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Why Nobody is Fretting the November New-Car Sales Drop


Kelly Blue Book expects new-vehicle sales to fall 1 percent year-over-year to a total of 1.36 million units in November, resulting in an estimated 17.1 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR). That would still make the month the second-best November in overall sales ever recorded.

"Following two months of more than 18 million SAAR, we project November sales to return to the low 17-million range," said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "The strong numbers from the last two months were influenced by replacement demand in the hurricane-impacted regions of Texas and Florida, which appears to be largely satisfied at this point. Despite the lower SAAR, this will be the second highest November on record, trailing only November 2016, so more than a few sales records could be broken this month."

Key Highlights for Estimated November 2017 Sales Forecast:

  • In November, new light-vehicle sales, including fleet, are expected to hit 1.36 million units, down 1 percent compared to November 2016 and up 0.7 percent from October 2017.
  • The SAAR for November 2017 is estimated to be 17.1 million, down from 17.6 million in November 2016 and down from 18 million in October 2017.
  • Retail sales are expected to account for 82.2 percent of volume in November 2017, down from 82.4 percent in November 2016.

After a record year of sales in 2016 and seven consecutive annual increases, Kelley Blue Book's forecast for 2017 calls for sales in the range of 17 and 17.2 million units, which represents a 1.5 to 3 percent decrease from last year.

American Honda’s Strong Month

Kelley Blue Book anticipates mixed sales results in November by manufacturers. American Honda is expected to have one of the strongest months and grow volume by 3 percent this month, helped by their strong lineup of cars. Despite the overall consumer shift toward SUVs, Honda's cars are still faring well and are now bolstered by the well-received new Accord.

On the other hand, Hyundai-Kia stands to lose nearly a full point of market share in November 2017, hurt most by the volume competing in car segments that could average nearly 20 percent declines, according to Kelley Blue Book. While Hyundai-Kia's fleet sales are projected to be down 20 percent and explain part of the drops, retail sales of the mid-size Kia Optima and Hyundai Sonata sedans appear particularly hard hit this month, perhaps affected by the recent launches of the new Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

SUVs Rocking

Compact SUVs are expected to climb nearly 8 percent in November, with nearly all models in the segment showing year-over-year improvement. The Toyota RAV4 and all-new Jeep Compass could post some of the strongest gains. The top-selling segment in the industry continues to become even more popular, with market share growing by a full point so far this year.

Mid-size cars will struggle once again this month, despite redesigns of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The remainder of the segment is likely to decline into the foreseeable future, as consumers increasingly opt for crossovers over sedans, according to Kelley Blue Book.

There are 25 sales days in November 2017 and November 2016.  All percentages are based on raw volume, not daily selling rate.

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