March 15th, 2012
By all metrics the U.S. auto sales industry is in the midst of a nice rebound, but with this comes some new growing pains. Just as dozens of new car factories around the world were closed in the late 2000s because there was no need for their production, many of the big rigs and trains that ferry new cars from factory to dealership were put out of commission.
Now with U.S. new car sales hitting a seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) of 15.1 million vehicles in February, there is a huge shortage of car haulers, Autoline Daily reports. Though transport companies are buying up new Class-8 big rigs as quickly as they are produced, analysts still predict a choke-up that could affect as many as 1.7 million new light vehicles this year.
To you the consumer, this means the new car with the options you want might be sitting in a shipping yard somewhere, instead of on the dealership lot. Will those hidden destination fees, which are usually around $750, rise as a result? We’ll keep you in the loop.
February 8th, 2012
While not typically the lowest-ranking month for new cars sold (that goes to January), February is lower-than-average for new car sales. We took a look at 2008-2011 sales data from a diverse group of the largest U.S.-market automakers (General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Company, BMW Group, Nissan North America).
Average February sales for these seven giants during that span were 775k. The simple monthly average during the same span was 819k, with sales peaking in March, May, August and December.
February marks an interesting time in the auto sales calendar in that the vast majority of new (e.g. 2012 at present) models have been released for some time, while outgoing (e.g. 2011) models are mostly sold out. This means early adopters have gotten their 2012s while bargain hunters will not find the 2011 they are looking for.
For the purposes of comparing apples to apples and getting a better idea of the overall direction the industry is going we use the Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (SAAR) when talking about sales. This compares February’s sales, for example, with historical data for that month to make projections about annual sales.
The SAAR for January 2012 was 14.2 million, with analysts surveyed by Automotive News predicting 2012 sales to be around 13.6 million. Total auto sales in the U.S. in 2011 measured 12.8 million units.
The strong-selling Chevy Cruze and Hyundai Sonata have shaken up the compact and midsize segments dominated until recently by the Japanese.
Hybrid sales are typically lower in February than in the summer months as well, both in raw numbers and as a percentage of total vehicles sold. The hybrid piece of the pie is lower at this time of year largely due to one simple fact: gas prices are lower in the winter months.
This same phenomenon applies to the mix of vehicles sold. Buyers typically gravitate toward subcompact and compact sedans and compact crossovers while gas prices are high, and toward midsize and larger sedans and larger crossovers and SUVs when gas prices are low.
That said, February’s top-selling models over the last several years look about like the rest of the year, with the Ford F-Series, Chevy Silverado, Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Honda Civic and Honda CR-V typically leading the charge.