U.S. auto sales hit astonishing 17 million, SAAR
Auto sales are like the energizer bunny, defying all expectations of slowdown. Juneês solid sales numbers including, as every report has noted, a 1 percent increase for General Motors tamped down fears set off by rising fuel prices and the most modest of economic recoveries. Although overall sales were only 1 percent higher than a year ago, the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) of 17 million was considerably above the rate for the first five months of the year. LMC Automotive raised its retail sales forecast for 2014 from 13.3 million to 13.4 million.
GM had its best month since June 2007. The first half of the year was our best retail sales performance since 2008, driven by an outstanding second quarter, said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of sales operations. Buick did particularly well, surging 18 percent. And fuel price worries aside, sales of GMês new full-size SUVs were strong
Chrysler Group, with a 9 percent lift in sales, trumpeted its 51st straight month of growth helped in part by Jeepês 28 percent jump. Ford was down 6 percent as it retooled for new models. The Ford Edge dropped 28.6 percent, in large part because it was at the end of its model run. Fusion sales rose 14 percent.
Sales at Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai divisions rose slightly, at 4 percent, 5 percent and 4 percent respectively. Volkswagen (down 23 percent) and Audi (down 23 percent) fared poorly.
Transaction prices for the first six months of 2014 were at record levels, averaging $29,630, up from $28,880 a year ago, according to J.D. Power. To help consumers afford the higher prices, lenders are offering longer loan terms. Loans of at least 72 months accounted for 31.8 percent of retail sales in the first half of the year, up from 30.2 percent in 2013. The lengthening terms could create problems in the future if they take consumers out of the market, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas warned in an interview with Automotive News.Download Bulletin PDF