Auto analysts expect August sales to take a slight hit

By Kalea Hall


With later-than-usual Labor Day sales this year, analysts expect U.S. auto sales to take a slight dip from last August’s stellar performance.

Analysts expect that 1.54 million vehicles were sold in August. That would be down from about 1.58 million sales last August.

However, the August 2015 results are missing one sales day and the Labor Day sales weekend in comparison with August 2014.

“Don’t read too much into it,” said Jessica Caldwell, director of industrial analysis for “1.5 million vehicles is a lot.”

Automakers will release August sales results today.

Edmunds analysts predict Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Hyundai/Kia will post slight gains in sales, while General Motors is expected to post a 1 percent decrease. Toyota is expected to post a 12 percent decrease in sales year over year; both Honda and Nissan are expected to post a 6 percent decline in sales, and Volkswagen/Audi is expected to post a drop of 8.4 percent.

Larger vehicles still were trending in August and are expected to outshine midsize and compact car sales.

“Even if gas prices creep up, I would still expect to see a demand for trucks,” Caldwell said.

TrueCar analysts project total unit sales for GM will increase 0.2 percent from last year to 273,000. Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Kia and Subaru are all expected to post an increase in sales, according to TrueCar.

Automakers expected to post a decrease are BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan and Toyota, according to TrueCar.

TrueCar analysts show incentive spending averaging $3,066 per vehicle — a 2.6 percent increase from a year ago. Once again, TrueCar expects the demand for crossovers and trucks will be present in August sales. In fact, analysts at TrueCar project compact utility vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Equinox, will surpass sales of compact and midsize cars this year.

TrueCar finds August’s revenue for new vehicles likely will reach $49 billion for the month, up 0.7 percent compared with the same period last year.

Kelley Blue Book analysts expect to see the sharpest sales decline year over year with their projection of a 4 percent loss to 1.52 million sales. GM is projected to show a more than 5 percent decline in sales, Toyota a 10 percent decrease, Honda a nearly 8 percent drop and Nissan a nearly 5 percent decline, according to KBB.

KBB looks at sales per segment, and this August shows the compact utility segment will top all other segments in August.

“With a host of new models at price points remaining reasonable, this segment has never been more popular,” said Alec Gutierrez, KBB senior analyst. “As a result of moderate gas prices and increased interest in utility vehicles, we expect market share for cars to fall once again in August. Year-to-date, sales of cars comprise 44.5 percent of the market, whereas they made up 47.3 percent of sales last year.”

The Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze is a compact car segment. KBB analysts estimate the compact car segment will have a 7.5 percent decline in sales and the midsize car segment will see a 9.4 percent decline in sales.

Analysts do not believe the recent volatility in the stock market will affect auto sales in August. Sales the rest of the year are expected to remain strong.

For the first half of the year, sales hit 9,946,000, making it the best first half since 2005. This year, analysts project auto sales will hit 17.2 million, a feat that hasn’t been reached since the early 2000s.

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