December auto sales to decline

Staff report


December auto sales could decline up to 7 percent year over year, analysts predict.

Full-year sales are expected to be at least 17.1 million, for the fourth-largest sales total ever.

Manufacturers will release their December and total year sales Wednesday.

Edmunds analysts forecast total December new auto sales to come in at 1.58 million, a 5.8 percent decrease from December 2016, which was a record month for the industry.

Meanwhile, Kelley Blue Book analysts are projecting total December sales of 1.57 million, a 7 percent year-over-year decline.

“December should be the biggest sales month of the year,” said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book, in a statement. “It’s also important to remember that December 2016 was the strongest month in nearly 15 years, fueled by heavy incentives and year-end sales objectives.”

After a record 2016 with 17.5 million sales and seven- consecutive annual sales increases, Kelley Blue Book’s expects sales for 2017 to come in at 17.1 million and Edmunds predicts total sales of 17.2 million.

“Sales are still strong historically, but 2017 will mark the first down year for the auto industry since 2009. With sales tapering off, we could be in for a high-stakes incentive war in 2018 as automakers and dealers fight for consumers in a smaller and highly saturated market,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds executive director for industry analysis, in a statement.

Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book expect manufacturers to post year-over-year declines in their December sales.

KBB also predicts how each segment will perform. Every segment – compact crossovers, trucks, midsize crossovers, compact cars and midsize cars – will see a decline. Compact and midsize cars will see the largest declines of 10.5 percent and 19.5 percent, respectively.

December 2017 had 26 selling days while December 2016 had 27.

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