Light trucks, SUVs, incentives lift 6-month sales to 10-year record

Light trucks, SUVs, incentives lift 6-month sales to 10-year record

First-half 2015 new vehicle sales were the strongest in a decade as light trucks and utilities especially crossovers boosted sales to record levels. Some analysts, including those at NADA, predicted strong growth ahead and revised their forecasts upward. Others warned of a potential downturn as interest rates are raised in the fall, as is widely anticipated.

But June sales clearly brought good news. Sales overall were up 5 percent from last June, and the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) was over 17 million a rate not seen since before the recession of 2009. Several manufacturers posted double-digit increases.

General Motorsê sales fell 3 percent, but only because of a conscious decision to cut back on fleet sales. Retail sales at GM were up 7 percent from a year ago.

–People feel good about their jobs and the direction the economy as a whole is taking, so the second half of the year should be strong, and thatês especially good news for Chevrolet and GMC brands that have very broad truck and crossover portfolios,” said Kurt McNeil, GMês U.S. vice president of sales operations.

Good news for dealers too: The average transaction prices (ATP) rose 2.5 percent from a year ago, according to Kelley Blue Book. Ford did particularly well — led by the redesigned F-150 — with an ATP 6.6 percent higher than last year.

In reaction to strong June sales, NADA raised its 2015 sales forecast to 17.17 million, up from 16.94 million.

–Purchases and leases of new cars and light trucks will continue as a stronger overall economy continues to drive demand,” said NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly. –While weêve had a slower than normal recovery from the 2009 recession, we are seeing the sixth consecutive year of new light vehicle sales growth.”

Low interest rates, continued pent-up demand and rising consumer confidence helped fuel June sales. But so did strong incentives, according to TrueCar. The average incentive per unit was $2,846. FIAT/Chrysler, which saw sales rise 8 percent, spent $3,384 in incentives per unit. GM spent $3,729.

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