Record-breaking vehicle sales expected for December, 2015


By Kalea Hall

khall@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

When automakers report their December sales after this weekend, records will be broken.

This year, December sales are expected to increase by about 13 percent to a total of 1.7 million, which would smash the current record from 2006.

December sales will lead to an expected record-breaking 17.5 million sales for the year, beating the high of 17.35 million sales in 2000.

“We still have another week,” noted Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “The biggest weekend is this upcoming one.”

While KBB analysts expect to see a 13.1 percent increase in sales this month, TrueCar Inc. analysts project a 12.8 percent year-over-year gain this month to a total of about 1,699,600 sales. All automakers are expected to post sales gains during the month, which has two more selling days than last year.

Both KBB and TrueCar analysts see the state of the economy as the reason behind the continued growth. This will be the sixth-consecutive year of increased sales.

Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights for TrueCar, sees the affordable financing and consumer confidence mixed with millennials’ purchasing new vehicles as the reason for the increase.

“This year marks a true milestone for an industry that vigorously rebounded from a recession-led collapse in 2009,” Lyman said. “Consumers continue to re-enter the market in a big way, and we expect 2016 to be even stronger with new-vehicle sales topping 18 million units.”

TrueCar and KBB analysts expect to see continued growth in 2016.

Another game-changer this year for the auto industry is the shift from cars to utility vehicles. This is the first year a utility vehicle has taken the lead for number of sales. The compact SUV/crossover segment is expected to end the year on top of other segments.

For the month, KBB expects to see pickup trucks with the most number of sales, followed by compact SUVs, midsize cars, compact cars and then midsize SUV/crossovers.

Low gas prices have affected the shift, analysts say. But the utility vehicles also are more efficient than they used to be.

Next year, analysts foresee the car segments taking more of a plunge and fighting harder for a piece of the pie in a sinking market.

Also next year, General Motors has the next-generation, Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze on the market, Honda has the new Civic and Hyundai has the new Elantra.

“It is still an important segment for them to compete in,” Fleming said. “It is still good to have those entry points.”

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