Detroit, Michigan - US new-vehicle sales are projected to decline for a second consecutive month, even as incentive spending reaches a record high.
The forecasts reinforce the notion that industry sales have levelled off after six consecutive years of gains coming out of the recession. But analysts say the market is not on the brink of a downturn, either.
“Auto sales are tracking just about even with last year’s record-breaking pace, so there’s good reason to believe that they’ve hit a high plateau,” Jeremy Acevedo, a senior analyst with Edmunds.com, said in a statement. “At the very least, automakers can feel good that sales are consistently hovering at or around last year’s record levels.”
Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and TrueCar estimate September sales will fall about 2 percent. LMC Automotive said it expects a decline of just 0.8 percent.
The forecasts call for a seasonally adjusted, annualised selling rate of 17.4 million to 17.7 million. That would be higher than last month’s rate of 16.97 million but below the year-ago rate of 18.04 million.
All of the forecasts show that September is expected to be the first month since February in which automakers sold fewer than 1.5 million vehicles.
“The US automotive market continues to show signs of little growth, yet in our opinion the numbers do not reflect significant weakness or risk,” Jeff Schuster, LMC’s senior vice president of forecasting, said in a statement. “The expectation remains for steady volume levels at the top-line, despite a pullback in the retail market and increased monthly performance volatility.”
JD Power, which provides data used in the LMC forecast, said incentive spending in the first 14 days of September was a record $3,923 per vehicle, topping the previous record of $3,753 from December 2008.