Monday, May 29, 2023 | 08:22 am

Analysts Say the Market Is Still Sellers’ Due to the 10% Increase in April Auto Sales on Larger Inventories

Analysts Say the Market Is Still Sellers’ Due to the 10% Increase in April Auto Sales on Larger Inventories

That’s a substantial improvement, based on better new-vehicle availability. It’s also the ninth month in a row when monthly auto sales exceed the year-ago total, according to S&P Global Mobility.

However, the increase is less impressive than it looks, because U.S. auto sales were down sharply in April 2022 due to low inventory, so it’s an easy comparison.

Automakers in the U.S. market that report monthly sales – most report sales only once a quarter – are expected to report U.S. auto sales on Tuesday, May 2, according to Autodata. Forecasters project monthly auto sales based on online shopping data through the early part of the month.

A joint forecast from J.D. Power and LMC Automotive predicts April sales of about 1.3 million cars and trucks, up 9.8% vs. April 2022. That forecast expects retail, new-vehicle inventory of about 1.2 million units, which would be a 45% increase vs. a year ago.

In April, 32% of new vehicles are projected to be sold above manufacturer’s suggested retail price, according to Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power. That’s down from a high of 48% in July 2022, he said.

Still, scarcity continues to support high pricing, high dealer profits, and low incentives, by historical standards. Average new-vehicle transaction prices are expected to set an April record of $46,044, up 2% vs. a year ago, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

Separately, auto shopping site TrueCar Inc. reports a similar forecast of around 1.3 million, up 10% vs. a year ago. Within the total, sales to fleets – daily rentals, plus commercial and government fleets – are expected to improve 20%.

That reflects high demand and low supply for fleets. It’s also potentially a sign that some auto manufacturers may prefer fleet sales over providing dealers with so much inventory that it lowers prices, analysts said.

The April auto sales forecast from S&P Global Mobility is a bit lower, although it still rounds up to 1.3 million. That would be a 4% increase from April 2022, according to S&P Global Mobility.