled on the incentives as of late. I'm largely surprised Honda is so high and not the lowest. They tend to spend a lot protecting their brand and resale value with low fleet sales (typically only sell to gov't fleets) and giving out industry low incentives. I think the rise incentives is their reliance on light truck sales over cars as their growth seems to be in that area. As for the lease pull ahead - is that included in the overall incentives numbers? That essentially is an extra incentive and can be up to $1k or more depending on the lease.