After six consecutive years of gains in U.S. new vehicle sales, it seems automotive sales are leveling off. Industry analysts say that September sales will be down slightly (between 2% and 8%) from the same month in 2015, the second consecutive month of year-over-year declines.
Forecasts call for a seasonally adjusted, annualized selling rate (SAAR) of 17.4 million to 17.7 million in September 2016. That would be higher than last month’s rate of 16.97 million, but below the year-ago rate of 18.04 million.
Sales could potentially be lower, if not for increased incentives from many manufacturers. J.D. Power says 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. At the same time, transaction prices also are climbing. The average retail transaction price in September hit a record $30,665, according to J.D. Power.
Analysts say there is a good chance the 2016 end-of-year auto sales will fall just short of the 2015 record. Even if sales have plateaued or even decline slightly, major economic indicators point to sustained high new-vehicle sales levels for the next several years.