Light-vehicle sales are staying strong in November and are expected to total 17.5 million units in North America by the close of 2015, according to the joint forecast issued by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.
"U.S. auto sales are now clearly on the path to set a record in 2015, with volume we haven't seen in 15 years," noted Jeff Schuster, LMC’s senior VP of forecasting. "Even with the strong possibility for the Fed [Federal Reserve] to increase interest rates, growth should continue into 2016, with sales expected to reach 17.8 million units."
Total new light vehicles sales are expected to top 1.27 million units in November, the firms noted, which is a 7% increase on a selling-day adjusted basis compared with the same month in 2014. The seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) for total sales in November is projected to reach 17.7 million units, a 600,000-unit increase from a year ago, said John Humphrey, senior VP of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power.
"The strength of the industry continues to be observed through strong sales volume and high transaction prices," he noted. "So far in the month, the average transaction price of $31,498 is the highest level ever for any November and the second highest for any month,” with the record high of $31,519 set in December 2014.
Fleet sales in November are projected to reach 201,200 units, a 6.9% increase on a selling-day adjusted basis from the same month last year, with fleet sales expected to account for 15.7% of total sales in November 2015, the same level as November 2014, and end the year at 18.1% of total light vehicle sales.
"The good news for the auto industry is that sales growth, both in terms of total units and price-per-vehicle, is continuing to show strength as we turn the corner to 2016,” Humphrey said.
LMC added that North American light vehicle production in October 2015 topped 1.64 million units, a 1.1% increase compared with October 2015, while inventory levels increased to a 69-day supply from a 60-day supply at the end of September, but down from 76 days at the same point in 2014.
With production expected to follow pace with demand in the region for the remainder of year, LMC increased its production forecast for 2015 to 17.6 million units and for 2016 to 18.1 million units.